I Wanna Hold Your Hand

That's what all the boys say. But some of them have my best interests at heart.

OT1

The handsome guy in the photo with me is Gary Robinson, a Certified Hand Therapist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center's Orthopaedic Hand Clinic. We've been spending a lot of time together because he's trying to prevent me from losing the use of my only good hand. What started as pain in my right thumb and wrist presumed to have been caused by an injury has become much more complicated to treat.

No doubt you've noticed in all of my photos that I can't hold my hands "normally". This is due to my Cerebral Palsy and I've never really given it much thought except when circumstances brought it back to my attention. So what if I have a grasping reflex? Aside from having to grip my mouse with excessive force while I paint for hours and the total inability to shape the perfect meatball it just isn't a big deal. I can't do up tiny buttons or open childproof caps, either. You learn to work around these minor annoyances - until your workarounds are becoming painful as half a century of incorrect movement starts to take it's toll. Now the workarounds need workarounds, too.

That's when you end up holding hands with a nice guy who whispers sweet nothings like "intercarpal joint hypomobility, median nerve entrapment, and reduced transverse arch". When he tells you you have a lot of tone it's not a positive comment about your workout results. Instead it means that my Cerebral Palsy makes it very difficult for me to relax the base of my thumb so that it's always pulling inward towards the rest of my palm. Lots pf people with CP benefit from Botox injections to open up their hands or uncurl their feet. But I'm "high functioning" (stop laughing) and Botox would be more of a hindrance than a help.

There are no easy answers; no tried-and-true procedures to fix the problem. Luckily, Gary is very motivated to help me. He views it as a challenge outside of what he normally has to deal with.

OT2

He made me a custom splint I have to wear at night. Finding something I can wear during the day that will keep the base of my thumb in a beneficial position is proving to be more difficult. For my part I've offered up a cycling glove to serve as a base for attaching "ideas".

OT3

If he can figure out a configuration that works I''ll be entertaining suggestions from all of you about what I should do to make it look attractive. Otherwise, Gary doesn't even think I'll wear it because it's won't look cool.

He's wrong, of course. I can make anything look cool.

Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month

Did you know that March is Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month? No? Well, don't feel bad. Up until a few days ago I didn't, either.

For those of you that are not familiar with CP it's an incurable condition which, according to Wikipedia, is generally caused by "damage to the motor control centers of the developing brain and can occur during pregnancy, during childbirth or after birth up to about age three. Resulting limits in movement and posture cause activity limitation and are often accompanied by disturbances of sensation, depth perception, and other sight-based perceptual problems, communication ability; impairments can also be found in cognition, and epilepsy is found in about one-third of cases. CP, no matter what the type, is often accompanied by secondary musculoskeletal problems that arise as a result of the underlying disorder."

In short, I have brain damage (hecklers insert snide remark here).

The truth is although this blog has made me more conscious of how my Cerebral Palsy comes across to others in the photos and videos on my posts I rarely give my condition a second thought otherwise. But that's because I've had 50+ years of practice to forget about it. I've lived a very "mainstreamed" life (and raised a lot of hell) but I am the exception and not the rule. There are many, many men and women with CP out there that are constantly underestimated, misunderstood, and overlooked.  They can't forget about it because every day presents new challenges to move, to speak, or to prosper. Please take a little time this month to do a little research on, read a book about, or ask a few questions regarding Cerebral Palsy from a professional or a "member of the club" like me.

Since the ribbon for Cerebral Palsy Awareness is green, and yesterday was St Patrick's Day, today's outfit is the one I wished I had photographed in time for Adrienne Shubin's "How I wear my green" challenge.

881625_572889016069732_1560409208_o

855528_572888466069787_1853499897_o

855899_572885456070088_169414603_o

888291_572887169403250_1520912545_o

It was finally warm enough for me to wear a lighter jacket to take these photos in a little park at Nashville West Center. This lined, embellished jacket is by Life Style petite and is perfect for a spring day. It's also the only new piece in the outfit. The flat-front, pull-on Westbound petite jeans are from the thrift store. I'm a huge Beatles fan so when I found this Abbey Road T-shirt at T J Maxx I had to have it. Wing-tipped, denim, Groove oxfords were a Marshall's find from last year. They somehow got put away and forgotten about so this is their debut. The Sophie watch is one of my favorites purchased four years ago. The battery died last year but I replaced it just in time for this year's hot color trend.

I realize the T-shirt is a bit askew. I'm afraid I can't always straighten out the minor details before my hubby starts snapping photos. Because it's nearly impossible for me to hold still or smile without grimacing I try to strike some semblance of a pose before he starts taking many, many pictures in hopes that some will be usable. This is a symptom of my particular form of Cerebral Palsy. Forgive me; I'm not going to sweat a lopsided shirt too terribly much.

Linking up again with Patti at Not Dead Yet Style for Visible Monday and my first Monday Mingle.

Vamping Up A Storm

Can there be any grace in being a vamp?

The answer is yes, of course, provided that vamp is an extension of a gorgeous shoe.

