My name is Caroline, I’m eighteen years old, and I was born with club feet. My Mother tells me that as soon as I came into this world, the entire hospital room came to a silent halt. They told her that both of my feet were a little twisted, but that there wasn’t much to worry about. Of course, they were wrong.
My first doctor wrapped my feet and legs in casts, and eventually tried small infant braces, but nothing worked. Eventually, my parents got a second opinion and decided to go along with surgery. It had become the only option.
My surgery was successful, minus the curve of my ankles, long scar up my feet, and underdeveloped calves. As I got older, things were okay. I never really noticed anything different with me; I ran, I jumped, I walked. But I started to notice that people would treat me a little differently when I hit middle school. My friends’ parents would always take bench breaks when we went to amusement parks or museums, but despite my friends’ displeasure, their parents would remain adamant and give me a knowing smile. However, it would leave me stumped. I assumed everyone went to bed at night with achy feet. I didn’t understand the special treatment.
Two years ago, I decided to get a part-time job at a local grocery store, like many other high schoolers. I didn’t think much of it, in fact, the only thing I thought of was how nice it would be to have my own money. I was wrong.
After standing on my feet at a cash register for hours on end, I left the store that night in tears. My grandmother picked me up from the store and I threw myself into the backseat of the car, sobbing. My feet were swollen and throbbing, and when we got home, I had to resort to crawling around the house just to get around. Resting my feet would only cause them to ache more when I had to get back up. In those few hours, I realized why we would always take those bench breaks.
My Mother scheduled an appointment with a local foot doctor to see if he could do anything for my feet. His first reaction was: “This is the most mutated pair of feet I have ever seen. Forgive me for the strong word, but I’m shocked you can even walk!”
He then went on to tell me that my working at that grocery store was like trying to shove a square block into a triangle hole-it just didn’t work. I was wasting the time I had with my feet,and with that, he informed me that if I continued to go down the route I was on, I was going to lose most ability with my feet.
He took foam imprints of my feet and saddled my mother with a hefty bill for professional insoles. I wear them every day, to this day, but they do not help.
Right now, I have started my first semester as a Freshman at Appalachian State University — I have never felt pain so real in my entire life. My ankles give out when I go up and down stairs, I have constant shin splints, and my right foot is always limp. I have ten minutes between two classes three days a week, and the class I am getting to is on the fifth floor. There is one elevator, and it is known to get stuck. I took the stairs and, unfortunately, by floor four, I had to physically lift my legs from behind my knees just to get my foot on the next stair. My feet had become numbed deadweight, and my peers stared sympathetically as I practically dragged them down the hallway, frantically trying to be on time.
I am slowly trying to come to terms that college might not be something I can handle. At the end of August, I am either going to decide to stay, or go. I’m not sure what to do, and it is the scariest decision of my life. I feel like I am giving up, but I also don’t want to drag myself back to my dorm every day with swollen and tender feet. If there is any advice anyone could give me before my month is up, that would be wonderful.