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I am a below knee amputee. More importantly, I am also Mommy to two boys, a very active 10 year old (Robby) and an mischievous toddler (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.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

When Caretaking Becomes Enabling?

My life after my amputation has been full of adjustments. I had to learn how to live my life with a prosthetic and without my natural limb. I had to learn to walk again. I had to redefine the relationships in my life.

I was shocked at how much my amputation affected the relationships I held with my family and friends. Scott had never known me to be independent. He did not know me before my injury and had only known the Peggy dealing with constant pain and revolving surgeries. As I became more independent as an amputee I was losing many of the traits, albeit unflattering, that he had known about me.

The first sign that our relationship was going to change occurred during my first visit to the prosthetist. After Elliot, my prosthetist, looked at my newly created stump, he told me that I could rewrap the bandage. Scott immediately stood up, grabbed the ace bandage, and began wrapping. After all, this had been his role.

Elliot immediately stopped him. He was blunt when telling Scott that I needed to wrap the stump myself. Elliot was right of course, but I was not happy at the time. I thought that I still physically needed Scott. The truth was that I didn't like to look at or touch my stump. It was easier for me to just let Scott deal with the bandaging.

After this incident, Scott and I forced ourselves to maintain an open dialog about my needs. Sometimes I thought that I needed more help than he was offering. I became frustrated and angry. At times, he wanted to help me when I wanted to try a task unassisted. He became frustrated at my perceived "stubbornness." We struggled to strike the balance between assistance and enabling.

To be honest, there are some tasks I allow Scott to do for me, even though I am physically capable. For instance, changing my shoe on my prosthetic makes me sad. He knows that, when I get a new pair of shoes, this is his job. I tend to look at this under the guise of "being married" rather than enabling.

In retrospect, Scott and I consider ourselves lucky that Elliot "called out" our behavior pattern early in my recovery. We were immediately made aware of our tendencies. I imagine that growing pains exist within all couples when a limb loss occurs. The "able bodied" partner wants to protect and take care of their injured partner. It is difficult for both the amputee and their partner to evaluate a true "need" versus the desire to spare feelings, or to simply make life easier.

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