About Me

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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.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Tragedy and Miracles

Yesterday was difficult for our family. My three year old sweet nephew was struck by a car. He was airlifted to Hershey Medical Center (the closest Children's Hospital) for treatment. At the time, all I knew was that he was struck and thrown the length of the minivan. He was not responsive and was being airlifted. My heart instantly broke.

I immediately transitioned into a robotic like trance. I made the appropriate family contacts to relay the information. I then grabbed Robby and Black Bear and started the three state drive to the hospital. During the drive I made contact with a friend who agreed to watch Robby so that I could go directly to the hospital. Thank you, Heather.

As I neared the hospital, more facts started to come to light. Jakey was hit by the car after he got out of his family's minivan. The speed limit in the residential neighborhood is 35mph. The police estimate that the car was traveling approximately 45 mph. The driver didn't see the precocious toddler.

I forced myself to maintain my composure while driving. Robby heard me tell a family member that Jake was hit by a car, and he immediately began to cry. Even my little boy knew that the situation was serious. After Robby was distracted and stopped sobbing, I knew that I needed to avoid talking about the incident within his ear shot. I half-heartily serenaded him with The Wiggles and Johnny Cash.

I fought back tears and worries. My mind kept conjuring horrific scenarios. I tried to push the negative possibilities out of my mind, concentrating on only the facts. I felt helpless and terrified.

Despite the tragedy of the accident, our family was blessed with a miracle. Jakey sustained a broken pelvis and ankle. He has severely bruised lungs and cuts on his face and head. All of his injuries will heal. We were spared all of the horrific scenarios I had feared.

Jakey is in the hospital, and we expect that he will remain there for several days. At the time he is sedated to ease the pain he was experiencing. My sister is frantic. I am sure that seeing your child struck by a car is something a mother cannot simply "get over." She will be reliving this incident in her sleep for years to come.

I am thankful that my nephew is going to heal. He is a wonderful little boy. He loves to watch The Wiggles and play with his puppy. He is more than a cousin to Robby; he is Robby's best friend.

My heart aches that Jakey is going to have to experience pain and discomfort during his recovery. Children are resilient and I know his recovery will be quicker because of his youth. As he grows, his memory of the incident will fade. Someday, perhaps it will merely be a story retold to him. I pray that it will, someday, morph into a distant memory for my sister as well. Her pain will take longer to heal.

I have been guilty of driving over the speed limit, especially in my own neighborhood. We all live hurried lives. Let's face it, sometimes going 35 mph is difficult.

Jakey lying in the hospital, bruised and battered, is a reminder that we all need to slow down. Speed limits, albeit inconvenient, are set for a specific reason: safety. I am posting the picture of Jake in the hospital with my sister's permission. We both hope that seeing the tragic results of speeding in a residential area will help us all learn to slow down.

Jakey, Aunt Peggy loves you to the moon and back! When you get better, we are going to make cookies and go for a ride on a real train. Stay strong little man.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Rolling Down The Grass Hills

The weather here in Northern Virginia has been unseasonably warm. For the past few days it has been in the 70's. Having a toddler who loves to play outside, the lovely November weather has been a wonderful treat.

Yesterday, in an effort to take full advantage of the warmth and sunshine, and in an attempt to tucker out Robby, we went to the park. As Robby was busy running around with the other kids, I made a realization. Perhaps I was particularly astute because, as I was getting ready in the morning, I noticed a lot of grey hair. It dawned on me that I now needed to choose coloring that touts "covering grey" rather than just choosing a fun color. I was feeling old. In any case, it quickly became clear that I was the oldest Mommy there.

I know that I am not "old" but comfortably aging. I have more energy and I am stronger than I was when I was in my 20's. Being around perky 20-something Mommy's made me self-conscious about my age. I suddenly felt sluggish and middle aged.

I suppose I countered the discrepancy between our ages in my typical fashion. I opted to "prove my youth." Yes, yet again I tried to prove to myself that I can still be the "fun Mommy."

While all of the other Mommy's were sitting and reading a magazine or chatting or texting on their phones, I threw myself into playing with toddlers. I chased Robby and his friends around the playground. I went up and down slides. I didn't find sliding nearly as much fun as Robby and his little playmates, but I continued to smile, knowing that I could nurse my sore muscles later.

After the novelty of sliding was gone, Robby proceeded to his next favorite activity: he began to roll down the grass hill. He loves to roll down hills.

I used to love rolling. I have tried rolling down hills since Robby was born and it wasn't nearly as much fun as I remembered. I was left at the bottom of the hill feeling dizzy and a little queasy.

I should have learned my lesson and avoided hill rolling. Apparently I am not that swift, because I opted to give it another try. At the urging of Robby and his three little conspirators, I accepted the challenge. After all, the texting Mommies may be 10 years younger, but I could be 10 times more fun!

I laid down and evaluated my technique. I suffered a shoulder injury last year. I am protective of my arm because it has a tendency to "pop" out of the socket (certainly not an issue I had to deal with in my 20s), but I was undeterred.

