Yesterday morning Robby, Timmy and I packed up and headed to school. Of course this time it was different because we weren't going to Robby's school. We were planning on spending the morning at the school of my niece and nephews where I had been invited by their teachers to share my story.
I absolutely love talking with school children about living with an amputation, prosthetics, and disabilities in general. This time my talks were more personal because of three proud little faces in the audience. The excitement that was radiating on the faces of my nephews and niece made my heart smile.
While I was talking with the classes, Robby thoroughly enjoyed looking around the classrooms of his cousins. I was proud (and relieved) that he remembered his manners and did not blurt out anything inappropriate. (His cousins attend a religious private school where Robby's descriptive language would certainly be discouraged.) Thankfully my stern reminders about demonstrating only his best behavior were heeded.
Because my Mom had an appointment and wasn't able to watch Timmy in the morning I brought him along. Taking him into public for long periods of time is a bit of a crap shoot. Most of the time he is pleasant and happy, but when he becomes tired or hungry, all bets are off. The stars aligned yesterday, and Timmy remained cooing and giggly for most of my visits. He definitely charmed the students and staff with his broad gummy smiles!
I love that my nephews and niece view my amputation and prosthetic use as a badge of honor. For them, having a one-legged Aunt is the norm. But they are also old enough to realize that their experience is unique. Not everybody has an Aunt who can remove her leg, and in their eyes that makes me special and brag worthy. I'm glad that they see my "disability" as an asset.
- 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.
Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Saturday afternoon I left both boys with my Mom and drove to the campus of my Alma Mater, Kutztown University. It has been nearly five years since I have visited the campus, and this was the first time I have ever attended a University reunion. I'm not typically a fan of reunions, but the fact that my friends were attending was enough motivation to make the trip.
As I was driving to the reunion, my mind began to fill with memories. My years at Kutztown were so special, but it is only recently that I have come to realize how those experiences have shaped me into the person who I am today. From the silly to the mundane, everything came rushing back. All of a sudden I became homesick for those nights in the dorm, sitting around in our sweatpants eating pizza and giggling with my friends.
Although I'm at a happy place in my life, I don't have the friend connections that I had during those college years. Visiting with friends usually involves a lot of planning and driving, and unfortunately it doesn't happen nearly enough. I didn't realize it at the time, but there was something very special about being able to simply walk across a hallway to talk with a friend.
By the time I was driving onto campus, I was overwhelmed with emotions that are difficult to decipher. I was happy to be back, yet it was surreal and uncomfortable to feel like a visitor at the place which used to be so comfortable. Somehow time has flown by, and those carefree years are gone. I became sad with the realization that I have become one of the middle-aged alumni visitors who I used to see walking around campus.
Thankfully my mini midlife crisis was thwarted as soon as I saw my friends. Although I felt like a visitor on campus, it was as if time has stood still when talking with my friends. We haven't seen each other in years, but somehow our conversation flowed so naturally, it was as if we saw each other every day.
I was looking forward to seeing my friends, but it wasn't until I was with them that I realized how much I needed to reconnect. They know a side of me that often becomes overshadowed and lost in my roles as mom, wife, and employee. For a few hours I was able to just be me, without the responsibilities and baggage of being a full-fledged adult.
I've come to the conclusion that being an adult is overrated. Although I don't feel like campus is home anymore, it is nice to know that I will always be comfortable with my friends. Perhaps someday we will all live in the same retirement home. We can be hell-raisers with walkers.
at 6:24 AM
Monday, November 24, 2014
Friday morning was more hectic than normal. Between trying to get packed up for a week at my Mom's and gathering everything needed for Robby's Thanksgiving Feast at school, my patience and energy reserves were both at critically low levels. To add an extra layer of complication to the activity, Robby woke up before the sun with the realization that it was also his best friend's birthday.
Thankfully we had a gift card on hand, so we didn't have a meltdown on that front. However, Robby was insistent that he bring in a cake for his class to celebrate his friend's birthday. He was worried that his buddy wouldn't have a cake if we didn't bring one. Knowing that it meant a lot to my kind-hearted little Koopa, I grabbed a cake mix and we went to work.
