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I am a below knee amputee. More importantly, I am also Mommy to two boys, a very active eight year old (Robby) and an infant (Timmy). I have learned that being a parent with a disability can create some unusual and sometimes humorous situations. This blogger is available for hire! Let's talk and learn how a blog can expand your business.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Favorite Things

Little Timmy is smack dab in the middle of my favorite stage of babyhood. He can sit independently and entertain himself for minutes on end allowing me time to go to the bathroom or get another cup of coffee without a companion. I know that when I put him in the center of the floor, he will still be there when I come back. 

I absolutely adore this stage, but I know that it is fleeting. Timmy is eager to start crawling; he is only lacking the coordination to move. It won't be long before he figures it out, and with this discovery everything changes. 

We are woefully unprepared for baby mobility! I have banned Robby from teaching Timmy how to crawl hoping to stave off the skill as long as possible. It is only a matter of time before Timmy happens upon the method, and then there will be no stopping him. I had planned on digging out the baby gates over Scott's Christmas break, but the glint in Timmy's eyes has motivated me to move up my timeline. This weekend will be spent baby-proofing the house which I suspect will not be an easy task. 

In the next few weeks everything is about to change. Timmy will be moving around and getting into everything within reach. I'm fairly confident I won't have to renew my gym membership because just keeping up with him will be a work-out. He has a look of mischief about him, and judging from the way he hops, I suspect he is a daredevil as well. This little baby is going to keep me on my toes!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Stupid Puffs

Yesterday afternoon was nothing short of magical. Timmy and I listened and danced to Christmas carols all day while baking cookies. (Okay, I did most of the dancing but since he was strapped to my chest, I will count him as a participant.) By the time Scott and Robby came home, the house was filled with delicious aromas and an abundance of holiday cheer.

Sitting around the dining room table eating dinner, I felt overwhelmed with gratitude and joy. Robby was happily munching on and praising the roasted chicken. Between bites, Scott was talking about plans for the holiday, and Timmy was in his high chair, playing with some Gerber puffs.

Instantly my tranquil moment shattered. Timmy began to cough, and within seconds he was gasping for air. He was drooling prolifically, and suddenly his coloring changed. He turned pink, then red, and then purple. He looked like a little plum! The revelation that he was choking was one of the scariest moments of my life.

Without thinking I scooped him out of his high chair, put his back against my chest and pushed upward on his stomach. At first nothing happened, so I did it again. I have never been so relieved to hear him cough! After a few more gasps for air and coughing, the remnants of a Gerber puff was deposited on my shoulder. 

He choked on the food product geared towards a child of both his age and development. The puff canister clearly states that the treat dissolves on contact with the tongue, and are perfect for babies who are new eaters and independent sitters. The stupid puff didn't dissolve, and the results could have been catastrophic.

Timmy had a rough evening after the puff was dislodged. At first he was incredibly lethargic to the point where he couldn't keep his eyes open. Then the vomiting began, forcing him to expel everything that had been in his little tummy. After the vomiting subsided and his hiccups quieted, he returned to being my happy little boy. (Incidentally it was Robby who garnered the first big gummy smile after the incident.)

My mind has been spinning since the incident. Scott and I are both blaming ourselves for providing him with the puffs. Although logically we know that we did nothing wrong (after all, Timmy met all of the criteria for the food), I suppose parents always feel guilty. In addition to the guilt, I have not been able to shake the earth-shattering sense of terror I felt as I watched him struggle to breath. The outcome could have been so different and that has me paralyzed with fear. 

I love my boys so much and will always try to keep them safe. Yesterday was an unwelcome reminder that life can change in an instant.  I am sure much of today will be spent watching Timmy like a hawk and contacting the Gerber company about their non-dissolving puffs!


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Piano Man

Last week I received the program for Robby's Holiday Concert at school. I was shocked to read that he was slated to perform a piano recital during the festivities. I asked him why he didn't tell me, and he simply shrugged and said it was no big deal. A few minutes later he came back into the room and asked, "What, exactly is a piano recital anyway?"

I have no idea what he perceived he would be doing, but it certainly wasn't close to a recital. His ignorance about the term was definitely working for him. He was cool as a cucumber until he learned exactly what he would be doing. Needless to say, he quickly realized that playing alone in front of an audience was, indeed, a big deal.

Yesterday morning he was almost as nervous as me. Although he enjoys playing the piano and taking lessons, he is less than diligent about practicing daily. I am lucky if we hear him play a few times a week. Probably tired of hearing me hound him to practice,  three weeks ago he told me that he has no aspirations of becoming a "piano man." Instead, he explained his rationale for wanting to learn the instrument. "You see Momom, someday when I'm grown up and at a bar, I will be able to play the piano. Girls like guys that know how to play the piano."

