I think it’s fair to say that when I had my surgery I was going through what you could call a Goth style phase. I could usually be found sporting mostly black, oversized clothes with characters like Emily the Strange and Ruby Gloom on them. I wore dark make to school most days, dyed my hair black and had the nail polish to match. Most people wouldn’t know it though to look at me now, and that is thanks to my surgery.
It didn’t take long for me to realise that none of my cargo pants and jeans were going to be wearable for the next few months while I recovered from the surgery. They would be tight on my hips and press on my new scars. At the time before I had the procedures done, I was too self-conscious to wear dresses and skirts. Mum and I took to the clothes shops to get something for me to wear. We got dresses and skirts in all different colours, lengths and styles. There was even a pale denim mini skirt! I really didn’t care what I wore as long as it was comfy and looked half-decent, (which was more than could be said for me).
When I went back into hospital for operation number two (which we’ll get to soon, I promise) my family told the doctors that I’d taken on quite a different dress sense . Even for a long time after operation two I kept wearing The New Wardrobe. Even after I did go back to my jeans, I got rid of my old clothes. It didn’t feel like me anymore. And, my family had spent so much money on the new clothes, I didn’t want it to go to waste.
The UK is still enjoying lovely warm weather which has given me the perfect excuse to break out my summer wardrobe of dresses and skirts that I’m usually just too cold to wear. You would think that I’d find these things easier to buy and put on, right?
I have loads of pretty ones in loads of colours and patterns, but I have to be quite choosy about which ones I buy. I’ve written before about the problems that I have when I have to shop for clothes and shoes at the best of times, but I have my fair share of issues with summery garments too.
Lots of women’s dresses come with zips. I don’t usually have a problem with the ones that come on coats and jackets, (usually being the word), but when it comes to dresses and cute vest tops its’ a whole other story. They’re often on the left side of things which happens to be the same side as my weak hand. Guess what this means? I can’t often can’t do them up without help, or manipulate my arm well enough to get it through the straps. Needless to say that I usually go and smile sweetly at my mum or little sister at this point so they can help me into it. For reasons unknown I can usually get back out of them on my own, which is better than nothing I suppose. Thankfully I haven’t had to go to sleep in something until there’s someone around I trust enough to help me if I get stuck inside something, but I just know it’s going to happen one day if I ever live on my own…
As for zippers on the back of stuff – forget it. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve had to help my able-bodied friends with these though so I don’t feel too bad about that one. I usually try and go for things that I can step in/out of or that go over my head as much as possible.
Then once I’ve had to navigate my way through those, there is the issue of tights. Given how cold my feet pretty much always are, I always have to wear at least one pair. I struggle with socks on a good day, so you can imagine how many times I’ve fallen over/ripped pairs/sworn trying to deal with these things. Once, I went through three pairs trying to find some that I hadn’t already laddered, I was nearly in tears with effort but I got there in the end.
I love my summer wardrobe, it’s just a shame it doesn’t love me back.
When it comes to doing laundry, I have to get a little bit creative. Before I moved away from home my parents had always helped with it so it was a shock to the system when I had to do it for myself and I wasn’t entirely sure how I’d cope with it.
While I was at university I had help from an outside supportive living agency who would also assist me with my laundry, cooking, cleaning and shopping whenever I needed it so I know that it’s not something I’d ever have to worry about too much if I ever did decide to live alone. Yet I hate to be defeated by anything (except my shoe laces – I gave up trying to tie those a long time ago) so I made the effort to find ways around washing my own clothes. I knew that I could always ask for help if it got too hard, but I wanted to be ready just in case there was ever a time I don’t have a choice, and so that I know I can do as much for myself as is physically possible.
Luckily I’d always managed to find somewhere to live where my bedroom had been on the ground floor so I didn’t have to fret about trying to get all my clothes downstairs to the washing machine because there was no way that I would have tried to carry the basket myself. Eventually I did manage to find a way around this problem though for if I ever want to give mum a hand at home where my bedroom is on the first floor and the washing machine isn’t. I have to get some plastic carrier bags (like the kind you get from the supermarket), fill them with whatever I’m planning on throwing in the washer, loop them around my wrist and go downstairs holding on to my handrails as normal. It usually takes three or four trips for me to gather a full load, but I get there in the end.
When my room was on the same floor as the kitchen at university I usually opted to do what I like to call the ‘crawl and push manoeuvre ‘ where I would get down on my knees on the floor and push whatever I had my clothes in along with me until I got them to where they needed to be. This took a while too but it was better than the alternative if I tried to carry it. When I would try to do this I would usually end up falling over (what a surprise) or I’d spill all my clothes all over the living room floor, neither of which are very good, especially not if the people you live with are around at the time and just so happen to see your unmentionables go flying across the room. My housemates were always really helpful and would help me if they were around though.
The difficulties don’t stop there. If for whatever reason I can’t use a dyer or my clothes need to be hung up on an airier before I can put them back in the wardrobe, that takes me a fair amount of time too. I have to hold on to the airier for support while I put things onto it, which means that things often fall off again as fast as I can hang them there, so it takes ages (and a lot of mumbling to myself most of the time) to get everything to stay in place. The constant bending down to pick things up makes me quite tired too so I have to take a lot rest breaks too.
I used to use Betsy for extra drying space too if I wasn’t planning on going out anywhere. I haven’t had to do this with Martha yet, but I’m sure her time will come.