Sunday, November 18, 2007

Hello, Feet!

All my life, I've taken my feet for granted. Oh, sure...they would clamour for attention every once in awhile, with ills other than trimming toenails.

There was the time I had a plantar's wart, which grew huge before I summoned the courage to have it cared for.

There were the numerous operations on my Big toes, with the nails finally being removed.

Each time these things were dealt with, I marvelled at how much I missed my feet, and their usual good health. But the wart and the toes...once those maladies healed, I went back to mostly ignoring my feet, swiping moisturizer over them after a shower.

When I look back, I notice the ability to be able to wear almost any shoe in my size decreased over the years. It happened so slowly, I was unaware...and continued to buy shoes that gave no support, that fit oddly...that had high heels.

I was unable to join the running shoe people. Every time I tried to wear those shoes everybody told me were good for my feet, I would trip. At times, I would lose my balance entirely, finding myself sprawled on the ground, wondering what had happened. I was sure this odd behaviour was unique to myself; nobody else ever commented on their inability to wear sneakers.

It turns out, however, there are many like me. All I know is, I feel clumsy and awkward in the ordinary styled sneaker; less so with leather walking shoes.

In my fifties, I learned to buy appropriate for walking, shoes for hiking, shoes for a night out. They became more sensible over the years...heels became lower and lower, although I still loved a bit of a heel. They were all leather, and mostly brown or black. My shoes were alike in style, a wide toe with good arch support.

My feet were beginning to be more prominent in my life. I have Arthritis, Osteo and Rheumatoid, and suddenly the one part of my body that had rarely given me problems, did.

Now they hurt, sometimes with a screeching pain that almost brings me to my knees. Alright, I told my feet, alright, I give...I will search out a Podiatrist. Perhaps something could be done.

I had gone to the Pharmacy to buy specialty socks, the kind that have padding under the toes and heels. The lady there gave me a brochure from a Podiatrist, and I called for an appointment. I was asked to bring all my shoes.

I wondered if I should hire a truck.

I sat in a wonderful chair, one that supported every part of my body, and watched the Doctor examine my feet and my shoes. There were a pair in the huge bag I brought that I had never been able to wear; I loved them, and had always wondered why. The Doctor said they were the one pair that were totally wrong for my feet, and completely different from the rest. Had I not noticed?

Obviously not, since those shoes cost me a small fortune...and I paid fairly happily. They hurt everytime I tried to wear them, however. The Doctor told me there were C feet and D feet. These shoes were the opposite of what I required.

I was so enthralled about the idea of C and D feet, I never caught what she said mine were. And quite frankly, I can't tell by looking at them what they might be, since they tend to swell and change entirely.

Things progressed quickly after this.

She sent me into the World of Orthotics, into previously unknown territory.

After some x-rays, the Doctor wrapped my feet with a quick drying plaster and took an inverse impression of them. They would be sent to a lab, where corrections would be calculated and orthotics would be made. These would be sent back to my Doctor, who would fine tune any adjustments that would be required. I was told to expect my new orthotics in perhaps a week.

A few days went by. I began to trudge around shoe stores, now looking for the words ortho and orthopaedic and orthotics on the windows of the shops.

If someone had asked me, I would have told them there was not one pair of shoes I could bring myself to pay me, they looked like the shoes my grandma once wore.

As, indeed, they were. And the cost was as dear as any shoe I had ever bought.

I learned, first of all, that the insole must be removable. There went my idea of just placing my new orthotics (which I didn't have yet) into the shoes I already had...

Once the orthotics arrived, after paying a large amount of lucre, I paid a visit to a training shoe store, to appease my doctor. She had advised that I may not get the heel support I required in leather shoes, and to try the running shoes, at least...instead of dismissing them out of hand, as I was inclined to do.

There were some strange shoes in that store.

I found myself trying to walk, inside the store, in shoes I would swear were skateboarding shoes. I imagined myself on uneven ground, and shuddered. The resulting injuries would not be pretty.

