Category Archives: Adapted Fashion

Quad OCD-ness: Pant Seams and Hot Water

waterAh the life of a quadriplegic. Thanks to modern medicine, quadriplegics can now survive and almost reach the full life expectancy of an able-bodied individual, but just because we can survive doesn’t mean our bodies and brains happily go along with the whole paralysis package.

I firmly believe the human brain forever struggles with the massive disconnect of the brain to the body when you have a spinal cord injury. It never truly becomes 100% used to it, or adapted. I wish it would, but I’d been at this for over 20 years now and I can tell you my brain and body still don’t like it. Case in point – my bizarre OCD nature.

I don’t care if it’s a crumb on the floor or a crooked towel on the towel rack, if “small” things like that are happening in my home, as silly as it sounds it’s really bothers me. I just seem go can’t get over it, and I know this is a direct side effects of my spinal cord injury.

Since quads can’t control a lot physically and it can drive one bad, trying to recompense what we can no longer control with things we can, even if what we want is completely ridiculous, can feel great. For example, one of the biggest things many quadriplegics like to do is to double and triple check that the seams on their pants, or whenever they’re wearing for the day, are 100% straight.

I’m not sure why so many quadriplegics hate crooked seams, all I know is why I personally don’t like them – since I’m looking down at my lap all day, I see them a lot, and just looking at the crookedness can make me crabby since I can’t fix them. When I have them straightened, I feel this sense of relief.

There’s a lot of things in life I can’t control, but if I can control something like this, boy I feel better every time it is done. And I know is that I drive my caregivers crazy some days with my clothing placement, but (fortunately for them) they can’t understand what it’s like to be me, ie, live in and day out with extreme paralysis. If they did however, maybe they would learn to understand me better.

Another weird OCD tick of many quadriplegics is hot water – in that we absolutely must drink hot water whenever we drink water. Anything cold or even luke-warm can send ridiculous chills throughout our entire body; that’s how much we only like it. It can feel so soothing and make drinking water a lot easier to do, which is something we must do daily because of our bladder situations.

A new PCA gave me the inspiration for this blog post actually. I am her latest client, and the fourth quadriplegic she’s currently working with. She calls all of the people she works for “my quads” and last night while heating up my water, she mentioned, “All my quads do that too (drink called water),” and then proceeded to asked me why.

While I can’t speak for every quadriplegic on this planet, I know most of us who are quadriplegics love hot water because cold water makes us cold. And if it’s one thing we hate the most, it’s being cold. There is nothing sadder in the world than a shivering quadriplegic. I just find it fascinating how so many quadriplegics report the same OCD ticks. A study definitely needs to be done to investigate this further.

I’m ok living with my OCD ticks mind you as long as I’m paralyzed, I just hope more young people avoid such a fate.

Have you developed any weird OCD ticks due to your disability?

Best New Year’s Resolution Ever: Buy More Clothes

tribal-leggingsWith 2014 commencing I decided to try a different kind of New Year’s resolution this year – buy more clothes. Yeah I know what you’re probably thinking, “Aren’t you that fashionista in a wheelchair?” I am, well I was rather until I let a little thing called a man into my life.

My ex was a strange egg. He didn’t like me putting effort into looking good. Whenever I tried he’d actually get upset with me. So, after a year into our relationship, I decided to see things from his perspective, “Maybe he’s right?” I thought, and thus began the great unfleecing of my fashion-obsessed persona.

You may be thinking, “Girrrl…you’re crazy for even considering this,” but you know how we women get around guys we love. We think they’re brilliant and have deep insight. We take their advice. The last thing I ever wanted was to become too into materialistic things. His heeding made me paranoid. Maybe I have become too vain?

Unfleecing my fashion-obsessed self began with putting a stop on buying any new clothes. I also went through my closet and removed a ton of stuff; clothes I hadn’t worn in years. I even (regrettably) threw out redundant items and items I was on the fence on. Before I knew it, I had a simplified “not trying too hard” wardrobe that seemed to be perfect, only it wasn’t.

I was with this anti-fashion man for 3 years. New trends arrived, and I had no idea how to wear them, but when I was with him I didn’t care. I stuck to my leggings, cotton skirts, boots, t-shirts and cardigans. It sounds cute, but this was all I wore. All the heels in my closet had collected dust, all my cute “sexy tops
were long gone, the notion of dressing sexy was a forgotten memory.

