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These look perfect for sloshing through dirty ice-water City sidewalks!

These look perfect for sloshing through dirty ice-water City sidewalks!

I come from a Big Foot family–even the diminutive kin have some pretty huge hoofers. So my size 8 soles were always a small source of pride. When I was little, my mother would hold my foot in her hands and marvel at their smallness.

Then I got pregnant. After spending my 20s in high heels (sneakers and flats were not part of my fashion forward  footwear), my feet suddenly began to swell and one day I just could not squeeze my feet into my shoes anymore.

I assumed it was only temporary. Afterall, preggos usually experience swelled feet. Once the kid popped out, I assumed everything would re-adjust and fall back into place. So, a little while after she was born, I made my first zappos purchase of a beautiful pair of sandals. I put them on, they felt OK but by the end of the day my feet were aching. Assuming I was just not used to wearing heels after many many months low to the ground, I waited for a few days and tried them again. And once again within a few hours I had throbbing pain. And on and and on this went.

When I started my pilates training, at my initial consultation, I was told by the trainer that I was flatfooted. Ah ah! I thought I had found the reason behind all this foot pain. Perhaps my shoe problems would be solves with inserts. But the inserts made it worse. My toes were still going numb and my feet still experienced searing pain after an hour in shoes.

I eventually moved my way up the size chain to a 9 1/2. I had heard that sometimes feet just get larger from pregnancy and never go back to normal. But not even the larger size eased the burden. I was resigned to spending the rest of my life in Converse and flip-flops, the only shoes my feet were willing to tolerate. Perhaps all those years in heels had finally caught up to me.

Spending what is now close to 6 years in intolerable foot pain put a crimp in my shoe style. Pre-pregnancy, I was as shoe obsessed as any woman. I would look far and wide for the perfect pair, marveling over colors, styles and heel heights, looking for the most whimsical and to the most stylishly utilitarian footwear. An afternoon of shoe shopping was intense pleasure. I loved meandering down the old 8th Street in the West Village and hitting the endless rows of shoe stores.

The idea of shoe shopping turned into intense pain. It was a necessary evil, to cover up the feet for fear of infection or frostbite. I spent as much time as possible barefoot, even kicking the shoes off under the desk to give myself a break. Workouts were barefoot or in socks. A workout in cross-trainers left me limping.

Last week, I hit situation critical with my shoes. It had been a year since my last true shoe purchase (the pre-summer disposable flip flops  don’t count), and the turning weather made it harder to leave the house with my feet exposed. Since I refuse to drop a lot of cash on an item that leaves me in agony, I search for the cheapest, most utilitarian shoes  I can find.

Since Manly Man Husband wanted to go to Sears to look at something testosterone-fueled, it was easy to head over to the shoes and pick something out. After trying on some heels in the hopes that maybe my feet suddenly cured themselves, I was discouraged and grabbed a pair of Sketchers sneakers that were at least a fun color. I was at checkout bemoaning my shoe issue when the lady behind me pipped up and suggested I got to a shoe store that carried every imaginable size on the planet.

A few hours later, I was wearing my new sneaker purchase and experiencing the unbearable pain again. I looked at Manly Man Hubs and begged him to go to this shoe store with me.

Globe Shoes is in a strip mall in Paramus, NJ, the shopping capital of the US. It has very few bells and whistles; the sign looks like it has been on top of the building for 50 years. But they really DO have every size imaginable for men and women. Since it caters to the demographic of problem feet (ok, the elderly), it was me and the old ladies scanning the displays of shoes.

But this throw-back store had another old-fashioned novelty. Knowledgeable shoe salesmen. And mine took a look at my tired dogs and we began to evaluate why my feet were killing me..

Turns out, I am a size 9 (one foot is a true 8 1/2, the other falls between 8 1/2 and 9) but my feet are wide. Very wide. My pregnancy did not make my feet longer, they made them wider. I assumed that if shoes did not fit, I needed a larger size, when in reality I needed a larger width. And most shoe stores only carry regular widths, which is why a wide was never an option when shopping at the usual places. I needed a specialty store.

So began a somewhat painstaking process of finding a shoe style that I liked. At this point, however, I was so thrilled about finding a plain, low heeled black bootie that did not cause my feet searing pain that I was in tears. It is not the trendiest shoe I have ever owned, but damn it, it’s not Cons or flops. I actually have a fall bootie! And it was the first time in 6 years that a shoe did not cripple me.

Since most stores do not stock double wides,  I can’t buy on a whim or wait until the last minute. But, one of my favorite online stores, carries an endless amount stylish double wides (499 choices as of my last search). And while I will probably never again stumble upon a killer shoe sale, I am happy to pay full retail price for a shoe that won’t leave me in agony.