by Robin Shepherd, Handi-P inventor
Whilst at university back in the early 80`s I lived in a pokey garret room at the top of a 4 storey house in London. The closest toilet was 2 flights of stairs away. As a lazy student I would occasionally use a glass wine carafe to pee into and so save the tortuous journey to the loo. I now live in an old house with low doorways and uneven, noisy floorboards. A night-time visit to the bathroom (no en-suite) from my bed requires the bedside light going on, me remembering to duck my head twice (each way), another light in the hallway and of course in the bathroom so that I don’t miss the lavatory bowl. Invariably I wake my wife up, occasionally my youngest son (whose bedroom adjoins the bathroom) and of course myself, now fully alert and often struggling to get back to sleep.
My father died a couple of years ago and one of the things he left behind was an unused hospital urine collection bottle with a lid (not the only thing!) Remembering my university days I fished out the bottle and started using it from a seated position by the side of my bed. No need to turn on the light, wake the wife and usually I`m straight off back to sleep. I rinse it daily and sterilise it weekly (healthy urine is not toxic or hazardous).
The convenience is incredible! I sleep better, so does my wife, neither of us feel depleted during the day. I don’t run the risk of cracking my head on the low doors, I don’t disturb my son and I have no anxiety about going to bed and wondering if I`ll have a restful night’s sleep. I have been using the bottle (currently only once a night) for over 2 years and I would not choose to be without it, my wife concurs!!!
Early last year I read a book by Peter Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal called `Zero to One` in which he shares the question he asks whenever he interviews someone for a job. “What important truth do very few people agree with you on?” It poses a challenge not just intellectually but also requires courage to answer.
My answer is `the Handi-P`. At first the concept of urinating into a `bottle` in the domestic environment, maybe in the same room as your partner sounds unpopular, but the truth is that it has huge advantages (discussed below) which far outweigh any perceived `yuk` factor. I wanted to share this currently unfamiliar truth offering convenience and benefit and so went about manufacturing a urine collection bottle that was hygienic, functional, acceptable and discrete and bringing it into the home, for camping, travelling, for the disabled, incapacitated, wherever ease of urination is compromised.
As a musculo-skeletal specialist with over 25 years experience I see many injuries resulting from night time falls, what follows is some background to the main diagnosable `medical problem` of frequent night-time urination – nocturia, its prevalence and possible side effects. The aim of the Handi-P is primarily to bring into the home the benefit of overwhelming convenience, ideally for those with no `medical` condition as such, simply the occasional need to pee during the night and so help reduce the risk of night time disturbance to their health and happiness and that of their partners.
By adding the `healthy` population (normal hormonal and bladder changes with ageing generally means everyone will need to pee more as they get older) of night time pee`ers to those that suffer from nocturia then the rationale for easy access to a Handi-P becomes compelling.
The term nocturia (derived from Latin nox, night, and Greek ούρα, urine), is generally used to describe a person who is waking to pass urine more frequently than normal, i.e. more than once per night. Its causes are varied and, in many patients, difficult to discern. To be identified as suffering from nocturia one excludes the last void before going to bed, but includes the first-morning void if the urge to urinate woke the person. The figures below relate to those needing to urinate more than once a night and do not include those many, many additional people who need to go only once!!
Although nocturia is little-known to the general public, a number of studies have demonstrated that more than 50% of men and women over the age of 60 have been measured to have nocturia in many communities and this increases significantly in the over 80`s. Symptoms can start as early as the 20`s and although nocturia rates are about the same for both genders, data shows that there is a higher prevalence in younger women than younger men and older men than older women. The initial product design focuses primarily on men although the addition of a `female funnel` is in production so as to accommodate women.
Uninterrupted sleep is necessary for the maintenance of physical, mental, and emotional well-being. The associated insomnia and sleep deprivation can cause exhaustion, changes in mood, daytime sleepiness, impaired productivity, fatigue, increased risk of accidents, and cognitive dysfunction. The economic costs associated with nocturia are enormous, It`s estimated to be over US$60 billion per annum in the USA, based on lost productivity alone.
25% of falls that older individuals experience happen during the night, of which 25% occur while waking up to void. In addition, nocturia may also increase risk of mortality and morbidity. In Germany for example over 216,000 fractures are directly attributed to nocturia each year! Finally, there is some evidence to suggest that sleep deprivation may have an effect on the function of the immune system, blood pressure, heart attacks and stroke. There is also increasing evidence that poor/ interrupted sleep increases the risk of early dementia.
The Handi-P is not a cure or treatment for nocturia although it may be a really useful accessory to lessen the unpleasant side effects of the main symptom, frequent urination.
“It does what it says on the box and has changed my life for the better, thank you.”
“Used the handi-p for the first time last night and managed to stay in bed for an extra two hours …. result! It’s a brilliant design ….”
“Your product has been a Godsend to me. I am able to use it without getting right out of bed and the design make it easy to use and more importantly to keep clean. I was even able to use it last weekend when I stayed in my caravan for a few days. In my view the product is an absolute winner and I will tell all my men friends about it.”
“The Handi-P flask is aesthetically pleasing to look at. The design is very clever and innovative and certainly lives up to the claims you have made about it. It is easy to hold and has a nice feel to the surface of the plastic. You could almost be forgiven for wanting to display flowers in it. The luminous neck band makes it easy to locate the flask in the dark, although I place it right beside the bed within comfortable reach and don’t even have to open my eyes when I’m ready to use it.”
“I have been using the Handi-p every night and find it very useful indeed. Perfectly adequate capacity as I usually need it 2 or 3 times. The nice wide base means that it stays reliably upright and hasn’t been knocked over.”
“Thank you so much for the Handi-p’s. They are absolutely great. Beautifully made. My Dad (97 years old) is thrilled with his and used it that night and every night since. He has a problem called Micturition Syncope, which can cause him to faint if he gets up in the night, and which has caused him a broken wrist from a fall in the past. This wonderful aid has solved that problem.”