But suddenly 5 months ago I found myself single, and slowly after my tears dried, the anti-fashion haze also began to lift and holy cow was that not a happy moment – the moment I realized I had been brainwashed. It’s ok however. I’m not the first woman to fall prey to falling in love with the wrong man.

I’ve decided to look back at this bizarre dating experience as a huge life lesson, and even better, I can now use it as an excuse to completely replenish my wardrobe in 2014. But but but, I have not become rich. I have not been given a $5,000 gift card from What Not to Wear. Buying a ton of new clothes isn’t in my budget, buying cheap clothes online is.

My replenish-my-wardrobe savior has come in the form of, a website my younger, shopping-obsessed PCA told me about, and holy cow you guys I’m in love. The clothes on here are cuter and cheaper than anything you’d get at Forever 21; it’s a miracle site for anyone on a strict shopping budget.

I got my first order last week and purchased 6 items for $66 dollars – funky tribal leggings, a polka dot silk blouse, a military silk blouse with shoulder pads, a hoodie dress, 3 pairs of earrings and one of those adorbs collar necklace that’s all the rage right now. It’s times like these I’m so glad I got the Mitroffanoff surgery to my belly button, allowing me to ditch indwelling catheters and drainage bags and opening me up to the world of leggings, jeggings, skirts, boots and dresses.

Replenishing my wardrobe however will definitely take some time. Getting all of the key items has never been my forte. I’m always easily distracted like a magpie, but at least I’ve made a great first step at cobbling back together some kind of respectable wardrobe.

Who knows where I’ll be a year from now? I know this for sure – I’ll be in a much better place fashion-wise, and definitely not the opposite.

What kind of fun New Year’s resolutions have you made?

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How to Wear a Coat in a Wheelchair Without Looking Like an Inflatable Beach Ball

The art of wearing winter clothes from a wheelchair is exactly that; a talent, and it can take some time and patience to learn.  From trying your hardest to not look like Violet Beauregard from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when she blows up into a blueberry when you put on a winter coat to making sure you can still move in whichever coat you buy, it can be tricky finding a coat that works when you use a wheelchair.

I’m from Minnesota so having a solid winter coat is a must.  When I was first injured I was a teenager and Starter jackets were all the rage – those ugly puffy sports team jackets everyone seemed to have. I had one too; a Charlotte Hornet’s jacket, replete with black, purple and teal, and I would wear it all day long. Gross.

The thing about dressing for the cold however is that when you use a wheelchair, it’s not that easy to do.  Jacket’s can be too long, too puffy and plain unflattering when you’re sitting down.  They should feel like a hug and make you look great. You have to really study how you look in the mirror to figure out which type a coat looks best before purchasing. Always use a full-length mirror too.

And for some people no matter their size, it can be a tougher search. Always start by looking for coats that have been specifically made for wheelchair-users, and there are several, otherwise get ready to pay a seamstress to modify any new jacket you purchase. One of my favorite adaptive clothing companies is IZ Adaptive by Izzy Camilleri, designer of beautiful adapted coats and lots of other pretty stuff.

Izzy designs everything from chic dresses and jeggings, but her coats is where it’s really at. They’re high quality and I absolutely love her for using a wheelchair mannequin (Mannequal, purchased from artist and paraplegic Sophie Morgan) for the shots of her clothing on her site.  Maybe it’s a passion of hers because she’s from Canada, but her coats truly can’t be beat. They’re perfectly adapted, stylish, comfortable and yes, they keep you warm.

When choosing a jacket that looks best on you, if you don’t want go through an adaptive clothing site or a seamstress and you’d rather keep things simple, you can always do what I do – find mainstream versions of clothing, like at Forever 21, that contain the fashion elements you need.

This takes a lot more “leg” and Google search work, but it will save you a few bucks. Look for high back jackets, generous arm space, not too long of sleeves, and an overall flattering cut.

So remember, look for jackets that aren’t tight and puffy or hide the best parts of your body.  Nothing too long and bulky is a must for the ladies. Belts are also a great way to show off your figure while wearing a jacket sitting down, as well as cropped jackets and adapted bomber jackets.

Just remember to always layer up before putting on your winter coat.  Layering is one of the best ways for someone with a spinal cord injury to adjust their body’s temperature.  Stay warm, and happy shopping.

Check out IZ Adaptive

What winter coat have you found works best as a wc-user?

Products Recommended

– Wool Bleached Trench Coat for wheelchair-users

– Mannequal for stores everywhere

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