Saturday, January 28, 2017
The simple joy of being able to put on your own socks
Following my work-related injury in 2004, I underwent two spinal surgeries, culminating in a fusion of the lower vertebrae. I was left with a very stiff back and a damaged sciatic nerve on my left side, resulting in permanent partial disability. One of the effects of this injury was to make it almost impossible to put on socks. Bending down to do so was very painful; and I couldn't bend far enough, particularly on the left side, to easily pull the socks over my feet. I had to work it over the foot and ankle inch by inch, often holding onto something for support with one hand while tugging the sock along with the other. It was a very awkward, painful process.
Miss D. helped enormously after our wedding. It felt humiliating to have to rely on her in that way, but I guess that's part of what marriage is all about - helping one another when needed. I've relied on her assistance for several years. However, following a recent injury, she was temporarily unable to help me as usual, so I had to revert to doing what I could for myself. That was very frustrating.
In sheer desperation, I started searching for anything that might have been invented to help folks in my situation. I'd never heard of any such apparatus, but figured I had nothing to lose by looking. To my astonishment, in recent years a whole family of equipment has been developed, known as 'sock donners', or words to that effect. Some are poorly reviewed, others better thought of. I spent a couple of hours sorting through what was available, looking for those that were rated best by their users and which seemed reasonably simple to operate, then ordered this stocking donner, in the largest size they make, to try out.
Reviews were mixed. Some people loved it; others complained that it let socks slip off too easily, or was awkward to use. I figured if I read the instructions carefully, and followed the advice of those who'd reviewed it favorably, I should be able to make it work.
Boy, am I impressed! I tried it out as soon as it arrived, and was amazed at how simple and easy to use it was. I've now been using it for almost a week, and am still overjoyed that I can put on my own socks again, without needing to bother Miss D. (who has her own injury troubles at the moment), or suffering too much pain and discomfort while doing so. It seems silly to say that a simple metal framework can transform one's outlook on life, but this stocking donner has really done that for me. It's allowed me to be self-reliant again in an area that probably seems ridiculously simple to most people - but isn't simple at all when you aren't physically capable of doing it! The only limitation is that your socks have to be big enough and/or elastic enough to stretch over and slide onto the framework. Non-stretch socks may not work. (The tool is available in different sizes, to help with that.)
The only potential drawback to the big stocking donner is that it'll be too bulky to take along when traveling. To cope with that, I've also ordered a simpler tool.
I haven't tried it yet, but reviews appear to indicate that it should be manageable. It'll probably be a bit more complicated for me than the larger framework thingumajig, but it's a lot more compact, too. If it allows me to become more independent on the road, it'll be worth it.
I daresay some of you are reading this, shaking your heads, and asking "Why is he getting so excited about putting on socks, for heaven's sake?" All I can say is, wait until it hurts like a SOB to do so, or is sometimes physically impossible because your back has gone on strike that morning, and refuses to bend far enough. When you reach that point, tools like these become a life-changing experience.