My barefoot experiment this year has been fun and very rewarding. I have discovered that when my feet are free to move, they feel better. Without shoes I am often wiggling my toes throughout the day rather than keeping them confined in a shoe all day without any movement. On rare occasions lately that I have worn socks and shoes I noticed that my toes are stiff when I take them off, as if they forgot in one short day how to move. I spend some time retraining them but then experience shooting pain throughout the night.
My barefoot experiment has shown me that I need to be able to allow my feet to have as much movement as possible. Since I can’t go barefoot at work and doubt my VFF will be approved for work, I decided several months ago that the next best thing would be to wear my sandals as often as possible, perhaps even changing into them at work on really cold days. That way I can keep my toes moving the 9-10 hours I spend on my feet teaching some days.
Well, my brilliant idea was challenged late last week when we received an email from our new manager (I work at schools and this is the newer school I teach at which I don’t like so well) that open toed shoes are not permitted because they are not “professional”. Unlike many women, I have a limited number of shoes. I buy well made shoes that are expensive but buy very few of them. I have a pair of Dansko sandals that are open toed, two pairs of Ecco sandals that are open toed, Dansko clogs, Merrell snow boots that look like tennis shoes, and my Vibram Five Fingers. My choices are pretty limited. Throughout the winter I wear my Dansko clogs everyday but found that last winter the socks and shoe mixture wasn’t working and I often sat down so that I could slip my feet out of my shoes and try to wiggle my toes a little bit.
I have only taken one day off work due to rheumatoid arthritis in the last eight years and that was when I tried sulfasalzine and realized I have an allergy to sulfa. I was covered in a rash from the top of my head to the bottoms of my feet along with a fever and headache. Otherwise, I have always made it into work despite how awful I may have felt. I never wanted RA to be an excuse I used………until yesterday.
Yesterday I called my rheumatologist and asked for a note stating that I can wear open toe sandals. The nurse said she would check on it and within ten minutes called back and said they were mailing the note right away. All the sudden I felt guilty. I felt like I was taking advantage of the situation with my illness. I wondered if I was making the right choice. My other employer has been very accepting of my diagnosis, but I have never shared my diagnosis with this employer because I haven’t needed to since I have felt pretty good since working there but also because I don’t trust this employer. The overall feeling there is negative from the way they treat their employees to the way they treat the students. So, I now have a dilemma. Do I give my doctor’s note to my employer and open myself up to them knowing about my rheumatoid arthritis or do I suck up my new idea and wear socks and shoes despite how they make my toes feel?