Considering that I spent a dozen years or so of my childhood and teen years cramming my feet into toe shoes five days a week at ballet class and another 35 years prancing around daily in three-inch, strappy sandals or pumps, my feet are in relatively good shape at age 70.
I would be wearing those high-heeled shoes still except that one day, a decade or so ago while dressing for work, I stepped into a gorgeous pair, walked into the kitchen for coffee and thought I'd pass out from the pain.
To this day, I'm not certain if my feet had always hurt that much and I had successfully ignored it or if that was the moment my feet rebelled against their life-long torture.
Scrounging around in a closet overflowing with more than a hundred pairs of to-die-for, high-heeled shoes, I found an old pair of flats that morning and although I tried the high heels some mornings over the next several months, I finally had to admit that my days of wearing beautiful shoes were done.
Until that happened, I am pretty sure I alone kept Dr. Scholl's in business with my regular purchase of corn pads for 35 years. It was automatic – buy a new tube of toothpaste and pick up a couple of packages of corn pads.
My feet have been corn-free now for a decade and I no longer have calluses behind my big toe. Also, I've never had a bunion or any other kind of foot problem except, once, a broken toe. But that doesn't mean I can ignore my feet now.
In my old days of pretty shoes, I tried them on at the store and if they felt good, I could wear them the next day, never needing any time to break them in. That stopped a long time ago. Unless they are backless, new shoes always – always - give me blisters on the back of my heels, so I must wear them around the house for an hour or two a day over a couple of weeks until I can go out in them.
This (admittedly minor) problem came up again this week when I wanted to wear a new pair of my standard, everyday shoes. Here is a photo:
Once broken in, these are the closest thing I've found to going barefoot. They come in a dozen or more colors from two manufacturers, but I always buy gold (or bronze) because that color goes with everything and is more interesting than black. I keep a pair by the door to slip into whenever I leave the house.
That means they wear out within a year, so it's an annual purchase with an annual break-in period. I've had this new pair for a couple of months and have been putting off the break-in because I so love living with pain-free feet.
It's hard to be sure, but I think my feet, without the daily distress of several decades, have become more tender in the heel area. One solution is backless, flat or near-flat shoes and I've found a new way to indulge my fetish for gorgeous shoes.
If you hunt around, there are amazingly beautiful shoes that are comfortable. These aren't meant to be shoes; they are slippers and I wear them a lot at home.
Here are several others, shoes that may appear, with their beads and bangles and embroidery, to be for dress-up occasions but since there are few of those in my life now, I wear them with casual clothes:
Nowadays, even the heels on the last two pictured are too high for extended walking so I wear them only when I know I won't be moving around much as in going out to dinner, a movie, concert, etc.
Or, when I'm home alone like today, writing a blog post or reading a book. I wear them then, just for me. It makes me happy to see these sorry, old feet all dressed up.
Maybe you don't share my fancy shoe fetish, but I wonder if you have problems with old feet too.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Ernest Leichter: Retirement Blues – April 14, 2011