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.



MaddMedic said...

After my 2nd back surgery last summer and left with a stiff back, putting socks on is work!!
Especially on the right side.
Have to look into these..
Again thanks!!

Anonymous said...

I'm not quite at the point where I need one of these, but it's my observation that as I've aged (I'm 73), my arms have gotten shorter and my legs longer.

Anonymous said...

I've not had that issue, but I have had the simple joy of the morning that starts with the 'favorite' pair of socks. When all of one's socks are hard wearing, long lived, but not soft and fuzzy....except that one pair which was a gift and randomly cycles through the work week. Joy in simple things.

Farm.Dad said...

Fantastic Peter ! I hope they are not too rough on the socks elastic but if they are buy more socks lol .

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much Peter for sometimes sharing the seemingly mundane parts of your life.
This will be a true blessing to me. I have not been able to put on socks for years and do not like to go sockless in shoes, but have no choice. Thank goodness this is a somewhat accepted "style" at the moment.
This is a game changer for me and I have already ordered one.
Small things can bring great blessings.
God Bless and I hope Miss D gets better soon.

Snoggeramus said...

Whatever the aspects of your life are, I too enjoy hearing about it. Especially if it involves that coon kitty cat of yours.

Anonymous said...

Peter, I wish I had thought to search this out on the internet; thanks for putting it up on your web site. I cobbled something out of two woodworking spring clips and 550 cord to cope with being one-handed while recovering from a recent shoulder surgery. It is amazing how much a small collection of these simple impediments saps your energy for the entire day. I salute you for continuing to be so productive despite these hinderances.

Ed C.

BobF said...

I use that second one, Peter, the one with the large black dot on it. It works fairly well, better than several others I've tried. Heh. I have a box of holsters AND a box of sock donners. Also, when I have to wear compression socks/hose I almost always use those with zippers on them. No matter which tool, however, I am in a couple of very non-standard body positions getting those socks on! 5 surgeries and 11 fused.

trailbee said...

Thank you so much. My mate is diabetic and overweight. Every morning I massage his feet (which we do not wish to lose) and then put on his socks. Although I do not mind the routine, which helps me to check on his feet, there have been times when I could not be there, and he either chose to go without socks, or it took an inordinate amount of time. This looks helpful.
P.S.: Now I understand why I see elderly men wearing no socks.

Anonymous said...

I've had days when even sitting on the floor to pull on socks was very painful (sciatic nerve pinch from . . . pulling on a sock. Something in my back slipped and that was that). After five years of this mess, I never take bending over and pulling on socks or shoes for granted.


Uncle Lar said...

Due to injuries to my right hip I find it difficult to impossible to reach far enough to pull a sock on my right foot. Left is no problem. So, my tools of choice are an eighteen inch bamboo back scratcher, the kind with a curved end, and a sixteen inch stick to which I have hot glued a spring loaded clothes pin. Clip the clothes pin to the back of the sock, hold open with the back scratcher, and pull over the foot to the point where I can grasp the sock and pull the rest of the way up.

Suz said...

Sock donners work well for most folks, if this is an issue for you, talk to your physician about a referral for an OT or occupational therapy referral/evaluation. This way you can try out several types so you don't wind up with a box of donners that didn't work for you.
We use OT's (and sock donners) all the time in the home care/visiting nurses organizations I have worked for. OT's help with all the little things that folks struggle with in their activities of daily living. From equipment to help with dressing (likes socks) to specially shaped eating implements, bathing equipment, to ways to strengthen hands, ways to sign checks, etc, OT's are a great resource.
And, no, I have no financial interest in any of the above. As an RN, I was very impressed with any of the OT's I have worked with over the years, and with how happy my patients have been with using the different types of equipment. Especially with sock donners, as one lady told me, "I can put on my own socks again, I no longer feel like I'm 2 years old again."

Noons said...

What a great solution to a problem I thought I'd never have!
In the last 2 years, my back has gone downhill as fast as I can stand up...
It is now a daily chore to put on socks.
Will definitely look out for these things. Thanks heaps for the idea.

Phil said...

Necessity is the mother of invention and sometimes it's the little things that drive you crazy.
I have also had my lower back fused after they took out a disc and a half.
Had that done when I was 25 years old and have been living in misery for 32 years since.
Been a mechanic that whole time too.

People wonder why I am such a grouchy old bastard....

Not something I would recommend having done unless there was no other way but they have come a long ways in those 30 years too.

Joseph Mcdermott said...

I use the second item when my back is acting up. A technique which you might find helpful if you dont have your sock donner is;stand at the side of your bed, lift one leg and kneel on the bed with that leg. This should put your hands closer to that foot. Good luck my brother.

xtron said...

know your joy and feeling of being returned to "normal".
for me it was the first time, after breaking a leg so badly it required the insertion of a steel rod, that i was able to wash my feet without having to sit down.
celebrate the little victories in life and life never gets boring.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Peter!
You are a minister; I think that would help you in being appreciative of even the little things that He grants us (I'm not saying this is a small matter--it may seem so to some, but it certainly isn't!).
In 2008, I had a wreck that, well, wrecked my right leg. It took the docs a month to finally feel that they could tell me they wouldn't have to amputate; they'd been keeping it as healthy as possible, but didn't know if I'd just be dragging it around, or if they could restore it to some usable condition.
To this day, I'm grateful that I can feel both socks as I put them on. May not sound like a big thing, but to me it is. I could function quite well, and perhaps even better, with a prosthesis, but I like being able to feel the ground through the soles of both feet.
--Tennessee Budd

Robert said...

What Suz at 2:27 said. OTs spent four hours here investigating what a client needs. Too bad it didn't work; time to try something else. Don't give up.

wheels said...

Quite a few years ago, I spent a week where I couldn't bend my back, and my wife had to put my socks and shoes on for me. It was only fair; it was her insistence I keep working at putting in a back deck after transporting all the cement that did it to me :-)

I'm glad I still have my flexibility; even a few days of that showed me some of what I'd been taking for granted.