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, the good hand now has to cover 360° all on its own, which makes it more difficult to e.g. get a shirt fully tucked inside trousers. I often end up with an almost-but-not-quite solution.

This problem manifests itself in terms e.g. of my dressing gown, too. Putting it on is one thing (it is always bad arm first, for anything), which I wanted to mention briefly below, but actually tying the cord a whole ‘nother ball game! On my dressing gown, the cord is at the very extreme of my reach.

I don’t say that this is a major issue, but it is A, N. Other thing to make things a little bit harder. I won’t dwell on how I actually tie the knot, but again, teeth are involved.

Also on the subject of loungewear, 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. This leads to a state known technically as foot drop (you must be able to Google it!), which is basically where gravity takes over.

I won’t go into massive detail here, but when we walk (as able-bodied people) we naturally put our heel down first. When I walk, the front of the foot goes down first. Imagine a simple hinge. And bear in mind here that on top of this, I can’t wiggle my toas. Enter slippers. By their very nature, these are quite loose-fitting. They slip on. They also slip off! The last thing to add into this mix is that, although I have movement in my upper leg, there is a tendency for it to flop outwards a little. This is basically what happens when your muscles totally relax. To compensate, I suppose, my foot tends to rest on its outside edge. Only slightly.

So, you add all these things together, and two things happen. First, my slipper has a tendency to “slip” right 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 they become shitty, especially at this time of year.

As a result, I wash my slippers every now and again, which I’m sure was not 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 muck on the slippers, 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. I did have an idea of putting elastic into the slippers so as to keep them taught on my foot, but sewing elastic onto suede 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 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 way back in hospital. But that’s not the whole picture. When you get the bad arm in, it is surprisingly difficult to find the other 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.

Again, not a biggie, but something else which adds a twist of complication to the event.

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 while 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 tees, polos and jumpers back-to-front – incredibly, it is difficult to get the orientation right when you have only one arm to manouver the garment. It never was before the stroke, but it is now. 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 – tucked fully inside, mind!) 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 to take my insulin. I inject into my tummy 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 guy. I keep my hair short enough so that I can wash it every day, and do without combing it. So I don’t really worry about a style. And, it’s easy enough to shave with my bad hand. Squeezing shower gels or shaving cream into my hand is, er, an acquired skill, but in terms of difficulty, easy-peasy.

I suppose I’m lucky in that I don’t really have any problem with things like buttons, my remaining hand is dextrous enough, and I can control both the button and the hole, at least enough to marry the two together. In fact, buttons are less of a problem than zips!

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 give-or-take spherical, is tricky. My technique, as with many things (don’t ask about the cat food!), is to resort to using my teeth. I’ll let you work out the rest!

All calmed down

So, the day after christmas. daughter was not with us, but nevertheless left several presents. So I spent the day (and today) wearing a naff christmas jumper (which surprisingly fitted perfectly), and was also given some whisky liqueurs. God knows why she chose whisky, as I’ve always preferred brandy, but good nontheless. There were six chocolates, and my wife clearly liked them because she scoffed three. I had a couple myself which left one for this morning.

Aside from that the treats were limited to a single mince pie. I had christmas dinner, of course, but held back on the roasties (which are really the only carb). And supper was just some turkey sandwiches (on my normal wholemeal bread). I think there’ll be lots of turkey over the next few days!

So, this morning, my fasting sugar was 13, which is pretty average, for me. I mean, if you’re healthy it’s not so good, but I think my pancreas is pretty buggered. So I was quite restrained, I think.

Normal insulin doses today, then. I really need to keep these doses as low as I can, for as long as I can, and indeed it was just porridge this morning (3 croissants yesterday), so I’m already getting back to normal. I still have one of those individual christmas puddings tucked away somewhere, but I’ll save that until I’m in the mood, or until the brandy sauce expires.


This kitten has come back to stay, this time while my daughter goes galavanting over the christmas holidays. So she’s here without her “mum”, but doesn’t seem to mind. And besides, we have hens!


My daughter has come to stay and has brought her new kitten. It’s funny – I can’t really remember any cat we owned being that small! But when we went to bed last night, we left her by the fire in the lounge, and she obviously wanted our company because she followed us through to the bedroom. Spent the night on the bed, for a part of it she was happily under the duvet snuggled into my tummy, and another part of it lying on my wife’s neck. Unfortunately, when she decided that 5am was time to wake up, it was too much.

So far today she has destroyed my bone china chicken mug, and is now attacking my hand as I type! She’s eying up the chickens as if they’re prey, except they are, like, ten times her size! She’ll sleep like a baby later.

Hopefully this is the closest I get to being a grandpa for a while yet 😊

Funny, that

I was having some coffee with my stroke buddies today. Someone started talking about one of the standard stroke tests. “That’s funny”, pipes up someone else, “I never had that test.”

It’s funny, because we all had different stroke experiences, but a common theme was that we all felt let-down in some way due to a gap between theory and practise. I’ve commented more than once to the Stroke Association (the UK’s stroke charity) that, in terms of priorities, top of the pile should be consistency, throughout the country. After that, we worry about raising standards.

The Stroke Association, by the way, are every bit as poor as the NHS, in terms of what actually happens to stroke patients. When I first colunteered, I attended a seminar where somebody said, “when x happens, then doctors do y“, and I’m afraid it isn’t so. It might happen, sometimes.

I can totally understand that the NHS has a “goal”, in terms of treatment, but they don’t always meet that goal. If fact, anecdotally, they hardly ever meet it. And I can totally understand that it is useful for the Stroke Association to cosy up to the NHS, to not want to rock the boat by highlighting poor treatment. But they should know that with some of us, the NHS’s plans fall some way short.