They were young and beautiful and smart, just the kind of lunch companions older men like to be seen with at a downtown restaurant.
Good for the image.
And the ego.
I was, of course, charming and witty and wise and completely in control until the conversation turned to control. Continence, actually. Or the lack thereof.
My two lunch partners were with the National Association for Continence (NAFC). But their real business is incontinence. That’s fancy talk for people who can’t control their bladders.
Ever since I was diagnosed with prostate cancer and scheduled for surgery next month, I’ve learned a lot about things I never wanted to know much about. This was one of them.
I’ve heard from too many guys that one disturbing side effect is having to wear a diaper or pad until you get things under control. Pretty humiliating stuff.
So, there I was lunching with the Incontinence Sisters, ordering Thai food, talking about leakage and seepage and dribbles.
So much for image.
Caryn and Rachel
Caryn Antos and Rachel Levkowicz both work for the NAFC, which happens to have its national head-quarters here in Charleston.
Both are 20-something graduates of Clemson and the College of Charleston, respectively. While they are younger than my daughters, I was impressed with their maturity.
I always wonder how our college students are going to make the tricky transition from their beer-drinking college days into the real world.
But these young women are dealing with serious, mature stuff that probably brings snickers and giggles from immature friends when they do small talk at cocktail parties. So I admire them for working in an area that really matters.
And to those of us facing such a reality, this matters.
Dignity is a major issue for men who have never faced such indignities. And it’s not something we like to talk about at poker night with the boys.
Women, of course, have little sympathy for us, having dealt with this problem after we talked them into bearing our children.
Now, it’s our turn.
They call them pelvic muscle exercises.
Some know them as Kegels.
Call it what you will, it’s the ability to flex the muscles in your pelvic floor that serve as a hammock to hold up your precious organs.
Women have to do them after childbirth. Men think it’s pretty funny, until they have to do them.
But here’s the bottom line:
Men who do them regain control rather quickly. Men who don’t do them stand in line at the grocery store with a box of Depends.
The choice is pretty obvious.
So I’ve been working my pelvic floor muscles. Quietly. Privately. While driving. In the elevator. On the phone. During lunch.
Indeed, the Incontinence Sisters were total sweethearts. They were professional and informative and wanted to make sure I understood everything there was to understand about what was ahead for me.
Including artificial urinary sphincter implants.
Actually, that was too much information.