The people there told me they had never seen an orthotic with as high a heel, as were on mine. Since I didn't know an orthotic device from an insole, I couldn't give any advice to the salespeople. I was floundering as much as these so-called experts.

After trying on every shoe that would fit the orthotics I had, even the luridly coloured ones...the ones I shuddered at, wondering what I could wear that would incorporate these shoes...I left the store, sweaty, sore and disheartened.

The next store was one where I had bought shoes on a regular basis. I had not noticed their orthopaedic section previously, when I still bought what I considered fashionable, yet comfortable footwear.

But the section was there. The saleslady picked out the shoe that would fit, immediately, and said it was possibly the only shoe they had that would. I was astounded, being prepared for another session where I would have to explain my whole history, before a shoe was found.

I asked for brown. Magically, she fit the orthotics into the shoe, and fit the shoe onto my foot.

I don't have the words to describe how wonderful the shoes felt on my tired and swollen foot. It was sheer heaven.

I walked through the store, checking out their inventory of the Autumn season's new footwear. I heard my saleslady behind me...Don't even look, she said. Don't even.

Ruefully, it finally dawned on me. I had better like comfort more than looks, at this stage in my life. Those wonderful, little boots over on that pedestal, just what I would have at one time loved to own...those little boots were history. If I was to move forward, in my fight to stay mobile, I was limiting myself by even dreaming this shoe scenario could be different.

Finally, after more than half a century of ignoring my feet and their needs, I said hello to them...and decided I would find out what feet are all about.

It's a new journey. I will have to go back to my Doctor; she will have to make adjustments to the orthotics, I will have to work my way into wearing my special shoes all the time. It helps when my footwear is now so comfortable. And the shoes I bought are very similar to a favourite pair of hiking boots I once owned in the seventies.

I have already discovered the alignment of my body is changing, as I stand properly. My posture has changed for the better. At night, I am in some pain, but it is the kind of muscular pain that occurs after a therapeutic massage...the kind that tells me my muscles are finding where they are meant to be, once again.

And wonder of wonders, I gained a couple of inches in height. For a short person, who suddenly can easily reach items once out of reach...this is a miracle.

Shoes are not all about looks, you know.


  1. I hope your feet find bliss in the new shoes. I know how it feels to have aching feet. You are so correct about the abuse we put our poor feet through. We do not even think about how much they do for use as journey our way. Perhaps a good reflexogoist can give you some relief in the form of massage. Not only will it help your feet but it will aid all the organs that have specific points on the souls of your feet. Here is hoping that the bounce in your step continues. By the way, how is the weather up there, now that you are growing tall again.

  2. I am amazed at how you could make feet interesting. I will never think of feet the same way again. :) And I sure like the idea of getting taller.

    Seriously I have had so few problems and I have never appreciated how lucky I am. This was a very informative post.

  3. Well, this was interesting. I'm glad you at least found one pair of comfortable and healthy shoes. Thankfully, that's one thing I don't have to worry about. Yet.

  4. I guess we often take feet for granted, but if you are a walker you tend to look after them more. A friend suffered for years with knee problems and after may unsuccessful diagnosis was finally cured by getting a special support for his foot which corrected his alinement.

  5. Ya know, this is weird, I've been thinking about feet alot lately. My feet have been absolutely killing me lately. I've always had foot problems cuz I'm heavy and my feet are incredibly flat and somewhat wide. It wasn't until I sprung for a $100 pair that I began to have an inkling at how good shoes can really help. But lately, nothing seems to work. My feet hurt so bad I can't go about my day as usual and my heels swell up and look scary gross. You've inspired me to finally talk to my doctor and see if there's something more I could do. Great informative post.

  6. im glad you found the shoes perfect for you!

    i think my cousin has size D shoes.

  7. Comfort is the important thing when it comes to shoes Marion. I hope your feet feel better in your new shoes and you are walking on air again now. My Mum is in her seventies and she wears special orthotic arch supports in her shoes. They are called Orthaheel. Don't know if you can buy them over there. My Mum finds them really good. I always think feet are one of the hardest working parts of our bodies. Just think of all the miles they cover in a lifetime!