Yikes! I was not ready for the conversation. I could have revealed that girls are only likely to be impressed if he could play something more than Row Row Row Your Boat and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, but I didn't want to burst his bubble. What can I say, at least he was honest about his intentions behind learning.

So yesterday morning my little boy, who sporadically practices and only wants to learn because he wants to woo women, timidly sat behind the keyboard and played for the student body and their guests. His playing was methodical and deliberate, carefully making sure to accurately press the correct keys. He did a wonderful job! 

He may not aspire to be a professional musician, but I think my little lady's man is well on the road towards achieving his goal. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Lights

In spite of the infant travel snafus, we had a wonderful time in Williamsburg, VA. Robby and his Daddy had a blast on the rides and, although Timmy was squirmy, I did enjoy the time spent strolling with my littlest guy. When he was awake, he loved looking at the people and taking in the sights.  After having dinner with Santa (solidifying Robby's belief for at least one more year), we knew it was time to head back to the hotel.  Timmy was fast asleep in his stroller, the temperature was starting to drop, and the crowds were increasing. On our way out of the park, we answered Robby's pleas and agreed to "just one more ride."

I'm so glad that we decided to stay. Seeing the long and meandering line for the sky ride, Robby asked that I accompany him on his final ride. Although I would like to think he wanted to spend time with me, in my heart I know he wanted to jump the line with my disability access band. Taking my hand, he led me up the exit so that we could avoid the wait.  Scott (and sleeping Timmy) sat next to a large snowman and waited for us to return.

Robby may have only wanted me on the ride because of my fast-pass access, but I am not going to complain. It turns out that we were able to forge a memory that I will always cherish. Thinking about those few minutes spent together in the sky ride still brings me to tears. (Of course, I'm also menopausal so that may be partially to blame.)

Drifting over the park we were able to fully absorb the illuminated beauty below. It is difficult to fathom four million lights, but seeing them from above certainly put the enormity into perspective. About three minutes into the ride Robby scooted closer to me and clasped my arm. I looked at my little Koopa and saw that tears were streaming down his pink cheeks.

"Momom, this is the most beautifullest thing I've ever seen. I mean look around, it is all so pretty. I think we are seeing what the streets of heaven must look like."

Wow! How do I respond to that? I decided to simply agree that it was indeed beautiful and soak up the precious moment with my son.

As the ride continued Robby oohed and ahhed over the lights below. About halfway through the ride he blurted out, "I am sad now. You know I'm a sensitive little Koopa." When I asked him why he was sad, he continued to explain. "Momom, next year I will be nine years old. And then I'll be ten. Before you know it, I'll be grown up and in college. I don't want to grow up. I want to stay your kid forever. I love you so much and I don't want to leave. That's why I'm sad  because I will never ever see this again when I am eight years old."

So, in addition to the appreciation of Christmas lights, I discovered that Robby also inherited my aversion to change. I promised him that he would be a kid for as long as he needed, and that he shouldn't worry. I think he must have believed me because he returned his attention to providing commentary on the lights below. 

Needless to say, by the time we disembarked from the ride we both had tear stained cheeks.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Hotel With a Baby

Friday afternoon our little family packed up and embarked on a much-anticipated Christmas adventure. We went to Williamsburg, VA, for a fun-filled weekend of holiday themed activities. This trip was special because it was the first time that Timmy has traveled on vacation with us. Needless to say, he required his own suitcase to accommodate all of his baby gear!

Reflection can be frustrating! Looking back, perhaps spending two nights away from home, in a hotel, with a seven month old-- was not our best decision. My visions of being relaxed and happily taking in the Christmas lights were replaced by pre-dawn walks through the hotel lobby with a cantankerous baby. 

Little Timmy had a difficult time adjusting to a new crib, and he was quite vocal about his displeasure. He struggled to fall asleep, and when he did wake up, he was not able to self-soothe back to a comfortable slumber. Instead he was wide awake and quite displeased not to be in his familiar environment.  Each morning while Scott and Robby were sleeping, Timmy and I took refuge in the hotel lobby. I was so quick to remove Timmy from the room that I didn't take the time to change out of my pajamas. I'm sure that I was quite a sight in my pink snowman two-piece fleece pajamas sitting in the lobby while trying to drink enough coffee to make me feel alive. I was quite a surprise for the few people who happened to walk by us.

Despite the obstacles of traveling with an infant, everybody managed to have a good time. Okay, in all fairness Scott and Robby had the most fun as I was relegated to baby soother. The pair rode all the rides at Busch Gardens Christmastown while I strolled and walked with Timmy. I love my little baby, but he was certainly high maintenance!  (I did get to go on one special ride with Robby, which I will detail tomorrow.)

