Unaccustomed to the unusually cold temperatures we’ve experienced recently in Southern California, I found myself with a shortage of warm clothing to wear. For someone like me who is always cold, that problem needed to be addressed.
With after-Christmas sales in every store, one would expect that even with my limited budget, the issue would be easily corrected. However, shopping presents major challenges for me.
First and foremost is overcoming pain and fatigue. Even on my best days, I have roughly four hours — 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. — when I might feel capable of taking on this task.
Of equal importance are the strict criteria I’ve established for articles of clothing that I buy. Failure to adhere to any one of them guarantees that the item purchased will grow old in my closet without seeing the light of day.
Following are the criteria for my fibromyalgia wardrobe:
My physical symptoms cause enough discomfort in my life. Why add more? I only wear items like shoes, belts, and bras outside the home.
Elastic waists also are intolerable. They are a substitute for even less comfortable buttons, but not if they’re too tight. Sadly, suitability cannot be judged in a fitting room. They feel fine when I try them on, but after wearing the item for an hour or more, the feeling of being cut in half starts to reach my brain. I have a drawer full of pajamas that once had elastic waists but now have safety pins to hold them up, placed several inches below the dissected (by me) waistline.
Am I the only one bothered by neck labels on clothing? I once took a steak knife into the ladies’ room at a restaurant and used it to hack off the label on a new dress I was wearing. The painful rubbing on my neck was spoiling my dinner. I’ve learned to carefully inspect all labels before making a purchase to ensure they can be removed without ruining the garment. I cut them off as soon as I’ve washed the item in an attempt to remove some of the chemicals applied during manufacturing. That’s another issue entirely, but one over which I have no control.
Layers are important due to my extreme temperature sensitivity. Few things are less tolerable to me than being either too warm or too cold. Thus, articles of clothing must reasonably coordinate with the rest of my wardrobe — to be easily removable in case the temperature rises or loose enough to be added should I suddenly become chilly.
Anyone who has ever used transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation therapy or applied a lidocaine patch knows that it cannot be done while wearing clothing on that portion of your body. Sticking where it doesn’t belong is inevitable, and the original placement is never optimal. This means removing the clothing again for repositioning. Imagine how annoying one or more rows of buttons would be at a time like this. My preference is T-shirts or turtlenecks.
My New Year’s resolution was to avoid buying another pair of pants without a pocket. Due to shoulder pain, I leave my purse at home or in my car whenever possible. This means I need a place to put my phone, car key, cash, and credit card. Pockets are the best solution.
“Dry clean only” items are a no-no for me. In addition to the cost, my dog with dirty paws makes these items totally impractical. Garments that might wrinkle also are to be avoided. Although I still own an iron, nothing short of appearing on national television could motivate me to use it.
So, there’s my list. Prompted by a store full of racks marked 40 percent off, with an additional 25 percent discount for using the store’s credit card, I managed to purchase two warm sweaters that fulfilled my fibromyalgia wardrobe criteria. Crazy as it sounds, I’m quite proud of my accomplishment.
Note: Fibromyalgia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Fibromyalgia News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to fibromyalgia.