Glam for the Scan: How One Outfit Changed Everything

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by Alyssa Silva |

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A banner for Alyssa's column, which depicts hands holding a cup of coffee — beside them are various desk items like a planner and plant.

While I can’t speak on behalf of every medical professional I’ve come across in my lifetime (truth be told, that’d be quite a large number), I wouldn’t be surprised if they thought I didn’t own many clothes.

I wouldn’t blame them. After all, I’ve been wearing the exact same pair of yoga pants and rotating between the same few shirts at every appointment for many years. But in my defense, why would I bother dressing up for that?

When it comes to deciding what to wear to the hospital, I let how I’m feeling dictate my outfit choices. But my typical dull and monotonous mood before a doctor’s appointment isn’t an accurate representation of my style. It’s not a reflection of my medical experiences, either. In fact, I feel eternally blessed for my medical team and their innate ability to understand me as a person, not just a medical identification number.

However, with my long list of medical complexities, doctors’ appointments can easily affect my mental health and cause anxiety. They can easily inspire a sense of dread before, during, and even after each visit.

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In the last six months, this dread has become more familiar than not. I have made so many journeys to and from the hospital that I swear my black yoga pants are fading to gray after so many washes. I’ve also been staying home more because of the pandemic, so comfortable clothes have been my outfits of choice for most of 2021 — unless I’m taking a picture for Instagram, of course.

With this in mind, I had an idea. I have so many (arguably too many) dresses in my closet that have been collecting dust, and I wanted a reason to dress up. So, I took to Instagram and joked to my community that I was going to wear a dress to my upcoming CT scan. It received more reactions than I expected, prompting me to stick to my word and try something different.

Days later, I wore a blush maxi dress — something I’d normally wear out to dinner — to the hospital. To say I was overdressed at a children’s hospital would be the understatement of the year. However, instead of feeling embarrassed, which I thought I might, something shifted inside of me.

I felt confident. I felt less afraid. This exam had been looming over my head for some time, but the dress unexpectedly changed the narrative for me. I couldn’t help but wonder why I hadn’t worn a power outfit to the hospital before.

Fashion makes me feel good. This I have always known. It has given me some control over my body when it feels as though I’m losing my grip on my health. It has the power to lift my spirits. And it has been a creative outlet for many years. Yoga pants may be convenient, but wearing clothes I feel confident in makes me feel beautiful. More importantly, they make me feel empowered.

In feeling empowered, I had better control over my anxiety. I realized I wasn’t able to change the outcome of the exam, but I could change the way in which I approached the situation. And I learned how much one simple outfit can change my perspective.

My life with SMA will inevitably be full of challenges and anxiety-inducing medical problems. I will always have to make trips to the hospital, lie in tubes that scan my body, and deal with some hard facts of life. But if this is going to be my reality, I might as well have fun, be confident, and look glamorous while doing it. Life is all about balance.

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Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today, or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.

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