  8. Dave,

    Reflexology works wonders. So does EFT. There are many ways I use to ease pain; Reiki seems to work the best for me. It allows me to handle pain with more strength than I could without it.

    And the weather is fine! That one thing alone has me wearing my shoes on a consistent basis, lol! Less pain is a wonderful thing, but that added height makes me sing aloud!


    Thank you! One part of the body that should be babied always are the feet...they works so enormously hard. Think of the weight those soles carry every day.


    The shoes I bought are lace-up brown leather. Other than the sole, which is shock resistant and made of some vinyl material, they look very much like hiking shoes. I used to wear those a lot.

    I think the reason I now have problems with my feet is that my body has compensated to deal with the arthritic pain that I have. And so, I twist parts of my body out of shape, to avoid pain. Which introduces another sort of pain, lol!

  9. Davem,

    How right you are with the fact that hikers and climbers are very aware of how to care for feet. Graham has told me stories of camping overnight while climbing, with cold wet feet.

    That's one of the things he feels very strongly about...proper footware for the conditions. I just met him too late for advice I should have had in my youth! lol

    And again, the orthotic devices that I have have corrected my posture amazingly quickly. My body just feels so good to have things lined up properly once again.

    I have also found that men's hiking boots will fit my orthotics better than women's. I'm on the search now to find a boot I'm comfortable with.


    Please go see a foot doctor as soon as possible. I had no idea how much difference it would make...and how the ability to walk comfortably would change my outlook on the day!

    Some people walk around with frowns all day long...I bet a lot of those people have feet that hurt.

    And welcome to my blog! I hope to see more of you!


    Welcome! My shoes are now classified as "wide". I wear thick socks, because the orthotics would not fit into my regular size.


    Yes, we have many similar devices here in Canada. Mine are custom made (that is, they took a plaster impression of my foot and made these orthotics to correct the misalignments) of a very hard vinyl material, just like the sole of a shoe. I thought, when I first saw them, that they would be as uncomfortable as anything.

    But they're not.

    You and your Mom do so much walking around England and Europe, those orthotics must really work well for her!

  10. This goes to prove a point. I frequently tell people, when they're complaining about this and whining about that...

    You were able to get up, put your feet on the floor and walk today, which makes you better off than a lot of people. It's the simple things people so often miss.

    And there couldn't be a more appropriate post to invite you to walk on over and join us for the Villages go...GONZO! Carnival

  11. Suddenly being taller must be a genuine "Alice in Wonderland" moment!
    In Hot Springs Arkansas there is a restored bathhouse which reflects the facilities as they were at the turn of the century. More or less a museum of what you would expect if you visited then. I was surprised to notice several little rooms each with a chair similar to a dentists chair but made for dealing with peoples' feet. A hodge-podge of tools and implements were hung nearby and the whole area looked very professional.
    I guess then you could sit in the springs, get massaged, get your feet put into proper order, and prepare for yet another year of life; all in one visit.
    I guess feet were important then too with more attention paid.

  12. Kilroy,

    Just do it! I agree. Get off the pity pot, and a few other epistles.

    Your carnival was very well done!


    I wonder if those old spas are common in the US. We were in one near Steveston, Wa., a couple of years ago,in the Columbia River Gorge. Those old tubs were wonderful, and the massage that followed was pretty good too!

    I believe it was to be turned into a museum as well, after new construction that was going on with a golf course nearby was finished.

    It was a great experience...I imagined I was one of those movie stars that used to come to this spa and get pampered.

    It took me awhile to realize why life was suddenly easier for me, with things within reach suddenly. A few hours...and then I realized. You're absolute Alice in Wonderland moment!

  13. Hope the new shoes work.

    Have had feet problems all my life starting out having to wear built up shoes as a child plus feet as flat as a pancake. I think if I was allowed to run around bare feet like my friends when I was a child those problems would have gone away naturally.

    Stilletos in my 20's certainly didn't help either LOL