I've talked about my obsession with shoes before, and I know that I'm not alone in my weakness for beautiful footwear. Who can resist a slinky strapped sandal, a revealing d'orsay pump, or a scandalous vamp that exposes tons of toe cleavage? Who hasn't teetered on a heel too high, stuffed themselves into a shoe too narrow, or wobbled on a poorly constructed stiletto?

sandal

dorsay

stiletto

Guilty, guilty, and guilty.

A beautiful shoe renders me momentarily incapable of rational thought. It is in those moments of weakness, impulse, or stubbornness that I have made most of my regrettable shoe purchases. I used to think if I really loved a pair of shoes I would somehow make them work on my wide, palsied feet. I carried on with this delusion for most of my life, until one day I caught myself looking for a pair of shoes to wear, nixing one after the other because of fit or comfort issues. I had a closet full of beautiful shoes I didn't want to wear.

The solution was obvious. I had to let go of my outdated thinking about shoes and replace it with a practical, elegant philosophy that would truly serve me. I donated all of the absolute "unwearables" at once.

The most delicate kitten heels that made my ankles turn with a single misstep.

kittenheel

The slingbacks that perpetually slipped off.

slingback

The flats with such a low vamp they couldn't conceal my foot curling up.

lowvamp

Anything too tight or uncomfortable to endure for more than an hour. They all left my closet, but I was by no means done.

Since then I've really paid attention to what works for me as well as what doesn't. Oxfords and brogues work well and they're de rigueur right now so I'm snatching them up as fast as I can. Styles range from ultra-feminine to uber eccentric and I love most of them.

oxfords

oxforcutout

agencyoxheel

Anything with a high, wide vamp like certain espadrilles works, too. So do Mary Janes and T-straps. I'd kill for the perfect pair of T-Strap shoes; they're my very favorite style!

tstrap

Boots must have a wide calf or laces for adjustment. When I'm on crutches heels for walking may not exceed 1.5", but if I'm in my chair I can double that number.

laceboot

I was actually told by a Physical Therapist that it's good for your foot to vary your heel heights within reason.

One pair at a time I replaced shoes that were "okay" looking or fit "so-so" with shoes that were beautiful and comfortable - because I refuse to wear ugly shoes unless I'm exercising or there's a zombie apocalypse. Actually, I can probably scare up some attractive boots if there's a zombie apocalypse.

zombieboot

I can certainly pull it together better than the ladies on "The Walking Dead". Never have so many needed a bath and a makeover so badly. But I digress.

Although this post is autobiographical I must tell you that this is a clarion call for all of you lovely ladies reading it. Some of you are already experiencing some form of physical disability that requires you to be creative with your footwear. I'm here to tell you that nowadays even supportive shoes are available in attractive styles, and if you are unable to wear shoes you can certainly find some stylish socks or embellish some slippers with Sworovski crystals. Whatever you can manage, own it, rock it, make it yours!

slipred

For the rest of you I'm here to give you a reality check. Sooner or later you'll have to abandon the towering and torturous footwear you have for a wider variety. The padding on the ball and heel of your foot begins to diminish as you approach 40 and the delicate bones in your feet become more malleable with age. This leaves you with increasing discomfort in those shoes that pinch and push your foot forward and at increased risk for permanent deformities such as hammer toes. I'm never anxious to welcome anyone else into the crippled community, especially a self-inflicted disability. Start putting some less extreme, but still stylish,  footwear into your rotation, please.

Okay, I confess; I still consider myself to be a bigger vamp than any of my shoes can contain.  So much for the "sensible shoe"!

All images courtesy of Pinterest

Visible Monday: Errand Girl

This is my very first Visible Monday post. It requires a little backstory.

As I've mentioned before I can't drive, but it doesn't particularly bother me. I'm used to spending the bulk of my time at home and Mr Spashionista and I run our errands on his days off. Last weekend he bent down to tie his shoe and threw his back out very badly. It was so bad we ended up in the ER. He was in no condition to drive for the rest of the week.

We live out in the country where there are no buses and no grocery or restaurant delivery so I had to grab some groceries at the very least. Fortunately, my good- hearted friend Lani offered to take me into West Nashville to take care of a few things.

 photo 20130205_091657_zps1c64c095.jpg

You've seen some of these pieces before, but they were dressed up, not down. This being Nashville, denim is a staple and these Nine West "Date Night" capri jeans are perfect for a busy day. They really are capris, but I'm not quite 5' tall so on me they're skinny jeans! Okay, I'm not skinny, either, but you get the idea. The navy knit top is an R-Q-T Petite. Being incredibly buxom I generally steer clear of knit tops that are cut this high, but this one has a built-in silver mock ringed necklace detail that draws the eye down a bit. My ruffled raspberry Baccini jacket is terrific if I have to push myself in my wheelchair for long distances because it stays put. Because it's made of polyeurethane it also wipes clean if the sleeves get a little wheelchair spoke schmutz on them.

 photo 20130205_091804_zpsaf1e7200.jpg

Just because I'm running errands doesn't mean I have to look boring, right? Here's a navy sequined oxford done oh-so-right courtesy of Shi by Journeys. The socks are fisherman’s cable ivory boot socks I talked about in Shop Smart, Stay Fit, Get Noticed, Be Fabulous

 photo 20130205_091900_zpsd25bde13.jpg

The accessories are worth a look, too. The watch is silicone two toned purple from Stein Mart. Finally, this marks the debut of my cuff-styled Medic Alert bracelet. In all honesty my expectations for this trinket were pretty low but I'm happy to have been prove wrong. For what it is it's understated and inconspicuous. I will have several other Medic Alert bracelets to show off in the near future.

