MY SHOE STORY
Certainly no one would describe me as any kind of shoe aficionado – certainly not in the traditional female style. Recently, someone commented about the flip-flops I was wearing in 60 degree weather. I immediately remarked that I would commonly wear flops in 20-30 degree weather back in my days in Portland, OR. I am certainly no fan of cold weather, but I simply don’t prefer to confine my feet in cramped up “fashionable” – or even what would be considered “standard” shoes.
While I did attempt to conform to some socially acceptable standards of footwear for Southern Ladies, by high school I was already wearing tennis shoes when some custom dictated I wear a dress (which I still opposed, but that is an entirely different story). I guess my footwear evolved over the years… I first refused the pointy confined flats and heels, then even the box shaped dress shoes. I pretty much just wore tennis shoes – if I wore shoes at all. In college, I was known to have shoes in various places (my dorm room, the gym, my car) – just not on my feet. Instead, I ran around barefoot in between those places. I also took to jogging barefoot – even in the winter. My flip-flop love really started then. Many of my friends were athletes and wore those old school Adidas flops. I loved them.
Once I got to medical school, I again tried to conform somewhat to more professional looking shoes, but I quickly reverted back to something more comfortable: clogs. At that time a decent portion of the non-physician staff were already wearing them, but it was unheard of for those higher-than-thou traditional physicians. I didn’t care. Additionally, for several years from medical school through most of my residency across the country, the clogs I chose were either bright yellow or bright orange. In one hospital I spent a year being described as “the resident with the duck shoes.” I’m not much of a morning person, so those bright colors perked me up when I had to get up at 4 AM to go to the hospital to start a shift that may last 36+ hours. (Obviously, this was before the “80 hour work week” mandate.)
By the time I started my first “paying” job – that is, one that paid more than my medical school debt and rent – I switched to soccer kicks. Mostly, I preferred Pumas and Adidas, but I had quite a variety. Perhaps it was because I had also decided to ditch my traditional white doctor’s coat – which I found pompous AND confining (plus… blood and betadine and everything else shows up like a neon sign on those whites). Instead I wore track jackets over my scrubs. I had an impressive array of those as well, and they could at least hide the stains even if all manner of stain-busters failed to remove them completely.
The hospital staff I worked with from the security guards to physicians to radiology techs to the ultimate of importance, the nurses, all accepted this unique uniform after only a few days to weeks of working with me. On the other hand, the appendicitis or diverticulitis patient I had just met in the Emergency Department who I was about to rush to the Operating Room where I would be cutting them open… they took a li’l more convincing. It took a few minutes of getting to know me before they would trust the doctor that looked more like an 18 year old soccer player that was rushing between traumas, the ICU, and the OR while constantly assuring them it would be ok. (Obviously, my trauma patients and critical care patients didn’t need convincing as they were either drunk, drugged or comatose.) After all the surgeries and care given, the patients and their families didn’t care what I wore.
So, despite it all, my unusual shoe choices became irrelevant amongst friends, colleagues, patients and family as they all came to accept it as … well… as is.
And that’s my shoe story.