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Q&A, Aprons & Bibs

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Insightful, Conversational, Encouraging,
Long-winded, and from Experience
with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Orthostatic Intolerance and

Q&A Index

Is everyone else clumsy, now spilling stuff
on themselves, too?

Table of Contents for this Page

Start Here
Adult Bibs
Bib Aprons
What's on Web: Clumsiness

Q. So many of my T-shirts are stained. I spill more than I used to. Is it me? What can I do?

A.  Many of us have this problem now for various reasons including reduced hand eye coordination, tired muscles that give out before they finish taking your hand to your mouth, and from eating more while reclining. Our short answer is stylish velcro closure adult bibs or bib aprons can catch the spills, saving you money on clothes and time and effort in laundry. They can make you feel dressed for the work of taking care of and feeding yourself.

Here's an adaptation of a lengthy 12/19/2006 CFSupport email we wrote on the subject with purchasing links for bibs and aprons:

Functional Fashion for the Chronically Clumsy
Adult Bibs & Bib Aprons

Got food?
   on your Shirt?
      Coping with the dropped food of eating while reclining, eating while clumsy.


It can save you loads of laundry, it can save you money on clothes, it can keep you looking more stylish with it on or after you remove it.... its the adult bib or bib apron! A few meetings back, on one of the conference calls, we were joking about people with orthostatic intolerance (OI: POTS, MVPS/D, NMH), chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/CFIDS), and fibromyalgia (FM/FMS) having so many shirts with food stains. That prompted Hilary to tell us of the adult bib she found that is easy to use because of its velcro closure and that looks good - unusual for an adult bib. At the October 2006 meeting, she brought hers and modeled it at the break.

"I have this black one from Besigns that says Bon Apetit! There is also a nice deep red pasta bib." - Hilary

So why are we talking about bibs? Well, some of us have become more clumsy with fatigue, pain, and/or cognitive problems. Also, many of us feel better if we eat reclining due to inadequate circulation or overreactions of the circulatory and autonomic nervous systems from the act of eating.

If we have our feet up and are already leaning back, we might not get as many symptoms from eating when the blood movement has a big change to the abdominal area for digestion. Symptoms from eating vary from person to person and for a single person. Elly used to get more tired sometimes, nauseated other times, shaky, feel hollow, become irritable. Sometimes eating would make those things better! Sometimes feeling worse was about the specific foods she ate, but often it was the eating itself and the demands that places on the body including the circulation changes, the hormones being secreted, and so much more. Some other reactions we've heard include suddenly and overwhelmingly tired; suddenly nauseated; suddenly or gradually, though temporarily, more stupid (cognitively impaired) or unable to remember things; urgent need to use the bathroom.

If you factor in diminished hand to eye coordination and unpredictable muscle spasms and weakness along with the more reclining and leaning back, you can end up with many shirts with food stains on them. We've got them. Loads of them. Elly says she's done in about 1/3 of her T-shirts with a big ol' sloppy stain that won't come out. She usually couldn't usually just get up and commit to doing the wash just then, or even a pretreatment and changing!

Since we've found we feel better eating foods of good quality high fat with a higher likelihood of leaving stains (organic butter, coconut oil, nuts, avocado, hamburger, roasted chicken skin, etc), we'll keep the food we need and love and the potential stains and not worry about the shirts. [At the food conference I attended in November by the Weston A Price Foundation, I was once again reminded our hormones are synthesized from cholesterol. The excellent lecture I attended on diseases of adrenal insufficiency, from an anthroposophical medicine point of view, with healing suggestions (of which eating fat is one) is available on CD for $15 and DVD for $20. -Elly ]

To minimize stains and not have to buy and keep track of another thing, Elly keeps a few dish towels near her reclining chair in the TV room.  She wears them like a bib and that helps, when she remembers, and she places it just right.

An advantage to the adult bib or bib apron (see below) over the towel is it won't fall off when you get up without remembering its there. This plain terry one by Besigns is $16.95 and comes in several colors. Thanks, Hilary, for this product tip:

Besigns Adult Bibs
made of Terry Toweling, Lined Lamé, or Nylon for Travel Versions. 
Velcro Closure.

[Click here to skip down to next section, Aprons.]

Details adapted from their marketing blurb....

People never laugh at adult bibs once they try them and save the first garment from spills and splashes; it is more of a problem walking around with food spotted clothing than wearing a plush wonderful feeling bibs. Also, Besigns Adult Bibs are comfortable, easy to put on and take off, and people are not afraid to use them.  Many women use adult towel bibs as "makeup" bibs, to protect their clothing when applying makeup.  Besigns Bibs use plush high pima content double sheared velour terry in the towel bibs.  They use a Velcro® Brand closure with wide adjustment capability, and embellish the terry adult bibs with one of 6 designs embroidered in metallic gold:

1)  Bon Appétit (wording),
2) Viva la Pasta (wording),
3) Fancy Bow,
4) Man's Tie,
5) Lobster Outline, and
6) newly added for Spanish and Latino customers--Buen Apetito (wording).

The bibs may optionally be personalized with the same metallic gold thread.  They measure approximately 16" x 25".  They are washable.  We suggest Velcro® fastening the bibs around  dining chairs so that they are always easily available for use.

The adult bib line has added 2 versions of lined lamé bibs, one is gold, the other silver which are light weight, and they may be folded compactly for travel.  They look rich, and people feel good about wearing them out in restaurants.  They measure 14.5" wide by 21.5 " long.  Washable. May be optionally personalized.

