M.S. and High Heels

I had a dream the other night that I was running and running and running. My arms were moving back and forth, my hair was flying and I could feel the cool air on my face. The best thing was that I was running with joy and not tiring. I wasn't out of breath, my chest wasn't heaving, no stitch in my side.
What made this especially weird was that I was never a runner. Would I have been running down this lovely, abandoned beach at sunrise? Not a chance. I liked to walk briskly and I really miss the bounce in my step, the confidence that when I put one foot down and picked the other up that it would actually go up and not catch on the pavement, causing me to fall or barely escape falling by flailing around trying to keep my balance.
But never mind that I was never a runner and never wanted to be. I always equated walking like a lady with being a full-fledged adult woman. Santa Claus (remember him?) would always leave me a sexy pair of plastic child-sized dress-up high heels in my stocking. One year sparkles with metallic elastic straps, another year a water and plastic seashell-filled number that I slipped onto my little feet before I even got to the bottom of my stocking. Ooh, Santa Baby!
As soon as I could get high heels (even those cute little kitten heels that were the "thing" when I was a kid) I wore them proudly. And boots with heels? What says "come and get me" like those?
High heels, be they sandals, boots or pumps, click with authority when a woman walks on a hard surface - you hear her coming and the sound they make can define her mood. Is she in a hurry or is she late? Angry or just in charge of the situation? A slow, deliberate heel-dragging slide could suggest she has a glass of wine in her hand and she's looking for a table (or a man). Heels click around a classroom authoritatively while students are taking their weekly pop quiz. And you know those dresses that can only be worn with a sexy little number with a skinny heel. Boy, I really miss those summer wedges with woven raffia covered loveliness.
Sneakers and mary janes with removable foot beds and orthotics don't carry the same authority. They do, however, usually keep me from landing face down in the parking lot of CVS as long as I remember to pick up that left foot. I started describing myself as "walking downstairs like an old lady" long before I approached middle age. I stubbornly refused to use a cane for years and even now, leave it in the car whenever I can manage without it.
But I do some things to help myself and here they are:
1.) I request physical therapy when I feel a lot of pain in my feet and ankles. For me, pain usually means I'm losing muscle strength in that area and need to get pressure off my joints and ligaments. I took a couple of months of PT before I was able to re-start the Curves for Women exercise program after a long absence.
2.) I have a foot doctor now and she helps me maintain the condition of my feet, usually on a monthly basis. It's not only diabetics who need that kind of care. I have bashed my toes more times that I like to remember because I could not tell where my foot was at the time.
3.) I went to a trusted shoe store that manufactured customized orthotics for my sandals, shoes and sneakers. The footwear isn't glamorous but I haven't fallen since I got the orthotics.
I've spent a lot of quiet time reflecting on the end of my first exacerbation, 25 years ago this month The relief I felt when the severity let up. The joy and  temporary belief that the diagnosis had been a mistake. The frequent flair-ups of the first 15 years and relative quiet of the last 10, inexplicable but appreciated. I try to remember to live joyfully and thankfully, glad to walk in any shoes at all.

Comments

  1. A heart felt essay, gracefully expressed. Sincere, honest and comforting.

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