Wednesday, May 6, 2015

If the shoe fits

Today's guest post is by Network member, Andrew Shortall. He was diagnosed with XLH at age two, and has become a self-taught chef, wine business person and a writer, with aspirations to become a novelist. 

I was always a difficult person to buy shoes for. My feet are wide, so I generally had to get the next size up. I never truly understood the importance of having comfortable shoes as an XLHer. And now that I have you hooked, allow me to explain.

Many years ago, I slipped in the shower and broke the fifth metatarsal of my right foot. The so-called “soccer player’s injury,” or at least it was, according to the orthopaedic specialist looking after me.

Over the course of my recovery, I had a fiberglass cast and cast shoe. Both combined to have the effect of giving my right leg an extra inch in length, which leveled out my hips. Rather miraculously, this lead to a significant reduction in my back pain. So, I asked the specialist and he referred me to an orthotics clinic who outfitted my shoes with a raise designed to do the same job as the cast and shoe.

While my walking and back pain improved, it wasn’t perfect. And I didn’t understand why until I moved to France and my now well-worn shoes finally started falling apart. I got them re-soled but that made them increasingly uncomfortable. So, when a lace snapped, I put on some old trainers or running style shoes. Within a day or two, I felt more at ease on my feet and started walking better. So, I bought new trainer style walking shoes. They were cheap, but they were also a stop gap.

Again, my walking improved, as did my stamina for standing in the kitchen. However, as is inevitable with cheap shoes, they quickly became uncomfortable so on the recommendation of my Dad I researched some specific walking boots and went to try them on early in January. Again, I ended up buying a couple of sizes bigger than normal, but apparently French feet are smaller than Irish ones!

Happily, my new walking boots are far more comfortable than the old ones. And once again, I’m walking easier and have more stamina while standing in the kitchen. But the best part of this story is that I’ve drastically reduced my reliance on NSAID pills to manage my back and joint pain. I’ve gone from two to four pills a day to two pills a week. Although I do take one or two when I’m working.

I never realized that footwear could have such a profound effect on mobility and stamina. While I won’t be walking a 10K any time soon, I’m very grateful for the improvements. So, if you have similar issues, please consider trying some different shoes. You might be surprised!

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