Revisiting “Shoes”

If you’re not a regular follower of my blog, you can find the link to my original post, “Shoes”, by clicking here


It’s now been three years since I had the last major surgery on my right leg in June 2010. Although I feel that my leg will always be a source worry, I think that the range of motion, scars, nerve sensation, and general muscle strength that I have now will be fairly stable going forward. After three years, I don’t think that I can expect much more in terms of recovery.

In the past year, I have struggled with avascular necrosis (AVN for short) impacting the bones in my foot. I have worn Danskos almost exclusively for 10 months, and most of the sharp pain has diminished. I’m left with minor aches and the general feeling of having a stone in my shoe where a joint has collapsed. 

When I moved into my house, I put all of my high heels in the closet in the guest bedroom. I felt that having the shoes in there kept them out of sight for the majority of the time – and therefore less of a reminder of what used to be – but they were present enough to make me hope for the time where I could wear them again. 

Tonight I realized that today is just mere days after the three year anniversary of a surgery that left me with an incision from my knee to below my ankle. I went into the guest bedroom and looked at my heels. I wondered what I should do with them, then decided that I should try them on. I tried on my favorite night-out-on-the-town shoes first, and quickly discovered that I no longer have the control to fit my foot into the shoes. My “bad” toe bent uncomfortably in the shoes, and I had no way of fixing it. Next, I tried on a pair of shoes that I frequently wore to work on days where I knew I was going to have a meeting or important event. Those shoes had a modest, inch-and-a-half heel, and while not the most comfortable, they were manageable. I continued trying on all of my heels, and came to the conclusion that my days of wearing 3″ stilettos were behind me. I no longer have the strength in my foot, muscle control in my toe, and general flexibility to walk in those shoes. 

I sat in the floor, surrounded by shoes that serve as a very tangible tie to my past, and wondered what I should do. I began sorting the shoes into two piles: one pile of shoes that I felt had a modest heel that could probably be worn for short periods of time while I was mostly sitting (like out to dinner), and a second pile of shoes that I knew I would never be able to wear again. 

I put the latter pile into a bag and texted my cousin. She’s about to turn 18, just graduated from high school, and is venturing into the college world. I so vividly remember that summer between high school and college – it was so full of excitement and preparation, nerves and adrenaline, wonder and anticipation. I remember that I had everything figured out – I knew exactly where I was going to college, how long it would take me to graduate, and what I would do after graduation. I knew that I wanted to get married and have babies (not that I think that’s what every person should do, it’s just what I wanted for myself). I remember having a plan and a timeline, and having the hope and excitement that comes with both.

My cousin, who I am so proud of, is now experiencing that same summer. I decided that I would give her the heels that I can no longer wear. The dreams and aspirations that I had the summer between high school and college have grown and changed so many times in the six years since. The shoes that I wore for a couple of years before Behcet’s changed me no longer fit the life that I have made for myself today. But, a whole new world is opening up for my cousin, and I want to pass along something to her that meant so much to me.

In the end, it’s not about the shoes at all. It’s about growth and the realization that I don’t have to go back to where I was; I can dream a new set of dreams. The innocence of youth may be gone, but the freedom of letting go is at my fingertips.