I am an expert when it comes to putting together an outfit to wear during an arthritic flare. An arthritic flare, for me, is when my joints are so tender and swollen I cannot touch or move them without excruciating pain.
I try to keep my previously scheduled commitments, if possible, during a flare. I make every effort not to let the disease rule me or my life. I can’t always, but I do try! It simply depends on the specific set of circumstances whether I cancel or not. If it is a meeting I am not leading or in charge of, I have found going ahead and attending is actually doable. I honor my commitment, my life is not interrupted and I’m distracted from the pain. I can focus, listen and stay current with the organization or group. Yeah! RA doesn’t win!
First, in order to make the meeting, I need to get dressed! During an arthritic flare, getting dressed is anything but easy. I need clothing that is comfortable and easy to put on. That means no snaps, buttons or zippers that must be manipulated. Remember, touching anything or moving my joints is extremely painful. Every move I make is done very gingerly.
The outfit pictured above features an outer wrap with big sleeves and nothing to fasten. During the winter months, I need to take special care because the extra clothing necessary to stay warm can be impossible to maneuver. The pain is so great during a flare. Making sure the wrap is appropriate to face the Wisconsin elements is my first criterion used to assess whether I can attend the meeting in the first place! With this coat I’m able to delicately place my arms in the armholes and literally wrap it around my torso. I was even able to wear this wrap while sporting a cast after wrist surgery! I wear a stretchy knit top underneath. Sometimes I don’t even remove my wrap during the meeting, concealing my swollen hand under the coat so I don’t have to explain why I can’t move my hand! (Placing my hand on my chest is a “pain neutral” position I like to use) If it is cold enough to need to wear this, a lot of times the building is pretty chilly also!
Another perennial flare staple is stretchy, elastic waist-banded pants. I wear this style all the time. I like the style, but the real reason I wear this type of pant is comfort and ease putting them on. I do whatever I can to prevent irritating an inflamed joint! Actually, because my joints can feel okay one minute, and hurt the next, I wear my favorite flare wear pant style often. I’m unable to predict how I will feel later in the day, therefore it is easier to just wear stretchy pants!
The final piece to this outfit is the big toe box boots. I gravitate toward shoes with the larger space in the toe box because it is less irritating on my feet. I also need support, and my shoe inserts fit easily into this style. These boots have a zipper, but they also have a Velcro fastening. I use the Velcro fastening to secure the boot on my foot. It is helpful putting my shoes on this way because it is not a hassle or very painful.
If I take care not to challenge my hands while dressing, there is a better chance I won’t further irritate my joints. What are your “RA fashion” suggestions? You know, we’d all love to hear them! Take good care fellow journeymen! XOXO Cathy!