When Fashion Hurts

I love clothes. I follow fashion blogs and pour over my favorite catalogs and websites like someCarie Sherman people read the news. I use services like Stitch Fix to watch What Not to Wear. Over the years, and especially after I got sick, I became a big believer in having a small, versatile wardrobe in which I can honestly say I LOVE every piece in it.

As such, when I shop, I look for clothes that look great for client meetings or are perfect for girl’s night. I look for clothes that express who I am and look just as good at the park playing with my bug or going to dinner with my husband.

In short, I shop for things that happen, oh, about 3-5 times per month. Total.

What’s happening the rest of the month?

I’m home. On good days, that means writing. On bad days, that means lounging. Both require the utmost comfort.


In general, clothes really hurt my body. I’m not sure if it’s the fibromyalgia or the autoimmune issues, but there are days that anything I put on physically hurts. Fabric hurts my skin, jewelry is too heavy, it’s too hard to pull something on/off, waistbands turn into a python.

And let’s not even talk undergarments. My bras are trying to kill me.

But apparently, my other clothes wish me dead as well. Just this morning, I fell down. Why? Because my toe got caught in a hole in the ratty Christmas PJ pants I wear regardless of the season.

I suddenly realized my wardrobe’s duality. I inventoried the clothes I spend the most time in. Here is what I found:

• Two Christmas-print PJ pants– one of which is two sizes too big
• 1 pair of yoga pants that used to be black and are now covered with bleach stains
• 1 pair of grey yoga pants with a ripped pocket
• Three sports bras that are too big
• One sports bra that my mom bought me in 1992 (seriously)
• Two pairs of capri sweats that are identical but can only be worn with a tucked in tank because the seams irritate my skin
• A spring break ‘98 tshirt, size XXL
• T-shirts with assorted stains–most of which I received for free–many of which have holes
• A pair of leggings that are too small so I cut the seams to allow for breathing
• My sister’s high school gym shorts

My Post Inventory Thoughts

In the order they popped in my head:

1. My poor husband
2. I’m gross
3. This can’t be healthy
4. It’s time to do something about this
5. This could be a form of mental illness
6. My poor husband

What the Experts Say

Not surprisingly, lots of people have lots to say on the topic of how you dress. Here are a few that resonated.

• “Our clothes make a huge difference to what people think about us – and without us knowing or in ways we couldn’t even imagine.” Now, I make sure that other people (i.e., people who don’t live in my home) perceive me in a certain way. But what is it saying about me that I allow myself to look so crappy, day after day, in my home–and in particular, when I’m sick?
• “… dressing in nicer clothes makes you feel better.” This study relates to depression. Which, as you know, I struggle with. On days when I feel good physically, I feel good mentally. But I wonder how often wearing Christmas PJs in July and a sports bra that could legally buy alcohol contributes to a downward spiral?
• “… clothes can change the way you think.” I have to be honest. Every single thing I’ve ever written in this blog that reflects joy and learning and growth were written on days when I wasn’t feeling like crap. Despite this cultivated image of positivity, I spend every sick day blaming myself and overanalyzing what I’ve done wrong and hating myself for not being able to control my symptoms better. A change in thinking is very much needed.


Feeling sick is bad enough. Letting myself look as bad as I feel doesn’t help.

I need a cute sick wardrobe. One that feels good if my skin hurts and is easy to put on and can accommodate hot flashes and bloated stomachs and days entirely spent horizontal. And I need to toss anything that I wore before I got married 10 years ago,* as well as things with dangerous holes and stains of unknown origin.

What about you? Do you dress like a slob when you’re sick on the couch? Are your PJs tattered? Are your workout clothes older than the current century?

If you answered yes, let’s make a pact to get our sick $hit together and find cute comfies.

Now, where to start? (Gladly accepting suggestions in the comments below!)

*Note to hubby, if you ever happen to read this: I can part with almost anything. But I refuse to part with my spring break t-shirt. So don’t even ask.

6 Rules for a Stress-Free Summer

Yay! Summer! Right?Carie Sherman

Well, right for me. I love summer. But I live in Colorado, where humidity is minimal and the air gets cool at night. And I have central air.

For many lupus patients, summer can be a real drag—even if you’re not photosensitive. I often feel sick in the heat and know others do, too. But that doesn’t stop me from idealizing summer and setting unrealistic expectations about the wonderful summer I shall have (I’ve got a bit of Clark Griswold in me).

So here are my ideas on rules for a laid back summer. Add yours in the comments, please!

Rule One. If you can order it online, order it online. I’m still surprised by the number of people who tell me they never shop online. After all, online ordering essentially turns boring errand-running into presents waiting at your front door. Plus, you save the $75 of extra crap you’d throw in the cart at Target. And, you can turn buyer’s remorse into a blame game (Amazon reviewer RunForestRun95 said this lipstick was the perfect shade of plum—it’s her fault I hate it).

Rule Two. Auto-refill your prescriptions. You’d think in the last five years I would have found the 10 minutes necessary to set up automatic refills through my pharmacy. Nope. I almost always run out of my Plaquenil on a Friday, and it’s always when I’m out of refills. No more! Or, if you’re lucky enough to have the three month mail-in supply option through your insurer, maybe now’s the time to set it up!

