Happy-ish feet

Feet. The often ultra-divisive body parts that allow us to stand. I never understood the love or hate for feet. They were considered simply functional in my culture. Heavily worn, toughened, and critical to mobility… feet were used and not thought of unless they had a problem.

With age and travel, I learned that many people (especially in Western nations) put either a sexual or antagonistic lens on feet. They have visceral feelings about their own and other people’s foot anatomy. For the rest of us, we walk through this world without much thought about those bits.

Recently, I went to the podiatrist. Getting my feet checked out has been on the to-do list for a while. Small fiber neuropathy doesn’t mess around when it comes to foot pain and numbness. I’ve broken multiple toes. I have high arches and have noticed substantial pain on my footpads over the years. The appointment was fast and easy. I had gone in with the intention of generally talking about foot health and getting insoles. Nothing wild.

The doctor immediately said that I had the most flexible feet he had ever seen. Thanks Ehler’s Danlos! Another gold medal in the “that’s weird” department! There wasn’t much of a need or interest in my full medical history, but I disclosed my EDS and neuropathy as they were relevant to the visit. Shockingly, this doc was familiar with those conditions. He even noted how difficult it is to be formally diagnosed. I was floored and quite speechless. While the visit wrapped up so quickly that I didn’t have time to ruminate on a medical professional actually knowing about these under-researched disorders, my concerns were addressed and I learned about custom insoles.

Let’s not kid ourselves, the entire world laughs at the American medical system and those of us in it often cry. As we spoke about prescription insoles, I was told that they cost around $600 out of pocket. Most insurance (including mine) won’t pay for orthotics. The WILL pay for foot pain surgery, but they give the middle finger to anything preventative and nonpharmaceutical. There was an exception for diabetic neuropathy where they will pay for orthotics and shoes. Of course. One neuropathy qualifies while another doesn’t. Rant: I’ve dealt with this same issue many times over. Insurance companies love to claim they have coverage for things when they are actually only covering within ultra specific boundaries. They won’t cover nausea medications for my gastroparesis. However, if I had nausea from cancer treatments (not cancer itself), I would have those medicines covered. Those ridiculous disqualifiers go on and on.

So, I bought over the counter insoles. The doctor directed me to a pair that should help more than the nothing I was doing before. I was also schooled on my casual/exercise shoes. Finding something with good arch support, side-to-side stability, and a solid cushioned foot bed isn’t easy or cheap. Especially, if I want an aesthetically attractive shoe. The search continues. I’ve tried on a few that fit the functional part; not so much a win in the looks department. Right now, I’m wearing my trusty hiking boots while hunting for my goldilocks athletic shoe. When I find the dream pair that ticks more of the boxes, I’ll be sure to share and sing its praises here.

The moral of this little story, don’t ignore your feet. Aching and painful feet don’t need to be exaggerated by terrible shoes or unsupported foot functions. We all know the rule to surviving life with a broken body: Lessen pain wherever you can. There are over the counter solutions and a ton of quality footwear on the market. The cuteness factor might have to slip if it means a much happier walking experience. I’d love to hear if you found that perfect pair.

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