Thanks to Patti at Not Dead Yet Style for letting me play in her sandbox. I hope to participate in more Visible Monday linkups in the future.

A Month To Be Passionate About

How cliche would it be to go all Cupidy-Bonbon-and-Red-Rosey this time of year?

So cliche that I'm not going to do it. Well, not literally, anyway. Lots of my fellow bloggers are doing a fine job with traditional Valentine's Day iconography so I'm going to focus on the most intense, undistilled facet of love.

I want to talk about passion. Passion is more compulsion than emotion. It focuses our attention on how something or someone makes us feel and compels us to act. It pushes any rational thought out of our minds and replaces it with a never-ending quest for fulfillment of that compulsion. Addiction is passion taken to the extreme. Extremes are usually ultimately negative and rarely a good thing.

But passion is always a good thing. It's about living instead of merely existing. So this month I'm going to share some of my passions with you, and some of them may raise an eyebrow or two.

For example, take a look at this outfit.

workout1

oinkpants

If any of you find this attractive please turn in your "Fashionista" card immediately. It's a hideous outfit; $8 velour hoodie from Old Navy, $3 Victoria's Secret sweatpants via Music City Thrift, white wool knee socks, and 2007 model Ecco Mary Janes via EBay. The only redeeming article of clothing here is the black tee with Mr Spashionista's logo on it - and it's only appropriate outside of this application when worn underneath a jacket. For the longest time I thought the lettering across the back of the sweats read, "Oink" instead of "Pink". I'm not making that up.

But I'm passionate about this outfit and wouldn't part with it for the world. This is my workout wear for the winter months. Because I am a 51 year old woman with CP being as fit as possible is important to me. Several years ago I had a leg injury that required I go through physical therapy. While I was there I learned how to stretch and exercise and began getting stronger. Now I exercise every day. I also walk around my back yard with my two dogs as often as I can. That's the reason I'm so particular about my footwear.  It's very difficult for me to walk outdoors, even with my crutches, and I've found these shoes have the best fit for that specific activity. However, they don't work well for indoor exercises or even the stationary peddler I've been using since Christmas so I usually lose them before I  work out indoors.

None of this will cancel out the fact that I have Cerebral Palsy, but it does make me healthier in other ways, and I am healthy compared to a large number of my peers. If I have to forego my workout for a day I find my body craves it. Who knew that it would take me almost a half century to become passionate about exercise?

By the way, If you think this getup is bad I actually have a Muppet-pelt parka I add if it's hovering around freezing when I go for my walk. I'm not going to show you that gem - just think Snufflecripagus.

In Search Of A Pretty Medic Alert Bracelet

I am in desperate need of a particular piece of jewelry. Need; not want. This past weekend made that apparent.

I had a fairly common infection for which I was prescribed a common antibiotic, one that I had taken before. After the third dose it was clear that something wasn't right. I felt light-headed. I had big, itchy, red splotches on my neck, chest and arms, and I had difficulty swallowing. I was experiencing an allergic reaction called anaphylaxis - which can be deadly. Fortunately, it was Saturday so my husband was home. He quickly gave me two Benadryl, about five gallons of water to drink, and a watchful eye until I regained my senses and felt the lump in my throat subside.

The blotches on my skin are fading but the message will remain with me long afterwards. This is the third antibiotic medication I've developed an allergy to. What happens if I'm in an accident, or in full-blown anaphylactic shock, and can't communicate my allergies to those around me?

I can no longer ignore the fact that I have to get a Medical Alert bracelet. I had one many years ago, but it was hideous, and now obsolete given my body's newfound finicky attitude towards antibiotics. But I refuse to wear anything that looks even remotely like my original "chain link" bangle.

oldalert

I'd love it if I could afford solid gold, but I can't, and gold-plating always wears off. Likewise, the "charm" option isn't good for me because it'll get stuck in my wheelchair spokes as I'm pushing and fall off. A brief look around Pinterest yielded some promising options.

bangle

Amethyst_Harmony_Ladies

Classic_Lapis___Pearls_475x475

Deluxe_Copper_Fusion-2

moondance_red

onyxmelodyeng

pearl_envy_475

The prices for all of these range from $40 to $50 including engraving. I should add that the ID tags and lobster clawed bracelets are interchangable so you can see the combinations are endless.

What do you think? None of them is right for every outfit or occasion. Should I get more than one? Please help me decide.

Oh, and remind me to have "Cerebral Palsy" engraved on it this time - because last time I forgot!