"We seldom get into trouble when we speak softly. It is only when we raise our voices that the sparks fly and tiny molehills become great mountains of contention."
- - Gordon B. Hinckley
October 28, 2013
I Cried Because I Had No Shoes
by Kathryn H. Kidd

I was in such a hurry to get out of the hospital last March that I forgot to pick up my copy of Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Paralyzed Legs: But Were Afraid to Ask. Such a book must exist; the doctors must have forgotten to give it to me before I escaped for home.

There is so much to learn about being paralyzed, I discovered. First, as I have doubtless mentioned here before, “paralyzed” definitely does not mean “without feeling.” On the contrary, my legs and feet have treated me to an ongoing display of electrical jolts, jabbing pains and even more alarming surprises, all brought to me courtesy of — well, myself.

Who knew that the same legs and feet that would not respond if stuck by a needle could come up with such glorious and exquisite agonies when simply touched? Certainly I didn’t! I have yelped and even shrieked so often that even long-suffering Fluffy no longer asks, “What’s wrong?” when a blood-curdling scream comes from my direction. This girl has cried wolf far too often.

But the far more vexing situation has been trying to get some shoes to fit over what passes for my feet these days.

I used to have feet that looked like, well, feet. They weren’t exactly beautiful, but they weren’t ugly either. If you lined them up next to the feet of the other women I know, nobody would have given them a blue ribbon, but nobody would have pointed at my feet and laughed. (By the way, if you’re the kind of person who points at anyone’s feet and laughs, you clearly need a different form of entertainment.)

Anyway, once I got home from the hospital, I noticed all that had changed. Suddenly I realized my shoes didn’t go on my feet anymore. Part of the reason they didn’t go on my feet was because I couldn’t wiggle my toes to work my feet into the bottoms of my shoes. But mainly they didn’t go on my feet was because they just plain fit into my shoes. My feet had turned into paddle boats.

Because I didn’t get my copy of Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Paralyzed Legs: But Were Afraid to Ask, I don’t know if every paralyzed foot turns into a paddle boat, but I know my paralyzed feet turned into paddle boats, and I guess that’s all that’s important to me.

I might as well have an 11x 5-inch block of wood at the end of my legs as the feet I have now. They’re the same, except that my actual feet usually have toenails instead of splinters.

The thing is, even though I wasn’t doing any actual walking, it was vital that I have decent shoes to not walk in. That was because when I transferred from the bed to the wheelchair or from the wheelchair to anywhere else, there was that one split second when my feet were on the floor. In that one split second, my feet needed absolute traction.

If my feet slipped, I slipped. If my feet slipped, that meant Kathy was on the floor again, and we had to call Fire and Rescue to get me off the floor. I only ended up on the floor at home twice, but twice was enough to convince me that I had to have the perfect shoes on my feet or I was more than likely going to be in a world of trouble.

I spent several months ordering a succession of shoes and slippers, trying to find the perfect shoe and/or slipper to give me the traction I needed. Everything was a dismal failure — everything except Crocs, that is. I didn’t like Crocs. I didn’t want Crocs. But everything else I ordered went back to Amazon, or went back to Zappos, or went back to Shoebuy, or went back to wherever I had bought it. Nothing else that fit me had the traction to keep me from falling on the floor.

Even when I got strong enough to return to church in May, I continued wearing Crocs. I wore them all summer long, all the while being embarrassed about wearing Crocs to church. (I wore white Crocs to the temple for my weekly visits there.) Oh, was I tired of rubber shoes!

I knew there were people who made fun of me for wearing Crocs to church. I told myself that their problems were bigger than mine were, and I was pretty sincere when I did it. Hey, I wasn’t exactly wearing Crocs by choice. I don’t have the shoe fetish that most women do, but I do have some standards, albeit low ones.

Nevertheless, it was hard to convince myself. When I go to church, I want to look as good as Kathy can look. That means wearing a dress, and that means wearing the best shoes I can put on my feet. I wouldn’t go out and buy a ball gown and the Ruby Slippers, mind you. There are things that are appropriate to the situation. My 63-year-old brain simply doesn’t think of either the Ruby Slippers or Crocs as appropriate for church. Can’t there be a happy medium? If so, I have not found it yet.

