Submitted by Lorraine McQueen. First published November 2020, updated January 10 2023.
My feet have been with me for almost eighty years and over that time we have had some serious ups and downs.
My feet could best be described as functional and sensible, more down-to-earth than the kind of feet that inspire high flying admiration in fashionable shoes. In my youth, they were the kind of feet most suited to running barefoot in the summer or shoved into wool socks and rubber boots in winter.
By the time I was sixteen my feet had become a shopping nightmare and an acute embarrassment to my teenage psyche. They too were almost grown up and were now an astoundingly shocking size ten – wide. I refused to comply with their outrageous demands to buy shoes in a size larger than those that fit my basketball star male cousin.
I did my best to ignore my feet for another ten years until they proved they were capable of overcoming even the most determined denial of reality. They protested ill-fitting shoes with hammer toes, corns, fallen arches, ingrown toenails and painful calluses. (I am embarrassed to mention the frequent cases of athletes’ foot and toenail fungus.) Fortunately, I live in a society where there are countless vain, uncompromising women like me. As a result, the local drugstores had a large display of sore foot remedies which were always well stocked with over the counter remedies for foot infection, discomfort and pain.
I limped along with these commercial products, purchasing enough to provide Dr. Scholl with a superior lifestyle, until my mid-thirties when I moved from Nova Scotia to Ottawa. Immediately, several things changed. I was now working in an environment that demanded a lot of city walking. I had a position that demanded a higher standard of professional dress and footwear and most important of all, I now lived in a city with a speciality shoe store.
It didn’t take long for a superior clerk in that fine store to inform me in grim tones that my feet were actually size eleven – wide. When I politely and quietly insisted that I was sure they were size ten, and sometimes I wore nine and a half, she smiled knowingly and left to search the back room on an almost impossible hunt. Size eleven wide was not popular even in a speciality shoe store. I quickly learned to shop early in every season to catch one of the two pairs of size eleven shoes that they brought in for the seventy-five or more women who needed them. OK, I know I am being unfair, but I swear clerks would inform me with a sincere smile that they had had a lovely pair of size eleven summer sandals EARLY in the season. Since I was shopping for summer shoes in March I found this remark very difficult to accept. I sometimes asked to know more about those long-gone shoes. Somehow, the answers were always disappointing. “Were they red, dear? No! No! They only came in black.”
My busy professional and family life kept me running until my late forties when I developed three difficult to solve problems that sent me for the first time to a professional foot-care person. My first encounter was with a podiatricist who treated me for a painful and stubborn plantar wart in the bottom of my heel. After several attempts to treat it or remove it, he decided to cut it out. That was a very painful and debilitating experience and made me very cautious about foot-care professionals! Then, the ingrown toenail on my big toe became so problematic that a surgeon advised total removal and I agreed. After a few months, with my heel recovered, and my big toe painless for the first time in my memory, I rewarded myself by joining a walking club and a fitness club with an indoor track. My feet fought back. It wasn’t long before I had severe pain in my heels that was diagnosed as plantar fasciitis. I learned many people suffer from this condition and all of them had excellent advice for me. I tried many strange and ineffective treatments suggested by good friends who assured me that this particular cure, “worked every time”. Not so, in my experience. I suffered this affliction for months until I was finally referred to an orthopedic surgeon who fitted me with heel cups and told me to be kinder to my feet!
Be kinder to my feet? My size eleven wide feet that had embarrassed and pained me for years?
I wasn’t ready to forgive them. I continued to demand excellent service, but refused to supply those troublesome appendages with basic support and maintenance. I was making retirement plans. I decided there would be lots of time later to indulge those troublesome feet.
At sixty, I retired, moved back to Nova Scotia and was referred by my family doctor to a professional foot care nurse. My doctor explained that better care by a professional would aid in preventing many of the problems that had plagued me all my life. My toenails were cut regularly and correctly and my ingrown nails were cured. Regular care ensured that my corns were removed and my callouses were reduced. In addition, I was given excellent advice to keep my feet healthy and problem free. Over the last twenty years I have never gone without the regular attention of a foot care nurse.
Those nurses not only took care of my feet but helped me understand that good foot care helped avoid many problems and treating my feet with respect would ensure that they would carry me safely into my old age. Well, I’m at that old age now and I have reached a new accord with my feet. They may not be fashionably tiny and narrow. They may not fit society’s image of fashion. They may cause me embarrassment from time-to-time, but they are the best feet I will ever have. We have developed a new harmonious relationship. Of course, I do put my feet up much more than I used to!