Wearing adult diapers is one of the few medication-free ways that incontinent people can feel comfortable going out in public. Adult diapers are exactly what they sound like—padded, disposable cotton briefs similar to those worn by infants. There are two layers to most well-made adult diapers. The inside is composed of hydrophilic material that attracts liquid, while the outside is composed of hydrophobic material, which prevents the liquid from seeping through. "You don't want that clamminess on your skin," said Gary Evans, owner of incontinence supply house XP Medical.
A couple of months ago, Slate asked me to field-test various adult diapers for its "Geezers" issue. In many ways, I was an unlikely choice—I am a 27-year-old male, and incontinence primarily afflicts women and the elderly. Then again, I am prone to back pain, influenza, sinusitis, digestive malfunctions, and swollen fingertips; I eat poorly, exercise infrequently, drink heavily, and never sit if I can slouch. If there is anybody who is due for a painful and unhappy old age, it is me.
Journalistic hazing at its best.