Ariel has Arthritis – A Disney Ode to my Left Foot

Ode to my Left Foot

On the surface, Ariel from The Little Mermaid has it all. A hot bod, stunning head of hair, a Father who loves her, the adoration of the dashing Prince Eric, and, most importantly, a dinglehopper. But what Ariel doesn’t have, is legs. They’re all she ever wanted, that pair of perfect pins. She’s even willing to give her beautiful angelic voice to the Sea Witch Ursula for them. Well guess what Ariel, today is your lucky day, you can have my legs! Sure, they’re defective but legs are legs, right?

I have quite normal looking legs. Sure, they’ve had a bit of swelling in the knees and ankles that have required steroid injections, but they’re pretty regular legs. Unfortunately though, I have some pretty abnormal looking feet. Feet are horrible. Let’s not pretend they’re anything other. The more I look at feet, anyone’s feet, the more unwell I feel.  Don’t get me wrong, my size 6’s have done me well over the years. They’ve helped me to pass ballet exams, to dance the night away with friends, and to cross many gruelling finish lines whilst running. They’ve worn some vertiginous heels and they’ve snuggled up in the fluffiest of slippers. They are a part of my body I often took my granted and never gave much thought about. Until now.

My left foot is my arch enemy. I would go as far to say that I hate it. I hate everything about it. The way it looks, the way it feels and the way it makes me feel. The first sign of my psoriatic arthritis was a swollen toe. It doubled in width and was so painful I couldn’t apply any pressure to it. I couldn’t walk because of the pain. Gradually, the swelling started to subside, but the toe started to bend upwards at the joint, and it’s now fused like that. Permanently stuck in a bent position. The Claw. Then, 6 months later, all the toenails started to become painful. I’ve had three permanently removed so far (not pleasant) and the other 7 will follow shortly.

I think about my left foot all the time. The toe is so bent that I can’t fit my foot in many shoes. Just trainers. I’m painfully aware of it. I feel it rubbing against socks and shoes and I can see it getting worse. I talk about my left foot all the time. 50% of any phone call to my Mum involves me moaning about it.

On top of the insoles I have to wear for plantar fasciitis, I also have to wear some kind of special insert made of a playdough like substance to support my toes and stop them from bending further. Some girls spend ages in the morning doing their hair, I spend ages trying to make my foot resemble something normal. I am probably a podiatrists dream patient. Slowly making my way through the A-Z of things that can go wrong with feet.

Another toe on my left foot has also now become sausage like. It’s changed from a chipolata to a massive frankfurter. It’s big and red and painful. It upsets me that this is also likely to deform.

*Throughout this all, my right foot has remained resolutely normal. It acts as a reminder of what the leftie used to be like. The right foot provides me with faint hope that one day, after extensive surgery, I may go back to having two normal feet. It also fills me with fear that one day it will follow the lefts example, and I’ll have two painful feet. *

* Since I drafted this piece a while back, my right foot has very quickly followed suit. 4 massively swollen and painful toes (anyone else find that when their toes are hot they become itchy? No? Just me?) and a generally puffy and very painful foot. Yay!

I don’t think Ariel could cope with my arthritic legs. After all, this is the girl who once sang that legs are required for jumping and dancing (hahahahaha good luck with that one girl! I tried to jump once. Won’t be doing that again in a hurry). But if, and only if, Ariel does choose to accept my well worn legs, I’ve taken the liberty of rewording one of the verses from ‘Part of your world’ for her to sing, for her to celebrate the new found joy my legs will bring her (assuming Ursula gives her voice back):

“I’ve got insoles and inserts a plenty

I’ve got dressings and plasters galore.

You want sensible shoes? I’ve got plenty!

But who cares? No big deal. I’m so sore.”

Don’t worry. I won’t be giving up my day job just yet to spend my days rewording Disney songs. I’m too busy trying to find feminine sensible shoes to fit my foot.

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