The weather has been hot, even by summer standards. Yesterday evening I packed up Robby and headed off on my semi-annual pilgrimage to the shoe store. My quest: to locate a pair of cute yet functional sandals that I can safely wear with a prosthetic.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I was not much of a shoe collector before my accident. I recognize that most women love shoes and bags. My shoe wardrobe was minimal when I had two feet. I do, however, have several dresser drawers overflowing with pajamas and lounge pants.
Shoe shopping has been a frustrating experience since I became an amputee. Thankfully, my Proprio ankle has simplified the process because I am no longer limited by heel height. I can now adjust my prosthetic to accommodate for a heel height of up to 1.5 inches without visiting the prosthetist. My shoe options have expanded exponentially because of this convenient feature!
Despite the "luxury" of being able to instantly accommodate for various heel heights, I continue to struggle to find shoes. Before my amputation I wore a standard size 8 shoe. As with most leg amputees, my shoe size now differs between my prosthetic and my foot.
Because my prosthetic is slightly longer and wider than my foot, I am now faced with a dilemma. I typically try find a size 8 1/2 shoe that can be loosened so that my prosthetic can be squeezed in. Many times I am forced to put an insole in my right shoe because the shoe is too big. When straps are not an option, which is typical for dress shoes, I am forced to purchase two pairs of shoes so that each foot will have the correct size. I hate doing this, and resort to this option as the last possible resort.
Several large stores are beginning to realize the demand for mixed matched shoes. Nordstrom's and Macy's will now split the pair for the cost of the shoes plus $10. I still hate paying extra for a pair of shoes because I'm an amputee, but it is certainly better than buying two complete sets of shoes to get the sizes I need!
Before I went to my first ACA conference, I mistakenly thought that I was limited to shoes with a back or a strap so that it would remain tethered to my prosthetic. Several years ago I was introduced to the wonders of Velcro. I have been "hooked" ever since.
I now keep Velcro (the rough side) attached to the bottom of each foot shell. I tried putting the loop (softer) Velcro on my foot shell, but it contributed to slipping when I was walking barefoot. The hook side actually has a little grip, providing some friction and improving safety when walking barefoot. (On an aside, I keep the appliques for bathtubs on the foot shell of my water leg so that I don't slip when walking around a pool.)
I place the loop Velcro on the inside of the open back shoe. Line up the prosthetic into the shoe, step down and voila! Because I use industrial strength Velcro, the grip is strong and they only come apart when I do it deliberately.
Before my injury I wore flip flops all summer. I know that I can resume wearing flip flops by cutting a slit between the toes on my foot shell. The notch has to be big enough to secure the "toe thong" on the shoe. Something about taking a knife to my foot shell just doesn't feel right to me, but I know many amputees who happily flip flop all summer long.
Since I discovered the miracle of Velcro and have started using the Proprio, shoe shopping has been simplified. I have a lot more options now and I no longer feel as limited by my prosthetic. I am still frustrated by locating the correct size, annoyed that it is either a struggle to squeeze in my prosthetic or that my foot flops around inside a shoe that is too big. Shopping for pajamas is a lot easier!