When we were kids, as soon as the weather got warmer my sister and I wanted to go barefoot. Once that started, most of the time we stayed barefoot for the rest of the season. I can still remember the feel of the grass, the difference between the painted lines on the crosswalk and the excruciatingly hot asphalt, the way the concrete on the driveway gave off heat in the evening. The cracks in the sidewalk. How one neighbor’s lawn was softer than all the others.
To prolong our shoe-wearing for as long as possible, my mother would invoke poetry. We had taken a picture book out of the library once of poems for children called June Is The Month of the Barefoot Moon. So my Mom would quote this, with the emphasis on June. Not May 15 or even May 31. The shoes could not come off until it was officially June.
I’ve never gotten over my love of going barefoot, but in the years since the diagnosis of MS, and before learning to eat plant-based whole food, it got pretty difficult for a number of reasons. Before June passes us by altogether this year, in celebration of being able to go barefoot once again, I’d like to share a journal entry from a few years ago when this sensation was like an old friend returning after what seemed like a lifetime. I hope it entices you to take your shoes off and feel the magic of the “barefoot moon.”
I have been going barefoot more often in the house. Most of the day actually. This is an improvement from before the diet. I can remember sometimes, especially after the bamboo floor was installed, liking the cool of it on my feet on the hot hot days, but I don’t remember FEELING my feet like this, or doing it all day, or being as steady on them as now. I can feel the whole pad of my foot.
Perhaps this started with trying on the Sketchers covered toe sandals in TriState back in April or May. And feeling how they just “fit” and knowing to buy them. Then walking in them with Romeo, being aware that I could feel my feet more in contact with the ground in them, and that that was actually good at this point. Realizing that is a departure from having to have the sole of my foot padded softly enough to cushion the impact of walking so my legs would not give out from the pain or the harshness of the impact. Some nerve thing certainly.
Now that I think of it, I noticed it this winter, too, in that I cannot wear the old Doc Martin boots that once, years ago, were indispensable to me. I could not walk around without them and needed the weight. Like moon boots almost, their weight holding me to the ground because I could not hold myself there. But last winter I could not wear them. Too heavy. And the heaviness tired my legs out. I preferred the black boots in order to feel my feet better. But I suspect even those will be too stiff or confining next winter. It will be interesting to see what develops as the seasons change.
Back to my bare feet: feeling them in my sandals, and realizing that my feet were actually less tired after a walk with the lightness of the sandals and the closeness of my feet to the ground, and how they supported that, I realized I was less tired after walking. Then it got hot and I needed to take the shoes off. I was worried that in taking them off I would set off the pins and needles from walking on the cool floor that occurred last Winter when the floor was cold. And how I had to have thin socks on to counteract that and keep my skin at the right temperature to avoid setting them off.
But that didn’t happen. Only mildly. In fact those pins and needles and leg jerking are milder altogether. So much so, or in such a way, a quality, I guess I should say, that I wonder if they are a corollary for the nerve endings to the feeling of a bone bruise healing in bones. And that sore-all-over fibromyalgia-type feeling might be a corollary for the musculature and fascia? The bottoms of my feet and all parts of them are sore or get sore from walking on the bamboo. But it is also tolerable, and they get stronger from it, too, in that I can feel the definition of my feet and their connection to my lower leg up to my knee, that they DO connect. I thought of that young African American woman, can’t think of her name, that has MS that moved to Portland who used to work at the co-op. And how we talked about making your legs move but not really feeling them. And that all this discomfort I’m experiencing with soreness, pins and needles, if not pushed too far, is a marker for slow slow healing and strengthening, as less inflammation continues to occur as a result of the diet. And is improvement possible? It may be so, even if there are no numbers to measure it with.
Then the other night I was picking berries before walking to the game. And I still had to water. Rather than go in to change shoes, so I wouldn’t get the sketchers too wet, something suggested to me that I should just take them off and water barefoot. I was a little hesitant to, remembering how some of the sharp grass and weeds had hurt my feet so in years past that I couldn’t manage it, but I decided to try. It felt delicious. My feet felt more like feet and less like blobs that I tried to move along or feel with. And it cooled them off walking on the cooling grass, which cooled me off. And made my feet in those sketchers even more comfortable. In a way it was like a massage. Even in the star garden it was okay. The next time I did it it was sitckier (as in more sharp stuff in there with the bricks and all), but it still feels therapeutic. Even getting poked by a sharp stick is resolving more smoothly than it used to. A gestault slowiy emerging in the “right” direction.
It seems like it might be helping the overall body soreness for the feet to be waking up and connecting to the rest of me. We’ll see. . .it is fun to go barefoot again outside, even for a little while, in the cool of the evening. Makes me feel like a kid again! Often, these days, something happens, some sensation, and I feel “young” again—but firmly in my present self. This must be part of healing, too.
I’m more sore today from my activity level yesterday (Romeo, market, garden, co-op), so I need to do less. But it seems to peak at a slightly and slightly less acute place very slowly, as time goes on. It’s certainly not at the peak it was last summer at this time, as I was healing from falling, or any time last Winter even. It kind of even sort of resolves just from sleeping or resting. There’s a changing of the guard taking place in that equation. The laying still is needed, yet it produces stiffness and soreness all over, as the nerves “catch up” from the activity level, but then it goes in the other direction. I can sometimes feeling the “guard” changing at some point in the night when I get up to go the bathroom. It’s very interesting.
I no longer call this way of eating “the diet.” It’s simply the way I eat. The black boots I referred to are long gone, indeed too stiff for the plasticity of my feet and their ability to feel the ground, even when it’s icy. I no longer have leg jerking or pins and needles when I walk with bare feet on my floor. I no longer have leg jerking at all. When they occur, the pins and needles are fleeting, not entrenched or acutely painful. At the time I wrote the preceding journal entry, I did not yet have a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. Yet with or without the diagnosis, the fibromyalgia symptoms are far less immobilizing for me than they once were. The exaggerated soreness from stiffness or some kind of impact like a bump or a fall is mostly only temporary now, just as it is for many people who have been active. It rarely settles in to stay as it once did, sometimes for weeks, unable to resolve itself. Improvements not only have been possible, they have happened, and continue to happen. The list of 3 things that I was tired from (walking Romeo, Farmer’s market, garden, co-op) now seems rather short. The gestault did indeed keep emerging in the right direction, aided by refinements in how I chose to eat. And I still feel “young”; often more so, it seems, than I did when I actually was young.
I am in my bare feet as I write this. Come join me, if you can. Let your bare feet do the walking and the “talking” to your world for a little while. Find one of the last dandelions on the lawn. Maybe make a wish. Feel young again.