If the Shoe Fits…Or, the Toe Woes

It’s official. I am now at that age where I want to flag down strangers at the grocery store and tell them all about my medical conditions, holding them captive with my too-long tales of woe. Or, tell the world in a blog post. Whatever.

If you are the kind of person who hates to think about other people’s feet, go no further. If other people’s medical stories make you want to vomit, go elsewhere. You’d better stop right now.  If not, read on.

I have had a several years’ long quest to find footwear that doesn’t cause me pain.  I have to tell you that I have failed miserably.  Finally, I went to a really expensive shoe store and had my feet measured (reminded me of going to Buster Brown as a kid…why they did away with that, I have no idea), and after I told him about how all shoes hurt my feet, he looks up at me and said, “Have you been wearing regular width shoes?”  “Ummmmm….I’m a wide, aren’t I?” “Yes, you are.”  “Oh.”

Okay, issue #1 addressed. So I did end up with wide width shoes and they did work much better for quite a while.

Then you get into winter and you really *should* wear something other than flip flops.  Unfortunately, by then said athletic shoes I had bought looked more appropriate for my Mastiff’s chew toy than footwear. For the second (or maybe third?) year in a row, I found myself in November with no other shoes besides flip flops, a scary pair of wrecked New Balance, and house shoes.  I admit, I wore the houseshoes.  The upside to the houseshoes is that they do look more like moccasins, so you can pretty much pass them off as such. The BAD part was that I had forgotten how they nearly crippled me last year.  I was reminded of this fact, quite painfully, about 2 weeks ago when my fourth toes screamed out in the Shoe Revolt of 2014.  Initially, it wasn’t so bad.  I switched shoes for a while and then stupidly went back into the houseshoes.  Well, last week, the Toe Uprising occurred.  Last Thursday, I woke up to a horribly distorted toe and of course, the temperature outside had to be like negative 30.  (not really, but close enough) Now I had absolutely no shoes to wear outside of summery flip flops, because my little pea brain finally associated my mangled feet with the wear of my beloved houseshoes.

Well, they went in the trash. Forget a bra burning party, I had a shoe burning party.  I had to wear *something* to go out and feed the chickens.  I chose my mud boots. Bad decision.  By the time I was halfway to the chicken coop, I was hobbling like I had arthritis in every joint below my waist. The top of the boot was scouring the top of my toes like sandpaper. I was almost in tears.  When I did make it back inside, I ripped off the boots and stuffed them in the trash can. With God as my witness, no shoe will ever cause me pain again.

I made a doctor’s appointment that day, and I’m the kind of person who will avoid going to the doctor unless I’m at Death’s door. Close enough.

When I arrived at the doctor’s, I hobbled in and took my turn to wait. I have to say, I never realized that a podiatrist would be so busy at 8:30 in the morning, but I guess that bad feet are a common thing. I don’t go to see a doctor any more than I really have to. I looked around. Apparently, this pair of doctors saw a ton of wonky feet. The office was brand new and very nice.  Even the magazine selections were good. Not just Golf, People, or AARP. I looked down at my clothes.  That’s a whole ‘nuther issue because I have no nice clothes, either.  I had on my pair of black fleece North Face pants, which cost more than I have spent on pants in years.  I was horrified to see that they were coated with a mix of dog and guinea pig hairs.  OmG. Great. Country comes to town. Nervously, and without trying to draw attention to myself, I try to remove some of the fur, and then realize that the cleaning ladies would be wondering why there was a small pile of animal fur in the lobby.  Note to self: Do NOT leave my house ever again (!!!) without a lint roller.  Okay. Also, do not wear black fleece in public.

I was called back, and the nurse looked at me and said, “You’re limping.”  He got points in my book for good observation. I sat in the chair and propped up my feet. He asked the normal questions about meds, height, weight, etc. Then we get to the issue at hand.  I take off my shoes and he immediately palpates my feet. Without gloves. I look at him in awe.  Wow. This guy handles feet all day, sometimes gloveless apparently, and does this by choice. I’m slightly amazed. He’s an everyday hero. He asks a few more questions and then says, “Okay, so you didn’t fall out of a truck or anything, did you?”

Oh, dear.  My thoughts go back to my furry fleecy pants, my ugly shoes, my address (small town, poor county) and the fact I’m a self-pay (no insurance) client. Did I look like I was the kind of person who randomly jumps out of trucks?  Do I look like a person that would even own a truck? Couldn’t I have tripped over a lump in my hand-knotted Persian rug and stubbed my toe on the stand that holds my Ming Dynasty vase (vahz…not vayce)? Couldn’t I have fallen out of my Land Rover? No, I suppose that people who come in wearing furry fleece pants don’t own any of those items anyway.  I kinda wanted to say that I indeed did fall out of a tater truck earlier that week, but I didn’t want to make anything awkward between us. After all, this man was part of the bridge to my recovery.  So I told him the real truth and that it was due to shoe friction.

