These Shoes Are Going to Kill Me

How do you contend with these huge monster shoes they prescribe for diabetics? I am a Type 2, “not very” diabetic - my A1C was 9.1 four years ago when I went to Kaiser with an infected big toe. I wasn’t allowed to go home, they put me in the hospital and amputated it.

Within 6 months, my A1C was 5.3 and has never been higher than that for 3 years. I take no medication whatsoever, just follow a low carb diet. But my feet and legs have been an ongoing problem. First I had Diabetic Amytrophic Neuropathy. I know, no one has heard of that, including half the doctors I deal with. The result of that was wasting of leg muscles and advanced neuropathy to the point where I was in a wheelchair for 6 months. I worked my way back up to being ambulatory. The muscles still don’t work like they’re supposed to, but I can lurch along and get where I’m going. EXCEPT I was told to wear these special shoes that last belonged to Frankenstein to protect my feet.

I wear a 9.5. These are size 11, so there is enough room for my toes, they say. With my diminished leg muscles, I have to turn my toes out to the side and waddle. I can walk barefoot pretty well, and actually feel it’s better for my feet because they have contact with the floor, there is sensory stimulation.

I have had continued problems with my feet, even inside the shoes from hell. There is a callus that grows over the scar where the toe was removed. The podiatrist insists on trimming it down to the skin once a month because I’m “diabetic, and the callus could crack and become infected.” I haven’t had a problem with sores on my feet since my blood sugar has been under control. If I did, I’d probably have infections from the podiatrist hacking on my feet and toes constantly.

I never used to have hammer toes. Now I do on the foot with no big toe. They say it’s because my balance is bad and I use my toes to grip. The podiatrist wants to cut the tendons in at least 2 of those toes to straighten them out. Then what will I grip with? I don’t try to grip when I’m barefoot, only when I have the big shoes on because I’m afraid I’ll fall down.

And I’m afraid of that because it has happened often enough to be a problem. I’ve tried discussing this with the podiatrist. He only sees me when I’m already in the chair. He does not talk about gait or shoes, he says that’s the shoe expert’s responsibility. The shoe guy says he just gives me what the doctor prescribes.

I’m totally willing and able to take care of my own shoe requirements, but I don’t know where to start. What do the rest of you do?

I am pretty fussy about shoes. So far no problems but I’ve run into occasional blisters from running. I have run my own show but I did see a podiatrist when I had one toe that would get colder than the other ones, she rx’ed neurotonin creme stuff, expensive, no insurance, I stopped doing Tae Kwon Do so my toes stay warm now.

Re your problems, I would look for a second opinion on both the surgery business and then the shoe stuff as well. It sounds like you are 1) confident and 2) compliant but their recommended treatments seem like they are making it harder for you? Sorry I don’t know anything about it but, just in terms of your description of it, it doesn’t sound like they are helping you very much?

  1. Hammertoe surgery is not necessary unless you want it. Have you been given a medical reason to have the surgery? It sounds to me like you would lose an important mobility adaptation if you had the surgery. I am not a surgeon nor do I play one on TV but I would think long and hard about what would be accomplished vs what would be lost with that surgery.
  2. Shoes: why don’t you go to various shoe stores and try on shoes until you find some that are comfortable and meet your needs? There is no one brand that works for everyone. They all are made with their own brand of lasts and you have to find the one that best feets your feet. Ask for the salesperson with the most experience and success at fitting difficult feet, in each store. The most expensive are not necessarily always the best. But the cheapest would probably rarely be the best.

I guess I am not sure why you are wearing those ‘diabetes’ shoes if they are not doing the job for you…

I don’t ever buy diabetic shoes. I have chronic plantar facitis but buy the shoes that fit my feet. I buy from a cataog called You can shop by foot condition. They have special shoes with more toe room.

Lynne, the best I can figure is that I may have been diabetic since 2004. I was diagnosed in 2007, so I was NOT diabetic for years, nor do I think my blood sugar was ever very high. I had slight neuropathy before I was in the hospital with the infected toe, then it all came on very fast, at the same time as my blood sugar was coming down. I’ve also had Charcot foot and was told that only 1% of diabetics get it after years of uncontrolled high blood sugar. I’d like to be in the 1% of people who win the lottery or something for a change, I’m weary of oddball foot problems. Thank you Jeannie for the Footsmart recommendation.