As far back as I can remember I loved getting new shoes. Going to a shop where there’s so much choice finding ones that not only fit me but made me feel special. Oh and I absolutely loved meeting new people.
Sales assistants were just my personal audience, I looked forward to perform to, showing off my ability to walk and turn around, admiring myself in the mirror.
I wasn’t shy, (I know that may come as a huge surprise to those that know me).I would share stories about my sisters and my mum.
I do have to apoloise to my mum for embarrassing her, you see on one particular occasion I had picked up a shoe that had the european size on it. Of course I didn’t know this, I was just fascinated by the fact that it had the numbers 26 on it.
I declared to the sales assistant and everyone in the shop with a booming voice full of pride “26 thats how old my mummy is!” I was only 6yrs old at the time so I think I was also thrilled that my age and my mums was so similar it just had a 2 in front of it, yes I was that kid!
I started dancing at the age of 3 , so I got to wear lots of different kinds of shoes, the sparkly the better. Getting new tap and ballet shoes was even more enjoyable than my everyday shoes as I felt I was one step further to becoming the dancer I dreamed I would be.
I waited so long to be good enough to get my first pair of Jazz shoes that was a big thing for me it also meant I was old enough to be a part of the stage school, I was now dancing with the big girls and it was a dream come true.
There is one pair I never got to try on which I really regret to this day, that was what we called ‘blocks.’ They are the ballet shoes that are used for point work, you know the ones ballet dancers do pirouettes.
I had to stop dancing after I injured my knee at school thanks to a Numpty boy who was running around the science lab, he knocked me off the wooden stool I had my legs wrapped around, I fell to the floor one way and my knee cap went the other. It was the worse kind of pain and even worse when I had to push it back into place.
My next big set of shoes was a pair of high heels, now because of my knee I couldn’t go for really high ones, Naomi Campbell wouldnt have been impressed but even still they were a real challenge for me.
Picture bambi taking his first step on ice, that was me, but like with most things I wasn’t a natural, it was my perseverance that paid off. I was strutting my stuff down the catwalk like a pro, ok so when I say catwalk I mean the pavement!
I felt empowered and that I could literally take on the world in my high heels, yes they were my secret weapon. I don’t think my confidence needed the extra boost those heels definitely super charged it.
When my health started to deteriorate it wasn’t really a choice I just found I wore more comfortable flat shoes till the point that there wasn’t a pair of high heels in my wardrobe gathering dust, I just don’t own a pair.
I went from walking unaided not thinking about how my legs got me from A to B, to needing a folding walking stick, then a thicker, stronger stick moved which was later upgraded with the not so sparkling grey crutch. I still use a crutch to help me to transfer from my wheelchair but not to walk with though I do try to take some steps when I can.
I didn’t know there was a wide variety of wheelchairs until I needed one. I started out with a manual chair, then progressed to a self propelling wheelchair and 5 years ago I graduated to a light weight self propelling chair.
I recently attended my wheelchair re assessment, where we had the difficult task of debating of whats next as I’ve out grown my current chair. Its been decided that I will be getting a powered wheelchair.
The freedom and support this new chair will give me is probably more than I can imagine. I am excited by the prospect of being able to reach things as this chair will raise me up and finally I won’t feel like a child when going to a bar or a till straining to get the attention of the person behind the wall of doom well thats what I call it, maybe I am a little dramatic!
There is a part of me that sees it as a defeat that this illness has taken more of my strength but just like when I tried on a new pair of shoes I knew that this new chair was the perfect fit for me and I can’t wait to test it out and go on new adventures.
I have accepted that I may never get to strut my stuff in a pair of high heels because I’ve ditched heels for wheels but you know what, I still feel empowered and ready to take on the world!