He left the room and then popped his head back in to ask if it was okay to perform an x-ray. (I’m self-pay, remember) I said most definitely, YES.  At this point, I could frankly care less what you do as long as I can walk normally. He said, “Okay good, because usually when people are in this kind of pain, the toe is broken, and your toes are a little weird, I mean…” Suddenly, I realize he is very embarrassed, “OH! I don’t mean they’re weird…I just mean…” He trails off. I think to myself, my God, in an office that sees thousands of feet a year, I am the person with the weird feet.   Great.  I tell him that it’s fine, I know my feet are, in fact, very weird, and that it’s okay and there is absolutely no offense, because a fact is a fact, right? I’ve known this ever since I compared my feet to other girls’ in school and realized that toes are not, as a general rule, bent at odd and hideous angles, but in most cases are actually straight.  I even complimented a girl once in school about how pretty her feet were. Yes, I was jealous. I’m sure she thought I was a total weirdo. A weirdo with weird, wonky feet.

Anyway, we get the x-rays done and I sit back down.  The doctor comes in, and I have to tell you that I don’t even know his name because he didn’t tell me.  Oh well. It was one of two doctors, so I’m sure I’ll figure it out by my follow-up visit. So, he takes a look, and then shows me the x-ray. I am absolutely amazed to see that my bones are actually straight in my toes. Wow. Would have never guessed that. Then he tells me what I have.  It was pretty much a list.  Hammertoes, mallet toes, claw toes, claw hammer toes, pliertoes, wrenchtoes, bunions, Funyuns, bunionettes, marionettes…whatever kind of malady a foot can have, I probably have it.  He tells me that I will, eventually, need surgery, both for hammertoe relief as well as for my tailor’s bunions (they actually shave the bone on that one….ugh).  I say, “So, basically, you’re saying my feet are doomed, right?”  He wasn’t expecting that, really, and says,”Oh no, no, I don’t mean it like that.” I say, “It’s okay, my feet are doomed.”  After some more small procedures, I set up with some arthritis gel for pain, Medrol for the swelling, and some custom inserts for shoes that I don’t own.  I ask him about shoes.  He said to find some with a squared toe box type shoes.  I was literally crying in the back of my mind because I have sought these Holy Grail of shoes for years unsuccessfully. I’m still holding out hope. He tells me that the steroids I will be taking are inexpensive. Okay, I say.

I go to pay, fully expecting to shell out at least a couple hundred bucks.  The total came to $130.  I blurt out how cheap that is.  I know that even in our business, we usually don’t do much for under 200 dollars, and here is this nice and beautifully decorated, fully staffed, modern office and they do an appointment for less than $150. Nice.

I get back into the car and tell Jason that I think I may need to upgrade my appearance. “Why?” he said.

“Well, because I think I give off the impression that I’m extremely poor or something. I mean, don’t get me wrong, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being poor, I’m certainly not saying that at all, but I think I look, well, maybe like I am the kind of person who jumps out of large trucks on a whim. Like the kind of person who may shoot coons off of her deck at night. Does that make sense?”  He laughs. “Well, it got you some free medicine, a cheap prescription, and a cheap appointment, didn’t it?”  “Well, I guess, but…” I absentmindedly pick a dog hair off of my pants.  I make another mental note to do some wardrobe upgrades in the future as well as buy a case of lint rollers. “Anyway, I think it would have been funny if I had hobbled outside to climb into my brand new Lexus, right?” I giggle.  “Yes,” he answers, “but you climbed into your Prius, and they probably thought, ‘That poor woman can’t even afford gas.’ ”

I laugh.

So, the next day, I start my Medrol pack.  I am one of those kind of people who actually reads about the side effects.  Sweating, acne, insomnia, changes in appetite…pretty much all the normal stuff. Then I get down to “could possibly cause frank psychotic episodes”.  I try to let that sink in for a minute. Frank psychotic episodes.


I have a cooking class at a grocery store that I take the kids to, and today is that day. Of course it is.  Well, I’ll be the wild-eyed nude woman in the store trying to free the lobsters while I’m declaring to the shocked onlookers that I am either Jesus or the reincarnation of Cleopatra.  This is lovely.

I do have to report that I did make it through the class without removing any garment of clothing, nor telling anyone that I was the materialization of the Lord and Savior or the Queen of the Nile.  I stayed as far away as I possibly could from the lobster tank.

By the next morning, I realized that the ‘insomnia’ part of the side effects certainly held true.  I may not have actually had a psychotic episode, but as I looked in the mirror that morning, I looked like I was psychotic. After a whole night of tossing, turning, and waking up in a dead panic about 10 times, my hair had a Bride of Frankenstein quality, my traces of mascara were down to my cheeks, and my eyes had the look of “If you touch me today, I will likely scare you as well as myself.”  Luckily, after a shower, most of those qualities were erased.

I picked up my new shoe inserts.  I flipped them over. On the back was a big letter “D”.  D for Doomed.  I sighed heavily and limped to the Keurig.

So, here’s to shoes that fit, feet that don’t hurt, and the medicine of podiatry.  Wonky and janky feet owners of the world unite!  I may not be Queen of the Nile, but I declare myself Princess of the Wonky Feet.