THEN: I’m dressed. You’ll have to take my word for it. Dressing is an important transition from bed and bath, fraught with small choices; socks that match, that stay up, that don’t make my ankles swell and my feet turn red, now usually diabetic socks, though thank God I don’t have diabetes. This morning I am letting my Stage Four Flat Foots roam free.
NOW: Three years later same dilemma but halved, only have one Stage Four Flat Foot left. On Monday I will be measured up for another brace on my remaining right foot, looking for support that does not cause sores. I will be picking up another fake foot to go with my new prosthetic left leg at the same time. The fake foot that came with my new leg is too short for me and my size 14 shoes.
THEN: Underpants that don’t ride up into the crack of my ass, and don’t let my innocuous junk fall out, harder now my favourite brand has been discontinued.
In winter a t-shirt seems necessary and I have a bevy to choose from, including self-designed Correct in this Culture, Lucky Man and Jimmy Bang Blues Project and lots of comfy plain cotton XXL ts which may be all I need if I’m working at home
NOW: I’m now wearing a vest as the British call sleeveless undershirts, not wife-beaters. I now wear suspenders, and realize the importance of sleeveless undershirts if you wear braces, as the Britiush call suspenders. The t-shirt straps keep the suspenders off your skin. And my under and T shirts are all XXXL.
THEN: Pants I try to keep very simple never having more than 2 or 3 pair in rotation currently in brown, tan and green, and then one of my two or three favourite shirts if I’m going into 213 Notre Dame to work in my office number – 622 – which I found out in a recent fire drill. Because I’m in a wheelchair at work, I get to stay in my office, the door closed a wet dish towel under the door. So far I haven’t had to rely on the strength of Winnipeg fireman to carry me down the six flights of stairs.
NOW: My waist size can vary widly. From the thin of a 40 waist to the thick of a 50 waist. I need suspenders for anything past 44 because pants tend to fall down, as I once experienced at the Co-op in Gimli. I have a number of pinched nerves, and have sciatica as my parents called theirs. Anything tight around my waist hurts while I wear it and causes havoc a long time after. So big waisted pants, suspenders.
THEN: I love my pyjamas, and my two robes, but I’ve had to wear them often enough in hospital post-surgery and in depression at home, they often send incorrect signals to my hypothalamus, messing with my circadian rhythms with signals of illness and physical decrepitude, rather than Hey! You get to work at home today! You’re a Lucky Man!
I do change back into pyjamas to rest in bed, during the day, and it’s much harder to get dressed again the second time and so on.
I am of course avoiding the rather sensational first two words in the header, trying to lighten the mood with a rather tenuous relationship between getting dressed and staying alive. I have not done much research, but figure most people get dressed before they commit suicide, though I know of one notable case where a man got dressed complete with a parka to walk down to a frozen river. He completely undressed, folding his clothes neatly beside him, lay down on the river ice and snow, one very cold blustery winter day and froze to death.
NOW: I have a new huge Marks & Spencer bathrobe, courtesy of my wife Michelle, here to greet me when I moved in. Blue and navy (like my soap and face-cloths) of course.
I think of getting dressed sometimes to be the writer I see in myself. So I top my baggy pants and suspenders with 3XL collared shirts, always 100% cotton,
and most-often white and goddamn the “non-wrinkle cottons.” They must be treated with crap that makes them as uncomfortable as any polyester I’ve worn, now banished from my closet.
THEN: The link of “to be or not be” to getting dressed may be specious. My argument hinges on the concept of choice, in an effort to ameliorate fears that thinking and talking about suicide is a sure sign you are a danger to yourself and should be committed or restrained in some way for your best interest. I admit that depressives may think about suicide more often than the rest of the population, but as long as we are talking about it, we are less likely to make an attempt. It is sometimes enough just to reassure yourself if finally there is absolutely no way to end the physic pain, as a human being, you can choose not to be.
NOW: I am dressed. I am writing. My desire to make something gives me peace (no matter how angry or difficult the words/poem/story) the minute I apply the seat of my pants to the chair in front of my typer.
 Product placement available in exchange for cotton XXL underpants.
 I’ve never been hospitalized for depression, and usually the relief surgery provides for whatever pain my bones dish out, and the total absolution from responsibility you have in a hospital bed, did once bring me a great deal of comfort and peace.
 It’s more “fake it ’til you make it,’ than the Duke of Delusion, pictured. Image by Murray Toews