Clothing (1)

I was reading the blog of a friend of a friend, who was talking about how she dresses and makes herself up. She, too, has a dodgy dominant side, just like me. It put the idea into my head of writing about my own restrictions, so here goes:

When I think of a lot of things, we use our left and right hands to oppose each other, for example when opening a jar. Because I effectively have no functioning left hand, there is nothing to oppose the right. This comes into play when dressing too – you can imagine doing up the zip on my coat is a problem. If you can’t imagine, try it!

Other things where I miss two hands working independently of each other are things like tying a tie, or shoelaces. Further, because this has been an issue since the stroke itself, I now feel that my mind has forgotten how to do these, although I’m sure they wouldn’t be too difficult to re-learn if I were physically able.  So for now, there are no ties (not a problem when I’m not working anyway), and I need to buy special corkscrew-shaped elastic laces in my shoes. But essentially, two problems for the price of one!

Early problems, which still crop up from time-to-time, include things as trivial as getting polo shirts back-to-front – incredibly, it is difficult to get the “orientation” right when you have only one arm to manouver the garment. Maybe it isn’t for you, but it is for me. Little things like this are an obstacle. Another thing is putting socks on correctly. Easier said than done with just one hand, try it. The problem is that the heel of the sock ends up twisted around (i.e. covering something other than the heel of my foot!). But, as I say, I can get around these things easily enough these days.

Putting trousers on is another trick, just because I need to get them to waist-level (and possibly with a shirt tucked inside) before I can fasten them. Most easily, this involves sitting on the bed (for I dress in the bedroom) and lying backwards, i.e. doing things flat. This way, I can both fasten my trousers, and my belt. The fun then comes when I realise that I’ve forgotten my insulin, so need to pull my shirt out to access my belly, and then start everything over!

The other thing this woman talked about was making herself up, and doing her hair etc. Possibly one of the areas where it is advantageous to be a bloke. I keep my hair short enough so that I can wash it every day, and not have to comb it. So I don’t really worry about a style. And, it’s easy enough to shave with either hand. Squeezing either shower gels or shaving cream into my hand requires a degree of knack, but really, on a scale of difficulty from one to five, this has always been a one.

I suppose I’m lucky in that I don’t really have any problem with things like buttons, my remaining hand is dextrous enough.

The last issue I can think of is hats – things like beanies etc. I have a few of these – I like the warmth they offer, especially at this time of year. But using one hand to get these things to stay on my head, which is essentially a sphere, is tricky. My technique, as with many things, is to resort to using my teeth. I’ll let you work out the rest!

Author: Stroke Survivor UK

Designed and developed IT systems for banks, but had a stroke in 2016, aged 48. Returned to developing from home, and have since released a couple of apps. I split my time between this and voluntary work. I am married, with a grown-up, left-home child.

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