birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

My Feet

I have a love-hate relationship with my feet. Until I was a sophomore in college, I never gave them much thought. But then some guy I knew commented that I had pretty feet, that in fact I could probably get a job as a foot model. I didn’t know what he was talking about, but he explained that my toes were straight, I had no knots or knobs or general crookedness on any of my toes. And best of all, I had no ugly veins or protruding tendons marring the smooth tops of my feet. I looked at my feet differently after that. He was right. I had pretty feet. In fact, I still do unless you stare at the congenital deformity—the bony bumps on the back of both of my heels. They do a good job of holding on sling straps, but they can also become painfully inflamed if I wear the wrong shoes.
It was probably the same year that I had the first in a series of cortisone shots in my swollen “pump bumps” on the back of my heels. Dr. Clark, our family physician, told me that if I didn’t find a way to prevent the pump bumps, I would have to have surgery to saw off the bony protrusions. That would necessitate six weeks in casts up to my knees.
Needless to say, that prognosis got my attention and I began a life-long habit of avoiding any shoes that rubbed up and down on the back of my heels. Basically, that meant sandals. Flip flops, thongs, slings and mules. I loved them all because they didn’t hurt my feet. And they showed them off.
Fast forward to age 50. Now I have a tender spot on the joint of my big toe. In fact, the whole area is red and a bit swollen. Arthritis! I can’t wear any shoes that put pressure on my toe joint. By-by sandals. And if that weren’t problem enough, suddenly I found that if I walk very far at all in any kind of athletic shoe, I develop plantar fasciitis, or even worse, tendonitis in the Achilles tendon. Think heel deformity.
My Ohio foot doctor told me that plantar fasciitis is a cry for support. My Arizona doctor tells me I can have surgery to replace my bone-on-bone toe joint. That would necessitate six weeks in a cast up to my knee. So now I search for shoes with aggressive arch support, no strap that puts pressure on my poor toe and nothing that rubs up and down on the back of my heels. There is no other part of my body that is so pampered.

Golden lilies they are not, but they do limit my activities as well as shoe choice. I will never hike the Grand Canyon, or anywhere else for that matter. I gave up pickleball almost as soon as I started. NO more dancing in glamorous high heels or even pretty flats. More than an hour at a party and my screaming feet drown out the cocktail party chatter.

Still they get me where I am going as long as I take good care of them. And just the other day a new acquaintance admired, my “cute shoes.” I guess that despite my age and the physical challenges my feet present, they are still pretty if not very practical.

On Fire

The Shower