I never knew what a big deal they would become.
I know that I don't walk much, but shoes had become a huge issue for me. Not because of the soles but because of protection and warmth. Shortly after becoming a wheelchair user my feet become hugely swollen - and stayed that way. I make sure I elevate my legs, like I'm supposed to. I make sure to do the exercises that I'm supposed to. I follow directions well. But nothing helped. My feet just changed their shape. Now I've got big feet to begin with. Add on the swelling and ... presto chango ... I have been unable to find anything to put on my feet.
I've had people knit slippers for me, but they don't stay on properly and end up being dangerous.
I've taken to wearing double, triple and even quadruple socks for warmth in the winter. Joe jokes that he measures the winters temperature by sock layers.
I've talked to medical type people, foot specialists included, and found no help. Other than a shrug and an 'oh well' expression, I've just been left to figure it out on my own. So, we've done what we need to do. We travel, on the road, with a mat so that when I get out of the car, if it's raining, I can step on to a dry mat and then get into the wheelchair. Joe throws the mat back up into the car to keep it dry for when we need to reverse the process. I've always been a bit embarrassed having my own carpet placed down for me ... a bit like the queen (shut up).
A few weeks ago, I tired of this.
I wanted shoes.
I've looked before on the computer and have never found anything that would help. I shy away from those orthopaedic shoe stores as I went in there once and was promised that they could fit me and ended up leaving with an expensive pair of shoes that didn't fit. I honestly, HONESTLY, don't know how that happened. Shoe salespeople can be really, really frightening.
So, I went to the computer again and somehow must have put in the right words because suddenly I was looking at a site that had slippers, that looked enough like shoes to be considered, for swollen feet. I know how my feet are shaped now and from the picture I could see that they looked like they might just work. I, with hope in my heart, I ordered a pair.
They arrived, it seemed, within hours.
Joe brought me the box. He was smiling. I don't know if he was happy for me, he knew how much I wanted to have a simple pair of shoes, because of the shoes or because of the fact that he wouldn't have to Sir Walter Raleigh me out of the car every time it rained. I opened them carefully and looked at them. They won't set the world of fire in regards to style, but I didn't care.
Would they fit?
Joe helped me and within seconds my right foot was shod.
Well, neither of us really worried about that, my left foot is bigger.
Then, barely, just barely, I was wearing shoes.
For the first time in five years.
I can't tell you what that felt like. I got up to walk and was unsteady on my feet - well more unsteady than usual. There was a cushion beneath my step. Heaven.
We went out.
It was cold.
My feet were warm.
One pair of socks and one pair of shoes and my feet were warm.
I'd gotten used to life without shoes. I'd gotten used to looking at the feet of others with disabilities and even asking some of them about their shoes. I found, surprisingly, that no one was ever upset at my intrusion, everyone I ever spoke to about feet needing shoes understood the need for feet to have shoes. But after each discussion I knew that what worked for them wouldn't work for me. I remember several times sitting with a piece of paper and drawing the shape of my foot for fellow wheelchair users and comparing it to their drawing of their feet. "Damn" I said each time and took comfort from their encouragement to not give up the search for the shoe.
Prince Charming thought it was tough to find someone to wear the glass slipper. Well to hell with Cinderella, she had OTHER shoes, and shoes more practical I'm sure.
This CinderFella desperately needed footwear.
Now my soles are soled and my soul is thrilled as a result.