Keeping shoes on Maggie’s feet is a constant battle. Her movement disorder literally extends down to her toes and she is constantly wriggling out of shoes. As we push Maggie wheelchair, there is always a bump as we run over her shoe that has fallen off her foot. When she was smaller, it was not unusual to return from an outing with one shoe missing. Now we watch closer and just keep the shoes in one of her bags as they fly off her feet.
The other day at the wedding, Maggie’s shoes were hanging on the back of her chair. They had fallen off so many times we just gave up putting them back on. A woman at our table asked who the shoes belonged to – they were clearly “little girl” shoes. When I told her they were Maggie’s, she said, wow, her feet are small. She was right. Maggie has tiny feet. It makes sense, of course. Bones grow, in part, from use. Maggie has never walked and those bones have not borne her weight; her feet have not had any reason to grow as large as they might have.
Maggie does not look her age, but she does not look like a toddler either. She is small all over. She weighs only 70lbs (believe me that is plenty when you have to lift her 50 times a day.) but her body is proportionally accurate except for her feet. They are proportionately even smaller than she is. She has not yet reached a size “1” – something kids hit around their 4th birthday. She is 16 years old and wears a child’s size 12. To give some contrast, when I was 16 I wore women size 9 – which is big. In fact, I probably hit that at about 13 and stayed there until a couple of years ago when I finally decided I needed a 9.5. Here is a picture of our shoes next to each other. My feet are big, but not clown sized. Her feet are extremely small.
Finding shoes that will work for her is always a challenge. We try all sorts of different styles. Her aunt bought her some fancy Uggs, and we had to use a rubber band to keep those on her feet. We have had some success with high top tennis shoes. It takes her a while to get out of those things. On the other hand, it is very hard to get them ON her feet in the first place. Getting that heel all the way down on a kid who’s foot moves like jelly is extremely difficult. The “dress shoes” are the worst. There is no way those will stay on her feet. I don’t even try the slip-ons that do not have a strap of some sort; and even the straps just give her something to use to balance the shoe off her toe before she flings it aside.
Getting the shoes off is something of a game for Maggie. It is another way she can control her surroundings – or at least the people around her. She laughs her head off as we find a shoe on the ground. I put it right in her face and say, “Can you explain this, young lady?” That really sets her off. Once the shoes are off the socks are pulled off by the toes.
Her wheelchair does have straps on the footplates to keep her feet in place. They are of limited utility, however, because Maggie manages to wriggle out of her shoes. Before we gave up on those things, it was not unusual to see Maggie legs and feet flailing about while her shoes remained strapped onto the footplates. It looked ridiculous, but there were a lot fewer “lost” shoes during that period.