A to Z Challenge: Letter W for Washing (Feet)

You will believe this more as you age, but truth is that something as simple as foot care gets really difficult when you can no longer bend over and get close to your feet. Problem feet should go to a podiatrist, but most elderly people, like my mom and my aunt, can be cared for at home quite easily. I soak their feet for a few minutes in a basin of warm soapy water (and I always hear “oh, that feels so good!”) then gently clean under the nails and clip them. I finish with a foot and lower leg rub with lotion. If you’ve ever had a pedicure, that’s basically what it is, without the polish.

Your person’s feet are pretty important and it is good practice to look at them carefully. The best time is when you are washing them. Look between toes for cracks that indicate fungal infection, which is easily treated. Check heel and ball of each foot for callus buildup and remove some of that dead skin with pumice stone. Toenails that get too long are like having little daggers on the feet. They get caught on pant legs, wear holes in socks and even cause bloody scratches on legs. That’s when I usually get requests for some foot care.

Circulation is often poor in the lower extremities which leaves feet open for pressure sores on the heel and other bony parts. I know what it’s like when I start to get a blister from shoes that rub, or when I stub a toe and rip a nail off. It hurts, but your elderly person may not even feel the pain if they have neuropathy. It is a tragedy when an injury progresses to an infection, or even worse, to gangrene. Good caregiving means catching these problems early (even better, preventing them).

There is a surprisingly spiritual side to taking care of feet, which usually rank low on the list of body parts that get cared for. It’s an act of service to wash and care for another person’s feet, as Jesus did, recorded in the Bible. It’s also kind of hard to let someone do such a common, lowly act for you, which is how Peter felt when Jesus did it for him. Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t help but think of that when I’m helping someone in that way.

Another benefit I’ve noticed, as I sit on the floor with someone’s foot in my lap (I do it that way but you can be a bit more professional if you want). My people talk to me. There’s something that happens with caring touch that makes others feel safe, and open. Maybe it’s just because they know I’m an audience that won’t be jumping up and running away any time soon. Talking is therapy. It is good and requires nothing but that I listen.

Caregiving for other’s feet has made me aware of how important my own feet are to me. I have to take care of them if I want to be mobile. Yours are important to you, so take some time and give them some care, caregiver.

These are actually my feet and I am proud to have all my toenails grown back after losing some of them on last year’s Grand Canyon hike. It takes a long time!

Day One and Counting

The real me is a farm girl, and not so much the kind that sets apple pies to cool on the windowsill, more likely the kind that has a close affinity to dirt. Dirt ends up in my hair, on my face, my clothing, my feet and under my nails. It’s not that I love dirt (and I do clean up fairly often) but that I can’t seem to get away from it. I accommodate this proclivity in several ways.

For one, I almost never wear white, and I’m a bit afraid of light colors. They invite soil. A white shirt is just waiting for spaghetti sauce. Wear white pants and it won’t be long before I sit on something I shouldn’t. It isn’t worth it, so I wear a lot of earth colors. And I rarely buy a piece of clothing that costs more than twenty dollars. Throwing away a designer priced T-shirt with a weird blob of something on the front is sooooo painful. And contrary to some reports, Oxy Clean does not cure everything with a stain.

I also have opted for a no-frill hair cut that can be washed often and pretty much left to dry on it’s own. It is my answer to Florida humidity and bushy (not really straight, not really curly), kinky hair. I never wash my hair in the morning because I know if I go outside I will be sweaty and unkept in a matter of minutes. Unless I shackle myself to a chair inside I will need at least one shower later, when it’s safe to clean up.

And I don’t do manicures and pedicures. True, I live in sandal land and am insanely jealous of people with beautiful feet on display in their beautiful shoes. But I have trouble pulling it off. It would be easier now that it’s trendy to go with black or brown polish (eew…) but I rarely get past the stage where you have to let it dry. And the fact that my feet are so far away from my eyes that I can’t see them very well is a mixed blessing.

And manicures? My excuse since 8th grade was Miss Varien the piano teacher telling me to cut my nails short or else forget playing piano. After that it was the nursing profession that claimed a whole army of bacteria lived under fingernails and polish. Did we want our patients to die on account of our vanity? No we didn’t.

Well, the person who invited me to an online Jamberry party was clueless about all of this. And since I didn’t know what Jamberry was (I love jam, I love berries, what could go wrong?) I signed up. This sweet girl was thinking of me in her circle of friends and I need all the friends I can get. Imagine my surprise upon finding out it’s all about manicures and pedicures. For a week I learned the language, listened to the stories, watched the videos and entered the contests. By the end of the party I started thinking about the decorative plastic film (think contact paper) as armor for my almost nonexistent fingernails. Not only did I end up buying to support my sweet friend but for the second time in my life I won a contest and got a free sheet of Jamberry thingies to apply to my fingers and toes.

It’s a holiday weekend. I’m going to relax and be a lady (of leisure). I’m going to avoid harsh chemicals, dirt of all kinds (yeah, right…) and abrasive activities and see if my manicure can live up to expectations. Two weeks sounds kind of impossible but here we go, day 1 and counting…

This is not really me, but sometimes it's kind of nice to be someone else...
This is not really me, but sometimes it’s kind of nice to be someone else…