Yesterday I was standing on the sidewalk waiting on the light to change on my walk to work, when I happened to look down and notice my shoes. I smiled. It wasn’t that there was something wrong with them. It was that there was something RIGHT with them. I realized that without much thought I had been wearing my heeled Clark’s to work each day for the past few weeks. How had I overlooked this? How had I been wearing these shoes again for two weeks and not realized what a big deal it was? You see, to me, these are much more than just my favorite work shoes. They are a gentle reminder of how far I’ve come over the past year.
A year ago I couldn’t walk for more than a few minutes without resting. A year ago my balance and coordination was so bad that I couldn’t wear shoes that didn’t tie or buckle onto my feet for fear that they would slip off and trip me. A year ago I couldn’t navigate the escalator at work without holding on for dear life. A year ago walking on a wet or snow-covered sidewalk was about as easy as walking on ice. A year ago I gave up ballet flats and shoes with a heel of any sort because totally secure grandma shoes were all that I could handle. Although it wasn’t much of a sacrifice, it was a loss that I wasn’t ready for. If you think that I’m overreacting, try being 32 and wearing shoes that could pass for orthopedics.
More often than not, most of the sacrifices that I make to accommodate my MS are pretty big and glaring like adapting to new medications or learning to manage the fatigue. They’re obvious and totally necessary and I’ve mentally prepared for them. Sometimes though, the small changes are what you miss the most. They usually happen gradually or as a result of other, larger issues like learning to make your brain tell your legs how to walk again and aren’t something you spend a lot of time thinking about. When your shoes are literally falling off of your feet and you’re already having trouble walking, switching shoes is something that you don’t think about. You just do it. It isn’t until you notice that you have a closet full of shoes that you haven’t worn in six months that it really starts to get you down.
I had read about women with MS grieving the loss of their high heeled shoes and always thought it was silly. They’re just shoes after, all but, now I think I get it. It’s not the shoes that they’re grieving. It’s the freedom that choosing a shoe based on your outfit or your mood provides. It’s the thought that MS has already taken so much from your life and now it has to come and take your pretty shoes too.
Well, it turns out that MS hasn’t taken my pretty shoes, at least not yet. Apparently they just went on an extended vacation, or maybe they were on strike. Either way, welcome back, shoes. I’ve missed you. We have a lot of catching up to do.
Inspired by the Daily Prompt: Protest.