Monday, April 26, 2010

The diabetic shoe dilemma

I bought a pair of girly shoes this weekend while shopping with my mom. Actually, I must confess; I bought two pairs. For years, I’ve been wearing clunky practical shoes – thinking of comfort and foot care first. And this week, I made a change.

I’ve always wanted to wear pretty clothes, accessorize with jewelry and scarves, and of course I’ve also always wanted to wear gorgeous shoes. I used to wear heels and sandals once upon a time until I developed so many blisters that it made the whole girly shoe thing impossible. I know, many of you are saying, you just wear the pretty girly shoes until your feet adapt. It’s not that simple for a diabetic though. We have to pay very special attention to foot care.

Yes, in addition to the shots, pumps, pricks, and sticks, diabetics have to take special care of their feet. Even ordinary problems such as blisters can develop into serious complications. If gone undetected or untreated, these foot problems can develop into infections, foot ulcers and even amputation.

So after developing multiple blisters and being in serious pain from wearing very pretty summer sandals – barefoot - I decided to go clunky. I mean comfortable. Yes, even during the summer. Socks at all times.

The clunky shoe became a way of life – which I have stayed true to. For the most part, no one really fussed about it – a few comments here and there. But my reliance on the clunky shoe to keep my feet safe became really evident one day at work around four years ago.

Four of us were sitting in a co-worker’s office meeting about saving the world by teaching kids how to read and write. M was there, a brown-haired Type 2 diabetic who often remained quietly observant, and T was there too, a friend of mine who has a serious girly shoe addiction and always dresses very smartly. J was also there, a very smart, loveable, and witty retired history teacher who started a second career in non-profit while in his mid-60’s.

We were all sitting around in a circle, no table between us, the women with legs crossed, while T was enthusiastically discussing her plans to help a school in need. J looked down at my feet and declared mid-conversation, “You have the same shoes as I do!”

I looked down. He was right. Were my clunky shoes so shocking that it stopped a conversation on saving children? We both had on black, clunky shoes with black socks. The difference is: He was a 65 year old man, and I was a 35 year old woman. I’m not sure, but I think his shoes may have been orthopedic too.

Had I taken clunky too far? I comforted myself, “Who says that I have to wear a certain kind of shoe to be a beautiful young woman? Beauty comes from within!”

I proclaimed my need to care for my feet as a diabetic. Everyone stopped in their tracks. Then J laughed a bit. Everyone else caught on to the laughter. And the topic went away. Back to kids in need.

As time went on, more and more people commented on my clunky shoes. And I continued to insist, “I have to care for my feet. I’m a diabetic. And that’s more important to me than wearing girly shoes.”

To be honest, that’s still true. Just because I bought a pair of pretty, girly shoes doesn’t mean that I’ve dismissed my diabetes.

“There are plenty of pretty and comfortable shoes out there today,” one of my doctors, a rheumatologist actually, said around the same time. At that point, my hip started to go arthritic – at age 35 - and so the conversation naturally unfolded into shoes and bags. I listened to her intently. I would do anything to take care of my health. And I still do.

“Why do you wear such shoes, Ophir? Look at how cute my shoes are!” another co-worker told me a few years ago.

I continued to insist: Health comes first. I love my feet, and I will always practice diabetic foot care.

So why the change? I still care about my health.

I don’t know if it’s the 6.5 A1C, the detox, writing this blog, or all of the meditation and yoga I’ve been doing. But for the first time in my life, I am starting to feel as though things that I never thought were possible suddenly are. Lately, I’ve been feeling like I want to make a change – to wear shoes that are feminine and pretty, shoes that complement an outfit and accentuate rather than clunkify. I’ve wanted to transform my ways from the old routines and modes of thought into ones where my dreams are possible, even down to the shoes I wear.

Diabetes will never hold me back from living the life I want to live. At least not again.

Yesterday, I found two beautiful, girly pairs of shoes that are also sensible from Anne Klein i-flex. No, they’re not Manolo Blahnik or whatever other fancy shoe designer is out there. But they’re cute and pretty - while being sensible too. They will go great with some new outfits, and they also accentuate the beauty within – because I’m not dismissing my diabetes. I’m merely finding the balance between me and my great diabetic shoe dilemma.


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  2. Yes I concur with you that proper foot care is indeed very important for diabetic patients.

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