Yesterday I went back to Flemings Shoe Store to see if they could suggest a shoe to encompass the brace.

My shoe over the brace makes the shoe feel too small. My toes are pushed against the end. Which makes it painful.

The guy helping me said people who come in with this predicament (a brace) have to buy bigger shoes for the foot wearing the brace.

Well, of course. But then that means you’re left with one shoe that sits in the closet.

Trying On Shoes:

We tried shoes all the way up to Size 9, and I’m a Size 7 with narrow feet. Nothing seemed to work.

Finally, I bought the same sneakers I had purchased from them previously, but in a half bigger size. The very same shoe.

It doesn’t seem to make all that much difference because my big toe still seems smushed up against the end.

Underneath my foot, the brace doesn’t go all the way down to my toes. It only goes about three-quarters of the way, and I guess that shifts my foot forward.

So I paid $200 basically for one shoe, because of course they only sell them in pairs.

Problems I Hadn’t Thought About:

I don’t know what I thought when I got this brace.

Somehow I had the hope that my problems would be diminished a great deal. I never thought about how I would manage to put a shoe over the hard material.

So I left wearing one old shoe and one new shoe to Southwood’s nursery because I was not far away.

I hadn’t been there yet this spring. Usually, by now I’ve bought new plants and I’m outside planting like crazy.

Yesterday I had gotten the blue pots I ordered a few years ago out of my little storage closet off the patio. So I was ready to look at plants.

Shopping At The Garden Nursery:

At the garden nursery, I picked out herbs and a couple of hosta plants, and coral bells (Heuchera) for my shady garden.

And I guess out of habit I bought pineapple sage because I always buy it. I bought it for Charlie because he liked to go outside and nibble on it when his stomach was upset.

When I got ready to pay for my plants there were longer lines than I’d anticipated.

It took forever it seemed. By the time I got to the cashier, I was in so much pain. I was hopping on my left foot and had my right foot elevated on the bottom part of the cart as I rolled it along.

Finally, I asked the cashier if there was someplace I could sit down. Because when I’m in that much pain I am panting and I start to feel a bit dizzy.

Maybe the cashier was new. Or maybe she was having a bad day.

Feeling Embarrassed:

She said: “I’m sorry I’m so slow.” But she said it in an angry way, and I was kind of offended. As well as embarrassed.

I’d told her I was in pain and just needed to sit down. Another cashier had heard and gone somewhere for a wheelchair for me. I didn’t even know they had them.

I didn’t say any more to the cashier but apologized to the people behind me for I don’t know what. Just felt like I needed to be sorry for something.

I felt selfish somehow for going there in the first place when I had no idea how long I could walk or stand up.

I was embarrassed and angry. Embarrassed by her anger and also because everyone behind me must have heard her.

It’s hard getting old. A word comes to mind that I’ve always avoided: Infirm. Especially as a person ages, the word infirm is often bandied about.

(The plants that you see in the pots are not actually planted in the pots. They’re just set inside the pots while I figure things out.)

A Somewhat Hard Time Of Year:

At this time of year, I have often thought: When will this damn month be over anyway?

Because once we’re into May, my mind can put down the heavy box from the past.

Do you think the child in you carries that heavy box through the years simply because that child can’t find the proper place to put it down?

Why did I have to lose Gracie at a time when my emotions are already jagged from memories of the past?

Why did I have to lose Gracie at all?

I’m all over the place today. So I guess I’ll just end it here and go outside, sit on my patio, and enjoy the nice weather.

“Trauma is personal. It does not disappear if it is not validated. When it is ignored or invalidated the silent screams continue internally heard only by the one held captive.”

― Danielle Bernock


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  1. You’re probably right that the new cashier was overwhelmed, but it’s not an excuse to be rude to a customer. It seems that the brace isn’t, unfortunately, the solution for you. I would ask people you know for recommendations for o new orthopedic doctor — not an orthopedic surgeon because surgeons always suggest surgery. See what they have to say, and possibly see more than one. Then, if surgery is what seems to be the only option left, perhaps it’s worth considering . You’re only 65 – still a young woman in my opinion, and if it gives you a better quality of life, it could be the answer.

  2. Go back to person who ordered the brace and tell them it is not working for you.
    Perhaps there is a solution that you are not aware of that can help. I have had foot, leg, knee problems for years. The most comfortable shoes for me have been Merrells.

  3. My retirement job is working as a grocery cashier, & I love it. I’m a retired nurse. We have lots of seniors who shop here, & also disabled customers. I am always very welcoming to them, & try to think how I can help them. My sackers are often oblivious, & I have to ask them to help get the customer’s groceries out of the cart, make the sacks light, & help them out to their car. Especially young people are unaware of people’s challenges. Not by meanness, just lack of exposure, I think.
    Anyway, your post was a good reminder to me.
    I am so sorry to hear about your struggles & losses! I would help you if I could. I agree with the poster about hiring someone to level out your patio path area.

