The Sammy Shuffle: part 14

Getting Dressed:

I love fall. I love the colours and the quiet and the rain, the lower temperatures, and early evenings filled with comfort food and books. One thing I will miss about summer, however, is the wardrobe.

It’s so easy to get dressed in summer. Shorts, undies and a t-shirt. Sundress or swimsuit. Done. Slip on a pair of sandals and you can go anywhere. In fall, there’s hats and scarves and gloves, coats and sweaters and layers and socks and boots and tights, or nylons or jeans, or whatever… And that’s just for your regular ho-hum kind of day.

Come fall and getting dressed in the morning gets a little more interesting. For instance, tights are comfy, cozy, and pretty common fall attire. But where my sister might just slide into hers, I battle with mine. Let’s just say spasticity and stretch fabrics don’t really mix 🙂 And I still remember the time Mom and I went coat shopping, returning triumphant with a small down-filled jacket that fit well and was warm, without being too bulky to fit my crutch cuffs or inhibit movement. The fabric wore through less than a week later, unable to stand up to the repetitive arm motion and slide against the back of the cuff that comes with the use of crutches– which I use vigorously, everyday.

I have a modified swing-through crutch gait. I can move fast and well, and it’s easier for me than walking. But my shoulders especially, and upper-body in general has to be able to move through the full range of motion, unencumbered for this to work. Most people don’t think of these things; why would you, if you don’t have to?

So, you can’t wear this garment and reach above your head, stretch forward, backward or set your ams a-windmilling without tearing a seam or a muscle…For most people, this is not a big deal. But this is what I look for. What is the range of motion? What is comfortable? Does it fit across the shoulders and chest? How bulky is it? Can I get the crutches on? Off?Also, does it look nice? Is it waterproof? Because I don’t want to look like a ragamuffin or the Michelin Man and I can’t rely on an umbrella to keep me dry.

I need to be able to do all of my everyday activities in this garment –my happiness, safety and independence depend on it. I don’t like wearing frilly tops, or anything with poofy sleeves or legs, because they get in my way and inhibit my movement. Pockets are an asset, but only if they are accessible and can be closed securely, otherwise, they are a hazard. Items can fall out, or my grips can become trapped, sending me lurching over to one side or down to the pavement. And I am not willing to compromise, to slow down or do less, just because my wardrobe can’t handle it. I will look long and hard until I find something that works, in every sense of the word.

I value my mobility, I value quality and I care about my comfort and appearance. But getting it all, requires a little extra time and consideration — especially in fall :).

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