Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Red Roses and Pain Poses

Okay, so I called this post Red Roses and Pain Poses and there are no roses here -- not in the dress or in the trees. But it sounds good, right? Allow me some poetic licence, okay?

My city is particularly known for its early plum and and cherry blossoms lining street after street.

It's really spectacular but I find the plenitude and abundance of blossoms hard to truly capture on camera. 

Dress: Gigi ; Sweater: Reitmans; Boots: Ecco; Raincoat: London Fog; Cane: Life; Bangle, brooch on coat, and Sherman brooch: vintage; Earrings: boutique
They extend for block after block and, when the petals begin to fall, the streets look like they're covered in snow drifts but those are pink petals, not flakes.

So I thought I'd dress to match the day. I got this pretty, flowery, slightly retro dress on sale for $20 at a long-standing shop that was finally closing. It generally catered to old women; whenever I went there, I was the youngest person in the room. That's fine by me. In some ways, I've been an old lady all my life. Ask anyone. Now, with the cane... Well, now I get the bad parts of being an old lady too, well before my time.

I thought I'd go all out and pair the dress with pink earrings, a pink sweater, and a red bangle. I don't think the red and pink actually clash. Do you?

And don't forget the pink Sherman brooch, which I adore. The dress is cut too low so I pulled it in a bit for modesty and used the brooch to hold it in place.

The day was a bit cool, so I dug out my London Fog raincoat as well which I think always adds a touch of classy, figure-flattering tailoring to any outfit.

Plus it gave me a nice excuse for another brooch, which matches the Sherman one.

With boots, I didn't have to wear tights to keep warm. When my back is bad, the pinch of tights at my waist and lower back really hurts. 

And the pain has been really really bad lately. If you were to spend any time with me, even on good days, you'd see this look on my face often. You'd see it even more often lately.

I do sometimes still "fake it" but, mostly, I don't try to hide my pain anymore. For whom would I be doing it? Certainly not for myself. It's no crime or social faux pas to be in pain, and hiding it hurts me even more. If it makes others uncomfortable, well, it's really not my problem. Besides, their emotional discomfort can't match my own physical discomfort, I'm sure.

I've been using my canes a lot lately, even in the house, and always when I go out. Normally, I can go for months without using it except on public transit or when I know I'm going to have to stand still for a long time (like at a party). 

But, these days, it's with me all the time.

Do notice that it's coordinated with my outfit. I have a brown cane to go with warm-toned outfits and a black one to go with cool-toned outfits. I would own more if I could afford them and/or if I used canes more than I do. There are lot of really pretty canes out there, which is more than I can say for most disability aids. 

When it comes to the world of disability aids, there is very little range for self-expression. It's as if it doesn't occur to the makers that some disabled people enjoy beauty, just like anyone else.

Soon, I'll be getting a mobility scooter, thank God, but it doesn't leave much room for self-expression either. It comes in a huge range of fun shades: black, blue, red, and beige. Bleah. I may bedazzle it, or airbrush a dragon on it, or something to make it look better. We'll see. Suggestions are more welcome.

As you can imagine, I'm not smiling much lately. Like I say, faking it is just one more effort when remaining upright is effort enough. 

But, if anyone's going to get me to smile (see below), it's Beau. He'll do practically anything to make me laugh when I'm down, including a little dance with the cutest little bum wiggle. He has a very nice bum.

Not that I can join him dancing. Upright time, let alone dancing, often leads to one of my "pain poses" and, lately, it does so even more and even faster than usual.

Most of them involve trying to curve my pelvis forward to relieve the terrible pressure on my lumbar region which is where I'm most badly injured and where my pain rests most brutally.

Have you ever tried taking off a coat with a cane ...

... or buttoning a button ...

... correctly ...

... or taking off a sweater with any decorum?

Even if you succeed, now you have no free hands. And what do you do with your purse or bag? Beau's holding mine.

Try an experiment some time: get dressed while holding a cup in your hand. Fun? Nope. Easy? Nope? Now try going out and holding that cup in your hand all day. 