  4. Brenda, I’m so sorry for the rudeness you experienced at the nursery. You have absolutely nothing to apologize for. I find a general lack of empathy when in public places any more. I’m so glad the other cashier heard the conversation and went and found you a wheelchair.

    1. The woman who went to get the wheelchair was also trying to help the cashier with the computer to add up my purchases. So obviously she was a new cashier and was probably overwhelmed with things. Still, if you can’t show compassion, you shouldn’t be in that position.

  5. I wish I knew that you could buy single shoes! I wore a brace for over 5 years until I was forced to retire. The pain/stability got to bad. I was blessed to find a dr that was able to do the many operations on my ankle at one time. Rebuilt my ankle and part of my foot. The first dr told me that I would end up in a wheelchair if I didn’t get off my feet. It’s still not perfect but livable now. I am so thankful! My brace looked like a granny boot. Laced up the front. Opened toed like yours. So I know what you mean by your foot being pushed forward. Not comfortable at all.
    I hope with nicer weather you are able to get outside to see your neighbors and there gardens.

    1. I guess I’m going to call my female internist, make an appointment with her, and see if she knows other doctors who might be able to help me. The pain in my ankle and hip when I woke up this morning was enough to make me want to just stay in bed. Seems somehow that the pain in my hip goes directly down my leg to my ankle, like they’re interlinked and go together.

  6. Several years ago I found I had hammertoes. The solution to fix this was an orthotic for each foot and it fit in New Balance walking shoes. After wearing these for a couple of months I was told that my feet had relaxed to a half size larger. That required replacing all my shoes. I bought one pair a month for a year. Good luck with your brace.

    1. Never heard of hammertoes, but will look it up. Haven’t been able to get New Balance shoes due to the supply chain problem. The guy at the orthotic shoe store brought out what few pairs of shoes they had, and none were New Balance. They are Drew, a company that has been around since the 1800s.

  7. Well, shopping these days so often is lacking…in every dept. And if you felt the cashier was rude, it would have been ok, to simply have walked away and left the cart and gone home. I have done that myself at times. Depending on what I felt I could handle that day. If the job is too hard, They need to go find another…especially in retail…those are generally always out there. How do I know? I have worked retail. So I do not feel overly sympathetic to those kind of cashiers. You have within your power as a clerk to make most people feel better, rather than crappy!! I many times did that for my customers…which ends up helping both the clerk and customer feel better. I feel my cup has been overfull of late too…and today to top off all else happening, besides the movers still not bringing our belongings, even though we have been here already since Apr.5th…another long story full of rudeness when asking questions of them…I hear from the pharmacy that the super expensive med I have to take for my high blood pressure has been recalled. Really?? Heh, not worrying however…already have taken 3/4ths of this one…so guess it won’t make much difference…I have to call the doc AND the pharmacy manager tomorrow…did you know that even though Costco is all one company, if you move, and have to deal with another Costco pharmacy, you have to get permission from the pharmacy manager to bring back the recalled drug? You wonder if they think THEY are paying for it out of their pocket?? Go figure…everyone these days is on some kind of power trip. Sigh…always a dozen calls to try to fix something…never simple like in the good ole days. I tell my Hubby, well, if it were not for making us take forever and many calls, a lot of those folks would not be needed at their job…so we are keeping a LOT of people in a job I guess…

  8. I like when April ends also.
    My hubby passed this month and it just runs through my mind until May 1 shows up and I celebrate my sons and grandsons birthdays as well as Mother’s Day with my wonderful kids.
    I’m sorry this brace is such a disappointment for you, it seems like it was sold as an answer to your pain.
    Would it help to use heavy socks or some type of bandage for the chafing?
    Tomorrow will be better, give Ivy some serious petting!

    1. I already bought $18 socks from the orthotic shoe store that is padded somewhat on the bottom but not on the top. I do feel in some ways like it was sold as a solution. The surgeon told me he thought the brace was my best bet. The woman who apparently brought it in and talked to me about it said it was going to be my new best friend. I listened to them and had such high hopes. Yes, after May 1st arrives, I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Then June will roll around and last June is when I lost Charlie.

  9. Very nice to see the plants and pots!! I’m sure you have said something about this but can you just get rid of those cinder blocks? Or do they serve a purpose?

