Saturday, June 8, 2013

When you have neuropathy-damaged feet, good (cute) shoes are hard to find.

The stereotype is that lesbians wear "comfortable" shoes, as in unfashionable, or maybe work boots, I have no idea.

Anyway, this lesbian has serious neuropathy in both feet. I've had insulin-dependent diabetes for 30 years, and thankfully my eyes and kidneys -- usual targets of long-term damage -- are fine, unfortunately the feet are what took the damage. My blood sugars have been in good control, but it's hard not to have some long-term effects having diabetes for this long. BTW, it runs on both sides of my family -- both of my parents had adult-onset but were not obese. My brother is fine; I seemed to be the one to get all of the horrid metabolic and immune disorders passed down. Even my RA, according to my rheumatologist, was spawned through the genes; my mom had sarcoidosis, which is in the same auto-immune family.

Anyway, it's hard to describe what neuropathic pain feels like -- it's simultaneously numbness paired with extreme sensitivity at times to the touch, such as feeling like you're walking on hot coals, or someone is stabbing you with little knives on the soles of your feet.  The duality of this is both frustrating and annoying because it can ramp up at any time. The worst-case scenario is an attack of it at night -- I've had pain so bad that even having the sheet touch my feet under the covers was excruciating.

On the other hand, my feet are nearly completely numb to hot or cold, which can be dangerous. Burning hot water feels only warm on them; ice barely registers as cold. The numb aspect also makes it easy to slip in the shower, since my feet don't have the correct sensation to grip the wet floor well. I have to have bath mats all over the floor to make it to my slippers.

One of the few topical things that help is capsaicin, derived from hot peppers. Mostly this is used by folks with osteoarthritis. In treating neuropathy, the heat sensation generated by it cancels out/breaks up the neuropathic signals causing the pain. Kate tried using it on a sore muscle and she couldn't bear the burning sensation; I barely feel anything warm on my feet, but after about a half-hour, some of the worst burning subsides and I'm able to finally sleep.

But back to shoes...

Almost all my old shoes -- nice dress shoes, sandals -- had to be tossed out over the last couple of years because they either 1) hurt my feet by causing neuro-pain, or 2) didn't provide enough shock absorption to prevent knee and hip pain that I have from RA. What's left to wear? Well, lots of styles that look like Grandma Shoes. At this point, the only brand I trust to be comfortable are Easy Spirit's Athletic family. At least they come in all sorts of cool colors and styles.

I took a risk on one shoe that looked kind of cool -- the Naturalizer BZees Mary Jane (right). While they aren't dress shoes or sneakers, they fall into middle ground for me. I'll wear these to work or out on the weekend. I've learned that comfort comes before style at this point. It's really not a choice.

One of the brands that up until this about a year ago that I could reliably trust were Jambus and J-41s. I wore one pair last week and boy did I pay for it.  They seemed comfy enough -- they have memory foam insoles -- but the next day my left knee and hip hurt so bad that I was limping for two days. I had to fall back on my trusty Easy Spirit Mary Janes to get enough support and shock absorption. I was crestfallen. I love those J-41s. I wanted to make a bargain with myself that I can still wear them in some limited way...oy.

No comments:

Post a Comment