My love/hate relationship with shoes (yup, this is about disability)

(Photo courtesy of Flickr user dennis)

All girls love shoes, right? After all, you must have black ones, brown ones, white ones and a few of various other colors. There’s heels, flats, boots, boat shoes, snow shoes, pumps … the list goes on and on.

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with shoes pretty much my whole life. Mostly the hate side, though. Weird, I know. The truth is, when you wear plastic braces on your feet and legs, it makes fitting shoes a little difficult. OK, a lot difficult. Add the fact that I don’t have feeling in my feet (so I can’t tell if they are comfortable), that my feet swell throughout the day and the fact that I can’t clinch my feet to hold on most shoes and finding the perfect shoe is more torture than retail therapy.

Kid shoes

For most of my early childhood, one leg was noticeably longer than the other so every time I got a new pair of shoes, we dropped them off at shoe place to have a lift put on. It was basically a rubber wedge that made my legs effectively the same length. I always hated the lift because kids would ask why I had “that thing” on my shoe, because it always meant I had to wait before wearing my new shoes and quite frankly, the lifts were ugly.

When I had hip surgery at age 9 my legs evened out a bit and I no longer needed the lift. My legs were still uneven, but the doctor thought it was close enough that I didn’t need the lifts.

My earliest memory of shoes is a lot more cheerful than that. When I was in preschool, I had these sneakers that were beyond cute. They were Mighty Mouse sneakers and I wanted to wear them pert near every day. I’m pretty sure the reason I wasn’t allowed to wear them every day is so that my leg braces wouldn’t wear them out so quickly. It was a special day when I could put on those puppies!

Shoes of many colors

When I was a teenager, I had shoes in nearly every color. Blue, black, white, red, purple … you name it. Believe it or not, it was the affordable way to keep me in shoes because my leg braces tore them up so bad. Instead of buying the better constructed shoes that cost way more, we bought a bunch of the cheap shoes that could be easily replaced. Truth be told, even the “good” shoes were no match for the rough plastic from my leg braces.

I remember one time another student making some comment that I must be rich because I had shoes in every color. I still smile at the fact that the perceived extravagance was in reality a cost-savings measure.

Now that I’m an adult, finding shoes is still a challenge. I can’t wear fancy shoes that I often like even though I no longer wear braces on my legs. My mom taught me the Serenity Prayer a long time ago and I guess I have learned to apply that to shoes. Weird, huh? I’m saying that I know I can’t change my need for affordable, not ugly but sensible shoes so why let it get me down? To be honest, my favorite shoes are from the men’s department. It’s just not worth getting worked up over.

I don’t know why I felt like writing this blog. I think it came up during a lot of friends going on and on about how much they love their new cowboy boots and it made me realize that I wasn’t sure I could wear them or not. I realized that it’s something from a life of disability that I don’t think about much and others might not realize is even something that has to be considered.

If you’re still reading, thanks for still being here!

 

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