Shoes! And other things

I wrote this post on my blog collegeveganista but thought I'd share it here as well:

Shoes! D for Dummies and Faltering Vegan Morals

First off, I have a bit of small news I’d like to share. I entered the Diabetes Hands Foundation poetry contest and won the first round of the competition (there are 3 rounds so you can still enter up to the 27th if you want!). I’ve never won a poetry contest so I’m particularly excited. I have a dream of someday publishing a book of diabetes poems so now I feel inspired to keep writing.

Other than that win, this week has felt kind of blah, hence the lack of posting for a few days. I’m trying to focus on finding a job, which meant I needed to buy a suit and shoes and shirt and bag, which forced me to spend hours upon hours at the mall. As a kid, I loved shopping, probably because I wasn’t spending my own money. Also, clothes just seemed to fit better. Now, I hate shopping, especially when I can’t find whatever it is I’m looking for.

Luckily I found everything I needed for my new professional outfit just in time for a career fair and interview yesterday. Surprisingly, the hardest item to find turned out to be the shoes. I spent 2 days and a total of 6 hours looking for shoes at 2 different malls and several other stores around Boston. I wanted to find just the right pair to work with my suit, not too tall or shiny or pointy, and unfortunately my height requires that I wear a size 10! If you aren’t familiar with how tough it is to find a size 10, let me assure you, it’s exhausting, like searching for the back of an earring in a sandbox.

I felt relieved when I finally found a pair at Aldo, even though I admit, I had to stoop to buying leather. I know, gross! But I needed the shoes and my vegan morals had to step aside for the sake of my future career and my desire to finish shopping. Nobody’s perfect. I never ever buy leather because of the mistreatment and suffering of animals associated with it (watch the movie Earthlings).

The day after I bought my shoes, I had an unfortunate incident with one of the pairs I already own (karma?). I guess I was being punished for supporting the leather industry and I accept my punishment with full responsibility. I wore a pair of flats to go with a dress that suited the 90 degree weather. Every time I wear flats, I get blisters. But still, I think, it won’t happen this time. Of course, after walking all around campus, I felt that terrible rubbing on the back of my heel as if a grater were scraping at my skin. I only made it through half my classes before I caved and bought a pair of flip flops at the university bookstore. There’s $2o I will never get back.

Long story short, all this shoe nonsense this week reminded me about one of the diabetes rules I learned at summer camp. Always wear shoes to protect your feet. I imagine that many non-diabetics aren’t aware of this rule (probably because us diabetics like to break it so often) and so I’d like to dedicate this week’s D for Dummies segment to this very topic.

Diabetics Should Always Wear Shoes

Due to higher levels of glucose in our bodies, we tend to have poorer circulation and also heal slower than others. Thus, the decision to not wear shoes is risky if we were to step on a piece of glass or scrape our foot on the concrete, etc. I guess there’s an added risk of infection the longer the injury would take to heal.

Also, diabetics are at risk for a condition known as neuropathy, a.k.a nerve damage to the feet. This causes loss of sensation, which means we might not notice a scrape or wound until it’s already infected. The infection could spread, which is why some diabetics eventually must have their feet amputated.
Not all diabetics develop neuropathy and the better control one has of one’s blood sugars, the less of a likelihood of suffering from this complication. I haven’t noticed any symptoms of neuropathy (knock on wood) and a pretty good rule of thumb is that if you take care of yourself, then you will never need to have your feet amputated. Plus, regular doctor’s visits help double check that neuropathy isn’t starting to develop.

Neuropathy or not, it’s smart for diabetics to wear shoes at all times to protect their feet from possible scrapes or cuts. Does that mean I need to wear shoes to bed or in the shower or all the time in my house? No, but definitely while outdoors. I’m guilty of breaking this rule often though.

While at summer camp they actually used to require that we wear flip flops even while in the cabins. Crazy right? I guess but maybe they were trying to teach us that sage old lesson, “better to be safe than sorry.” Sometimes no matter how careful I think I’m being, injury sneaks up on me. Once I cut my foot during a yoga class from a teeny tiny piece of plastic that was stuck to my mat. I definitely didn’t see that coming.

