Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Babying My Feet/Baby Steps

You start off as a baby with perfect little feet and take it for granted that they will be there for you all of your life.

But illness, badly fitting shoes or accidents can make walking difficult for you.  Since my feet have been affected by RA I often find myself sitting and watching people walk by.  It is surprising  how many times you see others with problems.

Today I read a study about a foot evaluation questionnaire called SAFE-Q.  The evaluation form itself is in Appendix 1 of the paper.  If you look at it thinking about your own feet you get a very comprehensive view of the problem areas.

This week I was a volunteer patient for a class of physiotherapists and one of the questions asked concerned the ways which my life had been affected by having chronic illness.   I had to say that I had lived with it for so long that I could not really imagine a different life.  The teacher told the class that this was a common response, and one way to illuminate this issue is to ask the patient this question.  "What do people your age do that you can't"?

That's an easy question to answer.  My peers without health problems walk a lot, garden and have more extensive real life social networks.  That's the reason that the foot assessment questionnaire made such an impression.  It itemized all of the different parts of life that are restricted by foot problems.  

                         owns this foot

I think what has bothered me most is being unable to participate "normally" at parties, get togethers and business meetings. When your feet hurt you are the one sitting in the corner or next to the food. Between that and having to wear "sensible shoes" you have a world of social awkwardness.

My friend Julie says this:

"The part of my body that I notice changes day-to-day are my feet.  One day, they are fairly good, the next day - swollen, burning and more painful.  It might have to do with what I did the day before.  We always pay for our over-doing don't we?"

I agree with Julie. The burning feet in particular are hard to work around.  

Rheumatoid disease is notorious for the way it affects the feet.  There are all kinds of strategies to make them comfortable - extra padding, special shoes, wrapping up my toes.  None of them worked perfectly though orthotics have helped me the most  day to day.  The other option which can be used is surgery which can wait for another day. 

                                     This orthotics doesn't fit

His orthotic fits

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