BEFORE YOU START: Please note that although I currently volunteer for both the Stroke Association and Age UK, the views expressed in this blog are strictly my own. I am not a spokesperson for either (or, indeed, for any) organisation, and I accept complete responsibility for the views expressed herein. As indicated by the domain name, I am based in the UK and the blog therefore has a UK bias - I've tried to use the Glossary to explain any ambiguous terms, but if you think there is anything I've missed, please message me.

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Clothing (2)

I thought when I posted yesterday that I'd said all I had to say on the subject, but I realised overnight that I'd forgotten a few things, and I just wanted to jot them down lest I forget.

One of the other things, I got quite close to yesterday, but didn't actually say it. If you imagine your waist, let's assume you have 360° there. If you're able-bodied, let's also say that this boils down, approximately, to 180° per hand, if you imagine things in a zonal kind of way. So I used to be able to pull my trousers up no problem, for example, easily being able to tuck shirts in etc. and generally looking pretty competent.

But now, with only one functioning arm, that "zone" has increased to 360°, which makes it more difficult to e.g. get a shirt fully tucked inside trousers. I often end up with a kind of almost-but-not-quite solution.

This problem manifests itself in terms of e.g. threading a belt, or fastening my dressing gown, too. Putting the thing on is one matter, which I wanted to mention briefly below, but actually tying the cord another. On my dressing gown, the cord is at the very extreme of my reach. I mean, I don't say that this is a major issue, but it is something else which makes the process that little bit longer. I won't dwell on how I actually tie the knot, but again teeth are involved.

Also on the subject of sleepwear, another issue is to do with my slippers. Basically, I have no movement in my left foot. The ankle is buggered, and I can't wiggle my toes on that foot. My knee and hip do have movement, just as on my right side. This leads to a state known as "foot drop" (you should be able to Google it), which is basically where gravity takes over. I won't go into massive detail here, but if you walk in slow-motion, you'll find that when we walk (as able-bodied people) we naturally put our heel down first, followed by the ball of the foot. When I walk, the front of the foot goes down first, just because this point is the farthest point away from the hinge which is my ankle. Exactly like something inanimate. Also, my foot tends to hit the ground on one side first. And, because there is no movement there, I can't subtly move my toes in order to adjust, say, a shoe.

Enter slippers. By their very nature, these are quite loose-fitting. Also, mine are made of lambswool/sheepskin, which is quite a smooth surface.

So, you add all these things together and two things happen. First, my slipper has a tendency to fall off my foot when I walk. Second, I have a tendency to put my foot down such that the sidewall of the slipper, rather than the sole, is in contact with the ground. Inside the house, these things are an irritation, a trip-hazard. They get less pleasant in the garden, where the chickens roam freely, including pooing wherever they fancy. I really don't want my slipper coming off out there, else I'll end up with a foot which is not only soggy, but also covered in chickenshit! As a result of my tendency to walk on the side of my foot, the slippers themselves get chicken poo on them, but I figure that this situation is preferable.

As a result, I wash my slippers every now and again. This may well not be what the manufacturer intended, and probably shortens the life of the slippers, but it has two advantages for me. First, and obviously, it takes layers of mud/chicken-poo off the slipper, and second, it makes the slipper shrink, albeit temporarily. This tightens the slipper on my foot, making it far easier to keep it on.

This is still an issue, in the sense that it still happens today, and actually is very annoying, to the extent where I've considered not wearing slippers (or at least the left one, which would look daft). I did have an idea of putting elastic into the slippers so as to keep them taut on my foot, but sewing elastic onto sheepskin is easier said than done.

The last issue - I'm conscious that my tiny addendum is now longer than my original post - was just about putting things like coats and jackets - and dressing gowns - on. The woman whose blog I read mentioned that the technique here is to make sure that your bad arm goes in first, which is entirely consistent with what I was told back in hospital. Very briefly, when you get one arm in, it is surprisingly difficult to find the second armhole. I mean, you know that it exists, but it is a faff to find it. This is one of those mind-over-matter scenarios, where you just rely on your brain telling you that the hole has to be there somewhere, you just haven't found it yet. But again, I mention this just because it is something which adds a few seconds when I put a coat on...

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