Well there’s a headline you probably weren’t expecting to scroll past this afternoon… why am I about to spill the contents of my head and heart as it relates to adult diapers? I’m so glad you’ve asked.
Amazon just dropped off the box of adult diapers I ordered last week and I can’t stop laughing.. The latest text thread in my expedition team group chat is all about brand/size/style/absorbency level of… you guessed it, adult diapers. It’s about as real as we get around here, so I wanted to share with you all. Why, right? Whyyyy would a 39 year old woman with no known health or incontinence issues (outside of the effects of growing and birthing three children in a span of six years) be ordering adult diapers based on the recommendations of her other incredibly healthy team of sea women explorers? I’m so glad you asked.
For those of you unfamiliar with diving, or of how wetsuits and drysuits work, I’m going to give you a little bit of background here. Wetsuits are generally a stretchy material made of neoprene that works by trapping a layer of water between yourself and the surrounding water. Your body warms this trapped layer of water and this is what keeps you “warm” while you’re diving. Wetsuits are generally worn in tropical or warmer waters because based on the thickness of the neoprene (generally 3mm, 5mm, 7mm, or some combination of all of the above to keep your core covered in 9mm) you have the propensity to get little colder a little faster in one of these since your body is in fact getting wet. I have been diving in the PNW in about 53f degree water in a 7mm and been not warm, but not uncomfortable, as long as it’s a generally short dive (under 40 minutes or so.) These are very easy to use and require no special training outside of your dive training. Because of the buoyant nature of the neoprene, you generally wear weights around your waist, or in pockets on your BCD (the vest divers wear while I’ll talk about in another post.) In addition, because your body is exposed to the elements (water) in a wetsuit, if needed – though its generally frowned upon – you’re able to relieve (pee) yourself in the water as needed and nobody would know otherwise. It should be noted that as you descend into the water, the pressure on your body increases exponentially, often causing divers the urge to relieve themselves. For those super interested in the technical side of this, I’ll note here that every 33 feet of sea water you descend, is equivalent to the pressure of 1 additional atmosphere on your body, so if we’re diving at 66 feet, this is equal to 1 atmosphere of pressure at sea level, plus 2 additional atmospheres of pressure at depth.
A drysuit however, keeps a dry barrier between yourself and the water you’re diving in. These can be made of many different materials, but the science is the same – keep water off of your body. This means if you’re diving in cold water, as long as you wear warm undergarments underneath your drysuit, you’ll generally be a little warmer and more comfortable than those in a wetsuit counterpart. This also means your body has no contact with the water surrounding you (besides your head and hands which are generally in neoprene hoods/gloves, etc.) What does this have to do with adult diapers, right? For the Arctic waters we’ll be swimming in, we will be utilizing the comfort and warmth of drysuits. Our plan is to live on a research vessel (the M/V Explorer) at sea, and each day gear up and head out in one of two zodiac’s in search of the Orca’s and Humpback whales we’ll be researching, before getting in the water with them. This also means extended time on/in the water with no access to a restroom in between! Since we’ll be in drysuits, many of our team members have started a chat about wearing adult diapers “just in case” we’re out there with no restroom and nature calls! Maybe I have a 12 year old sense of humor, but when this chat first started I found it hilarious and couldn’t stop laughing. The more I read about which brands/sizes/styles everyone would be buying, the more I found it funny. Never in the three years of planning this expedition had the thought or conversation of needing to wear diapers while at sea come up, but now that it has, I’m so thankful for it! I began thinking of people who work underwater; commercial, and technical divers who spent 8-10 HOURS under the water. This is what they do! (And/or pee-valves which we can discuss at some point if you’re curious.) People hiking Everest, or spending extended time exploring, fully clothed with no other options, this is what they do too! The things nobody talks about! So, there you have it… adult diapers have now made my expedition packing list and are anxiously awaiting being packed into my travel bag! Can’t wait to share this experience with all of you. :) For more information on the research we’ll be doing on this expedition or to support me as I prepare to embark, please visit: https://gofund.me/3799b032