Person in front of laptop choosing between joggers or jeans.

Skinny Jeans Are Not My Friend: Adventures In Getting Dressed with RA

I’ve never been a fashionista. I try to keep up the best I can with the latest ideas of what to wear, but sometimes I start to think the fashion industry is really trying to torture us.

High heels (don’t get me started), Spanx, and skinny jeans may look good, but they definitely don’t always feel good, even if you have hands that work properly.

Buttoning shorts required help from my best friend

Trying to keep up with fashion has made for some embarrassing stories throughout my life.

Like the time I got into a pair of shorts that were pretty cute, I have to say, after having hand surgery and went for a check-up. There might have been a cute intern involved that I just may have wanted to impress.

An awkward ask

He asked me to unbutton the shorts just a bit to look at my hip where the surgeon had taken bone for my fusion. I quickly realized that unbuttoning them wasn’t too hard with one hand but buttoning them in the first place required the help of my best friend. OOPS!

Let’s just say that when it was time to get them back on, I had to awkwardly ask said intern to help which was just a bit mortifying.

Pulling pants over swollen knees

I almost jumped for joy when tights came into fashion since, next to skinny jeans, they are much easier to get on and off. Although I have to say that pants, in general, are something I take a deep breath about before I start getting dressed.

The number of times I’ve had to pull those things up over swollen knees - just hoping they made it over them and then throwing my jeans across the room in frustration - has been an incentive for me to find loose pants in thrift stores.

How will the clothes feel on my body?

These days, when I look at clothes, I immediately think about how they will feel on my body and how hard they will be to get off and on. The year of COVID-19 was such a relief in one way - I got to live in sweats and joggers.

Getting real about these dressing challenges

The truth is, I’ve gotten to the point in my disease that I need to get real with myself about a few things.

The first is that getting dressed takes longer and I need to factor that into any morning plans I have.

The second is that there are things that can help me to make dressing and undressing easier and it’s time to get a few of them.

Buying a few dressings aides to help

So, in the next few weeks, I’ll be buying some zipper pulls to help make zipping easier, a dressing stick to help me push of my tight pants, and a long-handled shoehorn.

I’m also thinking about a sock-aide although, at this point, socks aren’t too hard for me as long as they aren’t tight.

Emotional prep for this new change

Each of us has a different set of joint issues and areas of weakness as well as strength. As we go through life with RA, we are constantly making adjustments and figuring out new ways to do things as things change. The better we can do this, the easier life will be.

Sometimes, shifting is hard logistically and, sometimes, changing can be hard emotionally. But life is hard enough with RA, without adding a stubborn refusal to shift. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself as I get emotionally ready for this new change.

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