October 19, 2014

Allergic to the Shoes on One's Feet - The Continuing Search

The crocs shoes did not work out. They were too loose, made my feet chaff and had virtually no breath ability. They had no support, which I already knew before ordering given they were slip ons, but I thought better of using them even for just walking around the house. I sent them back to the company on Friday. I will still try their shower sandals, which for some reason have been stuck at a post office in Atlanta these past two weeks. Something to investigate for sure.

The Gabor shoes did not work out either. Although a very stylish and well made shoe, they are really more of a dress shoe with their narrow width and low heel. They might be fine for someone with narrow feet that aren’t fraught with orthopedic problems. But with feet that are extra wide with a weak right ankle and right tendonitis they were decidedly impractical for me. I sent them back on Friday.

The hunt for the hypoallergenic shoe that will also accommodate my frail pronate duck feet continues. I went back to my allergy list that I obtained from the test results and wrote out the list of chemicals found in shoes that I am allergic to. The list was seventy-one items long! This would be a challenge indeed. It soon became apparent that I would have to either resort to shoes that are still hand sewn, thereby skipping the use of the resins and adhesives that I am allergic to, or find a good support shoe that has the least amount of the offending chemicals in it and find good barrier socks and a latex free orthotic insole.

There still are companies in the United States that are small, family run businesses that craft hand sewn shoes. They are pricey, generally beginning in the upper $400 range for one pair. The less expensive hand sewn alternatives that some of these companies make are mocassins. The companies I had found thus far are; Rancourt shoes, Sebago, The Eastland shoe company, and the Feit shoe company. Such beautiful shoes these companies make! I have no problem with their price - the price reflects what the value of a handcrafted shoe is. My problem is my budget. But these may be something worth saving up for some day. I only chatted with the folks at Sebago and they were delightful. I may call the rest just to talk briefly about their craft. The art of shoe making in general interests me as an artist, but in particular because I am descended from a long line of Welsh shoe makers on my mother’s side. Talking with these shoe makers is like a homecoming. Since my foot problems preclude the use of a mocassin I would be obliged to purchase a very pricey shoe indeed.

The stop gap measure became one of finding something more economical and expedient for the near future - especially since I am trying to make do with a makeshift bubble-wrap insole of my own design that I have been using to replace the latex insoles that I was allergic to. The tiny explosions coming from my shoes as I walk make walking into public, government run facilities prohibitive. Bubble wrap insoles aren’t working out too well. I did find latex free, EVA made insoles from The Insole Store which will ship out tomorrow.  I started the above ink and color pencil drawing of a shoe while I was waiting on-line with them.

Barrier socks, made for people with allergies to latex and leather adhesives, are available from Alpretec, manufactured in Italy. They cost $65.00 each and they do ship from Italy. They are unfortunately not manufactured anywhere in the U.S. Perhaps that may change one day as the demand for allergy free good increases. I will contact a few allergy supply stores and suggest that they consider having these available if possible.

After countless hours of searching, I did find a 6" high boot made by LL Bean in Maine that was only $99.00 ($89.00 if you get their credit card) with a sewn leather on the top and polypropylene on the bottom. The sole is rubber but that may simply be unavoidable in just about any shoe today -although some hand sewns have leather soles for a premium price. The interior of the boot is lined with allergy free materials. So I decided to have a go with this.

The customer service at LL Bean was excellent and very helpful. To my surprise they did not shun the question about the chemicals used in their adhesives and will compile a list that will be ready in two weeks. My guess is that it will have at least some of the seventy-one aforementioned chemicals on it. But with so many internal barriers that might not be too much of a problem. Besides, after reading through my shoe allergy literature more carefully, I found that shoe allergies can be staved off to an extent by keeping shoes and feet as dry as possible. The allergens from the chemicals used in the adhesives leach out with moisture. I found to my dismay that the boots I ordered from LL Bean are out of stock and won’t be shipped out until December 4 when they have a supply again. Good thing my orthotics are on the way as my bubble wrap won’t hold out much longer! And I do believe it is making me itchy.

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