Sunday, 10 July 2011

Getting cold feet

This winter's been a bit hit and miss. Early on it was freezing. Then we had some rain and cloud cover and things warmed up. And just the past few days, winter's come back, reminding us that here in Brisbane, it must always be cold and windy in time for the Brisbane Exhibition in August.

So I've been in and out of jackets and jumpers, boots and gloves.

Yesterday, I was at my boyfriend's house, when he asked me couldn't I feel the cold.  Of course I could feel the cold, what did he mean? Well, I was barefoot. He was wearing wool-lined slippers, his friend who was also there was wearing shoes with thick socks. How could I stand having bare feet? Weren't they cold?

I stood on my left foot and lifted my right, putting it against my left calf. Funny. I did it in reverse: stood on my right foot and lifted my left, placing it against my right calf. I sat down and felt my feet with my hands. He was absolutely right. My feet were very cold. But I hadn't noticed that by feeling them from the inside.

What does this mean? Hopefully absolutely nothing. I'll tell my doctor about it at my visit on Friday, she'll have a look at my feet and say, well that's odd but there's nothing going wrong.

It bothers me because it could be something - and that something has the potential to be bad. I spent years of my ministry as a hospital chaplain. Again and again, I saw people with chronic illnesses who had the same story: it started with a sore on one foot that wouldn't heal; then a toe had to be cut off, then half a foot; six months later it was the other foot, then half a leg, eventually most of the leg. People lost themselves, literally, bit by bit. The culprit? Vasculitis. It's a horrible condition of the circulatory system. Blood stops flowing to the area, nothing heals, seemingly small injuries become incurable rotting (gangrenous?) sores, and the only solution is to cut off the affected area.

Because I've seen more than enough of that, I'm a bit obsessive about my feet. (OK, wondering around with bare feet on a cold day may not make that obvious, but it's true.)

When I was first diagnosed, a friend with diabetes taught me all about how to care for feet.

She took me to buy proper shoes.  I'd always bought shoes from discount shoe shops, aimed at spending $20 or less per pair. What a shock to discover that a "cheap" pair of shoes for me is now $100 on special. Shoes now come from the kind of place that measures my feet (length and width exactly, not just "well that's about size 7 and a half") every time I go there.

She also recommended a good podiatrist - I go to him every eight weeks or so. He cuts my toenails, sands and files back any rough bits, investigates every scratch, scrape, bruise, bump, or blister. He generally checks to make sure my feet are healthy and that I'm looking after them.

I soak my feet, I moisturise them, and massage them. And, usually, I'm very careful to support and protect them.

I'm very attached to my feet.  So getting cold feet is concerning. Not realising they're cold is even more concerning. But it's probably just my body doing silly things and nothing at all to worry about (well I hope it is).

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