Posts Tagged ‘bilateral amputation’

The Subject is Shoes!

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012


Finally - size 5 shoes which stay on my feet!


Yes, I know. . . after letting the Blackburn Digest languish for nearly nine months, I reappear with shoes as a subject?!  No, I haven’t lost any (more) of my marbles, and I promise to do an actual  catch-up post in the near future 😉  But today, I Found Shoes!

(Back Story) Being trapped in over-sized (8) &  heavy orthopedic shoes w/thick custom inserts for many years has put any somewhat attractive footwear rather high on my interest list, frankly.  Until my mid-thirties, my shoe size was 5 AA. – somewhat small for balancing  my 5′ 7 1/2″ height and very difficult to find at a reasonable price, but a lot of hunting and a sense of adventure  provided the needed items.  Because  Rheumatoid Arthritis caused severe dislocation of my toes , any pretty/stylish/sassy/sporty shoes have been off-limits for a couple of (a few?) decades – I’ve lost track. A few of those years were spent with braces attached to the shoes and velcroed just below my knees; they helped keep me upright, but did zero as a fashion statement!  I’m not vain, but dressing to the standards my job required (before I retired in 2005) was made very difficult by the no-choice footwear.

In 2008, I was blessed in finding an orthopedic surgeon who’s opinion matched the one I had held for several years; all ten toes needed to be amputated. I walked with far less pain during the early recovery period from that surgery than I had experienced daily for many years!  However, my dreams of ‘attractive shoes’ were dashed when the surgeon informed me I would still need my size 8 clod-hoppers with a toe-cap attached to the custom-made insert 🙁   I have been zipping around our house & yard (and a few over-long conventions) barefoot since then. . . . NOT surgeon approved behavior, but virtually pain free .something pretty.  I’ve found some slippers/moccasins which were amenable to remaining attached to my feet (as opposed to my walking right out of them) . . . apparently, the dislocated little monsters had been serving  some useful purpose after all!  Shoes to leave my house in were more elusive, until today 🙂

I had wine, cat treats and butter on my shopping list and decided to brave the brand new and incredibly  h-u-g-e HEB Plus supermarket which recently opened about 3 miles from Casa Blackburn.  (I think 180,000 sq. ft. was the space quoted in the grand opening announcement!)  Quite an adventure; sparkling clean (of course), lovely wide aisles, a full butcher’s shop and fresh fish market. . . . “specialty shops” (electronics, outdoor furniture, very large plant nursery, toddler-to-adult clothing section, etc.) around the side walls.  Altogether, a very dangerous place to visit; you could walk in looking for Salem bleu cheese and a quart of milk and return to your car with a flat-screen TV and a service for eight of china or enough sun/shade loving trees & plants to completely re- landscape your yard!  It’s a rather overwhelming,  upscale version of a Target or Walmart.

Locating the items on my short shopping list provided lots of walking exercise (and a lantana plant and a potted parsley found their way into my cart), but best of all, they had cute shoes in one of the Seasonal aisles!  Size 5 and laced far enough up the foot to keep them in place – Yay!!!  It’s so cool to look down at my feet and see just a bit of the shoe peeking out beyond the hem of my slacks instead of my usual view of bulky black “boats”.  Hmm – I may need to go back to the ‘mega-market’ tomorrow. . . . . they have this style in blue, too!

Wicked Urge!

Monday, January 18th, 2010

Sometimes, I get the wicked urge to make an appointment with my former podiatrist. To just tell the scheduling clerk something banal like “I’m having trouble with callouses”, and then watch the podiatrist’s face when I unveil my new feet. O.K. – they’re not “new”. They are officially almost 15 months old, but the urge to use them as a “teaching tool” grows ever stronger!

It’s not the podiatrist’s fault. When years of Rheumatoid Arthritis had dislocated my toes and set them all at weird angles that shoes could no longer encase without severe pain, I sought her out. She was the daughter of a trusted physician, newly set up in practice with her surgery-schooled husband. I received sympathy, custom orthotics to ease my stride (which they didn’t) and, eventually, braces attached to both shoes with knee-cuffs to minimise my spectacular falls (which they did). Pain and mobility were still issues, however, so I kept pushing the young pair for a better fix. At my last visit to their office, I was told that the only solution was “drastic surgery” that “shouldn’t be considered until I was older”. That made little sense to me at the time (it was 2004 or 2005); if it was drastic surgery, shouldn’t we do it when I was younger and better able to recover? They wouldn’t answer that, so I didn’t visit them anymore!

My new feet (the result of bilateral amputation of all ten toes) occurred due to a happy coincidence in July of 2008; I broke the little toe on my right foot (no big deal) and attended an already scheduled appointment with our family physician (who thought it was a huge deal). Due to medical delays (documented in earlier blogs), I didn’t have the “drastic surgery” alluded to in 2004-05 until October 2008. The change in mobility, in balance, in quality-of-life has been so marked that I keep getting a wicked urge to go startle a couple of doctors into a different mind-set! Have they already learned, do you suppose? Somehow, I doubt it!