Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Red Shoes Diary

Trust me: this post is safe for work.

If I had been paying attention, I would have never bought them, would have never even tried them on. It was through sheer negligence that they left the store with me.

When I shop for shoes, I have to be careful about what I put on my feet. With my Kohler's Disease and acute osteoarthritis, I need firm support. The sole cannot bend, must keep my flat feet flat.

My choice of shoes has been largely Rockports and Merrells, with the occasional New Balance or Brooks. As long as, of course, the sole is firm, the bed doesn't bend.

When I lived in South Korea, I discovered a pair of brown-leather, casual walking shoes, by Skechers. The solid, gummed soles guaranteed good support, and the cushioned bed made for a soft feel on the foot. When I wore these Skechers, my feet felt supported and I could go a little longer in the shoes before my feet called it a day.

These shoes were so comfortable, I bought three pairs. Because they were made in Korea, the price was about one-third of what I would pay in Canada, so it was a no-brainer. The shoes lasted me more than 10 years.

When these shoes finally wore out and I had to find replacements, I found that the Sketchers that were in the Ottawa shoe stores weren't as supportive as their Korean counterparts. For one thing, I could bend the shoes substantially—a sign, according to my doctor, that indicated a lack of support where I need it the most.

And so, I stopped looking at this brand and focused on the Rockports and Merrells.

A few weeks ago, I was shopping for boots for DD16, when I saw some nice-looking walking shoes in the men's footwear section of a Bell's Corners store. We had shopped here for years and I had bought most of my shoes and boots at this establishment since we discovered the store. My last few pairs of indoor walking shoes, in particular, had been very comfortable.

The walking shoes caught my eye, and I noticed that they had been made by Skechers. Without thinking, I picked up a pair and tried to bend them.

They didn't budge. I saw another pair, in a different colour, and performed the same check. Again, the shoes held firm.

And then I saw them.

The colour jumped out: a bright red upper and white sole.

I found a box, in size 9, and tried them on. They felt extremely light on my feet: the soles were cushioned and the bed felt like I was walking on pillows. I laced up both shoes and walked around the store as DW helped DD16 try on a pair of waterproof winter boots.

Before I had tried on the shoes, my Merrill hiking boots had been starting to hurt my feet. The recent round of steroid injections, to mitigate the pain of my arthritis, were not 100 percent effective. With the red Skechers, the pain was all but gone.

"I'm leaving with these shoes," I told DW. "I don't care how much they cost."

At home, I wore the red shoes around the house, all weekend. I was reluctant to run other errands because I didn't want to take the shoes off and I didn't want to wear them outdoors.

On Monday, I carried the shoes to work and wore them in the office. People's eyes were drawn to my feet and a few of them even commented. "Wow, those are bright!" "Nice shoes!"

By the end of the second day in the office, I noticed that my feet were feeling great. I was reminded of when I received my first injections, when they settled in and I had experienced zero pain for the first time in about 30 years.

At the end of the second day, as I was removing the shoes to go home, I marvelled at how light the shoes were, balanced one on my hand, and, before putting them in my bottom desk drawer, I did something that I discovered that I hadn't done when I first picked up the shoe that was on display, in the store.

I bent the shoe.

The tip of the toe curled around, nearly touching the heel. There was absolutely zero resistance, much like what you can do with beach flip-flops.

Had I tried that little trick in the store, I would have put those beautiful, red shoes back on the shelf without giving them a second thought. I would have also missed out on wearing the most-comfortable shoes since those older Skechers from a store in Seoul, South Korea.

It's the red that kills the pain. I'm sure of it.

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