I see my podiatrist this week. It’s a good thing. Every couple of months, he rescues my feet from corns and tiny bits of calcium emerging from the tip of my right big toe. He also trims my toenails, which I can do for myself with a little difficulty, but still need help.
Scleroderma has caused the fat pads on my feet to recede significantly over the years, which makes it difficult to walk on hard surfaces. I really can’t go barefoot on our hardwood floors without discomfort. It feels like walking on bones. That lack of natural padding also makes corns more of an issue, especially when they form over joints.
Since last summer, I’ve been trying to manage a particularly annoying corn that keeps reforming over the metatarsal head of my fifth toe on the bottom of my left foot. Even with orthopedic foam inserts in my shoes—a necessity to cushion the impact of walking—I find myself rolling my left foot toward my instep, to avoid the feeling of stepping on a pebble. This places extra pressure on the metatarsal head under my big toe, which is also uncomfortable, and I end up walking with a slight limp and a rolling gate that aggravates other joints and my back.
It’s amazing how something so tiny can make it so much harder to get around. I find myself avoiding my neighborhood walks, lately, because of all this. And that means I get less aerobic exercise, and my weight starts creeping up again. If I don’t walk, I don’t sleep as well. And so on.
I’ve tried corn plasters and salicylic acid drops, which help a bit, but I can never fully extract the corn myself. Which is why I’m glad to be seeing my podiatrist this week. I’m hoping he can help me to figure out a way to keep the corn from reforming, although he’s told me recurring corns are a really common issue for his scleroderma patients.
My other possible solution is to cut away some of the foam in my left insert, essentially to make a little doughnut hole right where my corn touches it—kind of like a built-in corn cushion.
Living with scleroderma is, in some ways, a never-ending series of problems to be solved. Even after 40 years of managing this disease, it continues to surprise me. And so, my goal is to keep one step ahead, before the little stuff turns into something even more complicated and difficult to manage.
Image: Christopher Burns