I finally made an appointment to see a podiatrist next week (Dr. McCann in Concord), and all I can say is the poor man probably will take one look at my feet and call the Guinness Book. I’m pretty sure my feet have just about every ailment he learned about in medical school…and maybe a few he didn’t.
First of all, I was born with flat feet. My bare footprint in the sand looks just like a brick with toes – no shape whatsoever.
Because of my super-flat feet, combined with the fact my right foot always was determined to point inward, I had to wear orthopedic shoes during my first few years of school. They were really ugly lace-up shoes that came in only two colors – red or brown. So while all of my friends were wearing their dainty patent-leather Mary Janes, I was clomping around in my big brown shoes, looking like Herman Munster’s daughter.
My mother thought ballet lessons might help my feet, so she enrolled me in classes when I was only three. I enjoyed ballet, but as I got older, I wanted to try toe dancing, or dancing “en pointe,” as it was called.
It didn’t take long for me to realize the human body wasn’t built to walk on the tips of its toes – especially when that body is packing more weight than average on the bottom half. After a year of toe dancing, my toes resembled pretzels, all bumpy and twisted. I also developed bunions so large, they looked as if I were trying to smuggle golf balls under the skin on my feet. And the bunions caused my big toes to cross over the tops of the toes next to them.
So not only did I have flat feet, I had lumpy ones with twisted toes.
But my problems didn’t end there. When I was 16, I decided to take judo classes at the YMCA. The key to being a success in judo class was learning how to fall correctly so you wouldn’t get hurt when the person you were partnered with threw you. Unfortunately, I never really mastered the art of falling, which, according to the instructor, was to land on the flat portion of your arm between the wrist and elbow.
Well, I landed on just about every body part but my arm. My favorites seemed to be my butt or my back. During class one night, my partner threw me over his shoulder and I landed hard on the floor…with all of my weight on my big toe. I think people out on Elm Street heard it crack.
Needless to say, I flunked out of judo class. And if that wasn’t humiliating enough, I had to go to the emergency room while I still was wearing my judo outfit and had a bone sticking out of my big toe. I also had to have surgery, which resulted in the toe becoming even more crooked…and scarred.
Buying shoes always has been a problem for me because if the heels are too high, they force my feet to have arches they don’t have and cause my shins to hurt. And if the shoes are too narrow, they hurt my bunions and squish my crooked toes. Open-toed shoes or sandals are out of the question because I don’t want to expose even a smidgen of my feet’s hideousness to the public. Just the sight of them might frighten small children.
So my solution has been to buy men’s shoes. They are wider and roomier across the toes and sturdier than women’s shoes. My favorites are Asics Gel Runners. They are comfortable and solid and are great for long walks. Mine are silver with red laces. The only problem is, I don’t think Gel Runners, especially the men’s styles, were designed to look sexy with fancy dresses.
Despite my weird feet, I love to walk, and have taken a 45-minute walk nearly every day for the past 40 years.
Not wanting my long walks to take their toll on my already ailing feet, however, I went to a podiatrist back in the late 1970s. He took molds of my feet and sent them off to a lab to have professional orthotics made for me. They cost over $300, which was the equivalent of a down payment on a car back then, and were made of rock-hard red plastic. At first, they felt about as comfortable as trying to walk in Cinderella’s glass slippers. But they gave me the arches and support I’d never had before, so I faithfully wore them until I finally got used to them.
And I’m still wearing those same orthotics every day. They have so many battle scars on them, they look as if they’ve been run over by a fleet of lawnmowers. So I’ve decided the time finally has come to invest in a new pair. I realize I’m about 30 years overdue, but I wanted to make absolutely certain I got every penny’s worth out of these orthotics before I bought some new ones.
And that’s why I’m going to see Dr. McCann, the podiatrist, next week. I’m going to clomp in there with my crooked toes, flat feet, bunions, scars, and gnarly looking toenails and throw myself at his mercy.
I’m thinking he’ll take one look at my feet and grab a camera so he can capture their uniqueness for posterity. Then he’ll whip out the photos when he’s having coffee with his other podiatrist buddies and say, “Wait till you get a load of what walked into my office the other day! You have to see it to believe it!”
On the bright side, with the summer months approaching, my friends will be spending a lot of money on pedicures so their feet will look attractive in their cute little sandals and flip-flops when they go to the beach. I, however, won’t have to spend a thing.
Nope. I’ll be the one wearing socks and lace-up shoes with my swimsuit.
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