With his growing up, our time spent in the kitchen together is becoming more sparse. He used to come running whenever I asked if he wanted to help bake cookies or a cake. More often than naught now he just hollers back, "You have fun. Just save me some batter please." The fact that he wanted to help made me almost as happy as the gesture he was making for his friend.
I didn't want to embarrass his friend if he did happen to bring a treat for the class, so we decided to think outside the box. With minimal guidance, I helped Robby ice the cake to look like a turkey. I figured if his friend did bring something we could easily include our cake with the Thanksgiving Feast. While Robby was finishing the feathers I made a small sign for the turkey to "hold" wishing a Happy Birthday to his friend. If he did or did not bring a celebratory treat to share with his class, I felt confident that we had covered our bases with our Happy Birthday/ Thanksgiving turkey cake.
Robby was proud as a little peacock carrying his creation into school. The cake was stashed in the kitchen until after the Thanksgiving Feast. After his class had devoured the lunch I brought (notice I didn't say made), Robby pulled me to the side and informed me that his friend did not have a birthday cake. He winked, and I left to go to the kitchen.
I honestly don't know who was more excited when I presented the Happy Birthday Turkey to his friend. Robby was absolutely beaming with pride. His friend was thrilled to have a cake to celebrate his special day with his class. The turkey cake was a hit with everybody and was definitely the highlight of the festivities.
at 6:40 AM
Friday, November 21, 2014
This past week has been extraordinarily busy. In addition to my own work, I've been trying to get ready for a week away, which basically equates to a lot of laundry! The boys and I are heading to my Mom's this afternoon where we will be staying for the next week. Scott will join us when his school dismisses on Tuesday, allowing him a few precious bachelor days at home.
I have one more looming responsibility before packing up the car and driving to PA. Robby's class is celebrating Thanksgiving today. In years past I have spent countless hours roasting a turkey, whipping up side dishes and baking treats only to have them devoured by pint sized eating machines. This year I just didn't have time to make a full Thanksgiving dinner early, so I have decided to go a different direction.
I called our grocery store and ordered their Thanksgiving In A Box meal. The class will still be able to delve into a whole turkey and all of the traditional side dishes, all for the bargain price of $29.99. (The list price is $39.99 but I received a $10 discount because I need the meal today instead of next week.) I doubt I could make the meal cheaper, and even if I could the time savings is well worth the money.
Of course, employing logic has done nothing to quell the guilt that I am feeling. Isn't it silly that I manage to feel guilty because I am not preparing a Thanksgiving dinner, from scratch, for a group of other people's kids? They aren't going to care if the potatoes came out of a box; they will just be excited about the novelty of a Thanksgiving feast at lunchtime.
After thinking and fretting all day, I came to the realization that I really don't care what his classmates think. I'm only trying to impress one little Koopa and I don't want him to blame the shortcut on his little brother. Despite my fatigue, I knew I only had one option.
I poured all of the side dishes out of their deli packs and smashed them into my well-used Tupperware containers. I opened the jar of gravy and poured it into a thermos. I removed the turkey from it's plastic shrink wrap and re-positioned it in my roasting pan. The rolls were pulled from the metal trap and not-so-gingerly put into a plastic Ziploc bag, making sure that they were slightly misshapen in the process. I may know that the Thanksgiving Feast is store bought, but there is no reason to bring Robby in on my dirty little secret.
at 5:47 AM
Thursday, November 20, 2014
Yesterday I took another step (both literally and figuratively) towards total ambulation. I've been back in my prosthetic full time for several months but have remained in a series of test sockets. Between shrinking and nerve issues, I have been playing my own sadistic version of "leg roulette" every morning. I never knew if, when slipping my leg on and taking the first step, I would feel comfort or pain. It has been frustrating at the very least!
The past few weeks I have been consistently comfortable in my leg. I shrunk considerably, causing me to bottom out in the socket. Despite not feeling pain, dropping down did cause me to become about 1/2 inch shorter on my prosthetic side. The height difference rendered me with a noticeable limp which, although it wasn't painful, made me feel self-conscious.
