Walking in My Shoes: Keeping Perspective With a Chronic Health Issue

Today I decided to post a photo to my blog that I had posted on Facebook and Instagram back in November, 2016. Since I finally have my custom medial-unloader knee brace and my custom permanent Arizona cast for my foot, I decided that this particular post would be worthy of a re-share, and you will see why, below.

I have to admit that the feelings below are still very much a “work-in-progress.” My frustrations mounted this morning when I realized that these were literally the only shoes that I own which can be worn with my foot cast. I couldn’t even squeeze my foot into my Uggs! Unfortunately, grey New Balance sneakers just don’t go with every outfit. So this will be a learning curve: deciding when to wear the brace and forego fashion or aesthetics (and perhaps even self-confidence,) and deciding when maybe it’s okay to  just leave the darn knee brace and foot cast at home.

Today, I opted to leave them at home. I was meeting new people for the first time and didn’t want my “contraptions” to be a distraction or something to cause worry or pity. I made this decision with responsible rationale and logic, though: I knew I’d be sitting down for a lot of the day today, not walking or standing a lot, which is when I need these things most

Here was my post about the cast and brace yesterday.

But here was what I wrote on November 23, 2016, and the photo that I shared … which I’d like to share with you all again, today:

15109500_1520906624592625_6407073581672262722_n.jpg

“I basically (literally) cried picking out these shoes. I cried because I was spending over $140 on shoes I didn’t like and didn’t want, and I cried because needing these shoes meant a lifelong foot brace was soon to follow. They meant that foot and ankle surgery was, for now, out of the question because my foot and ankle were ‘too far gone.’ I longed for the days of heels and wedges and stilettos.

Today, I again was feeling bummed as I wear the dreaded shoes, and I sit at the orthopedic surgeon’s office awaiting a consult about a total knee replacement at age 33, knowing full-well that I’ve needed one since I was at least 25.

Then, I glanced down at the elephant tattoo on my left ankle. It is one of 7 tattoos that I have. But this one, at this moment … it made me reframe my thinking.

Why? Because when I got this tattoo, it was to represent family (elephants have extreme family bonds,) emotional intelligence and empathy (elephants are extremely emotionally-sensitive and are one of only a few animals capable of empathy,) and to remind me of Hilton Head, where I got it done and which is one of my happy places.

So instead of thinking about my cast… or my shoes… or my knee… or my foot… or the surgeon… I will use MY emotional intelligence to throw some perspective on the situation. I will be thankful that I have shoes. That I have healthcare. That I have my legs and my feet, as painful and unreliable as they may be.

I will be thankful for the summer weeks spent in Hilton Head, for happy times and good memories with family, for the great value of family and togetherness in general, for my love of animals, and I will also think about the grace and courage, and strong, sensitive souls of elephants.

I will focus on empathy towards others, and towards myself and my own body, even when it feels like my own body is the enemy.

When I glance down at my right ankle, I see another tattoo: a cross.

God is with me and my faith will be strong through every medical journey and through every other hardship of life. The aesthetic of the shoes aren’t important. (And I mean, I certainly don’t love them, but I *guess* they really aren’t THAT bad. I’ll have to head to New Balance and also get them in black and white!)

Health problems happen. It’s the journey and the love that are important.

I’m thankful that, of all places, I was reminded of that today in a doctor’s exam room, and that this reminder was sent to me in the form of … two of my tattoos. You can find inspiration and perspective in the strangest of places sometimes!”

2 thoughts on “Walking in My Shoes: Keeping Perspective With a Chronic Health Issue

  1. Sometimes I think it’s so trivial of me, but yeah. The shoes. I miss wearing cute heels. Sexy sandals that gave me height and made my casual wardrobe just a bit… sexier… Yeah. I miss the shoes too…

    • I’m so with you. It may seem trivial or shallow, but I also really, really miss the shoes. I’m with you re: the height and the sexiness. I have very short legs and am not a tall person. I relied on heels or wedges to give me that sense of confidence and elongation. It is sometimes about more than shoes or fashion. It’s about the sense of confidence.

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