Some people will think this post is vain, selfish, or even petty. Others, who perhaps have walked down a similar road, will understand the intentions and emotions behind it.


In 2008, I was a college sophomore just like every other college sophomore. Any of my physical symptoms of illness could be explained by the typical college life: not enough sleep, poor eating habits, and stress. However, over the course of the next five years, my life would change drastically and rapidly.

There are a lot of sacrifices that I made in order to survive. I didn’t choose Behcet’s, nor did I make choices that caused it. But, because of this illness, I have been thrust into a world of hospitals, surgeries, injections, and symptoms. I have re-arranged my life to accommodate medications, recovery periods, and physical therapy. I have re-arranged my wardrobe to hide scars. I have re-arranged my hopes and dreams for the future to accept a more attainable reality.

But I never had to give up my shoes. My shoes that I wore were beautiful. They were the thing I treated myself to. They were arguably the most feminine thing about me. I loved heels, especially designer heels. From the time I was a pre-teen, my dad had always bought me special pairs of shoes that were “loud” and made a statement. I was able to walk, and walk well, in 4″ heels, and more conservative heels were a staple in my wardrobe.

When I had my first surgery on my leg in 2008, my aunt (who is also a physical therapist) promised me I would be able to wear my heels again. When I had the next surgery in 2010, she again promised me that I would be able to wear my heels. After the fourth surgery, I was ready to just be able to walk without a walker.

Recently, I have started having to deal with secondary symptoms, the ones that you get as a result of medications or symptoms of Behcet’s. The newest has been avascular necrosis (also known as AVN or osteonecrosis), the death of bones because of a loss of blood flow. This is probably a result of years of insufficient blood flow to my foot and leg, as well as years of Prednisone use.

Because of AVN, I’m wearing Danskos now. My job requires me to be on my feet and moving, and I have never been one to sacrifice my personal life because of Behcet’s. So, I have to wear Danskos to protect the bones from further injury or decomposition. Danskos are not pretty, and they are certainly not unique. They do not come in fashionable heels, and they do not come in styles that can easily be worn on a night out.

I am happy to do what I can to protect my foot, but my shoes were something that I very much considered part of my very personal identity. Now, I’m left to wonder what to do with them. I have a closet full of shoes that I will most likely not be able to wear again. Getting rid of them seems awful, almost like giving up, but seeing them every morning as I get dressed, reminding me of the sacrifices that I have made, may be more masochism than I can handle.

5 thoughts on “Shoes

  1. Alison,

    Goodness, the amount of surgery and stress your poor body has been through! I know for me, between the prednisone, weight gain, sores and skin lesions and the arthritis, the Behcet’s made me feel like less of a woman. I didn’t feel beautiful in the sneakers and sweats that had become my go-to wardrobe. Even going on a date, an event I looked forward to- getting my whole outfit into a piece of art my body was a part of, not to mention those beautiful platform steel grey pumps with stelletto heels- was something I stopped looking forward to. Walking was painful in those beautiful shoes, my weight wouldn’t let me fit into that dress, and doing make-up felt like too much effort, and even pointless on a moon-face.

    Here’s what I’ve learned during this process. My body is friggin’ sexy for what it’s been through. I appreciate the strength I still have in my joints when I wear a fun sneaker. My weight is going down because no matter how much it hurts or sucks, I’m taking care of my body. And one day, I’ll be able to fit into my favorite clothes again. My face is almost face-shaped again, and fun make-up is getting easier.

    I refuse to put my heels in an art museum/moseleum because I can’t wear them right now. I may never be able to wear them again. But I can’t let that define me, and I know you won’t either. Your beautiful shoes, and this stubborn disease-these don’t make you Alison, the strong, fighting beautiful person. I had to re-adjust my whole self-image, and I’m still in the process of looking at myself differently. It’s hard! I love fashion magazines, and want to look my best!

    So I went on a mission to find the most fashionable (if that’s possible) sweats (I wound up with ones that are tailored to look like beautiful work slacks), comfortable and flattering tops, and, of course, comfortable, but CUTE shoes (I live in a variety of ballet flats with some orthopedic inserts).

    I think there’s more power to us- we have to take what life’s handed to us and get creative with it. I have to look at my disease as an opportunity, instead of a fashion death sentence.

    Your blog, is absolutely beautiful, as is your amazing story. I wish you cute shoes and all of your health,
    (Behcet’s Land)

  2. Hey Nikki,

    Thanks for your support! I have been down a similar path as yours with my weight and self-image. It’s an ongoing struggle for me, but it is certainly nice to know that I’m not alone!


  3. Avascular Necrosis is a hard disease to live with. I have it in my femurs. I’m sorry it came secondary to you already having to live with something else. So often I talk to people with secondary AVN. They’ve already had to deal with so much in their lives. I haven’t worn heals in over 16 months. I wonder if I ever will again. I hope so!

  4. Thank you for your comment! I’m sorry to hear about your own experiences with AVN, and I wish you the best in your journey! Hopefully we will all be able to find shoes that perfectly match our personality.

  5. Pingback: Revisiting “Shoes” | Rocking This Illness: My Story of Life with Behcet's Disease

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