Getting a smaller socket crafted has been on my "to do" list for several weeks, but every time I had an appointment, something popped up. Between work, being sick and nursing Timmy through his tummy virus, I had to cancel several casting appointments. Since I wasn't in pain, I never made rescheduling a priority.
This past weekend the height differential caught up with me. The all-to-familiar back twinges began to materialize, and I knew that I couldn't put it off any longer. I was casted for a new socket on Monday, and yesterday I picked it up.
Wow! I thought I was doing well on my previous socket, but I feel so much more comfortable now. The snugger fit allows me to relax my calf muscle while walking, enabling me to go both faster and farther. Correcting the height has made a world of difference. I am no longer limping, and I'm able to walk with a correct gait. Finally, after nearly 5 months, I feel normal again!
I am kicking myself for not taking care of this relatively minor issue earlier, but I am delighted that the adjustments have now been made. I'm going to be in this socket through Thanksgiving and, if all continues to go well, my permanent socket will be made the following week. When I slip on my final socket, I will finally be able to put the horrific revision surgery behind me.
at 5:14 AM
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Yesterday was bone chilling cold. Although the temperatures were not nearly as low as they will certainly become in the next few months, the first true shot of winter is always painful. It was the first time we had to pull out the winter gear, cut the tags off the new coats and face the harsh reality: winter is upon us.
Robby bundled up in his brand new winter coat, still stiff from the not-yet-broken-in stuffing, and dashed to the car so that I could drive him to school. He complained the entire time, but he was not upset with the plunging temperatures. He felt cheated that he had to wear his winter coat but there was no snow on the ground. According to my Koopa, cold air without snow is no fun.
I came home and immediately changed into my flannel jammy bottoms. I set Timmy and me up in front of the fireplace and stayed warm and toasty throughout the afternoon. To my delight Timmy even fell asleep and took a long nap in the Pack'n Play which was strategically positioned close to the warm fire. I took full advantage of the rare quiet moment by sipping a hot cup of gingerbread coffee, raiding the vestiges of the Halloween candy, and shopping online for Christmas presents.
I could have used the time in a more productive manner, but after the stress of Monday, I just needed to relax and enjoy a few moments of solitude. I am working on forcing myself to take breaks simply to unwind and dream. Between working and taking care of the boys, my life has become so hectic that the days are flying by without my reaping much happiness or enjoyment. I am a much better mom and a happier person and employee when I remember to take some time for myself. I think I would benefit from carving out a small part of every day to make myself a priority.
at 4:56 AM
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
My goodness yesterday was a long day! Timmy woke up at 3:45 in the morning for a bottle. After feeding him it quickly became clear that he was a bundle of happy energy ready to tackle the day. Although I wasn't terribly optimistic, I did put my giggling and cooing little baby back in his crib with strict instructions to go back to sleep until the sun comes up. He was rescued 20 minutes later by his Daddy, who was concerned that the cooing would morph into cries if he didn't intervene. Scott handed me the now wiggling baby and went back to bed.
Hamlet and I camped out in the living room while the rest of the family slept. Luckily he was content playing on the floor and in his activity centers while I desperately tried to inhale enough coffee to bring me back to life. I've come to the conclusion that he is a morning person; he does not get this trait from me!
After playing for five hours, Timmy finally fell asleep. Unfortunately he crashed about 10 minutes before I had to put him in his car seat to take Robby to school. He was not amused being woken up, and voiced his displeasure with my action for the next 45 minutes. Robby almost ran into his school simply to get away from the screaming.
The car seat episode set the tone for the rest of the day. Timmy was exhausted yet fought sleeping at every turn. He was no longer happy playing with his toys or jumping in his Jumperoo. Instead, he demanded to be held and carried. I spent the majority of the afternoon standing at my kitchen counter trying to work with him strapped to my chest.
I was overjoyed when he finally fell asleep, hoping that he would take a long nap and wake up in a better mood. I glanced at the clock after unstrapping him and lying him in his little bed. I wanted to bang my head against the wall! It was 2:15, and I was going to have to wake him up in 30 minutes to go pick up Robby from school. I wanted to cry, but opted to use the time being productive. I raided Robby's Halloween candy and drank another cup of coffee.
at 5:48 AM