Voting With My Feet
Wrestling with Hallux Rigidus this week has worn me out. And before you get to thinking that Hallux Rigidus is some blonde, Nordic porn star, let me put you straight.
In fact, straight is the only way I can put it, because Hallux Rigidus is a degenerative arthritic condition of the big toe joint which eventually leaves you unable to bend your toe up.
This is one stiffie that never subsides.
I first started noticing symptoms when my dynamic lunges became troublesome. Watching in the mirrors of my gym class I realised that I wasn’t dropping as fast or as far as all the fitties whose knees were bouncing off the mats as their toes powered them to perky glutes.
Bending the toes on my right foot really bloody hurt; my glutes not so much perky as porky.
Then we went on holiday to a Turkish resort which nestled at the foot iof some steep hills. One hundred and sixty four steps up to breakfast each morning. The same again for dinner.
I skipped lunch because the ascent twice daily had my toe throbbing like Sarah Ferguson’s might have after a big session with John Bryan.
Back on flat earth, my GP referred me to the Orthopaedic department. There, the consultant bent my toes about and watched as I winced before delivering the diagnosis.
“Hallux Rigidus,” he smiled, “not a great deal we can do for you to be honest.”
‘Not a great deal’ amounted to a steel insert for my shoe, to prevent excessive toe movement. Just the one, mind – this is the NHS after all.
“We’ll measure you up and make an appointment to insert it when it’s ready. So next time, you’ll need to bring your everyday shoes with you.”
“Everyday shoes?” I queried. “But I wear different shoes every day.”
“Well that’s no good,” he replied, “once they’re in, it’s difficult to get them out again.”
I did a mental count of the shoes I might wear in a week. I couldn’t get it below six, if you counted shoes for trousers, boots for jeans, mid heels for smart, high heels for going out, converse for Dress Down Friday.
“I do a bit of telly work as well,” I explained, “so on those days I’ll be in my skyscraper heels…”
He shook his head. “You’ll have to give up high heels.”
At which point I went pale and sank back onto my porky glutes.
A life without high heels is no life. I need them for all sorts of completely legitimate reasons.
I need them to make me tall enough for men to take me seriously at work. I need them to exploit the sexy elephant trap that men fall into when I slip them on.
I need them for a better silhouette in clothes. I need them to feel glamorous. I need them to distract attention from everything else I’m wearing. Need I go on?
Two years on from diagnosis and the truth is I can still wear highish heels, but I have to ration the time I spend in them. My sky scrapers have been re-homed because my foot can no longer make the shape required to perch six inches above the ground on a three millimetre diameter. Three inches however, is manageable (make up your own gags here, people).
In place of my stilettos, I have embraced the wedge heel – the perfect cheat. I tower in my silver Top Shop wedge sling backs; I stride about in my wedge heel ankle boots, I hip sway in short dresses and slim wedge black boots, wear summer dresses and wedge sandals and… the effect is the same! Hell yes!
Unlike my stilettos which throw all my weight forward onto the mercy of my unreliable big toe, my weight is evenly distributed and I am well supported. This is comfort without compromise.
I don’t need royal validation of my views, but it just so happens that I’m looking at a picture of Kate Middleton (as was) batting on an Indian cricket field. IN HER WEDGES! Yup, those wedges hit heels for six.
I wonder if she’s suffering with a stiffie too?