Random Gratitude Post #1: Skinny jeans and strappy sandals
Over the course of my life there have been two main things my family and I have used to get thru the stress of my medical issues: humor and gratitude. Recognition and appreciation of all the good things in life, both big and small, makes it a little easier to deal with the not so good things.
So, in the spirit of gratitude, let me start by celebrating something that is somewhat superficial, but is a huge victory for me…skinny jeans and strappy sandals!
Prior to my recent hospitalization and at the height of my heart failure symptoms, my legs looked like tree trunks, my feet like canoes and my toes like sausages. At first, my dumb ass kept trying to wear my beloved skinny jeans only to end with my legs being totally numb by the end of the day and needing a crow bar to take them off. My feet were too swollen to even squeeze into a pair of TOMS. I bought a pair of Birks and on the last hole my feet were just able to slide in.
To add to the misery, one of the recommended treatments for edema is to wear compression socks. It could be -25 degrees and three feet of snow on the ground and I wouldn’t want to wear regular socks, let alone compression socks. But living in Florida makes wearing compression socks even less desirable than getting your eyeball stabbed out with a dull pencil.
Everyday as I got up and looked my feet, my heart broke a little bit. Seeing how swollen they were made me feel like a “heart patient” more than anything else ever has. In a fit of despair, I cleaned out my closet and gave away several pairs of shoes; it was unfair to them to not let them see the light of day. However, the teeny tiny totally minuscule glimmer of hope that was still buried deep inside allowed me to keep a few of my favorites, because that little part of me dared to dream that maybe someday my feet would return to normal.
During my hospitalization, as the IV diuretics began to work their magic, my scrawny bird legs begin to return. I called my mom and asked her if I had always been bow-legged. I adopted the flamingo as my spirit animal. I reveled in the fact that I had actual ankles.
And thanks to a cocktail of oral diuretics, three months after my hospital stay and my legs are still toothpick thin.
Being happy over this may seem silly and totally shallow, but it is an actual victory for me. A slice of normalcy that is worthy of a happy dance. Wearing compression hose is just one of the things that screams “sick person” to me. Not being able to wear cute shoes and actual pants is one of those small things that makes me feel like my heart defect is limiting my life. Sometimes dealing with my medical condition is a double edge sword; I want to celebrate all my related differences, like my scars, while also wanting to be able to do “normal” things like wear a cute pair of strappy hippie sandals without wanting to go all Misery on my feet at the end of the day.
In a life where I am going to have limitations, and will often struggle to accept those limitations, I am going to be grateful for the little victories. I am going to be grateful that the handful of medications required to keep my edema at bay give me more than just the ability to breathe, but that they also allow me to prance around in the snazziest TOMS that money can buy.