I shunned the naysayers who warned that Timmy was too young for hotel travel because I was confident that he would love looking at all of the lights at Christmastown. After all, the advertisements for the park touted four million lights decorating the grounds. Timmy's reaction to our Christmas tree only solidified my insistence that he join us on this adventure. 
 
Timmy probably would have thoroughly enjoyed the lighted spectacle. Unfortunately in a cruel sense of irony, Timmy had fallen fast asleep by the time the sun set and the lights were illuminated. After a day of fussing, he missed the illuminated wonderland.


Of course, he woke up as soon as we pulled into the hotel parking lot.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Lucky Pain

After six months, I am finally sporting a permanent socket. I had forgotten how comfortable carbon fiber is compared to the plastic check sockets I've been wearing. My limb slides easier when donning, and the smooth outside allows my pants to flow naturally without becoming snagged.

While I am celebrating the fact that I am again in a permanent leg, the adjustment is causing the predictable phantom pain issues. It doesn't seem to matter if a socket is cast out of the same mold; anytime I wear something new, I experience a brief "break in" period. I don't feel any discomfort while wearing the device, but the first few nights after getting a new leg are always ouchy.

Of course, the weather is probably not helping my phantom pain. The temperature is fluctuating wildly causing just about every joint in my body (and a few that are missing) to hurt. I've come to the conclusion that I despise growing old!

Since lamenting isn't going to help, I've dug my phantom pain remedies out of my bag of tricks. The massage pillow has been going at full blast, gently rubbing the soreness out of my non-existent ankle joint.  My leg is snug and warm around the heating pad. In addition to providing comfort, the warmth seems to minimize the feeling of my big toenail being twisted and pulled. And when all else fails, the Tylenol PM makes me so groggy that I no longer care about the discomfort. 

I know that in a day or two I will be fully adjusted to the new socket, and I can stow my phantom pain relief kit. I am so lucky that my issues with phantom pain are minor and fleeting as so many of my friends suffer with debilitating phantom pain. Far too often I take my limb health and mobility for granted. Moments like this, when I am feeling discomfort, I am trying to count my blessings. My pain can be relieved with a few simple tricks, and for that I am very lucky.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Cutting Party

Yesterday morning was busy. I had a meeting scheduled for 10, so I needed to take Timmy to school as well. No matter how many times I tell myself that it is okay to leave him, I always feel guilty! My morning was made twice as chaotic as I tried to get both Robby and Timmy ready for the day.

Despite my efforts, we were running late. I pride myself on my punctuality, so being late for an appointment causes me a great deal of anxiety. On the plus side, I didn't have a lot of time to lament leaving Timmy because I was in such a rush.  After dropping Robby and Timmy at school, I hopped into rush hour traffic hoping to make my meeting on time.  Thankfully the traffic was flowing more quickly than usual, and I actually arrived 10 minutes early!

My meeting went well, and I soon found myself rushing again. Only this time I was hurrying to get to the school to pick up Timmy. While logically I knew that he was fine, seeing him sitting on his teacher's lap sporting a big old gummy grin eased all of my anxieties. I am so lucky that he is loved and cherished by the school staff. Witnessing the care that he receives when he is not with me makes leaving him easier.

Timmy must have had a good time, because he was sound asleep by the time we arrived home. I carefully carried him inside and transferred him to his crib, excited that I might have a few moments of solitude to decompress.  I had no sooner poured a cup of coffee that I received a phone call from Mr. Bill.  I immediately sensed that something was wrong because I knew that he was outside chopping wood. It isn't like him to take a break from work unless he needed something.

Unfortunately, my intuition was correct. With a shaky voice and a calm demeanor, he explained that he had fallen and needed assistance. He didn't think anything was broken, but he felt unstable. I grabbed my phone and took off running to his house.

Thankfully Mr. Bill is okay! He tripped over some branches while trying to clean up his yard, causing him to fall. His finger became lodged on the trigger of his chainsaw when he fell. The blade disengaged, but his finger is broken. All things considered, he is extremely lucky. The results of this tumble could have been catastrophic.

I worry so much about Mr. Bill. He is 76 years old and, although he is still fairly spry, he isn't as limber as he would like to believe. I have seen a decline in both his balance and strength during the past few years. The electric company cut down two large trees, one oak and one poplar.  They felled the trees in his yard, cut the trunks into 8 foot segments and left. Per policy, the homeowner is responsible for the rest of the clean-up.

Mr. Bill is fanatical about his yard. His pristine landscaping is the result of hours of toiling through the year. I knew that having the branches, debris and trunk lying throughout his backyard was going to drive him crazy. I also worried that the task of cleaning up might be too big for him. I'm afraid I was correct on both accounts.

Robby is excited to help his friend, but I fear this task is beyond the skills of an eight year old. I think it is time to organize a neighborhood tree clean-up party! He has done so much for everybody on our little street. I'm excited about the opportunity to finally give back to him.