Monday, August 22, 2011

assisted shopping for clothes / wheelchair and MS

No doubt in my mind that even Job would have broken had he been ‘tested’ for over 20 years shopping without a universal sizing system through sections of misses, junior, plus, petite, and womens clothing.

Multiple Sclerosis symptoms early on impaired Patti from reading labels, trying on clothing, and driving to stores much less play Mom with our daughter.

Raised in men’s clothing where shopping is a function of waist and length, my adventures into women’s clothing have been more like the Mad Hatter’s tea party especially since the quest for the last decade has been ‘best of possible for assisted dressing’.

Non-ambulatory, Patti requires assistance with dressing. Lying prone in her bed, she can no longer even lift her butt or roll on her side. Total incontinence necessitates wearing Depends 24/7. All of the above and more leave us discriminating shoppers to say the least.

Measuring is everything. Yes, stores have wheelchair accessible dressing rooms, but no one has an adult changing table.

Curiously the only mannequin we’ve ever seen in a wheelchair was while shopping at Kohl’s captured on this camera phone picture from over 5 years ago. Kudos to progress with the debut this Spring of Mannequals.  
In search of clothes that both express Patti while seated in a wheelchair yet somehow are designed and/or sized for assisted dressing -  I push Patti through the aisles in tailor motif with my measuring tape hanging around my neck bemusing her to no end.

Even after two decades it doesn’t take long before my measuring turns to mumbling.

Soon I’m mumbling about storming the Bastille (obviously the French are behind this) and lamenting my never ending respect for the shopping patience of drag queens, as Patti laughs away like rewatching an old favorite movie.

“Patti I just had to stop and say hi, I could hear you laughing across the store!” A staff member from Patti’s care facility out shopping with her kids appears in the aisle.

Hmmmm! ‘Could hear you laughing across the store’ –  plus a couple new outfits – I’ll take that as a sign of a successful outing any day. … Up yours, fashionista!

Caregivingly Yours, Patrick Leer 
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  1. I loved this post! What a sense of humor you both have! Non ambulatory dressing has so many challenges, comfort being the most important but you don't want it at the expense of style! We were really challenged last spring to dress all our non ambulatory girls in their prom dresses. Everyone wanted strapless and long dresses which isn't always practical in a alterations were made and everyone was a true DIVA!

  2. Thanks oklhdan! We are 'showtime' in the women's clothing department no doubt! And of course there is Patti who has to roll through too tight aisles through racks of fashion at eyeball level. She suddenly burst out - "I feel like I'm in a f#cking jungle with all these leopard prints." :)

  3. I love humor with all our challenges....Kudos to Kohls I did not know that they had these.

  4. Patrick, I hope you don't think that dealing with the craziness in women's clothing sizes is any easier for women than it is for men! Like you and Patti (and for the same reason), my first priority has to be ease of on-and-off. Machine-washable and comfortable come second and third. Style is relegated to a distant fourth. And Patti is right – shopping for clothes from a wheelchair is a claustrophobic experience. My favorite designer? Omar the Tentmaker – one-size-fits-all!

  5. Kim - humor is critical! While yes our hat was off to Kohl's as pictured in 2006 but its been a while since we have actually seen another mannequin in a wheelchair anywhere. Hopefully mannequals start to pop up all over the place.

    zoomdoggies - then women to arms, to arms! Let us all storm the Bastille. ... Love your Omar the Tentmaker, we must look for that designer:) By the way who buys 'hand wash/line dry' only? (and only labeled in the tiniest print) I considered camping there just to see who and interview them. :)

  6. Clothes--it is a REAL pain and I never liked shopping BEFORE! UGH. I wish we could all go naked.

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