My Prada high heels were the best thing in my closet. They had that sweet Italian leather scent that only a woman would know. Purchased at a second-hand store, they were a soft light-brown suede wedge that made my calves look runway ready. Even my five-foot-one fairy frame seemed tall and sultry in those heels. I could tell they had been gently worn, but fiercely loved, by their previous owner. Yet, I didn’t care. Just like a chick flick, it was love at first sight.
The day I bought them is just as vivid in my memory as the last day I wore them. I was shopping at Buffalo Exchange with a close friend of mine when she pulled them off a shelf at the far end of the store. By the time she was able to try on the too-small suede heels, she had convinced even me that $80 was beyond worth it for the strappy ankle breakers. I remember her looking at me over her shoulder and saying, “Maybe they’ll fit your tiny feet.” So, they were swiftly stolen from my friend Janel and placed happily into my black mesh shopping bag.
Like liquid silk, I had never felt a shoe so soft and so comfortable.
I wore those shoes pretty much every day that summer. It was easy considering wedges can be worn with pretty much everything. My all-time favorite outfit was a floor-length, bright-white flowing skirt, with my red bathing suit’s halter top. Topped off with a wide-brimmed hat and I was ready for summer! Arizona summers are unforgiving in their dry heat, but one thing is for certain: It feels great on the joints. While I had numerous stomach and skin issues, I was nowhere near looking for a diagnosis at that time in my life.
My first arthritis flare in my feet came five winters later while living in Redondo Beach, Calif. There wasn’t a single day that I was actually warm there. The forecast was typically gray, cold and gloomy. I would wear my suede beauties when I could, but 12-hour shifts, six days a week, for five years? Yeah, they slowly slid to the back of my closet.
“Time to bust out the Pradas, ladies.”
Those shoes became so much more than just a “good pair of high heels” or a social status. They became a literal physical symbol for when I was feeling well enough for an evening out with my friends. “Time to bust out the Pradas, ladies!” we would yell. But those nights became fewer and fewer, until one night I tried them on and they were so tight and uncomfortable that before I could get the second one on, I knew I would never wear them again. So, the shoes were moved from the back of the closet to an old shoebox on the top shelf. Printed neatly were the words, Stolen by Lupus, written in black Sharpie on masking tape.
Stolen By lupus….
I don’t know why I labeled it that way. I am not entirely sure whether it was to remind myself of what my old life used to be like, or to pretend I still had it. Obviously, there was a side platter of anger to go with my denial.
Sometimes I like to think that maybe the previous owner had something similar to lupus. That maybe those Pradas moved all over her closet, too. And maybe one day her heart was broken because she had to give them away.
In the end, while we don’t get to keep them for long, their message stays with us forever. There are parts of me that I didn’t know were missing until I was diagnosed with lupus. I realize now I don’t need those things to be me. In fact, I am not missing anything at all.
Note: Lupus News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Lupus News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to lupus.