Another thing I had to learn to do for myself was put my clothes on. I could pull my pants on (without fastening them) and get a T-shirt over my head, but that was the extent of it. Taking it all off proved to be fairly easy. After struggling awhile, I usually managed to untie my shoe strings (when they were not untied for me) and pull off my shoes and socks. My pants could easily be taken off, also, if someone had previously unfastened and unzipped them. There was no way, I used to think, that I could take a T-shirt off by myself. However, I learned to do many things I thought were impossible.

Because my feet are an important part of my unique body (and feet never get the credit due them, especially in Desenex commercials), we'll start there and work up.

'Shoes & Fasteners'

Open Vel-Cro Shoe Fastening

Clodhopper with Vel-Cro fastening open.

First, I had to get a shoe onto a very active (sometimes spastic) foot. I used to wear tennis shoes on my "happy feet", but there was no way I was going to get those on by myself because I couldn't use my hands well enough to hold the canvas sides open in order to get my foot into the shoe. When I tried to stick a foot in, the canvas sides would invariably crush down and the shoe would flatten out.

The answer, of course, was to find shoes which had rather stiff sides and backs so they wouldn't give when they came into contact with my Menacing Feet. I also needed something that came above my ankles because low-quarter shoes provided little support and tended to fall off at the most inopportune times.

Luckily, I was able to find what I needed in some cheaper brands of workboots or hiking boots, hereafter referred to as my "clodhoppers".

Closed Vel-Cro Shoe Fastening

Clodhopper with Vel-Cro fastening closed.

Part of the problem was solved: I had found shoes I could get onto my feet. Now I had to find a way to keep them there. Dr. Elmer (Remember him?) had suggested I might be able to use Vel-Cro, which I did. Dispensing with shoe strings, I had a patch of Vel-Cro sewn to the inward side of each shoe. Taking a piece of the other type of Vel-Cro, I had it attached to two straps which were in turn threaded through the first and third eyelets on each side of each shoe. This was done in such a way that this second piece of Vel-Cro was left hanging on the outward side of the shoe while the free ends of the two straps wound up hanging on the inward side of each shoe. A knot was tied in each strap end so it wouldn't slip back through the eyelets. A loop was left at the opposite end of the straps, just past the second piece of Vel-Cro. Thus, by grasping the loop and pulling up and toward the inward side, the clodhopper is closed. By pressing the two pieces of Vel-Cro together, the closure is secured. The clodhoppers look a bit shabby with no shoe strings and the tongues hanging out, but they serve the purpose most of the time.

Open Zipper on Boot

Zip-up dress boot with ring on zipper.

There were times, however (like job interviews), which required higher-class shoes than clodhoppers. This problem took an inordinately long time to solve, primarily because I didn't feel a pressing need to grapple with it. After trying Vel-Cro on a pair of dress shoes, which didn't look as good as I had hoped, I simply bought a pair of dressy half-boots which had zippers on the inward sides. Key rings large enough to grasp easily were attached to the zippers, thus allowing me to zip and unzip the shoes at will. Furthermore, the key ring, when it can be seen, adds to the attractiveness of the shoe by appearing to be some type of ornament. The primary reason I do not wear this type of shoe all the time is the cost. I am very hard on shoes, and clodhoppers are cheaper and last longer than the type of dress shoes I need.

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