Size 11’s

Since I was 16 my shoe size has been 10 (UK size). For the first couple of years, that was big, but then everyone else caught up and ever since it has been normal. So all my shoes are size 10. Every single one of them.

With the morphine and the chemo, my feet swelled. Like balloons. As the doctor explained, I was being less active, and the body had less energy for pumping everything up from feet to torso, so there the fluids sat. This was a bit upsetting. I’ve always done quite a lot of running, and thought my legs and feet were my best feature, aesthetically speaking, but now, to look down at them was to look down on two slovenly slugs. And a practical problem arose when, after a longish period of not getting out of the front door at all, I decided I was due for exercise, and wanted a walk round the block. So I went to put my shoes on. They wouldn’t fit. Another pair. They wouldn’t fit. And another pair. They wouldn’t fit either.

Ah no – so I couldn’t go for a walk! But that was too awful, like being in prison. Walk round the block in slippers? Not good, they were tight too and it was cold and wet. Go and buy some? Yes but – not immediately, the shops were not open, and also I’d need some footwear to go to the shops in. (Shoes are one thing I’m reluctant to buy online. You really do need to check they are comfortable.) Lateral thinking required.

I have some tall neighbours. Borrow! Mick is tall. So I asked “what shoe size are you?” “Ten.” Bother.

Jamie is also tall. So I asked him. This time – 11! Bingo! They fitted a treat. A week of Jamie’s trainers, a trip to the shops, and now I have my very own size 11’s!

Yesterday was Round 4 of chemo.  All went fine, though Time flew by as the friend who was visiting told me of her undercover adventures investigating slavery on the prawn ships of the South China Sea, (like prisons themselves, enormous and not coming in to land for years on end) and the Burmese refugees in Thailand who get press-ganged into manning them.  (No papers, no legal status, it’s easy for them to disappear.)  She wore a James-Bond-style button videocamera as she interviewed the middlemen…

People have warned me that the exhaustion, from chemo, is cumulative. I slept through from 4pm when I got home from the hospital, til 2am this morning.  So then I was up and about, checking email, eating, and now, at 8am, I’m ready to go back to bed again!

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Adam Kilgarriff

I'm a scientist who has set up and runs a small company. I'm married (to Gill Lamden) with three children, Boris (22), Maddie (18) and Raffie (9) (as at today, 28 January 2015, in case I forget to update!) We live in Brighton, UK. Last November (2014) I found I had bowel cancer (stage 5; not curable; only 'manageable'). We've been adjusting to that since (and it is what provoked me to start the blog) My scientific area is linguistics, with my specialisms being corpus linguistics, computational linguistics, and lexicography - or, best of all, the intersection of all three. Since 2004, my company, Lexical Computing Ltd., has been providing a web service, the Sketch Engine, to linguists and lexicographers wanting to find out about words, using corpus-driven methods. Customers include Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, Collins, Macmillan, Le Robert, Dictionary.com and around a hundred universities worldwide.

9 thoughts on “Size 11’s”

  1. Thanks for the update Adam – hope the swelling goes down eventually. I was interested in your comment about size 10 shoes as my son Michael (12) takes that size (I wear size 5 – mostly for width as I fit 4.5 if they are wide enough which they usually aren’t) and is looking to be tall – at 5ft 7.5 ins he now towers over me by six inches. I wonder what shoe size he will be at 16?!

  2. I’m tall (188 cm) but also size 10, or even a 9 if the shoe is foot shaped
    we could use Adam’s blog to see if there is any correlation between height and shoe size
    little guys (and gals) with big feet here’s your chance to do some science
    it’s the 21st century so by now someone should have designed the universal shoe – one size fits all
    come to think of it, those mail order catalogues that drop onto the doormat probably offer such a shoe – Velcro and all
    (all trade marks acknowledged – Velcro is a trade mark, not the name of the product)

  3. Now that you have your own personal shoes and some time to spend home, maybe you’ll like to go to your favorite library and discover one of those Ken Follett’s book from “The Century Trilogy” I’ve so enjoyed.
    Lucky You ! (if you haven’t read one already…)

    Thank you for your updates, hope you’ll be on your 10 sized feet soon !

  4. Hi Adam. Loved your blog. I ought to confirm that I can guarantee a wide selection of broken-in size 11 shoes for any forthcoming visits to Oxfordshire. Might be safer to bring your own trainers though.

  5. A beautifully written blog, Adam.
    Perhaps you could facilitate a shoe exchange with your fellow patients – there could be a former size 9 in need of your currently unused size 10’s!
    Hope it’s a temporary thing and that you’re back in your size 10’s soon.
    Lots of love.

  6. Hi Adam, I like reading your blog and I do admire your courage. Stay strong and keep walking :-) by the way, do you know Andy from headspace.com

  7. Adam , my darling . Not sure if this helps but- having weird RA feet that nothing fits well or/ is nastily orthopaedic one of my best finds are decathlon snow boots. Lovely thermal linings, good grip for slippery conditions and with Velcro fastenings so good adjustment possible. take care and love to all the family .

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