With the weather slowly warming, I finally took the plunge and moved the heavy sweaters into storage to make room for my more carefree (and less bulky) summer wardrobe. I love the fashion freedom that is found during the hotter months. Not having to contend with my pant leg becoming bound by in my prosthetic socket, creating an unsightly and many times uncomfortable crease, is liberating. Of course, dressing for summer is not without its issues.
In full disclosure, I was not much of a shoe connoisseur before I became an amputee. The fact that I am living without my biological leg and reliant upon a prosthesis has simply exacerbated my hatred of the shoe store. Trying to find a shoe that fits onto the plastic foot shell while its mate comfortably fits my biological foot is an exercise in frustration. Typically I stick with an athletic type shoe, but in the summer I like to wear sandals.
Finding the right sandal for a prosthesis offers another layer of confusion to the quest. Flip flops are immediately eliminated from the list of possibilities because the plastic toes are all molded together. I also lack the ability to grip the foot with my toes, so I need to make sure that I have another means of securing the shoe in place.
After years of shoe frustration I had an epiphany: VELCRO!
I bought industrial strength Velcro because I require the strongest hold between the foot shell and the bed of the sandal. I would recommend paying the dollar extra for industrial strength in this situation. After all, it is not only embarrassing, but also dangerous to walk out of your shoe.
Before applying the Velcro, I thoroughly scrub the foot shell with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to remove the stains and dirt that have accumulated during the winter. (I have found the Magic Eraser to be the easiest and most efficient way to clean the plastic without causing discoloration.) After cleaning the bottom of the foot shell, I apply the soft side of the Velcro. I keep the Velcro on my foot shell permanently. It doesn’t interfere with socks and other shoes, so I have found no reason to remove it.
I feel compelled to offer one word of caution. Walking directly on the Velcro i.e. barefoot can increase the possibility of slipping. When walking without a shoe on a prosthetic foot, walk with caution. I have tile floors in my kitchen which, when clean, tend to be quite slick against the Velcro.
I put the hook side of the Velcro (the rough side) on the inside of the sandal I want to wear. I use two pieces, one up towards the toe and one close to heel. After placing the shoe onto the foot shell and pressing firmly, I am ready to go!
I was initially unnerved by the “ripping” sounds I heard as I took my first few steps. It can be annoying, but it goes away after you walk for a few minutes. So go ahead, paint those toenails and wear cute sandals. Just don’t forget the Velcro!