How I Socked It to ALS

Dagmar Munn avatar

by Dagmar Munn |

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Last week for me, the letters A-L-S stood for “A Lot of Socks.” I tackled a project that would make living with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis easier for me right now, for my future self, gave me peace of mind, and yes, it involved socks.

It all began when I was digging through my jumbled mess of a sock drawer and suddenly a scary Halloween horror movie image popped into my mind. I saw my future self with a frustrated caregiver who was trying to find two matching socks in the same messy drawer. Finally snagging two, she held them high and I, unable to speak or communicate due to advancing ALS, could only scream in my brain, “No, no! Not the itchy purple ones with the too-tight elastic at the top!”

OK, maybe the scene isn’t exactly Hollywood-ready. But for those of us living with ALS, imagining our future and our loss of control — even with simple things like choice in clothing —  can be scary.

Why socks?

I didn’t always have an out-of-control sock drawer; I blame that problem on ALS. When I was diagnosed, walking safely with my weakened legs and feet was only accomplished by wearing simple, flat athletic shoes. Inside those shoes, my feet still hurt, and that, dear readers, was the start of my 11-year quest to find the perfect sock.

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I soon morphed into the Goldilocks of socks. They had to be not too thick, not too thin, and cushioned just right.

Modern merchandising shares some of the blame too. It’s almost next to impossible to buy just one pair of socks. Nowadays they come in packs of three, six, and even 12. Twelve is quite the commitment, especially when the Goldilocks in me says, “Nope, not perfect yet.”

Oh, and I have to throw my well-meaning family and friends into the mix as well. In an act of defiance, and to help myself cope with having to wear ankle-foot orthoses, I decided to only wear brightly colored knee-highs. Soon, gifts of “happy” socks appeared. I received so many that I could wear a different pair every day for a month and never have a repeat.

The big declutter day

This certainly wasn’t a gentle Marie Kondo “Do these socks spark joy?” kind of project. It was more like having to channel a stern Martha Stewart, asking, “When was the last time you wore these?”

If my answer was more than one year ago, then pffft, into the bag.

As I sat on a folding chair tossing socks into a plastic bag, I realized my so-called hoarding was just another version of someday-itis. As in, “you’ll never know when it will come in handy.”

I remembered all my home-crafter friends who, in the early pandemic days happily supplied friends and family with handmade masks. They felt vindicated that all those bits of elastic and pieces of cotton fabric saved over the years finally came in handy.

But I had to admit I was hard-pressed to think of an instance when someday a load of partially worn socks would save the day. Nope, pffft, in the bag.

And before I knew it, the bag was full.

Simplifying and decluttering is beneficial for everyone and it’s especially good for people who find living with ALS means everything getting slower.

Help your future self and your future caregivers. Let’s make our home, clothes, and living spaces accessible and live well while living with ALS.


Note: ALS 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 ALS News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to ALS.


Cindy Horvath avatar

Cindy Horvath

Oh Dagmar,
This was wonderful...I sure do know the feeling and thanks for making me laugh about this...

Carrie avatar


I enjoyed you ‘socks’ in the bag story. Decluttering can lighten the weight and worries of life.
Carrie-mother to a daughter who is primary caregiver to her significant other who Is newly a diagnosed with ALS

Cllr David Crellin avatar

Cllr David Crellin

How lucky am I? An old friend knits as therapy and loves knitting socks for me. She makes them with loose tops so I don't get swollen feet. I just have to ask and a few days later they arrive. And zany patterns they are. My favorites are 'The road to socialism.' Perhaps not the best for my US friends?
All she asks for is a donation to a homelessness charity.


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