Tabatha Deans

Bringing Integrity to the Written Word

My Tennis Shoes Saved My Life

We successfully moved into our new offices this week, and they are SWEET! As I was looking for things to hang around my new desk space, including favorite articles I’ve written, Kathy produced a yellowed copy of an editorial I wrote for the Taylorsville Eagle about 5 years ago. It’s one of my favorites but i didn’t have a copy of it until now. After reading it it’s amazing to me to see how far I’ve come. So here, for your reading enjoyment, is a reprint of “My Tennis Shoes saved my live.”

My Tennis Shoes Saved My life

By Tabatha Deans

The Taylorsville Eagle

 

            I think I paid ten dollars for my tennis shoes, maybe it was only six. It was five or six years ago, and I bought them at Payless Shoe Source. They were blue canvas with white soles. They were the fad when I was in high school, but I’d never had a pair myself. They were more a fashion tennis shoe than a walking shoe, but when I tried them on it felt like I was walking barefoot. They were comfortable and didn’t rub my feet anywhere, so I bought them and took them home.

            Not everyone thought my shoes were as trendy as I did, and my friends and family harassed me whenever I wore them, but over the next several years my shoes took me many places, both geographically and mentally. The only signs of wear on them were a few stains from desert mud that I’d walked through while camping in the desert. Goblin Valley in July was a bad idea, and my tennis shoes and I spent our days chasing the shade through the valley.

            I walked out of Corporate America in my tennis shoes, vowing never to sacrifice my life for the almighty dollar. I started pounding the pavement, looking for writing jobs and odd jobs. I had about a six month window to establish a regular income, but within months I was exhausted and not exactly well. I knew deep in my heart that something was wrong with me, I was always tired and I was beginning to lose weight. I pushed my ill thoughts aside and left for my first trip abroad. The trip had been planned for over a year, and I didn’t want to spoil it with bad news.

            I had to look at my tennis shoes and grin when we were sprinting through the airport in Switzerland after being re-routed, and we only had 30 minutes to catch our connecting flight. One of my traveling companions was wearing new sandals that were causing blisters and extreme pain with each step she took. I’d almost worn my new shoes that morning when I left, but it didn’t seem fair to my trusty tennis shoes. So I dug them out of the bottom of my suitcase where I’d packed them, feeling guilty for hiding them away. They didn’t let me down. When we finally arrived in Malage, Spain, I sprinkled the inside of my shoes with baby powder, and my feet felt fresh and ready for our adventure.

            We walked all over Costa Del Sol, strolling on beaches, hiking to villages, and wandering through markets and shops. We toured Gibraltar and the caves of St. Michaels, and spent hours enjoying Alhambra Palace in Granada, wandering the endless gardens. We hiked through the village above Morocco, and ran for the bus when the peddlers hounded us to buy more of their trinkets. We danced in the local pub, and when I drank too much Sangria wine, my shoes were my focal point as I held my head in my hands and tried not to be sick.

            We returned to the states, via new York, just one day before the twin towers fell. Still suffering from jet lag and recovering from two weeks abroad, I felt my world go into a tailspin. I was emotional and tired all the time, and I’d lost 30 pounds. I ate all the time and I was always thirsty. My shoes were beginning to show signs of wear on the heels, from dragging myself through every day, trying to deny anything was wrong. I knew what was wrong with me, and I finally went to get the diagnosis. I had diabetes.

            My diagnosis was a blur of doctors, nurses and dietitians with endless instruction and restrictions, and when I finally walked out of the hospital, I sat down on the beach outside. Again I looked down at my shoes as I held my head in my hands. I felt my world collapsing, and I stared at my shoes for a long time, taking comfort in their memories, and avoiding thinking about my health.

            As I sifted through the literature and learned more about my disease, I was overwhelmed with the lifestyle changes that were necessary. I was afraid of the medical stuff like needles and insulin and schedules, but I knew the one thing I could control was exercise. I grabbed my trusty shoes and headed for the Jordan Parkway.

            Over the next six months I focused on my health. Although there were admittedly bad days, if I had exercised and eaten well during the day, I considered the day a success. I began to enjoy walking, and when I rented out the basement to help pay the mortgage, my teenage daughter began joining me to get out of the house.

            We talked about a lot of things while we were walking. We talked about life and teenage boys, clothes and politics. Our walks became longer, and our talks deeper. We discussed the trials of growing into adulthood, and how important our daily decisions are. I must have put more than a hundred miles on my tennis shoes during those months, sometimes feeling like I was walking forward, other times feeling like I was running away.

            Overall both of us became happier and with each daily walk I felt healther. My blood sugar was steadier, and the effects of my exercise were paying off. During one of our walks my daughter turned serious for a moment and said, “Mom, if you hadn’t started exercising, you could be dead.” It was a revelation for both of us, and for the first time since she was six-years-old, we held hands as we walked back to the trailhead.

            Almost two years later I’m still healthy and couldn’t begin to count the miles my shoes and I have been through together. They’re showing a little more wear now, having just returned from a 4,000 mile bus trip across the country and back. The threads are wearing where the joint above my little toe rubs, and the denim has turned to a dirty blue. I thought about retiring them before the road trip, and even bought a fancy pair of walking shoes to break in. But as I headed to my closet to ceremoniously retire the best shoes I’ve ever owned, I remembered everywhere we’ve been together, and the fact that never, in all this time, have they ever hurt my feet.

            Needless to say the new walking shoes never made it out of their box, and my trusty shoes went across the country and back again. My family and friends have stopped teasing me about my shoes, they view them as part of who I am. In fact, more strangers are starting to mention the character of my shoes, to which I respond with, “Let me tell you a little story about these shoes…

October 10, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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