Is Appearance Worth the Foot Pain? My Personal Story of Discomfort

2016-03-31 21.21.46

I am suffering now with foot pain far worse than I have ever experienced. The pain began years ago after years of working as a salaried manager marching from end to end of a large facility for 12 or more hours per day, three or four days in a row. Dress shoes have been a requirement, since I became a salaried manager, and I am in serious pain.

   Plantar fasciitis is the suspected culprit, and this will be confirmed at my first podiatrist appointment in the near future. I have gone through numerous insoles and expensive pairs of name brand shoes. I developed a foot pain on the heal, side of the foot, and bottom that cripples me with each step, causes great pain when I stand, and that has the potential to devastate my performance at work.

Matters were complicated just 8 weeks ago when following 2 overnight shifts, I woke during the day exhausted but made the decision to step outside into the backyard anyway and visit my chickens that I hadn’t seen for a several days since my husband has been assisting with the chores. I took just a few steps before I rolled the left foot with such excruciating pain that I immediately began hopping on the right foot and shouting. Then I rolled the right foot and fell with full force on the foot. I laid with my hair resting the filthy mud crying in pain for several minutes while my clueless lab wagged his tail and ran around me. The chickens were free ranging, and I made the decision that it would be best to get out of a vulnerable position before they came over. I turned over and began to crawl into the house.

As I got to the threshold, with mud covered hands, my children’s bus arrived to drop the them off, and I heard, “Get up, mom! Just walk.” I crawled in and pulled myself up into a kitchen chair. Tears were rolling down my face, and I was sobbing with no control from shear pain. My 55 year old, ill mother was in the room while the children speculated if I was laughing or crying.

“She’s laughing,” my mother said as she went back to her room. The kids knew that I was crying, and my son was very helpful. He grabbed a cell phone and called either my sister or husband for help. I don’t remember which, but no one was available to come home at that moment. My sister, father, and husband were all at least an hour away. I declined the suggestion of an ambulance. It wasn’t life or death. My sister told my son to go get the neighbor to come help drive me to the hospital, and the second neighbor that he asked was able to.

I took several Advil, because I have learned from responding to emergencies at work and participating in nursing phone calls with injured associates that ibuprofen and ice are the best initial treatment to keep swelling down. As the injury set in while I waited, I felt my body begin to shake and recognized it as shock. “Oh no!” I thought, “A broken bone. I can’t miss work. I am a manager.”

I took crutches from the house set for a 5′ 10″ person since there were no other options and went outside to meet the neighbor. With lots of assistance, I got into the car, and after we dropped her daughter off at music lessons, were on our way. My father met me outside the hospital, and the neighbor was able to leave. After a few hours of sitting in a wheelchair in the emergency room, I was seen and confirmed to have fractured my ankle. They gave me proper fitting crutches and a brace, and I was on my way.

It wasn’t that easy though; my left foot although never checked had been injured too, and bearing weight on it was difficult as well. At home I texted the boss that I may need to take a vacation early. I was going to take one about a week out.

It wasn’t until I saw the orthopedist a couple of days later that I understood what I was dealing with. It was difficult for me to comprehend taking a leave of absence due to a deep sense of guilt and responsibility, but after being casted and having an inability to drive and even walk, I knew I wouldn’t be able to return after 1 week of vacation. The LOA process was begun after my consultation with the orthopedist.

After purchasing a knee walker I was able to move around the house and go to appointments with my sister more easily. The cast came off 6 weeks later, and I was due to return to work 2 days after that. Now, after having completed 2 rotations and transitioning to overnight, I am approaching a 3rd more challenging rotation during which I cover a vacation and will have less support as I attempt to run the store not fully recovered.

I did not anticipate the extent of the pain that I would experience when I returned. I went back to work in a medical boot which left me struggling in pain almost the entirety of my 12 hours spent marching the floor. It seems unlikely that the boot was designed for 12 hours on this type of surface.

I have tried Advil, removing the shoes, different shoes, inserts, and resting for a few minutes. By the morning I am hobbling like an injured, elderly person. I am 35 years old but feel 75. I do not want to ride a power cart and so I hobble, and I hurt horribly. I have a podiatrist appointment and a physical therapy appointment and have since purchased three different pairs of shoes, none of which I can wear. Although both feet are swollen, the right foot has blown up and won’t fit in my shoes. I cut part of a sneaker to allow for extra room.

I hope to find relief soon. The lesson learned is to avoid dress shoes during 12 plus hour shifts on tile floor, and that sometimes you don’t have control despite pride. I am frustrated by my pain, the 12 hour shifts, and the requirement to wear impractical shoes for appearance despite the potential consequences. Usually, I don’t share this type of experience but even sitting now, I am resonating pain into the universe. It has reminded me of a time when I worked for Osco Drug when I was about 17 and the supervisor asked me to pull the rubber washers forward behind the candy to create a full presentation. The next day my hands were covered in blisters and left me wanting to cry, and I quit without explaining the situation to my manager. I could have handled this differently, but at the time my only focus was the pain that I was in. Back to the original question, “Is appearance worth the foot pain?” Understandably first impression is important, but what about comfort and health? Many times I wondered if the occasional trip up a ladder or the volume of walking done by  salaried managers was taken into consideration of the dress code. Where was my responsibility in this, to myself and to following the direction given to me? Should I have sought foot treatment earlier? I wasn’t alone in experiencing pain though at times it isolated me. Sometimes we just don’t see the consequences, because appearance is the priority. Maybe we should rethink that.

Leave a Comment