For this week's post of In Her Shoes where we will be profiling the stories of real women who wear ANYI LU, we talked with Robin H. Williams. Ms. Williams suffers from a condition called Diabetic Neuropathy which involves damage to the nerve cells in the legs causing difficulty walking. We are honored to share her courageous story.
Would you mind telling us a bit about yourself: what you do, your interests?
My name is Robin H. Williams and I am a 52 year old 5th grade teacher. I have been teaching for 28 years. I am a linguist, as I speak five languages fluently: Portuguese, French, Spanish, Italian and English of course! I sing professionally and have recorded a gospel single CD. I love to write poetry and to entertain others with stories. I belong to several community service organizations and help raise funds for scholarships and worthy programs. I love to travel, read, cook, go to the theatre and movies and entertain guests. Until I was diagnosed with Diabetic Neuropathy, I liked to play tennis and go jogging. I've learned that if you can't run, take up your cane and walk briskly, so this is what I now do!
Would you mind telling us a bit about Diabetic Neuropathy?
I have diabetic neuropathy and it is nerve damage to the nerve cells in my legs. I was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes when I had my third child in July of 2006. It was a high risk pregnancy mixed with gestational diabetes and high blood pressure, which left me on bed rest for the duration of my pregnancy. When I finally gave birth, which was an emergency c-section, the doctors noticed that the diabetes did not go away. I was treated and the diabetes was controlled with medication. I later had a B12 deficiency, that combined with the diabetes, and the result was nerve damage in my legs. I woke up one morning and just could not walk. It was very scary, because at my 50th birthday celebration in July 2012, I was dancing all night on high heels, and that October, I woke up and could not walk without holding on to a wall. I went to several neurologists and specialist and specialist, but there was nothing they could do for me. I was not in pain, but I suffered from an imbalance when I walked. It was like constantly walking on an ice skating ring. I did several weeks of physical therapy, but the damage to the nerve cells could not be reversed.
How has this condition affected your life?
The effect of the Diabetic Neuropathy has changed my life considerably, but not my outlook on life. I need a cane to walk, but with exercise I continue to make my legs stronger. It hasn't stopped me from going where I want to go and doing the things that I love to do. Yes, I need to travel with a cane, but I just make it an extension of myself and keep it moving!
You’ve mentioned the Tulip was comfortable for you. What about it worked where other shoes had not?
I've always loved wearing heels, especially with a sexy dress, and I became tired of having to wear flats all the time. I was noticing that the cells in my legs were just not going to repair themselves as fast as I would like, if ever. The specialists and doctors told me I would probably never walk in heels ever again, but I knew I would not let that dissuade me. I figured if I have to walk with a cane, then I would also walk in a pair of shoes that would make me happy. I wanted a special pair of shoes for Mother's Day. I knew I wanted to feel secure, with a sensible heel that would give me some sort of balance when I stood up; would help me feel a grip on the floor; and still be a sexy shoe with some pizzazz. While waiting for my daughter to get her hair done at a salon, my youngest son and I went to Nordstrom to kill some time. I explained what I wanted to the shoe salesman and he said he had just the right kind of shoe for me. He asked if I had ever heard of the designer Anyi Lu and I said no, so he started explaining to me all about her shoes and how she designs them. I tried on a pair and almost cried because I felt VERY secure in them!!! I was able to walk around the carpeted shoe floor without having to hold my cane. However, the most exciting point came when my seven year old son said, "Mommy, you look great in those shoes–daddy would want you to have them for Mother's Day!" It was a "No Brainer" I purchased the shoes and have been delighted ever since. I've received constant compliments on them and plan to purchase a few more pairs, but I will do that in moderation;-)
What would you like people to take away from your experience?
I would like people to recognize that you never have to give up style for comfort. The Tulip shoe is a practical, yet very sexy shoe. The fact that it has no seams makes it very sturdy and it hugs my foot like a glove, which is very necessary for me. The grip, which is built in under the shoe, make skidding impossible, which is also very important to me. I can honestly say I feel more secure in this pair of shoes than I do in my sneakers, but I am still sensible. When I have to walk in a large open area, I still use my cane. However, when I am in a smaller area, I feel confident enough to walk without my cane. Tomorrow I will escort my class to their Moving Up/Graduation Ceremony, it is a long walk from my classroom to the auditorium and I plan to wear my Tulips. Yes, I'll have to use my cane, but I'll walk with grace, style and confidence knowing that shoes will not fail me!!!
If you would like to be considered for our In Her Shoes series or know of a woman you think should be considered, please email Kristen at email@example.com.