Multiple Sclerosis is not only an annoying, frightening, ridiculous disease of inconvenience; it is also highly expensive. Between doctor visits, highly over-priced drugs, physical therapy and exercise programs, dietary recommendations, and lack of disability avail abilities, there is also the cost of MS accessories. Yes, you heard me. Multiple Sclerosis requires a certain number of "accessories".
Orthotic management is something relatively new to me, but I am catching on fast. Probably one of my biggest issues with my MS is drop foot. Treatment of drop foot involves exercise to strengthen the affected leg, foot, and ankle as well as bracing the foot with an ankle foot orthosis, or AFO. The goal of orthotic management is to provide toe clearance while the affected limb is swinging, and stability while the affected foot is on the ground.
Upon the recommendation of my physical therapist, I acquired my very own AFO several months ago. At first I was excited about the amount of mobility that my pretty l'il pink "leg" would allow. Then I got the bill and prayed that it was worth it. Then I tried to fit that l'il pink leg inside my shoe and discovered immediately that there was a problem.
I was then told that I would probably need to purchase two pair of shoes: one in a size larger to accommodate the AFO and one to fit my other foot. Sorry. That was not going to happen. Shoes are not cheap and I tend to own several pair of shoes for different occasions and weather conditions. So I kinda set my AFO aside until it was paid off (The price of this MS "accessory" was up to about $350.00, plus the expense of professorial consultation.) and I could find the perfect shoe to accompany it.
When I discovered Billy Shoes, I thought all my problems were solved. Billy Shoes specialize in footwear for individuals who need assistance in independent shoe wear. They are really unique in that they are rather fashionable in appearance but they fasten with a zipper after setting the foot directly down into the shoe. Pretty cool, huh?
So, I ordered a pair. Now the price of my AFO had exceeded four hundred dollars. Okay, all in the name of research and kind of affordable with the recent addition of my much anticipated disability check. The biggest problem, though, is that Billy Shoes are canvas and not water proof. The second issue with the shoe brand is that it does not cater to female sizes I am winging it with a boys' size. I did talk to a VERY pleasant person on the phone before placing my order and she told me that Billy was looking to expand options for these shoes, so they are sincere in their desire to be helpful. After a quick check on Google, I discovered that they are true to their word. Billy Shoes are available for men, women, and children.
In the mean time, my AFO sat pretty in the corner of my bedroom and only comes out for PT sessions. This is not acceptable, but all I could manage until I discovered my new super hero Rachel Hollis. If you are keeping up with my blog preparations for MS Awareness month, this name will mean something to you.
Rachel Hollis is the author of our first reading challenge this month. Girl, Wash Your Face is a New York Times best seller and on the top of my recommended reading list. Although Ms. Hollis does not have MS, her words are an inspiration to anyone. In this twenty chapter volume, Hollis talks about the lies she tells herself about life and how to reverse them in order to "become who you were meant to be.". I promise you will laugh, you will cry and you will nod your head in agreement and/or sympathy. She talks about raising children, personal insecurities, regrets, and personal goals in this, her first piece of nonfiction. You will come away from this reading experience a better, stronger, more motivated woman than you were before.
So, what does this have to do with shoes and AFOs?
Look at her shoes. Red, Converse All Stars, the favored brand of every teenager of the 1950's 60's and 70's. They were affordable then. Now, not as much; but they are cute, trendy, and a reminder of good days gone by. I never owned a pair, but many of my classmates and probably ALL the basketball players I went to school with sported at least one pair of white Converse at one time or another. Well, two weeks ago, I got a wild hair you know where and purchased my very own pair of red Converse All Stars. Mainly because I wanted to emulate our first reading assignment, but also because I thought they were cute.
Much to my surprise, my pretty l'il pink AFO fit within the confines of my new kicks perfectly. I spent an entire weekend at a recent book event happily dressing down my professional attire with that splash of Converse red. By the end of the weekend I was no longer depending upon a trusted cane, but successfully flitting from spot to spot without tripping on my AFO. My Red converse was the topic of conversation and I believe my fellow authors plan to purchase their own Converse shoes.
Sure this is another added expense but remember that disability issue?
I could not think of a better way to put that money to good use. I am paid up on my medical bills (for now) and anxious to give this expensive accessory a fair chance. I could not wait to get back home and tell Rebecca, my PT, how I had spent my weekend. The longer I thought about it the more encouraged I became about my AFO and Converse shoes. Because they are also canvas I knew that wet feet could be problem, so I stopped on my way home from Charleston to invest in a second pair.
Ironically enough, our second reading assignment also flashes that
iconic throw-back to fashion.
And, yes, my second pair IS BLACK.
So, when I go broke from my unofficial stock in Converse, I can blame authors Rachel Hollis and Barbara A. Stensland! (I've already got my eye on a pair of navy blue sneakers. With my birthday coming up, I may be able to wrangle them as a gift:)
Speaking of gifts, I feel like these two authors have gifted me with their very valuable words. Thank you both for sharing.
I am gong to try something new. (Mainly because Girl, Wash Your Face is haunting me.)
Although I write this blog and have authored five award winning books, I know NOTHING about technology. I mean NO-THING. But I would like to host fellow MS Warriors here at http://ladywiththecane.com during the month of March. I hope I don't mess it up. If you are interested in posting a blog here, let me know, and I will do my best to not screw it up.
If you haven't read Rachel Hollis, please do and let me know what you think. She inspires me to the moon and back. I hate to go to bed tonight without picking up her book again, but...I'm on to something new: Stumbling in Flats. I can't wait!
Until next time,