One sunny day recently, Fluffy loaded my wheelchair and me into the car, and the three of us went to the shoe store. I was excited. It was Everybody’s Favorite Shoe Store, the one whose name I won’t mention, but whose name sounds like Disgusting Specimens Within. I was excited. Everybody likes that shoe store. Until that sunny day post-coma, so did I.

Fluffy wheeled me into a huge warehouse of shoes. I thought I was in shoe heaven, right up until I realized that none of these shoes actually fit someone whose feet are rectangular and boat-sized. We only saw one employee in the store, a bored woman who was adjusting a display. Fluffy wheeled me over to her, and I asked her where I could find wider shoes.

She rolled her eyes disgustedly, as though she had just seen a roach on the floor and knew she should step on it, but she didn’t want to get something slimy on the bottom of her foot. “We don’t have any wide shoes for women here,” she said. Then she turned back to her display.

I would have left the store immediately but Fluffy said, “Maybe we can find a wide loafer for men that will fit you.” He wheeled me toward the men’s shoes, but there was no joy there either. On our way back we passed a lady in her motorized chair who was being accompanied by her caretaker. This lady obviously had cerebral palsy and was in much worse shape than I am.

I could only hope the lady didn’t have any questions for the employee, because if I got the roach treatment, I could only imagine how the employee would have treated the cerebral employee patient.

I don’t get discouraged easily, but visiting that shoe store put a crimp in my day. I went home and ordered two new pairs of Crocs over the internet. I hated them from the moment they arrived in the mail, but at least I didn’t get the roach treatment from the companies who took my business.

God gives us challenges in life so that we can better appreciate the blessings that we have. Just being able to put your feet onto the floor and walk across the room is a blessing that is not currently within my grasp. But it has made me all the more grateful for the simple things that I can do, such as the ability to read a book or watch television with Fluffy.

My small trials have given me much more empathy for the challenges that others face. Although this has not been an experience I would want to repeat, the blessings and insights I have received from it have been priceless.


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About Kathryn H. Kidd

Kathryn H. Kidd has been writing fiction, nonfiction, and "anything for money" longer than most of her readers have even been alive. She has something to say on every topic, and the possibility that her opinions may be dead wrong has never stopped her from expressing them at every opportunity.

A native of New Orleans, Kathy grew up in Mandeville, Louisiana. She attended Brigham Young University as a generic Protestant, having left the Episcopal Church when she was eight because that church didn't believe what she did. She joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a BYU junior, finally overcoming her natural stubbornness because she wanted a patriarchal blessing and couldn't get one unless she was a member of the Church. She was baptized on a Saturday and received her patriarchal blessing two days later.

She married Clark L. Kidd, who appears in her columns as "Fluffy," more than thirty-five years ago. They are the authors of numerous LDS-related books, the most popular of which is A Convert's Guide to Mormon Life.

A former managing editor for Meridian Magazine, Kathy moderated a weekly column ("Circle of Sisters") for Meridian until she was derailed by illness in December of 2012. However, her biggest claim to fame is that she co-authored Lovelock with Orson Scott Card. Lovelock has been translated into Spanish and Polish, which would be a little more gratifying than it actually is if Kathy had been referred to by her real name and not "Kathryn Kerr" on the cover of the Polish version.

Kathy has her own website, www.planetkathy.com, where she hopes to get back to writing a weekday blog once she recovers from being dysfunctional. Her entries recount her adventures and misadventures with Fluffy, who heroically allows himself to be used as fodder for her columns at every possible opportunity.

Kathy spent seven years as a teacher of the Young Women in her ward, until she was recently released. She has not yet gotten used to interacting with the adults, and suspects it may take another seven years. A long-time home teacher with her husband, Clark, they have home taught the same family since 1988. The two of them have been temple workers since 1995, serving in the Washington D.C. Temple.

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