How to Maintain Your Style With Chronic Pain

When picking out your clothes for the day, have you ever needed to stop and think about how much pain they will cause you? You might think about what shoes you should wear depending on how long your day will be or how much time you’ll be spending on your feet. But what about just your jeans? Or what coat you’ll wear? The fit of your shirt?

During the winter months, this is what I need to think about every day. My skin becomes so sensitive during the cold months that even a pair of jeans becomes intolerable. I had to go and buy new clothing this winter just so I didn’t have to wear jogging pants every time I left the house. I had to decide whenever I went out whether I wanted to be cold or in pain because the weight of my winter jacket caused me too much pain.

I wear only comfy clothes while I’m at home, but I like to look good when I leave the house. I don’t mean that I get incredibly fancy, but I like to wear fitted jeans, makeup and I do my hair. It got me thinking that I should do a blog post about how it is possible to be comfortable and in as little pain as possible, yet still be fashionable! Thankfully, leggings and tunics are very à la mode right now, but it’s possible for those of us that are in chronic pain to still get our unique fashion sense in without feeling like a bum all the time.

So I enlisted some help from two of my spoonie sisters.

Here’s Sarah! Sarah likes to say that she has “alphabetitis.” Her diagnoses include myalgic encephalomyelitis, rheumatoid arthritis and neuro-endocrine tumors, to just name a few from the extensive list of ailments she battles with. Sarah and I have known each other for a few years, and our friendship has become stronger as we are able to relate to each other. We know that we can cancel on each other at any time and the other doesn’t get upset. We get it. Sarah pushes herself as much as she can to have a fulfilling life, giving everything she has to her passion of art and food and to her husband and two beautiful girls. Seeing her face beam as she modeled these dresses was just amazing! We don’t get to feel this good all that often because we’re in constant pain, but one afternoon of feeling like a star just made it all worth it!

Wonder Woman Dress by ANNIE 50

Ombrelle by CHERRY BOBIN

Bicicleta Dress by RIEN NE SE PERD, TOUT SE CREE

Catharine has recently been diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. This is a connective tissue disorder which leaves Catharine’s joints loose, causing them to dislocate often. Her muscles are also constantly tense, compensating for her joints’ slackness. Catharine has moments where even being touched is too much to bear. Every time I see Catharine, she’s got a huge smile on her face. Although I know that she has some unbearable days, Catharine’s joy radiates through her and it’s hard not to be infected by her attitude when she’s nearby.


Daiquiri Reversible Camisole Bicycle Print by RIEN NE SE PERD, TOUT SE CREE

Annabelle Dress by 3RD FLOOR STUDIO
Foa Cardigan by FIG CLOTHING

Abela Long Camisole T003L by MOOVMENT

And then there’s me! I have had short bowel syndrome for nearly two years. I have a central line going into my chest that my IV nutrition gets pumped through five nights a week. Now you may ask, how in the world do my bowels affect the sensitivity of my skin and the stiffness in my joints? I don’t actually know why, but my guess is that this is my body’s way of reacting to the trauma that it endured back in April 2015. The day after shooting these photos, I felt like I had bruises along my spine, I was waddling around the house like I was nine months pregnant and literally every inch of me hurt.

Capitaine Stripe Tee by CAMELEON

Take It Easy by ANNIE 50


Memories Dress by ANNIE 50

Babette by MOOVMENT

So then why did I put myself through it? Because doing this photo shoot made me feel good about myself. I felt gorgeous! We had so many laughs. We enjoyed ourselves. For one afternoon, we could forget about our illnesses and truly enjoy ourselves. And these moments really are few and far between when you’re constantly fatigued and aching. I also wanted to show the world that it’s possible to be chronically ill and fabulous! We three ladies are proof of that.


Thank you so much for the wonderful contributions of the following:

Clothing: Flock Boutique
Photography: Vintage Bow Photography
Makeup: Make-up by Julia Sangalli

Follow this journey on A Gut Feeling.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Short Bowel Syndrome

Young girl asleep

The Beginning of Our Daughter's Short Bowel Syndrome Journey

They say timing is everything, and that couldn’t be more true for my daughter Logan and her new short bowel syndrome journey. On March 10 2016, we welcomed our second child, JJ, into the world. We were elated! Not only were we over the moon for our son, but our Logan (2 and a half at the [...]
happy loving mother and little son at sunset

Why I'm No Longer Hiding How Short Bowel Syndrome Affects My Child

November 19 will make nine years I have been in hiding. I hide our whole life. Not because of shame, but because of fear. And I’m exhausted. That was the day my son, Brady, was born with gastroschisis and a mid-intestinal atresia, which means his intestines were outside of his body. Different parts can be out, but he had all of [...]
Seven light bulbs with glowing one on wooden background.

Why I Decided to Start a Foundation for My Rare Disease

Living with my condition short bowel syndrome (SBS) has affected my life in many different ways over the years — physically, emotionally and socially. They all have their positives and their negatives. These experiences – both positive and negative – were the driving force in establishing the Short Bowel Syndrome Foundation. Primarily, because I have an [...]
Andy speaking at an SBS conference

When a Doctor Told Me ‘Helping Others With My Condition Should Be Left to Trained Medical Professionals’

Andy. At 30 years old, I’ve lived with short bowel syndrome (SBS), a rare intestinal disorder, for my entire life. When it comes to this disease, I’m an expert by experience. SBS is the result of a congenital defect or trauma and affects about 15,000 to 30,000 people in the US. It is a condition that reshapes the way [...]