” Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.” ~ Carolina Herrera
Image-“Red Shoes” by Ross Webb
As you all know I am a fashionista at heart and having PD initially put a damper on my love of shoes and actually diminished my collection because the initial foot dystonia and pain caused me so much discomfort that it was hard to work. In my profession as a neurologist, I had to stand and walk a lot. The burning, searing pain along with involuntary toe movements made it extremely difficult to wear some of my favorite shoes. Erroneously thinking it was the shoes I was wearing the culprits of my pain, I got rid of many pairs including some very cute and stylish red shoes which I absolutely loved. In my practice I was known as much for my shoes as I was for my hugs so having to change was a huge deal. Due to my severe discomfort, I was then forced to wear tennis shoes for the first time in my life which I absolutely abhorred but unfortunately it was the only thing I could stand on my feet.
Of course after my disease was confirmed, in the process of stabilizing my doses, it was difficult to walk with my stilettos and even chunky heels if they were higher than an inch. Because of initial poor balance and mild stooped posture wearing heels only served to shift my center of gravity forward causing severe back pain along with increased unbalance. However, even though there was a time of a year span in which I had to use a walker and barely able to lift my feet I never lost sight of being able to wear beautiful shoes again. Although, I did have to accommodate and find a new way of meshing the styles I love with the practicality and comfort required for someone who has PD. Fortunately, there are so many choices to choose from compared to even 20 years ago.
PD has not stopped me from loving shoes and looking for stylish comfortable pairs that would work with PD rather it has become another challenge to thrive on. I have discovered that I am unable to wear high shaft boots without zippers – hard to put on and nearly impossible to take off. Never mind the off balance waddling that sometimes would occur if begin to shuffle while wearing them.
Thankfully, as I have improved with medication and therapy, I am so happy to put away my tennis shoes which I hope not to see again for a long time. So in the last couple of years, I have been once more augmenting my shoe collection. I find that sometimes, the best therapy for self-esteem and empowering of a woman particularly one dealing with chronic illness like those of us with PD is retail therapy especially shopping for beautiful shoes. This was certainly the case for me this past month. After being hospitalized and being poked and prodded over the last two months, I needed some new shoes to parade about as I slowly regained my composure and returned to my normal Parkinson’s diva self. Although, it began as a simple trip to the mall with no expectations, other than just get out of the house and spend time with mom it ended up being one of the most rewarding and fulfilling shopping spree I have had in a very long time. Particularly when we found this one shoe store that had so many new styles and colors for the fall season mom which happened to be 1/2 off. I love nothing more than buying beautiful shoes at an affordable rate. So I bought grey booties & stylish suede loafers, blue high heel espadrilles, red pumps, my very first pair of brown leather boots in a very long time (since brown is usually not my color), and an evening shoe which happened to be leopard print… no one can be without a high heel animal print to put some fun and mischievousness in a woman’s wardrobe.
The outing was an exhilarating one which prepared me mentally to continue my PD fight to show PD go is boss. With my new fall collection at my disposal, I am poised once more to continue my work with women in PD alongside health professionals, law- makers and women with PD everywhere. Today, as I finished discussing my impressive shoe collection and latest spree with my sister-in-law, I came across an article I had missed about another young professional with PD who seems to love fashion and shoes as much as I do. She too appears to have amassed an impressive shoe collection as I. But, I must say that at least in her pictures her shoes are better displayed than mine which sometimes end up on the floor because I am too stiff to bend over to pick up. I, like her, am using my love for fashion to increase strides in the neuroscience of PD while empowering other women (you) with PD to do the same. Go ahead use your own fashion sense and favorite shoes to show PD, you still have the upper hand. As the moto for this blog site goes… ” a woman can conquer the world with the right shoes!”
Tips for wearing stylish but safe shoes with PD :
Be accessory conscientious – don’t buy shoes with lots of traction if freezing nor slippery ones if tendency to fall
Don’t get frazzled and tied down – if you have tremors that are hard to control don’t want shoes with lots of stamps or dainty clasps which are nearly impossible to tie. Wear ones with big zippers on the side or one with big buckles better yet slip on if having trouble bending
Always keep a spare as I often do when I travel I wear lower heel more comfortable shoes that I can change easily when I arrive to my conferences and a more stylish chunkier heel or dressier shoe is called for.
all rights reserved – Maria De Leon MD
3 thoughts on “Parkinson’s & My Love for Fashion: By Maria De Leon”
Loved your article. I was diagnosed with PD in 2011. I am in the education field. I taught junior high for 9 years and now I am an assistant principal. I have always worn heels lately it’s been a little bit more difficult. I am also a shoe fanatic I’d love to buy shoes in all different colors. I have come to realize it’s about time to give up my 4 and 3 inch heels. Lol. So now I am on a quest to find those stylish low heel shoes.
Laura, thank you for your comments..I am sorry you too having to deal with this disease but there is light at end of tunnel and with some luck you too will find new wonderful stylish shoes that you will love although maybe not as high..I still keep a pair of stilettos leboutin that I like to wear when I a down laying on couch …to boost my morale..you may like beautifeel shoes, or clarks..stylish and comfortable.have terrific week and keep rocking your own fashion.
Thank you for your wonderfully inspiring articles and book Maria. I was diagnosed with PD in February this year but I’ve been unable to wear high heels for a few years due to foot cramps, hypotension ,poor balance and …..age. ( I am 65) I have always loved shoes and keep my best heels stuffed, pouched and tucked away in nice boxes . I occasionally look at these gorgeous treasures to remind myself of my inner Diva before shuffling off in my comfortable , but pretty flats.👠👠