Rule Three. Plan 2-3 fun summer activities. Ones that mean a lot to you (and preferably, are easily rescheduled should you find yourself feeling unwell). For example, perhaps you won’t be broken-hearted to miss a trip to the water park, but it would make you really sad if you missed playing with your niece in the sprinklers. No one is able to pack enough fun into summer (and those who try often stress themselves out!). So my small list is full of simple things, like taking an evening walk to get ice cream and eating dinner on the deck. How about yours?

Rule Four. Don’t skip meals. I’m not hungry in hot weather. And I know I feel better when I eat regularly. Although Rice Chex are square, three square meals, they do not make. So I’m going to make a list of easy-peasy meals and stock up the freezer. I’m trying to figure out my budget to see if signing up for a CSA (that’s community-supporting agriculture—and many deliver).

Rule Five. Don’t let the extra daylight fool you. Just because the sun is awake doesn’t mean you need to be. If you’re like me, you still need winter-level rest, which means going to be when it’s light out. I recently drank a cup of iced coffee at 5 p.m. after waking up from a nap. Guess who found herself at Target at 9:30 p.m., loading up her cart with stuff from the Your Home Sucks Aisle? And guess who found herself stuck in bed most of the next day?

Rule Six. Take a screen break. I have a screen problem. I want to be someone who does not need her phone glued to her backside, but I’m not. It stresses me out to have my phone—I dread the beep. It stresses me out to not have my phone. I need a break. My husband suggested I avoid screen time after work until our daughter goes to bed around 8. He thinks I can’t do it. Which is likely the only reason that I will succeed.

I hope you all have a happy, healthy summer filled with the things that make summer special for you. Thoughts on how to reduce stress? Share them below.

7 Tips and Tricks to Remember at Your Next Doctor’s Appointment

1. Think of your doctor as a less hilarious version of your best friend. And at your appointment, it’s time to Carie Shermantell all. Sure, symptoms can be embarrassing. But your doctor knowing that you forgot your ATM pin (again) or you have a rash in a place you’d prefer not to mention could be critical to you getting the best care.

2. Speaking of your BFF, bring her with you. Or your husband or mom or your aggressive assertive next door neighbor. Having someone else listen and ask questions can mean less pressure on you.

3. Write it down. Did your doc give you new info or instructions in your appointment? Write it down. Did a new symptom pop up? Write it down. You can’t remember your ATM pin. Believe me when I say, you’re not going to remember this either.

4. Own your behavior and choices. If there are three pills left in the bottle, you did not finish that course of prednisone. Starting an exercise program tomorrow does not count as a “yes” to your doctor’s “are you getting exercise” question. Lupus requires that you take a hard look at all aspects of your life. If you feel rotten, are you getting enough rest? If you feel good, what have you been doing right?

5. Your doctor gets to decide what information is irrelevant. Lupus is super-complex. Let your doc decide which symptoms he cares about. Over the course of years (and yes, you’ll be seeing your doctor for many, many years), patterns emerge. The more you and your doc understand about your lupus, the better you’ll be able to manage your symptoms.

6. It’s on you to address your concerns. Remember, no matter how caring your doctor is, she is not thinking about your problems after your appointment. So don’t leave the office until you’re satisfied with the info you received. This is your body, and you’re the only one who lives in it. Get the answers you need to feel better.

7. Remember that lupus baffles elite medical minds. It’s okay if you’re confused, too.

8 Ideas for Making Your Home Lupus-Friendly

Home sweet home means so much more when you find yourself confined to it. During a recent Carie Shermanconfinement of my own, I got bored and paged through my husband’s Family Handyman magazine. (It’s a hobby of mine to tear out projects I want him to do. His hobby to ignore my hobby.)

Anyway, there was an article about aging and adapting your home for comfort and safety. Since arthritis and autoimmune disease go together like peanut butter and jelly, I thought these tips could be helpful. (Don’t forget to print this list for the handy-person in your life to ignore!)

1) Replace toggle light switches with rocker switches. The big on/off plate of a rocker switch can be easier for arthritic hands—you can operate it with a finger, knuckle—even your elbow.

2) Replace cabinet knobs with handles. The writer suggests replacing small knobs with C- or D-shaped pulls for easy opening.

3) Raise your washer and dryer to save your back/knees. They suggest purchasing a pedestal that raises them by 12-15 inches (or ask your handy-person to build one—directions can be found at family-handyman.com).

4) Place convenient resting spots. If you have a lot of steps in your house or long hallways, place a bench or chair nearby (ensuring it’s not a tripping hazard!).

5) Replace doorknobs with levers. When you’ve lost dexterity in your hands, it’s far easier to push down on a lever than it is to twist a knob.

6) Considering a kitchen remodel? Think about installing such items as rollout drawers, a shallow sink, appliances with touch-pad controls, and maximize drawer storage over upper cabinetry.

7) If you ever find yourself wheelchair bound, you can widen your doorways by installing offset hinges.

8) Install “invisible” grab bars. I’m far too vain to install a traditional grab bar (I’m not even 40 yet!). But I have to admit, there have been times I could have used a little extra leverage. The article says there are many options for stylish, sturdy bars. Check out the Invisia Collection or google “designer grab bars.”

Bonus Tip! The article presented a brilliant way to help someone who doesn’t have arthritis know how it limits your mobility. Says writer Louis Tenenbaum, “Hold a tennis ball in the palm of your hand inside a sock. Now walk around and try to manipulate the switches, doorknobs, and cabinet pulls in your house.”

Do you have any tips for making your home more comfortable? Share them in a comment below.