Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Be Careful What You Put on Your Feet

I am a woman who loves her shoes - all kinds of shoes.  Tall.  Flat.  Classic.  Trendy.  I have them all. Sadly, I had to give away four pairs recently because I'd never be able to wear them without experiencing pain. For the remaining pairs of shoes in my closet, most of them I'll be able to wear maybe two hours maximum.  So what gives?

Five days ago, I underwent my fourth foot surgery -- my fourth!

My first surgery was several years ago when I decided it was time to take care of my bunions. What began as discomfort when I put on shoes, slowly over the years, became constant, throbbing pain.  When it got to my being unable to have a good night's sleep, I knew something had to be done.  I sought out a podiatrist to go over my medical options.  He and I decided we would take care of the bunion on one foot, then a year later, take care of the bunion on the other foot.  Surgery was the only thing that was going to take care of the pain.  It took a year to fully heal and to walk normally in my shoes.  So that's surgery #1 and #2.

Bunions are a common foot deformity for men and women.  Wearing ill-fitting shoes over a long period of time is one way to get them, and inheriting the "bunion genes" is the other.  My bunions were due to both. When I was a working girl in my 20s, 30s, and into my 40s, I prided myself in buying shoes that no one had, or would dare to wear.  I liked wearing sensible shoes that everyone else was wearing, but I loved having those shoes that people noticed and admired right away.  The price we pay for beauty.  Oh, the pain of it all!


The photo on the right shows a foot with a bunion before and after surgery.  You can see the scar where the incision is made in the foot.

Foot surgery #3 was because of an inflamed nerve in my left foot, between my third and fourth toes, or between the long metatarsal bones of the foot.  By looking at a foot with an inflamed nerve, you can't tell that anything is wrong.  The danger sign is a warm tingly feeling which quickly becomes sharp pings of pain with each step.  It happens when the foot is in a closed-toe shoe or narrow flat shoe, even if the shoe is your correct size.  This condition is Morton's Neuroma, a very debilitating foot condition.  Again, full recovery took a year for me.  I also began shoe-shopping for wide sizes.

Click here for photos of a neuroma surgery.

So here I am, now recuperating from foot surgery #4.  It is not fun.  With my prior surgeries, I had to elevate my foot and was able to take showers using precautions, of course.  With this surgery, I'm not allowed showers and can only do sponge baths, plus I have to elevate my foot above heart level, and can only get up to use the restroom putting just 25% pressure on my left foot when I walk with crutches. Whew!  My surgery took place a week ago, and I have five more weeks to wear the beautiful, black boot.

What brought me to this point was that I noticed  months ago that every time I wore my thong sandals, the sandal on my left foot would keep slipping away.  My toes just couldn't grasp the middle leather strap.  I thought I was simply wearing out the sandal so I'd throw the sandals away and buy a new pair.  After doing this twice, I began to notice that any time I wore closed-toe shoes, it would be so tight.  Then I began to see how my big toe was pushing away from the rest of my toes.  What was happening was the muscle or ligament along the inside of the foot was tightening.  The surgery to correct my hallux varus condition is complicated at best. The condition was a result of the long-ago bunion surgery, and is quite common.

Other than being badly bruised, here is what my foot looks like immediately after surgery.  Yes, I have a long pin down the middle of my toe bone, with two smaller pins sort of running perpendicular to the big pin. The smaller pins will stay in.  The long pin with the green rubber nub will come out in a few weeks.  I'm kind of looking forward to seeing how this will be removed, other than just plain yanking it out!

So what's my point to all of this?  We have to wear the right shoes, folks.  I've always loved wearing my 2" heels to work and special events.  I have the most awesome, gorgeous shoes. People always complimented me on my footwear.  I love my fashionable shoes and I won't get rid of them.  Not just yet.

I have a pair of shoes similar to this with 3" heels.  I'll never buy 3" heels again.  How on earth do women walk in these all the time?
These shoes are so adorable and I'd buy them if the heels were shorter.  This pair is a deathtrap!

I can wear this pair never!

I love these boots, but only with a wider toe, or buy them a size larger.

But if I wear them, I always bring my outfit-matching flip-flops, sandals or slides in my handbag.  Like I said, I can manage to be in my heels for no more than two hours. My comfort means a lot to me.

Now that I'm retired, and don't have a place of work to show up at, I am mindful of the shoes that I purchase now. Eventually, I will give away my gorgeous heels because I do care about the health of my feet, and so should you.

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