Just to clarify, getting a tiny cut on my foot doesn’t automatically mean that it’s going to take weeks to heal or that it will get infected and I’ll need antibiotics to clear it up. My tiny cut from yoga healed in a pretty normal amount of time (a couple days). But down the road, as I have this disease for more and more years, eventually I might need to pay more and more attention to these little silly diabetic rules: wear your shoes all the time.

On the plus side, I’m pretty sure this gives me an awesome excuse to always want new shoes! I’d like to keep my feet for the rest of my life!

What “silly” rules in your life do you like to ignore?

**I am not a medical professional and do not intend any information I write to serve as medical advice or absolute truth. My knowledge is based on a decade of life with diabetes but I have not studied any related sciences. In fact, I’m an English major. Also, please don’t take offence to the name “D for Dummies.” I’m sure you are very smart.

I guess I was destined to be diabetic. I hated going barefoot. I didn't even like walking barefoot on the beach. All that sand between my toes...yuk! So always wearing shoes wasn't a problem. I also had an allergy to grass as a kid. If I did walk in grass barefoot you could bet there would be a rash all over them inside a couple hours.

So that can go without shoes...get your shoes on.

I wear Birkenstocks and Teva sandals all the time when it's warm out.

I love to be barefoot.
Was born in a little island where I spent many of my days barefoot at the beach, barefoot hoping through volcanic rocks, barefoot on the cool granite tiles of my home, barefoot on the streets coming back home at 3AM after dancing all night...

However after being diagnosed with T1 I try to at least wear socks when I'm not wearing shoes, wear heals less often (tricky when you are a shoeaholic) and wash and check my feet everyday. Which is something I recommend every diabetic to get on the habit of doing, wash your feet before bed and pamper yourself a little bit with a nice smelly soap (if u love scents) and/or a soft moisturizing cream.

After 8 years my toes are tingly and I have started to notice a huge difference between what my feet think is just luke warm and my body tells me is friggin hot!

I wear Birkenstocks too.
I am a T1 and work in a prosthetic,orthotic and pedorthic medical clinic. I am a certified pedorthist and appreciate your focus on shoes and feet! We are not supposed to be wearing sandals at all. The Docs don't like it. Blisters and small cuts are dangerous and I have known patients who lost feet because of them. Still, I wear my sandals. Hate hot feet! I feel the keys to diabetes is management and flexibility. Quick response to a problem can make a huge difference. So I try to stay aware. Keeping feet clean, foot-beds of sandals clean, skin of feet properly moisturized (no regular creams between toes), and wear good shoes, shoes that match the shape of your feet and support your bio-mechanics will help keep normal diabetic feet healthy.

Maycri, I like the "Numb Toes and Other Woes" series of books on neuropathy - great info, also with your comment about heat, please always check water temp with your hands before stepping into the shower, I had a patient once who ended up in a burn unit and almost lost a foot because the shower was too hot. My favorite diabetic foot cream is Anastasia. It is the only one that I am aware of which has been approved to use between toes and at ulcer sites, and it is fantastic for the skin, and it can help with neuropathy discomfort. Another thing I learned (the hard way) too much B6 in your system can cause neuropathy, and too little B3 can cause neuropathy.

One other thing, diabetic socks. If people have issues with toes or foot swelling, diabetic socks are important. The seams are made different - no pressure at toes and the top of the socks don't bind on the leg. It use to be that cotton was the best material - not any more. Cotton absorbs moisture and holds it next to the skin. Cool-max and the other moisture moving materials are actually healthier.

OK, I'll be quiet now.

Now that I do have neuropathy in both feet that goes about halfway up each foot I am not going barefoot anymore for a few reasons. firstly due to the cut/infection risk. Two because my feet feel cold really easy. When they get cold it is actually painful. I know most of this damage was done when I went through my denial phase when I was still considered type 2. Although I question that now from all info I have gotten on this site and other sources. Wishing now I had kept my sugars in better check and maybe I would still be able to wear pretty shoes or flip flops (they fall off as my toes are stiff and do not grip them like they should). Watch your sugars and take care of your feet. :)

Thanks Jeanne I will look for that book. :)