Saying Goodbye to Pre-RA Shoes
Every few months, we receive phone calls from various advocacy organizations who are looking for donations of household goods, such as clothing, books, or small appliances, to sell to raise funds for their organization. Oftentimes I agree to prepare a box or two for donation which provides a good opportunity to go through excess in our house and select items that deserve a new home.
Parting with old shoes
This past week when going through stuff I focused on packing up shoes and clothing. For the clothing, it was not too difficult deciding what items to include because this time around, I chose to let go of items which I had simply grown out of. Well, not really grown out of, but rather lost weight out of. Things that simply didn’t fit anymore even with safety pins.
Choosing shoes to donate was a bit more difficult, or rather more sentimental. There were shoes in my collection that I used to wear as part of my ‘all black concert clothing’ attire. Some of these shoes were the most comfortable when I purchased them: slightly narrow width which kept them snug on my heels, a little extra arch support, low heels, and just the right amount of cushion.
These shoes were cute, and somewhat expensive. I loved them so much that I followed my mother’s advice: “If you find something that works well, and that you love, consider buying backups because they most likely won’t be available when the original pair [of shoes] wears out.”
RA changed how I look at footwear
But over the years, these ‘oh so comfortable shoes’ have become torture devices. Each time I’ve tried to wear them, I end up in such pain and with icky blisters that it’s just impossible to bear.
What has changed? Simply put….RA.
There are stories of women whose feet changed shape after pregnancy, but I’ve never been through that so I don’t have firsthand experience. I’ve heard of women whose feet changed shape simply because of age, but mine had been the same for many years.
We don’t often talk about what RA can do to the feet. Some patients may feel like they are walking on hard rocks due to inflammation in the feet. Some patients develop deformities due to damaged joints in the feet caused by the destructive power of RA.
How RA can change our feet
In my case, RA (and weight gain) contributed to the development of fallen arches. Growing up, I always had extremely high arches in my feet which made finding the right shoes difficult. Luckily for me when RA started changing things up, a podiatrist was able to diagnose my problem and help me do something about it.
At first, he strapped my feet with heavy duty tape to temporarily support the arches and allow them to heal; then he ordered custom made orthotics to place in my shoes. My particular style of orthotic fits athletic or casual shoes, not dress shoes, and I use them daily.
Besides the fallen arches, RA also contributed to wider feet. No longer do I need narrow shoes or 4A width heels. My feet have become extraordinarily average and a half size longer. But when shoes do not fit, the pain is multiplied. So I choose only to wear shoes that fit well.
Before going through the depths of my closet last week, I had totally forgotten about the duplicate, back-up pair of black dress shoes which were awaiting me. But when I discovered them, I hoped that someone with extra narrow feet and high arches who enjoys low heeled shoes would greatly appreciate a brand new pair of cute Munro pumps.
Bye bye shoes. Hello extra space in the closet. I just may need you for the next pair of RA-friendly shoes I buy.
Have you taken our Rheumatoid Arthritis In America survey?