May 19 2014
When people hear about my new, post-coma life, they marvel over my being in a coma, or being in a hospital for three whole months, or being paralyzed and in a wheelchair, or any of those other seemingly horrible things that happened to me some fifteen months ago. What they do not know is that these things are piddling and inconsequential. Anyone can deal with these.
The big thing is far more important. The big thing is that my feet are oozing, festering ocean liners. I cannot buy shoes. And any self-respecting woman knows that the inability to purchase shoes is a national tragedy.
I have tried to purchase shoes. Oh yes. I have made more than a valiant effort. I have spent as much as a half hour at a time on the internet, staring at shoes. (I was never a woman who salivated over shoes, pre-coma, so a half hour staring at shoes now represents an Herculean effort.) And I have come up with shoes that filled my shriveled, jaded little heart with hope.
I have ordered those shoes. I have waited for days and days until they arrived from Amazon or Zappos or Shoebuy. I have opened the boxes with excitement in my heart. And then my little hopes have been dashed and broken in tiny little pieces, as I have seen that the shoes I ordered have had no more chance of fitting my feet than the Glass Slipper had of fitting the warty feet of Cinderella’s Ugly Stepsisters.
Nay, the shoes didn’t just miss fitting my feet by centimeters. Fluffy and I could glance at those shoes without even holding them up to my feet and see that they wouldn’t fit my feet by inches and inches. It was as though I had ordered doll shoes. There was not even a question of trying them on.
Pre-coma, my feet were respectable size nines. I was never embarrassed about my feet. Today — well, today it is a different story altogether. Today I have sized out of women’s shoes altogether. I don’t know what size I would wear if I could wear women’s shoes at all. Eleventy-six, perhaps. Maybe galumphy-four.
The most recent experience occurred after receiving a pair of shoes I had ordered with joy in my heart. Fluffy and I opened them in my office. We both pretended they were going to fit. “Let’s try them on in the morning,” we said, “when feet are smaller.”
I would have needed a shrinking ray to get my feet in those shoes, but I had hope. The next morning, Fluffy gently tried to squeeze my foot into one of the shoes. It was a hopeless endeavor. I almost cried.
We had a mystery diner assignment that day in Leesburg, Virginia, which is the home of a factory outlet mall. I looked at the store directory, and to my excitement there was an outlet store of the same brand as my never-to-be-worn shoes. My heart sang. I decided that if the women’s shoes did not fit me, I could surely find a pair of men’s shoes of the same brand that I could wear in exchange.
Now you see how desperate I am. I have gone completely beyond the sequined purple shoes I would like to wear, or even the sturdy walking shoes I should wear. I am looking for any shoes I can wear that are not Crocs — any shoes that will provide traction to the soles of my feet and arch support to my arches so that I can learn to walk again without tripping over the inch-thick Crocs shoe soles I have worn for a year.
After we left the mystery dining establishment, Fluffy rolled me into the shoe store. We got a terrific saleslady. If anyone could fit me in shoes, she was the one. And oh, she tried. She put the ladies’ shoe sizer on my right foot and the men’s shoe sizer on my left foot, in the erroneous assumption that one of them would come up with a size to fit my particular feet.
“Hah!” my feet said.
Undaunted, the saleslady decided that men’s size 10.5 would fit my feet just fine. Off she went to get me a pair. “I guess they don’t come in purple,” I said.
“No,” she said. “In men’s sizes, you get brown, or you get gray.”
I sighed. Other than orange, brown and gray are the two colors I hate the most. But what could I do? “I’ll take gray, I guess,” I said. I felt brave. No, I felt like a child trying to pretend to feel brave. I am completely color-driven. Colors are the music of my soul. But I had to get the Crocs off my feet. I would even wear gray shoes to get the Crocs off my feet.
The lady brought the shoes over to me and took the Croc off my right foot. She stared down at my foot in horror. Thousands of toes, each the size of a Vienna sausage, exploded out of my stocking and lunged in her direction. I didn’t think there was any way she was going to get that men’s 10.5 shoe on my foot.
She looked at my foot. Then she looked dubiously at the tiny shoe. “The shoe is made of stretchy material,” she said.
“That may be true,” Fluffy said, “but the material will not stretch if we can’t get the foot into the shoe.”
The lady started stuffing Vienna sausages into the shoe. She made a valiant effort. Some of the Vienna sausages got within two inches of the end of the shoe before they got hopelessly stuck. My foot was way too wide for the shoe.
“I can’t understand it,” the lady said. “My son wears a double-E shoe, and these shoes are too wide for him.”
If I hadn’t been depressed before, that was the cherry on the sundae. What’s bigger than a double-E, footwise? Is anything bigger than a double-E?
I’m beginning to think that the hundred pounds I lost in my coma weren’t lost at all. They just moved down to my feet and have taken up residence there.
All was not lost. Fluffy had found a fine pair of men’s sandals in the store as we were on our way in. It was gray, but it was so lightweight and so attractive that I was willing to overlook that flaw. Surely the sandal would fit on my foot.
Not so fast, Kathy. The saleslady made an heroic effort to get the sandal on my foot, but my toes were having none of it. They firmly resisted any shoes in the store, no matter how desperately I wanted to wear them.
Finally the saleslady admitted defeat. “You’re going to have to see your doctor and have your shoes specially made,” she said. “They are terribly expensive, but if you can’t afford it you can probably get your insurance to cover it.”
I have two things to say about that.
- I am a professional writer and am, therefore, professionally impoverished.
- I am insured through Obamacare.
I do not even get a strike three. I have already struck out, dramatically and with great finality. I have no more chance of getting specially made shoes than a snowball has a chance of vacationing in Arizona.
I might as well send off for the latest Crocs catalog. I have a feeling I’m going to be wearing them for the rest of my natural life.