My feet are strange and unusual. Perhaps I should call them unique. They are abnormally small, which I attribute to my rheumatoid arthritis constricting their natural growth trajectory. Additionally, many of my toes have dislocated joints and so several curl over each other or bend in contortionist ambitions. I like to think that I always have my toes crossed for luck!
My husband teases me sometimes because despite the fact that I have some foot neuropathy (or lack of nerve feeling), my toes can act as my Achilles heel. I can be jumpy when I stub my toe or wrong them in some way. The rest of me may act all tough, but don’t dare harm my toes!
I can’t remember when my foot deformities began, but I started wearing leg splints at night and a walking leg brace at a young age. Since I was a teenager I have been wearing custom orthotics in my shoes to prop up my sagging arches and encourage the best position for my feet. When I stand, they tend to turn as if seeking an angle on which to best prop me up.
Periodically orthopedic surgeons have tried to coax me into having my toes broken and reset or other procedures on my feet. But I have to admit I am extremely reluctant. My feet are far from perfect or model-beautiful, but they definitely work and I feel there is no guarantee that surgery will improve their functionality.
I sometimes wonder what other people would think of my feet, if they weren’t constantly hidden in supportive shoes. Would people recoil at the swollen, curving joints? Thankfully, my feet do not give me much pain. While my feet are not pretty, they do hold me up and support the walking I need to do.
I like to think of my feet as funky. Not in the stinky way! But in that they can jam and dance within their own groove. My toes may be twisted, my arches flat, my bones swollen and hot—but my feet can still get down!
It helps me to see a podiatrist every few months for regular foot checkups and maintenance. And my loving hubby periodically gives me a foot soak and rub to help soothe them against aches or cold. But it’s funny to consider that despite how terrible my feet may look against ‘normal’ feet, they give me some of the least trouble compared to my other joints.
Maybe it is because I don’t expect a lot from my feet—some standing and limited steps per day. But I have more complaints about my arms and shoulders. I want them to do more and feel less discomfort. With my feet, I am fine with just getting by.
In a meaningful way, I like having original feet. No one else can replicate them! My footprint is original and fairly unchanging, with my bones frozen into place by rheumatoid arthritis. They have a sort of reliable constancy for both being strange and yet the same for many years.
Like with my other RA joints, the long term game is maintenance—trying to keep my feet as healthy and capable for as long as possible. I don’t ask a lot of them, but I do want them to stick around and do their funky dance for many years to come. My feet have already traveled to funky town and I am just hanging on for the ride.
On a scale of 1(low) to 5(high), how difficult is it for you to talk about having RA?