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City-fied Self-Sufficiency

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Category : Health

How I angered a Morton’s neuroma

As a little backstory here, I’ll tell you about my mom.  My mom has narrow feet, and wears about a 3A shoe width.  This makes it fun to find shoes that fit, as many stores carry shoes only as narrow as 2A.  Another problem comes with having very narrow feet:  an increased chance of Morton’s neuroma.

What’s Morton’s neuroma?  Well, simply, it is the body’s response to an irritated nerve.  It usually happens in the nerve that passes between the third and fourth toes.  The nerve gets rubbed or pinched, and becomes irritated and inflamed.  The inflammation causes the walls of the nerve to thicken, and begin to build scar tissue.  This, of course, takes up more room, and makes it easier for the nerve to continue to get rubbed or pinched.  It’s a vicious cycle.  Here’s a little more info and a graphic:  http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/medical/IM00333 .

Usually, Morton’s neuroma will develop as a result of wearing shoes that squeeze the toes together, often high heels.  Not always, though.  I don’t wear shoes like that.

What do narrow feet have to do with it?  Even less space in the foot than normal.  The bones are closer together than in regular width feet, have less fat padding, and therefore less room and less cushioning for those nerves.

So there’s my mom with narrow feet, walking like crazy for her job.  She was actually a computer programmer/analyst, but a couple of the clients she did work for were the Department of State and the Department of Defense.  (One time when she was at the DoD, she called me and told me that they’d all been evacuated for a bomb threat!  What fun!)  Anyway, she had to travel a lot and walk a lot for these contracts, and, in spite of wearing really good shoes for walking (Easy Spirit Motion), she got a Morton’s neuroma in her left foot.

She saw a podiatrist, who tried all kinds of things to help her foot get better and to avoid surgery.  After a year and a half, my mom was almost crippled, and had developed bursitis in her right knee because of the way she was walking to compensate for the neuroma in her left foot.  She had surgery.

The doctor said the neuroma had gotten so big, she didn’t have to find and pull it out.  As soon as she opened my mom’s foot, the neuroma popped out of the incision!  (That was probably a gross thought for some of you.  Sorry about that.  Before she went into programming, my mom worked for four surgeons.  About the only thing I cannot handle actually watching is eye surgery.  That just gives me the willies!)

After the surgery, what a difference!  She has partial numbness in both of the toes involved, which is expected since they remove nerve tissue in the surgery.  Other than that, no pain, no issues at all.

Fast forward to last year.  I noticed at some point that I felt like I had a pea in between the third and fourth toes on my left foot whenever I walked.  It didn’t hurt, but it felt odd and bothersome.  I talked to Mom, and, sure enough, that’s how her Morton’s neuroma started.  Oh, great.

My mom has narrow feet like I already told you, but my dad had them, too.  So what do I get?  SUPER-narrow feet.  Yes, I had loads of trouble finding shoes that fit, unless they were lace-ups that I could tighten to my heart’s content.  Finally, when I was going to be the maid of honor in a friend’s wedding, I had to get fitted for some nice pumps, because you can’t just wear anything in a wedding!

A young man sat in front of me and used his little foot-measuring gadget on me… you know, the ones that look like an overgrown slide rule.  He then disappeared, and, after several minutes, reappeared with a pair of black suede pumps (which was the choice of the bride).  When he opened the box, it was like looking at Cinderella’s slippers, they were so small!  He slipped them on my feet, and I almost cried, they felt so good!  I had never had a pair of shoes fit that well!

The size?  6 1/2 5A, with a 7A heel.  Yes, you read that right.  Like I said, SUPER-narrow feet.

(Then the bride changed her mind at the last minute, and decided she wanted us in white leather pumps rather than black suede.  So I ended up having to borrow a pair of shoes.  I could barely keep them from falling off, and my feet killed me.  Oh, well!)

I loved those black shoes, and wore the living daylights out of them.  I had the heel tips replaced, I had the suede on the heels repaired, I did everything I could to make those shoes last as long as possible.  They were good shoes, too — Easy Spirits.  And only an inch-and-a-half heel, because I don’t like high heels.  2″ is as high as I’ll go, and that’s rare.  I prefer 1 1/2″ at the most, lower if possible.  I also don’t get shoes that squeeze my toes or come down on top of my toes.  I’ve taken care of my feet.  My grandmother drove the importance of that home to me.

