In her book, “Call the Midwife” (Merton Books, 2002), Jennifer Worth, who was a nurse midwife in the East End of London, England in the 1950’s, introduces us to an unforgettable woman called Mrs. Jenkins. Mrs. Jenkins was extremely deprived and had lived in the Workhouse with her children. She had given birth to many children but one by one they died. She was so poor that when one of her children died, she put the small body into an orange crate and let it float away in the River Thames. As an elderly woman she was living in a room on the top floor of a warehouse which had a hole in the roof and an outhouse in the yard below. She used to shuffle around the Docklands in a pair of work boots. When Nurse Jenny and Sister Evangelina finally persuaded Mrs. Jenkins to have a bath and they removed the boots, they were horrified at the condition of Mrs. Jenkins’ feet and nails.
“As the boot came off, an extraordinary sight met my eyes. Her toenails were about eight to twelve inches long, and up to one inch thick. They were twisted and bent, curling over and under each other, many of the toes bleeding and suppurating at the nail-bed. The smell was horrible. Her feet were in a terrible condition. How had she managed to tramp all over Poplar for so many years with feet like that?”
This is a true story from many years ago but the image is one that is hard to forget. Luckily in this day and age, we are more knowledgeable about foot care and foot hygiene, although from time to time we see a tough case. It is so important to take care of our feet, especially if we are older, or diabetic, or obese, or any number of other things.
In our Worn Doorstep we are so lucky to have a wonderful friend whom we affectionately refer to as “Julia the Foot Lady” (as in, “It’s time to call Julia the Foot Lady!”) Julia is an RN (only partially retired) who does house calls, and soothes and beautifies and takes care of the feet of our clients. We are so grateful to have her expertise and friendship.
If you are not lucky enough to have a Julia the Foot Lady in your life, you can take care of your feet yourself by following her simple rules. Keep your feet clean and soak them every once in a while and give your nails a good clipping. Use a pumice stone on any calluses or nubbins of hard skin. Rub a bit of Vaseline on your feet at bedtime, pull on some socks and dorm bien!
The support we give our clients at home is enriched by knowing lovely people like Julia the Foot Lady.