Extra big travel bibs are also available in the adult bib line.  The two versions are approximately 22" wide x 36" long,  and they fasten around the neck with two long Velcro® Brand tabs.  The heavier travel bib version is made out of rich loop terry and is lined with 200 denier nylon.  The lighter version travel bib is made of  200 denier nylon and has an attached pocket into which the bib folds and with which is can be conveniently carried.  These bibs are good when eating in the car, plane, or train, but they are also frequently used for the infirm.  Washable.  May be optionally personalized.

Besigns Company - PO Box 2, Glens Falls, NY 12801 
Toll-Free: (800) 836-4178  Phone: (518) 798-8059  FAX:  (518)792-7242


Another option for catching food spills, saving clothes and laundry, is the Bib Apron and many of us already have one of those around the house.
Member Celia uses a black apron which covers the chest to the knees.

There is something very adult about a bib apron. You feel like you are working when wearing one, and you are doing the work of caring for and feeding yourself even if you just get a glass of water! 

Pockets can be helpful for carrying your silverware or napkins, or they can become food catchers. You'll have to decide your preference.

There are some aprons for purchase with CFS, FMS, or chronic illness themes or that raise money for CFS/CFIDS/ME (chronic fatigue syndrome) or FMS (fibromyalgia) and overlapping disorders.  A few examples:

Aprons by Ashley that raise money for CFS Research at Slamdunks/Zazzle

Aprons at Cafe Press:

A good general source with some inexpensive opitons for aprons is 

All Hearts Chef

Solid colors, $5.48, 6 dark colors and white

Generally, has regular and long ($21) bib aprons that you can design yourself! Put on a picture, a saying, choose their designs or upload your own. White, yellow and taupe.

A bib or full apron also saves energy if you're like Toni and rub out stains before laundering.  And some stains are there forever no matter how hard you rub.

Toni also has stories of food stains on her walls, telling of putting her plate in her lap, knife and fork on plate, then the knife suddenly is on lap and fork has flipped sending food across the room. A bib or apron isn't going to help that! She has trays, but I never uses them for herself, only when company comes. There are lots of things we only do for company when they could really help us. Oh well.

Have any flying food stories of yours to share? Email us.

Happy Holiday Eating. Dressing up just got more fun and practical - put a stylish apron or adult bib. (For other products, see our Resources - Shopping page.)

Elly and Toni

What's on the Web ... About Clumsiness as a CFS, ME, FM, OI Symptom

"Changes in the nervous system

One of the functions of the nervous system is to co-ordinate our muscles. However, regular performance of an activity is required to maintain good co-ordination. Prolonged periods of inactivity therefore reduce our co-ordination. This may result in unsteadiness, clumsiness and reduced accuracy on carrying out precise movements"

"The involvement of the autonomic nervous system may lead to frequency of micturition, night sweats, palpitations and disturbances in thermo- regulatory control e.g. feeling weak after a hot bath (Macintyre 1992, Ramsay 1988, Shepherd 1992) . Patients may also experience sensory disturbances such as paraesthesia, tinnitus and hyperacusis as well as visual abnormalities such as photophobia (Potaznick and Kozol 1992), sluggish accommodation (Hyde and Jain 1992) and/or increased sensitivity to certain patterns (Smith 1991). At the same time, problems with co-ordination may lead to falls, while clumsiness can make it harder to complete fine motor tasks."

CFS & FM Symptom Comparison Table - CND, Kaplan

[Note: all of the following checked for both CFS & FM)]

     (difficulty judging when driving;
      when putting things down on surfaces)
Dizziness or vertigo
Dropping things frequently
Dysequilibrium (balance problems)
Impaired coordination
Perception (not quite seeing what you are looking at)
Staggering gait (clumsy walking; bumping into things)"

Broward County - Medical Examiner & Trauma Services Division
     Fibromyalgia - The Invisible disease

"Patients with Fibromyalgia often show excessive clumsiness, suddenly dropping objects and frequent tripping or running into objects."

The  Young and the Dizzy Newsletter -

"Those impacted with Dysautonomia often experience dizziness, brain fog, and clumsiness ....  These symptoms can come on very suddenly which makes for some very traumatic moments and even some laughable moments.  The NDRF Youth Network kids [ now DYNA Kids] try to laugh about some of their more graceful or memorable dizzy moments.

Although we in no way make light of these conditions, as we struggle with very traumatic symptoms on a daily basis, we do try to find some humor in our situations when we can."

Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME): one researcher's experience - BBC, h2g2

"Loss of Balance - This often manifests itself as a general clumsiness with sufferers often becoming more prone to losing their balance and falling. Feelings of disorientation are also common."
SCRIBING, A Guide for Staff and Students - Heriot Watt University

Students with Permanent Disabilities and Chronic Medical Conditions

There are a number of disabilities and chronic medical conditions which may necessitate using a scribe.  Many medical conditions result in reduced ability or total inability to use fine motor skills.  Such conditions can cause difficulties in writing, often affecting the use of fingers, hands and arms. 

Writing can produce high levels of discomfort and pain which, in many cases, can result in physical damage to nerve and even muscle tissue.   
Examples include: Carpel Tunnel Syndrome, Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI), Tendonitis, Tenosynovitis.
Students with the following conditions may be able to write slowly or for short periods, but may not be able to cope with the demands of a 2 - 3 hour exam: 

• Arthritic conditions
Chronic pain
• Chronic fatigue

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Updated Dec 8, 2021