I tucked my arms tightly against my waist and closed my eyes. I began to roll. I guess it was more like bouncing than rolling. Yes, I began to bounce down the hill. I thought I had picked a location void of rocks and divots. I was mistaken.

I tried to open my eyes, but my head was spinning too much to focus. I was forced to keep my head down until the spinning stopped. I became nauseated. Initially I thought that it was because of the vertigo. I came to realize I had rolled through a large pile of animal poop. I would like to think that it was dog poop, but the hay encased by the fecal material leads me to believe that the culprit was a horse. (The park also has wonderful trails that are often used for horseback riding.)

As I was bouncing down the hill, apparently my leg lost suction. It slid off my stump about 3/4 of the way down the hill. I didn't realize that it was not attached until I tried to stand up and realized I was down one limb. So there I was, sitting at the bottom of a hill, covered in animal feces, missing my leg and feeling dizzy. Luckily, Superman Robby was there and retrieved Mommy's leg. (His three little friends took off running up the hill when they saw my leg came off.)

Disgusted and sick, I gathered Robby to go home. With as much fake pride as I could muster, I walked past the young Mommies who were trying to comprehend the story that was coming from the mouths of their little children. I had to concentrate on the lines between the bricks to maintain a straight path, but I managed to make it to to the car.

After I wrapped myself in paper towels to protect the seat, I drove to another section of the park. I put The Wiggles CD on to amuse Robby and turned off the car. After a few songs, I was able to regain my composure and drive home.

While I was taking a shower, I made a vow to myself. I will never again roll down another hill. I can still be the "fun Mommy," but perhaps I can achieve this status with cookies instead of queasiness. And if I have to use Nice N' Easy to cover my grey, so be it. At least I won't be scaring little kids and rolling through poop to prove my youth!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Happy WALKING DAY to ME

I wrote this awhile ago. Many of you have read it before. Please forgive the repetition, but I felt that it was an appropriate blog for WALKING DAY! I'm off for a day of doting and pampering. Well, maybe not so much the pampering aspect, unless you count not having to change the cat litter....


Holding Hands

I see couples, everyday, walking and holding hands. This simple act of affection goes unnoticed by most.

When I met my future husband in 2000, I was unable to walk without crutches. I suffered a severe injury to my foot that left me with constant pain and fragile bones. I wasn't looking for a relationship, resigned to the fact that nobody would want to become involved with somebody carrying such significant medical baggage.

Scott and I were both special education teachers, and struck an immediate friendship. As the relationship began, I informed him about my injury. I was facing years of painful, difficult surgeries and would, quite probably, deal with issues for the rest of my life. At 24 years old, this was quite a daunting reality for me to face. Undeterred, we fell in love.

Shortly after our romance began to blossom, I was diagnosed with cancer. Instead of fleeing, he remained steadfast in his love and support. He held my hand through surgeries and treatment. With his support, I regained my health.

After enduring 17 surgeries on my foot, I was faced with a difficult choice. We wanted to get married and start a family. I didn't want to get married until I could walk down the aisle, unassisted. Starting a family was going to be difficult because I am a cancer survivor, compounded by the issues surrounding my foot. I chose to amputate my left leg.

On July 3, 2003, Scott drove me to the hospital for the amputation. I cried the entire trip, firm in my decision but fearful of my life as an amputee. He was strong, and never wavered in his support. He kissed me as I was wheeled in the operating room, and I learned later that this is when he broke down and wept.

When I woke up in the hospital room, I remember him leaning over, stroking my hair, and telling me that I was beautiful. He remained by my side throughout the hospitalization and through the very long, painful recovery. He learned to bandage my stump, pack wounds and help me bathe. He held me when I cried and encouraged me to move forward. It was a difficult journey.


On November 11, 2003 I was fitted with my first prosthetic. Scott was by my side as I took my first steps without crutches. He took videos and pictures of the entire event. I was thrilled. I was walking.

Later that day, we went to the mall. He squeezed my hand as we walked together. He whispered that this was the first time he has been able to hold my hand because he has never known me without crutches. We sat down on a bench, held each other and cried.

November 11th is celebrated in our home as “Walking Day.” We still hold hands when we walk, but now they are joined by our miracle, our active and delightful three year old boy.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ready for Walking Day

Every amputee has an anniversary date. For some, especially soldiers returning from war, the date of their accident is referred to as their "Alive Day." They use this term because they survived an event that was meant to take their life. My amputation occurred on July 3, 2003. This is a date that I can never forget, yet I choose to try to ignore.

Instead of marking the date of my amputation, I choose to honor my recovery by celebrating what I have dubbed to be "Walking Day." Walking Day marks the anniversary of the date I took my first steps, unassisted, on my prosthetic. In essence, it is the date that my recovery and, hence my life as an amputee, truly began.