Better yet, make it a round ball, so every time you try to set it down for a second, it rolls to the ground. Remember, every time you let go of it, not only is it likely to fall down, but you will be in more pain. Don't let go of the cane unless you have a counter-top, or a wall, or a tree to lean on to reduce pain.

Are you having fun yet? Me neither.

But I do sometimes still have cause for a genuine smile. Here, a very tough looking motorcyclist slowed down to watch the photo shoot and said I looked lovely and it was a very pretty spot for photos. That was nice.

I tried to do a little twirl. 

It hurt.

I do my best. It's just going to have to be enough.

But it's my life, and I don't have to smile if I don't want to. 

(I'm linking this up to Shoe Shine over at Ephemera and Visible Mondays at Not Dead Yet.)



  1. I love that you go pink and beyond pain, dear friend.
    I am so proud to have met you through the bloggosphere.
    Keep up that gorgeous smile of yours and don´t forget to join Share-in-Style: pink this Saturday 10th

  2. Hello Charlotte. I too think you look lovely and there is pink in your dress. You are an eye opener to me. I'm 68, 2 months out from weight loss surgery, and I have spinal stenosis and bad knees. I've never used a cane but sometimes I've wished I had one. I don't know what your medical problem is but I'm grateful that you have decided to work around it and blog for the rest of us. I look forward to seeing m ore of you.

    1. So glad you found me, Judy. I think a lot of us with chronic pain, or weight issues... or anything that sets us apart from fashion models (!) kind of give up on our appearance because we don't think we're worth it, and we don't think it's possible for us to look good.

      My back injury was caused by severe child abuse. You can read about it here: http://www.sublimemercies.com/2014/05/cane-for-pain-vs-stick-for-style.html

  3. I LOVE this dress. Doesn't my gal look great? :)

    - Beau

    1. Thanks, sweetie. I didn't know you liked it so much. It's very similar in cut and fabric to my "Oprah dress" which you also love.

  4. Very very pretty dress, and the whole outfit - you look gorgeous in it! Hugs!

  5. I'm sorry to hear about the constant back pain. That's the worst.

    Your dress is lovely!

  6. I love red and pink together! Thank you for playing along with Shoe Shine - so very nice to meet you, Charlotte. Your setting reminds me of home (and you have a Canadian brand on, Reitmans, I think you must be close!) - I'm in Victoria. I read your "about this blog" and about your pain - thank you for expressing it all so well.

    You look gorgeous! Rock on!

    1. Yup, I am not far from you. I love this part of the world. Reitmans is kind of my "go to" for basics, not the best quality but comfortable, and stylish enough, and they have a nice array of sizes, including petites above size 12.

      My "about" section is hopelessly out of date. I need to rewrite it. If you want a proper introduction to me and my blog, try my year end review, here:


  7. I love the comment from Beau! It's a lovely dress and you look wonderful. So sorry the pain is worsening, damn pain. Thanks for sharing with visible Monday, and rock that scooter, when it comes in.

  8. My first time here and I find you are trully beautiful dress,canes boots and all. It's great you take good care of yourself and you dress creatively, it's comforting and posotive. I hope the pain lessens so that you don't suffer and everyday becomes easier! Nice to meet your blog ! if I can say that!

  9. Hey, you ok? You are going through an awful lot right now and we're out here rooting for (and praying for) you. If you are too busy or exausted or pissed to post, just hang something out there that says that. It's not fair to make us care and then run silent. Wishing you shalom in its finest.

    1. Thanks so much for noticing and caring. I'm not great. I got very sick on pain killers and even ended up in the ER on Friday night. I now have a case of cabin fever fit to blow up a small island. I think that means I'm getting better. I do have a post in the works, one on fashion history. I might even get it done today.

      I am on both Facebook and Google+ and have given some updates there. You could find me there.

    2. Thanks for the update. Really sorry about the painkillers and cabin fever, worse because it is SUMMER and no one should be stuck inside during the summer. Hope you'll be back up and about soon, feeling better.

  10. Oh yes, I remember this one - gorgeous dress, and it fits you like a glove! Wear it a lot!!