​Ringing in 2023 with New Boots

Posted by Heather Krill in Life After Paralysis on January 04, 2023 # Lifestyle

Krill familyTo wish someone a "Happy New Year" is to send hope, love, and good health into 2023. It is also a time to reflect on the previous year, perhaps for some, to remember the trips taken, the friends lost to illness or accident, or the milestones made up of highlights and disappointments. All the good and all the bad and all the in-betweens contribute to what makes up the year. We are optimists in our family, so we share that with you out there in the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation world. 2023 will undoubtedly bring its own set of challenges, but we are ready because Geoff has new boots for his feet, a good foundation for anyone who spends a lot of time outdoors in the winter.

For our family, it will be the year Geoff received a new pair of snow boots and a new mountain bike with E assist, thanks to a few different grants (see a future separate blog on this). Both items replaced previous versions he had owned and loved for over 25 years, since when he was first paralyzed. His first mountain bike gave him legs again, and those boots kept his toes warmed all those years when he was learning to live without feeling his feet. The boots were well-worn, albeit a little packed out. They have been with Geoff to different continents for skiing. The rubber has been worn, the leather scarred, but they have protected his feet for almost three decades. He kept putting off the purchase of new ones, worried that they would never measure up to the quality he had been lucky enough to maintain all these years.

And like with any kind of new piece of equipment, there is all the anxiety about how they would fit and how his body would "feel" them without being able to send him the right signals. Would they rub the wrong way? Would he get a hot spot which later turned into a pressure sore? Would they be warm enough for the extremely cold temperatures he endures while out snow for hours at length? Geoff was anxious about the change, but he also recognized that the time had truly come for him to transition to something new-- despite the risk to his toes.

Geoff

He has spent years researching off and on as the Merrill company no longer makes the boots he bought decades ago, and then this year, he allowed his parents to pull the laces, so to speak, with the purchase. One week into those boots, and so far, so good. His toes appear to be warm at the end of long days of the vacation week at Loon Mountain, where he is the snow sports training director. He won't let me get rid of the old ones, though, because you know... Just in case. Maybe he will keep one pair at work and one pair at home. Maybe he just isn't ready to part with the boots that let him ski again after being paralyzed at 25 years old.

However, the irony is that this new bike and these new boots will see him into his old age. At 52, this will be his LAST bicycle (at least one for off-road), and if the last pair of boots lasted almost 30 years, we should do okay to get into our 80's with this new set. My wish, though, as someone grateful to have my health, is just to be able to have him alongside me wherever we go. Some boots were made for walking, and some were made strictly to keep one's feet warm while we roll through the years. May your boots be warm as you tackle 2023 with the same heart and energy as years passed. Happy New Year! Love, the Krills

Heather Ehrman Krill is a writer- wife- teacher-mom who lives in the White Mountains of NH with her husband, Geoff, a paraplegic and professional skier, and their two children, Carver and Greta who are 13 and 11 respectively. Please check out her novel True North, website www.heatherkrill.com, author FB page Heather Krill, and @heatherkrill1 on Twitter.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.