My Walking Day is tomorrow. On November 11, 2003 I took my first steps. I remember the event as if it were yesterday. I was terrified while sitting in my Prosthetist's office. I didn't know what to expect. I was worried that I would fail and be confined to crutches or a wheelchair for life. I was afraid of falling. I was afraid of the pain of a prosthetic. I was scared of being an amputee.

After the leg was fitted, I remember Elliot, my prosthetist, telling me to try to take a step. I took a deep breath and took a "leap of faith." Hesitantly, I began to put one foot in front of the other. Before I knew it, and within a period of twenty minutes, I had ditched the crutches and was walking! I was slow, and I had a noticeable limb. But I was walking without crutches for the first time in over 5 years.

I find myself filled with pride on this anniversary. It allows me the opportunity to remember the recovery and to honor everything that I have endured to get to this point. At the risk of sounding cocky, I am proud of myself. I have not only survived losing my leg but also recovered, and I am now thriving.

I find myself continually challenging the limits of my prosthetic. My desire to succeed has been amplified since Robby's birth. I want to show him that his Mommy may have lost her leg, but she hasn't lost her spirit or her love of life. It is okay to fail, albeit embarrassing. It may sound cliche, but avoidance of an activity is far worse than a failure while trying. This is a lesson I want to impart on Robby.

Walking Day is a celebration in our home. The anniversary allows me the opportunity to reflect. I am not the same person who took those first tentative steps on a prosthetic leg. I am now a wife and a mother. I was scared of falling and embarrassed about my limb loss. I have learned that falling hurts- but that it is inevitable. I am no longer embarrassed. I have learned that everybody has something "wrong" with them. My "imperfection" is simply more visible.

Tomorrow Scott, Robby and I will celebrate Walking Day. We will talk about the surgery and the painful recovery, but that will not be the focus of the day. We will celebrate the anniversary in the most appropriate manner. We will watch the video of my first steps, and then our little family will go for a walk.

video

Monday, November 09, 2009

I thought that this was a pretty neat way to start a new week...

http://caloriecount.about.com/my-extreme-makeover-b354457

Wii Woes...

Scott loves gadgets. In fact, I usually receive some sort of electronic gift for Christmas as well as for my birthday. I'm not criticizing him; he simply buys what excites him. A few years ago he bought me a Wii, and I was excited to receive it The interactive game system is a lot of fun to play, and it has been a great addition to our "electronic repertoire."

When the Wii Fit came out, I knew I wanted to get one. I have been monitoring my diet and weight for several years now and have been able to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss, a task which requires constant oversight. I am always eager to try a new exercise routine, and the Wii Fit seemed like a perfect fit.

After quickly perusing the directions (okay, to be honest I handed them to Scott and immediately started pressing buttons), I was anxious to get started. I went through the initial Wii Fit set-up screen, accurately entering my height and age. I continued through the screens to create my little Mii (the cyber character that represents me on the screen).

Then, it was the screen I was dreading. I was instructed to step up on the Wii Fit balance board for my weight to be read. Uh oh... no cheating here. Before my eyes, my dreams were shattered. My hip and trendy Mii character, which I had painstakingly created to represent the "new me," was fat!

As if the unflattering shape of my Mii character wasn't insulting enough, the Wii Fit game continued through a series of screens lecturing me about my weight, BMI and diet. Discouraged but not disheartened, I opted to continue. After all, I wasn't going to let a game destroy the self-esteem I had worked so hard to establish!

After playing the Wii Fit through several sessions, utilizing a variety of games and exercises, I have some criticism to offer. These observations are based on my experience using the game as an amputee. In essence, this game was not developed for the amputee in mind.

I was not shocked to learn that my weight is not distributed evenly when I stand. As a nod to the Wii Fit, I have to admit that the game has helped me develop a better sense of balance between my prosthetic and my leg. I have learned how to stand still and to equally distribute the weight between both legs. This is not an easy task for the amputee, and I attribute this skill to the feedback provided through the Wii Fit.

Other than helping me to develop a better sense of weight distribution and balance, I had a difficult time with the Wii Fit. I found the yoga based exercises impossible to perform as I kept falling over or cramping. I suppose that I might improve with practice, but I was fearful that continuing would result in injury.

Many of the games require subtle weight shifts between legs. This is difficult to perform with a prosthetic. For me, the frustrations were not worth the pay-off provided by the game. I found that I was constantly being reminded that I was an amputee, and that I was having difficulty performing a relatively "simple" activity. I don't enjoy that feeling, so I didn't enjoy the game.

I think that the Wii Fit has benefits for the amputee, in particular the balance exercises. Perhaps the more agile amputee would have more success with the other activities. In the meantime, I will continue to use my Wii to bowl, for Dance Dance Revolution and to play Diego's Dinosaur Adventure with Robby.

I have recently received a new fitness game for the Wii which looks promising. I will keep you posted. In the meantime, I am going to try to master Wii dancing and to try to help Robby save the T-Rex.