Friday, May 15, 2015

Sole Story

I spent the past few years thinking I had one perk - I wasn't going to get old.  Of course, the life I've lived would be a horror to most people, but being a silver lining kinda gal, I started imagining all the things I would avoid by dying:

Falling and not being able to get up
My face melting into my neck
My earlobes dangling down to my shoulders
Having to google "attractive hairstyles for 75 year old."
Being called a "senior citizen" or worse, "old lady."
Having to wear orthopedic shoes
Needing false teeth.
A boy scout wanting to help me across the street.

Getting old sounds kind of scary and problematic.  But here I am, at the moment, NOT dying of cancer and now starting to face the problems of aging, as well as other things that crop up for normal people.  Sometimes, I don't even know what is regular old aging and what is the side-effects of treatment.  If my hair thins, is it because of treatment?  Is it damage from all the chemo?  Or is it just something that would have happened anyway, being post-menopausal?  (Plenty of women who never had cancer have thin hair).  Why is my finger joint bending a bit to the right?  Is that cancer? Treatment? Aging?

I (like every cancer patient) have a tendency to blame chemo and cancer for pretty much everything that happens to my physically.  It is the great dividing line of blame in my life.  Before cancer, I blamed general body foolishness.   Now - cancer.  Even if it might have happened anyway.

Some things, I can't blame on cancer.  But because of cancer,  I'm not sure how to deal with them. Take, for example, an ugly but common problem:  The bunion.

Bunion on the left, in case you can't tell.  

I have a bunion on my left foot, and have for years.  Before cancer.   I'm not even sure when I first noticed it, but it never hurt me, it didn't interfere with wearing any shoes, and it was generally one of those weird "things" that you ignore.

Fast forward six years, 7 chemos, four surgeries and some radiation later.   Now, of course, it hurts. Why it never hurt on days I wore five inch heels, I don't know, but now that  I have been barefoot for pretty much the past 6 years, it started getting worse.

It was probably the Gemzar, don't you think?

So it's ugly, yes.  But who cares, I'm alive.  When I started my exercise class, I realized that I was not walking properly due to that bunion.  I was putting my weight on the side of my foot and avoiding the big toe.  How long I'd been doing that, I don't know.  But I have had pain in my knee, hip and lower back, which I assumed was from chemo/treatment.  What if it wasn't?  What if it was from the bunion, and I'd been protecting it by my walk, causing pain?

So what do I do?  Of course,  I have no intention of doing a voluntary surgery, and bunion is voluntary.  After c-diff, I am not taking any antibiotics.  My white cell count seems to be permanently low, so I don't want to risk infection for a foot, especially since I can't do antibiotics.  I don't have the lifestyle where I'll be needing to put on a pair of Louboutins, so that's not an issue.

But I am worried about aging now, and maybe becoming a fall risk.  Walking on the sides of one foot is not safe when you are 80.  And while I've got a few decades before I get to that age, I now at least can consider that it might happen.

So I have decided to self-treat.  My goal is not to fix the appearance of the bunion, as I know that won't happen without surgery.  But I want to fix the way I walk and put pressure back where it belongs, and I want to see if I can stop some of the pain.

I searched Amazon and I found a "bunion splint."    I kept searching, and found one for $10.00.  It will stretch the ligaments of the toes and put the bad toe back in the proper position, at least while I'm wearing it, which I do at night.  Sold.

Kind of gives that RoboCop feel, yes?

I bought a toe separator, bunion protector.  You can wear this with shoes and it will protect the skin as well as stretch the ligaments of your toes.

It's more comfortable than it looks

I also bought a gel arch wrap, which somehow allows you to put pressure on the proper part of your foot.

And, I bought some Vionic Shoes

They adjust right across the bunion part for super comfort!

Yes, they are orthopedic shoes.  My friends all know I loved my pretty, pretty shoes, but those days are long gone.  Or so I thought.   For years, I've been wearing flats, Tom's specifically. Being short, I missed a heel.  When I saw these, they were very attractive to me, because they are adjustable across the instep, which means nothing pushes on my bunion and also because they are a wedge, which gives me height.  And, I can wear my toe thingy or my wrap with it - or not.  As I choose.  The shoe bed is comfortable and makes me walk the right way.

And, maybe I am aging and my tastes are changing, but I think these shoes are as cute as they are comfortable.

So my friends, I do not recommend that you treat yourself, if cancer rears its ugly head.  Get yourself to an oncologist, stat.  But if you have a bunion, you might want to try these methods and see if they help you.  I do feel like the pain in my knee has eased up.  I'll let you know how it goes down the line.  But I'm pretty happy with these methods and these shoes are amazing.  I'll probably get another pair, or two.

Maybe getting older isn't so bad after all...

These are called the Glenda Wedge Backstrap Sandal


  1. Thanks for the laugh, Ann!

    Although I am still in my 30's, I have thought about what would be like to be old and how far I would like to go.
    The one thing I always feared was to not be physically independent. I have to say though, that on top of all the inconveniences that come with aging, I still feel growing old is a blessing many don't have.

    People always manage and adjust to changes, naturally.

    You are already doing it and I am glad you are.

    1. I just hope I age like Jane Fonda. (Just her looks and physicality, don't get huffy people!) She looks 20 years younger than her age, you'd never know she was 77. If I'm going to get to that age, I want to be able to enjoy it!

  2. Hope it works for you. Checked out the Vionic site & they have some really cute shoes & think what you got look great!

    1. Thank you! I was pleasantly surprised by how attractive the shoes are, plus comfy too.

  3. Love the shoes. I need to look for some that are both pretty and give support.
    Personally, I'm blaming chemo for my foot problems. Gave me permanent neuropathy in my feet.
    Elizabeth J.

    1. I don't know what else you can blame neuropathy on! I also have stabbing in my toes that feels like glass is in there. I assume neuropathy, unless there is a lot more broken glass around then I know about. :)

  4. LOL. I have a bunion. I wear Merrell or Clark's shoes but definitely check out the vionics (not that I need more shoes). But we are still here.

  5. Thanks for writing the blog.

    I really identified with your and zach's story, one because my dad died far before he wanted too. The second was that zach's song clouds really described how I felt after my dads death.

    I wish my dad would have blogged or written things like you have, as that's a huge safety net for your kids. I'm left to think that I could hear him say this, or that when I read something or hear something.

    I wanted to say thank you for being so vulnerable, and putting it out their. It's helped my not through any sort of cancer, but more of the grieving process.

    I pray for you, and your recovery.

    For love is as strong as death - Song of Solomon somewhere

  6. If I stay on Taxotere another 6 cycles I too will be wearing orthopedic shoes. They don't look too bad! ;)

  7. Thanks for sharing the experience, Be strengthened.ewton@Kenyatta University School of Medicine

  8. I'm only 30, and I think those are pretty stylish shoes.

  9. I love those shoes! How high is the heel? Looks about one and a half inches. I do not expect you to remember me, but you literally saved my life a few years ago with a response to me on Breast cancer,org.


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