See the stone set in your eyes

27 July 2023

Dr Alasdair MacRae is a consultant geriatrician in Paisley who specialises in Orthogeriatrics and Falls Prevention medicine. His roles at the BGS include Deputy Honorary Meetings Secretary, Secretary for the Falls SIG and Secretary for the Bowel and Bladder Health SIG.

It’s late. I’m almost another day older. What a cheery thought! I definitely feel like I’m becoming a grumpy, old man. Okay, a grumpier, old man. I’m watching videos on an 80s music channel. A song by Japan (I’d never heard of them either) comes on. The video is grainy and through tired eyes the lead singer (David Sylvian) looks like our Late Princess Diana. Did she base her hairstyle on his? An internet search reveals Diana’s iconic hairstyle was a Sideswept Bixie! I’m not sure that my stylist (read barber) would know of this. My trims usually morph into a Lionel Blair cut (those of younger vintage can search for the video online to understand).

Adverts soon follow. A man states “time is our most precious commodity” before trying to persuade me to book a cruise (I’ll need more than Rishi’s six percent offer to afford one of those). Up next, an advert for urinary incontinence products. Quite a contrast. Two women doing yoga, one of whom worries about releasing wee into her bulky pad.

Apparently, 95% of 146 women agree that the thinner pad protects and is more discreet than a competitor’s thick one (a bit like comparing a motorcycle to an artic lorry). I’m going to assume that the other 5% found that the pad failed to contain their wee, which is unsurprising if they were having to wait the 20 seconds stated in the advert for leakage to be absorbed. Yeah, yeah, as I age, I’m increasingly cynical too. Additionally, it only looks like a shot glass worth of liquid being poured into the pad in the advert. Another quick internet search suggests an average urine leak to be a tablespoon of urine - but a significant proportion of people may well have larger leaks. And you may wish to take along your own cutlery, if you ever get invited to dinner by the person measuring their urine with spoons - just saying! At the end of this advert the actress suggests going to their website where there are FREE masterclasses. Being Scottish, I’m unlikely to turn down anything free.

A web address, and a couple of clicks later, I land on a page telling me everything I ever wanted to know about bladder leakage. It’s actually surprisingly good (maybe I am not quite as grumpy as you were beginning to think?). There are descriptions of the various types of urinary incontinence and explanations about the importance of the pelvic floor. Another couple of clicks and there is a page about various pelvic floor exercises for people to try while cooking, watching TV, or at work (yes, some are that simple and discreet).

I have long thought that continence promotion should be advertised ahead of the products to manage the issue. Nevertheless, this resource seems to be a good start, especially as it is offered by a company that profits from those unfortunate enough to have incontinence. This company does spend a third of their advertisement time talking about the resource. For sure this feels like progress, and increases awareness that continence problems can be improved.

A couple of minutes later and it is back to the music: Under the Boardwalk performed by Bruce Willis (surprisingly reached number two in the UK charts, all without a single Yippy-Ki-Yay) - a singing career that had to Die Hard! And on that note, it’s most definitely time to end.

If you want to learn more about continence issues, or hear updates on the latest research, this year’s BGS Improving Continence in Older People Meeting is just the thing for you. With or without you (if you join online), I will be there, will you too?


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