My grandmother confessed to me once that when she was younger, she didn’t care what size shoes were.  If she found a cute pair of heels, she just got them as close to her size as she could, and bought them.  And then she’d go dancing in them!  Sure, they killed her feet, but she had the cutest shoes in the room!  She paid for it, too, when she got much older, with bunions and hammer toes.  She told me exactly what had caused her problems, and warned me about wearing shoes just for their cuteness.  I have heeded her advice ever since.

Well, almost.

If you’ve read my blog for any real length of time, You already know how much I like shopping at garage sales and thrift stores.  It is absolutely imperative to our budget that I do.  We certainly aren’t burning up the world here!

It had been years since I had had a pair of nice pumps to wear to church and special occasions.  I just wore my sandals.  Unfortunately, you can dress those up only so far.  I really wanted a nice pair of low-heel pumps again, but shoes for me cost $80 – $100 or more, in spite of the fact that seven years of retail had made my feet wider — 3A instead of 5A!  Actually, probably more like 4A, because 3A is a little loose.

So I started looking at the thrift stores.  And I found a pair of low-heel black pumps that were 3A in width.  The only problem was, they were a half size too short.

I tried them on a couple of times, thinking.  I said to myself, “You know, I’m only going to be wearing these things a couple of hours a week.  And most of that time, I’m sitting.  All I have to do is walk to the car, walk from the car to the building, stand and chat a few minutes, sit down for an hour, and then do it all again in reverse.  So I’m actually wearing these shoes, standing and walking in them, for maybe 30 – 45 minutes a week.  I can take them off once I sit down anyway.”

So I bought them. $2.88, and then I paid for new heel tips. As you can see, Easy Spirit yet again.

Like I said, 3A is still a bit loose, so I used some heel cups to help keep them from slipping off or giving me blisters on my heels:

I found a bunch of these in my great-grandmother's things. They're great. You start to put your nylons on, then you put one of these on your heel (they are marked for right and left), then you pull the nylon over it. ILoveBunnies wears them barefooted in her shoes. Not sure how she does that, but her heel cups are cracking. Of course, it's better to just get shoes that are the right width, but these do help.

I wore them to church a couple of times with no problem save that they did make my feet hurt because they were a little too short.  It wasn’t bad, and I had them on for such a short time, I figured I could handle that.  I was forgetting the neuroma.  Either I had grown used to the thing, or it had gone down in size.

I found another pair of cream-colored leather low-heel pumps, again 3A, which are about a half size too long.  Again, I use the heel cups, and I get by with them just fine.  I wore those a few Sundays in a row.

Then two Sundays ago, I wore the black ones again, since they went with what I was wearing better than the cream ones.  Again, they made my feet hurt a little, but I had them on for just a short time.

The next day, my left foot was swollen around my toes and the whole front of my foot.  Oops.

What to do?  I can’t do surgery right now!  I’m trying to buy land and a house and move and… and… and…

Thankfully, while it was swollen, my foot still didn’t hurt.  My mom told me the only way to get it to improve was to stay off of it as much as possible.  Thankfully, I’ve got a great mom, kids, and hubby, and they’ve all made that easy. :)

Still, sometimes I have to get up and walk.  There are a few things that just can’t be done for you!  I was almost walking on the side of my foot, which was starting to get painful, so we went to Wal-Mart.  I got a scooter to zip around in, and went over to the shoe department to see if they had anything that was seriously cushy.

I ended up with plush flip-flop slippers with soles that are 1" thick foam! They're ugly as all getout, but I just want my foot to heal!

I paid $7-something for these things, and they have absolutely saved me this last week!  I put them on immediately whenever I get up.  I can walk almost normally in them.  As the swelling has subsided, I have occasionally had a little mild shooting pain, and some itching as the tissues heal.  Now I feel like I have a cotton ball stuffed between my toes, rather than a softball, but I’m not back down to that pea yet.

So my $2.88 black pumps, with $15 heel tips, and then $7+ cushy shoes to recover with… I have spent some $25+ on a pair of shoes I don’t dare wear ever again!!!

Sometimes a bargain just isn’t a bargain.

Will I still buy thrift-store shoes?  Yes.

Will I ever buy shoes again that are too short, even a little?  NO!

I feel like such a parasite, sitting here while everybody else does stuff I ought to be doing.  :(