Reconnecting The Dots

For the next few weeks I'll be taking some time here and there to reconnect with friends near and far and with my husband during some long weekends, days off, outings, and visits from across the pond. Likewise, the next couple of posts will be a bit off-topic but, never fear, fashion will always play a role in them.

There is a common thread that will connect all of these dots. A terrible event that brought with it help from unexpected places and the foundation for strong, lasting bonds that remain.

I'll paraphrase.

Two and a half years ago my husband and I awoke to flood waters trickling through our front door. Seventeen inches of rainfall over the course of three days in Nashville hadn't been enough to flood our home. The brilliant decision by the Army Corps of Engineers to close the Cheatham Dam without warning did the trick. Hubby, myself, and our two dogs were forced to camp out in the furthest corner of our backyard for about 60 hours as we watched the water engulf our home and threatened to push us off of our property entirely.

      

When the waters receded we felt overwhelmed at the task at hand. Everything from 4' down had to go, including drywall, insulation, carpeting, cabinets, furniture, and personal posessions.  Then we had to rebuild with limited funds and even less experience.

We knew that we couldn't afford to contract out the construction. If we were going to have our home back we'd have to do the work ourselves. I lost many of my clothes not to floodwaters but to mold that crept into the bins they were stored in as we redid closets to accommodate them. I spent the next year or so on the worst dressed list. My uniform was oversized men's tees, raggedy shorts and capris, and a pair of plastic purple Hanna Montana Crocs I found at Big Lots. Everything I owned was covered in some kind of building material be it drywall mud, tile mastic, grout, or one or more paint colors.

    

What happened next was completely unexpected. We received a huge outpouring of support in the form of guidance and volunteer assistance without which we never would have succeeded in rebuilding. People that we had only known online came from all over to lend a hand in whatever capacity they could. We had a father and son from Liverpool, England spend their American holiday putting up drywall and assisting in building the wheelchair accessible front deck. I'll never forget them showing up in the midst of what was literally a disaster area with two bunches of flowers. Our friendship was cemented in that moment. Lots of relationships were defined, for better or for worse, during this period. When disaster strikes people show you who they really are, and I'm happy to report that most people are good.

        

Fast forward over two years later. Our house is almost finished but I'd be lying if I said the process hasn't really taken a toll on me emotionally, and especially physically. CP can augment aches, pains and problems associated with strenuous physical activity and aging. But these things pale in comparison to having a home that is now even more handicapped accessible. I am refining and rebuilding my wardrobe, having happily retired my construction rags.

Our British friend brought his wife with him to see us last year and is here once again for a visit and a brief tour around the South. This time I got to meet the girl in the family. She's very sweet, stylish, and loves to shop.

Finally!

Do Your Best - Results May Vary

This is only my sixth post and already I have met some wonderful ladies through their comments on SR. I think that warrants a little more personal information from me. An addendum to The Palsy.

I live in a little house just outside of Nashville, Tn with my husband and my two dogs. I can't drive so I spend the majority of my time at home. I'm not from Tennessee but I've come to appreciate the scenery and the peace and quiet that comes with living in a rural area. I'm not exactly the outdoorsy type. Scratch that, I'm not even close to the outdoorsy type. My idea of camping is only one bathroom and no computer. Two years ago this week our home was nearly destroyed by the 2010 flood aftermath aka the Army Corps of Engineers' genius plan. It has taken us this long to rebuild it with no shortage of amazing people stepping up to help - some of them from as far away as Liverpool, UK. We're not quite done with it but our involuntary remodel has resulted in a better, more accessible house than we started with.

My dogs have a big fenced-in yard to run around in and I walk with them for exercise. As I get older I've come to understand that any mobility I have is a privilege and it's use it or lose it time.  Four years ago I had to have neurosurgery to repair a cervical vertebra that had literally turned onto it's side and  left my right arm completely numb. It was likely the result of my efforts to become the world best Spastic Chef. Whatever; it was surgery or inevitable paralysis. As I've approached and passed the half century mark on this planet I've also had to work through a severely pulled hamstring, sciatica, and carpal tunnel - in my palsy hand of all places!

Poor me. Boo hoo. Nobody cares about any of that when they meet me. It's up to me to do the best I can to look as good as I can muster at any given moment so I can engage the people I'm interacting with. After my neck surgery I wore a scarf around my neck brace. It didn't occlude the brace, it just showed I cared enough to wrap it in something beautiful. Likewise until my neck healed I couldn't wear pants that had buttons or zippers so I found the prettiest skirts or pull-on pants I could and made sure the elastic didn't bunch and was covered up. It was the best I could do.

There are days when I don't feel like wearing much makeup or fussing over my clothes (yes, really) but I've set things up in such a way that even if I'm in a rush I know how to make myself look presentable. I'm sure all of you have seem the fashion makeover shows on TV. Don't you find it odd that they never makeover a Palsy? That's because their rules only take into account bodies that move correctly with clothes that fall over lines that are not twisted by spasticity or caught in the spokes of a wheelchair. Their bags won't sit in the crook of an elbow encased in a crutch, their stilettos are the ideal setup for a Spaz pratfall in 0.02 seconds.

So what are we, chopped liver?

The rules are different for us. I've figured out a few of them and I'll be sharing them here. It is my sincerest wish that all of you reading this won't hesitate to share your particular challenges and any workarounds you may have found.  It's high time we showed the world what we're made of!