  10. Brenda, I love the idea of disabled lines at stores. That would be so great! I’m surprised nobody has thought of it before. I thought of an open toe shoe also. It’s good to know there are stores out there that sell just one shoe. I’m sorry you are having a bad day. My day today has been so frustrating! I just want a do over. Like a reset button. Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong, and at the worst possible time. I guess some days are just like that. That cashier was terribly rude today. I’m so sorry. She was probably having a bad day too, and took it out on you. I would have been angry and embarrassed also. In fact, I’d likely have called the manager when I got home. It’s not good for business if she treats all the customers like that. As for your box… I imagine a lot of people have something similar. Like baggage. Things that are hard to let go of, or understand. You’ll drive yourself crazy with the whys and what ifs. I think you took the healthy approach by sitting outside and relaxing and enjoying your patio. Sitting and petting Ivy would be beneficial as well, for both of you. And your writing… it’s very therapeutic, like a good cry. Just breath! Sending hugs!

  11. Brenda
    My husband had a brace similar to yours. He could only wear Brooks walking shoes and SAS dress shoes. He was able to buy one shoe in different sizes on occasion. Although both of the brands I mentioned ran wide enough to work with the brace. Try writing to the manufacturer and see if they will accommodate you.
    When at the stores, he used their electric shopping carts when needed.
    Wishing you happier thoughts.

  12. I think we’re all giving you a virtual hug today and wishing it were in person. I’m sorry that you had such a rough day. Keep writing, release the words.


  13. At one time I heard of a site that serves people in need of only one shoe. You buy a pair and offer to sell the extra one to someone who has that need. Wonder if it’s still around? I’ll bet it is!
    My advice to my daughters always was: I’d much rather have you be the victim of meanness instead of the perp. That cashier has an ugly heart. Don’t let it seep into your kind, beautiful one!

  14. Just bc that cashier was having a bad day she didn’t need to take it out on u Brenda! I would call that place and let the manager know what happened bc u shouldn’t feel embarrassed or have anxiety about going in that store again! Tell the manager u don’t want her to get fired but she needs to learn better customer skills and not be sarcastic to any customers that go to her line!

    I called the manager on a sarcastic mean cashier once after I got home from the grocery store and she was never mean to me again! She didn’t have a bagger so she was mad and mashing my groceries together, pushing them out of the way, instead of letting me bag them! She could of smashed my fingers with my groceries bc she was in such a rage practically throwing cans, frozen products…

    1. Wow, she was really angry! I thought about calling them, but I know from experience that no one ever answers the phone there because they are always crazy busy.

  15. You can buy those thin inserts for your other shoe. That way you can wear them both at the same time. They’re very inexpensive.

  16. Could you hire someone to level out your patio pavers and clear out some of those rocks? It looks like maybe the tree root is lifting up some pavers? Then build a walkway ramp to the rocky area that was cleared. Also you could plant little flowers within the concrete brick holes!

    Doctors never tell you everything and they should have given you pros and cons of that brace. But have you tried a wider shoe? You can always tighten the laces up toward the toe. You don’t need length, you need width!

    1. We tried wide shoes yesterday. But my foot is so narrow I felt like I was swimming in them. So we ended up with medium instead of narrow. But I think it’s the fact the bottom of the brace pushes my foot downward that’s the problem.

  17. Brenda, I felt the frustration and sadness in your voice today. The service person was not kind for whatever reason, and it made you feel lesser-than. Chalk it up to “whatever” and enjoy your beautiful patio.

    I don’t know if I carry a box around in my head, but your description intrigues me.

    I did not know single shoes could be purchased either, wonder if an open-toe style would work? Please let us know what you decide. I would take those $200 shoes back if you can.

    Sending virtual hugs to you…Jane

    1. Just feels like a box in my head somehow. I guess you carry a box around in your head if you can’t get rid of some thoughts/memories and they’re still troublesome.

  18. Good grief, Brenda, no need to feel embarrassed. If that cashier had any customer service skills, the first thing she’d have asked you is “Are you okay?” Secondarily, so you wouldn’t fall and hurt yourself on store property. There is no need to sit home because you might need a little extra time. Take care of yourself.

  19. I’m so sorry you’ve had a challenging day! Here’s a (hug).
    Oh, that dang heavy box filled with ugly memories from the past. It’s such a huge burden, isn’t it? I carry one, too. Your idea to sit out on your patio is a good one. Enjoy your surroundings and try to relax.

      1. Yes, there are days it’s very heavy but by practicing quite a bit of self care I’ve learned how to handle said box better than I used. It’s been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.

  20. Brenda, Blessings to you and prayers for the ease of your pain, both physical and emotional. Grief is so hard and I am glad you have the ability to express it here on your blog. So many of us wish you well. Sherry B

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