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On The Go: a fashion solution to a painful problem

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By Jessica Zafra

SENIOR CITIZEN Pete Pineda never let his age get in the way of his social life. He had always enjoyed going out, taking walks, and meeting friends for meals and conversation. And then he was diagnosed with a prostate condition, and like thousands of elderly people in the Philippines, he had to start wearing a catheter.

Designer Dennis Lustico (R) shows his catheter pants to Pete Pineda (L) and family.
Designer Dennis Lustico (R) shows his catheter pants to Pete Pineda (L) and family.

Urinary catheters are commonly prescribed for patients with kidney or bladder stones or enlarged prostate glands. The catheter drains fluid from the bladder, which is then collected in a drainage bag attached to the patient’s leg. Mr. Pineda had to wear the drainage bag under his clothes, which made walking around difficult and uncomfortable. He tried to wear the bag with shorts, but the hose was visible below his clothes and often elicited indelicate comments. Worse, the hose or bag would sometimes leak, leaving visible trails on his pants. Embarrassed, he stopped going out. The once-sociable man started spending all his time at home. For the first time in 82 years, he missed their annual family reunion.

His worried son Mon Pineda started thinking of ways to help his father deal with this problem. One solution that occurred to him was a messenger bag that would contain the drainage packs. He discussed this idea with his colleague Noel Orosa, who pointed out that not only would carrying urine in a bag be unwieldy, but the catheter hose would still be left exposed. Mr. Orosa came up with another idea: cargo pants with pockets that could hold the drainage bags. The younger Pineda made the initial drawings for the catheter-enabled cargo pants.

Mr. Orosa suggested that they consult a professional fashion designer to refine the design. There was no reason why a practical garment like this could not also be aesthetically pleasing. His friend, designer James Reyes, executed the sketches for the cargo pants, which they had decided to call “On-The-Go.” The creative team made prototypes and presented them to doctors at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute. On-The-Go received the enthusiastic approval of the doctors, with several urologists sending in orders for their patients.

The creative team realized that they needed production facilities in order to meet the anticipated orders. They approached Dennis Lustico, who, being a registered nurse as well as a fashion designer, was just the person to meet this design challenge. He very kindly offered to produce On-The-Go at cost for anyone who needs it. He also tweaked the original design to finesse the proportions of the pants, such as the size of the pockets. He refined the loops that are supposed to hold the catheter hose to prevent snagging. Finally, he put zippers along the pockets so that the wearer can check the urine level at any time.

The result: a pair of what looks like stylish cargo pants — with a secret. Its two large leg pockets can each hold a drainage bag. The pockets are equipped with side zippers that allow the wearer to check the fluid level in each bag. Thus, both catheter and drainage bags are cleverly concealed. This may be the first article of clothing designed specifically for use with catheters.

The inspiration for On-The-Go is very pleased with this collaboration between medicine and fashion. With his mobility and freedom restored, Mr Pineda has resumed his social life. “I probably have 10 more years of life,” he said, “and I can still enjoy it.” With On-The-Go, no senior citizen with urinary issues need endure public embarrassment again. They can enjoy convivial public lives well into their golden years.

(On-The-Go retails at P800 and comes in three colors: navy blue, black, and khaki. There are five waist sizes for men: Extra Small (29 inches), Small (30-31 inches), Medium (32-33 inches), Large (34-35 inches) and Extra Large (36 inches). To order, contact Alyssa Lustico at 0926-756-0494 or (02) 846-0915 or e-mail d_lustico@yahoo.com.)

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