I like clothes.
I don’t like fashion labels or have favourite designers. Publications such as Vogue or Cosmopolitan tend to make me roll my eyes.
I like op-shop clothes. Second-hand clothes. Bits of modern life cluttered into bargain bins, or hanging like sleeping bats on the discount racks of charity shops. Corduroy pants resurrected with wild stitching, fluffy, faux-fur jackets and vintage woolen skirts with swishy pleats. I was mega-jealous the other day when I friend from my home-town announced an op-shop find of Dalek pyjama pants. Daleks! And they even had ‘exterminate’ written on them. Wow.
Sadly, over the last few years, my fashion choices have become more limited. It’s my heart, mostly. Backing up with all of that fluid it can’t get rid of. It all ends up in my abdomen, or, on a small scale, sitting jelly-like around my ankles.
So not only has my appearance altered, but I also can’t wear anything that even marginally restricts my breathing.
Recently, I attempted to rectify my terrible crimes against fashion. A couple of weekends ago, at the markets, I came across a kind of Sunday Miracle. A clothing stall with the following:
a) Clothes of a suitably interesting and quirky nature to enable re-entry into the grand semiotic conversation that is Fashion.
b) Several items that might even accommodate my whale-like belly.
c) A five dollar bargain bin perfect for my welfare-scum budget.
The first item I found was a large teal green sort of tunic thing with a baby-doll type cut. I actually despise this style purely for its’ name. Unfortunately, desperate times call for feminist-principle abandoning measures, and besides, it had interesting pleats around the neckline. I also dug up a long t-shirt/dress creation with grey and flourescent pink horizontal stripes of varying widths. It had ginormous sleeves, and a weird and wobbly shape which I thought might miraculously match mine somehow. Forking over my $10, I stuffed them in the top of my vegetable-laden Nanna trolley and triumphantly bore them home.
But when I tried them on in front of the mirror, the whale was still there, happily waving its’ flippers. I wailed.
The teal thing made me look like Violet Beauregarde from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory after she chews the forbidden blue-berry flavoured gum. The stripey one wasn’t so bad. If I wore another large t-shirt over the top, I only looked the tiniest bit like a giant chuppuchup.
Overall, I’d say Fashion Failure.
I’ve been hassling doctors for stronger diuretics for months now. They tell me to take an extra tablet every-so-often, and try not to mind too much about my body shape.
Mostly, I have been making a concerted effort to not to mind. I have been telling myself that mainstream body ideals are pure invention of a male-dominated media industry aiming to sell low self-esteem along with breast implants and Happy Meals. I’ve also been consoling myself with the idea that were I a celebrity, ‘Hello’ magazine would run blurry paparazzi shots accompanied by bird-brained speculation over my ‘baby bump’.
All morning, I’d been thinking that my feet felt a little strange. At about midday, I decided it was time I had a shower so that I could leave the house without people commenting on my weird, sticky-up-hair. I shut the bathroom door, and took off my dressing gown. The Second-Hand Persian Cat meowed and scratched woefully from outside, as he tends to do whenever we are tragically separated by something so finite as a shut door.
I kicked off my slippers and then glanced down at my feet.
Instead of my lovely, narrow, beautifully arched, size five-and-a-half, feet, I had large, thick, clumsy clod-hoppers speckled with tiny blue and purple veins. And cankles. There were cankles above the scary sick lady feet.
I had puffy feet. Not happy feet. Decidedly unhappy feet.
I stood in the freezing cold bathroom, looking down at the sick lady feet. The right one was bigger than the left one. That was odd. What did that mean? Maybe it was a sign my heart failure was getting worse. Maybe next week I’d be on the transplant list. Maybe next week I’d be dead.
Then I decided not to worry anymore. I had a shower, during which my primary goal was to look down as little as possible. I got dressed and put my slippers back on, which had the wonderful effect of covering up all evidence of unhappy feet.
Luckily, I already had a doctor’s appointment booked for the next day. There, the horrific sight of my feet even prompted a call to my specialist. And then, finally, I was given a stronger dose of diuretics. After a few days, I had happy feet again. And then, even more wonderfully, the other fluid started to vanish too.
My worries aren’t over yet, however, because fluid build-up doesn’t go away overnight. The rest of me is still a bit penguin shaped. But I’m happy to say that it’s a less obvious penguin, and one that might, some day, contemplate further fashion forays.