A Pedestrian Compromise – Helen May


Ooops. I seem to have bought a new pair of shoes. I don’t think I have a problem. It’s not as if a I have a shoe closet: just a couple of drawers with shoes in. Gone are the days when all I needed was one pair of black shoes and one pair of brown shoes. I also need my blue shoes and my pink shoes and my purple boots and my flowery sandals and my …

Whilst, I have no guilt in my recent purchase, I reviewed my footwear collection to check I have a need for them all. I confirmed they are all fit for their various purpose: different colours depending on my outfit; flat shoes for walking to work; warm boots for the winter; sandals for hot weather; heels for going out. Obviously, my “specialist footwear”are beyond questioning: I need walking boots for walking, trainers for running and climbing shoes for climbing.

I also thought I should extend this footwear review to include compatibility with one of my lifetime partners. I don’t mean I checked that the high heels don’t make me taller than my boyfriend: as I am only 5’4”, that is unlikely. This lifetime partner is diabetes. Yes, I see diabetes and I being together for the rest of my life so, when eating or exercising, I make sure my plans don’t contradict my diabetes needs.

With diabetes in mind, I reviewed my shoe collection against the Diabetes UK recommendation. Apparently, as someone with diabetes, my shoes should be broad fitting; have a deep and rounded toe area; have flat or low heeled and fastened by a lace or buckle. Oh dear, no pointy court shoes for work. And are you suggesting no four inch heels for the outfit I planned to wear to my friends wedding? What about my wonderful sandals which are easy to slip off on the beach? Wait, are you going to tell me I shouldn’t walk bare foot across the beach feeling the sand run through my toes?

I felt I needed to sit down and have a chat with diabetes. Like any couple who expect to be together for the rest of our lives, we need to agree some boundaries and some areas of compromise. This is the way I see it: I will regularly moisturise my feet, inspect for blisters and keep my toenails cut. But I will not sacrifice my footwear style to diabetes. I am not willing for diabetes to take over my sartorial elegance down to my toes. Some areas of our relationship may be open to negotiation but on this front, there will be no compromise. Unless there is a change our circumstance.

This reminds me of one of my parents’ friends. She was 91 on Boxing Day. She is mentally very bright and dresses very elegantly. Until recently, this elegance extended to wearing some lovely shoes with 3 inch heels. Unfortunately, after falling over and breaking her wrist, she had to agree that her circumstance has changed: she is not as stable as she used to be. So her heeled footwear has been put aside for something flatter but, equally, elegant.

As for me, I will agree that if, through my regular foot inspection, I notice more hard skin or blisters or bunions, I will reconsider my choose of footwear. Until then, diabetes and I will agree to four inch heels, pointed toes and slip-on sandals. We may have a partnership but, I am in control.

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