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, December 04, 2009

The Amputee Vs. The Individual With an Amputation

I thoroughly enjoy meeting and talking with other amputees. There is an instant camaraderie among individuals who have experienced and are living with limb loss. It is a reality that one can truly relate to only if it has been experienced first hand.

It is difficult to explain how miserable an ill fitting socket can feel and how it can negatively impact an entire day. There is something comforting in knowing that I don't have to explain these issues to another amputee. It is something which we all understand. Phantom pains, liner woes, socket adjustments and emotions are all common topics among amputees.

Because I enjoy talking with other amputees, it is often assumed that I am actively involved in a support group or program. As I have explained in a previous blog, this is not the case. Although I enjoy relaying my experiences and helping others, my amputation does not define who I am.

I have a theory. I have concluded that there is a difference between the "amputee" and the "individual with an amputation." I often interchange these terms, but I believe that they have two separate connotations.

The "amputee" is somebody who identifies him or herself through the limb loss. The amputation or their "status" as amputee is the sole source of conversation. It has become the individual's defining feature. In a sense, the individual has been lost, or at least masked, by the loss.

I think that most individuals who have experienced limb loss go through the "amputee" phase. After all, the loss of a body part is traumatic, regardless of the circumstances. Speaking from experience, I know emotional struggles and the ensuing identity crisis make it difficult, if not impossible, to see beyond the loss.

Eventually, I evolved from being an "amputee" into the "individual with an amputation." I cannot deny that I have an amputation. It is physically obvious. The changes affected by my amputation have been global, not just physical. I am MORE than my limb loss.

I am a mommy. I am a wife. I am a friend. I am a daughter. I am a sister. I am an intelligent woman with a lot of opinions (too many if you ask my husband). I am a cancer survivor. I am also living a full life after an amputation. All of these roles contribute to who I am.

Although I can only speak to the groups that I have attended, I have found the attendees to be "stuck" on their loss. Many of the individuals have been amputees for many years (over 10) and are still lamenting their loss. They have not moved into the next phase of acceptance, towards redefining themselves with a limb loss, but not solely by the amputation.

I do not mean to disparage support groups or the need for the groups. I was disappointed in the groups that I attended because there was no emphasis on moving beyond the loss. Perhaps had I sought and found an appropriate group for me, my recovery would have been easier.

Okay, I will now step off of my soap box.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Yes, I'm talking about Poop

It has been a difficult few days in our home. I have been struggling to infuse our home with holiday spirit, but I feel that my efforts are in vain. Our family has been commandeered and is being controlled by the colon of a three year old! Honestly, I can say that I haven't been loving the whole "mommy thing."

Robby has been suffering from bowel issues. In essence, and to spare you all of the unflattering details, he has been "withholding." He apparently had a painful bowel movement a few weeks ago, and was psychologically scarred. He is now fearful of pooping. He doesn't fear spiders, or worms or even snakes. My little guy has to be afraid of poop.

Whenever the urge hits him, Robby runs and hides behind his Elmo kitchen. I see and hear him struggling with cramps and his efforts to fight to urge to poop. I must say, he has the sphincter muscle of a champion because he has been successful.

In addition with being constipated, Robby has developed a horrible diaper rash. His little bum is raw, making it difficult to convince him that pooping is a good thing. As far as he is concerned, pooping equals wipes, and wipes equal pain. He doesn't want anything to do with poop. The cycle continues.

I have been trying without success to break the poop cycle. Per doctor instructions, I have started Robby on a daily regimen of Milk of Magnesia. Again, I must give props to his anal control because after three doses, little has been produced!

Scott and I have blown our Christmas budget on creams, ointments, sprays and gels to help heal his sore bum. My bedside table resembles that of an old woman in a nursing home, covered with laxatives and creams. I never thought I would be spending all of my free time researching diaper rash treatments.

We have tried positive reinforcement to encourage Robby to poop. Scott and I have both evacuated in front of him, following our "achievement" with a rousing rendition of the "Poop Poop Dance" and a sticker. Our sticker charts are bursting at the seams whereas Robby's column remains empty. This side of motherhood was never featured in Good Housekeeping!

My heart breaks as Robby cowers behind the Elmo oven, crying "poopy go away...poopy go away." I have tried to reason with him. Reasoning with a three year old is pointless, especially when it concerns poop.

Our topics of conversation lately have been all bowel related. Robby says that he does not want the poop to come out of his bum. I tell him that I want it to come out. We go around and around, making no progress. I am sure that any flies on our walls have fled for less "fecal focused" conversation.

We have been extremely blessed in our family. This is our first health issue with Robby, and he is three and a half. It is heartbreaking watching him struggle. His bum is beginning to heal with the help of the arsenal of ointments I have been lathering on him. As for the withholding issue, I know that "This too will pass." At least, it will pass with the help of Milk of Magnesia.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Supermarket Sweep!

One of my favorite television shows used to be Supermarket Sweep. This game show was set in a grocery store, and after contestants played a variety of grocery themed games, they were afforded the opportunity to run through a supermarket to grab as much as they could within a designated time. I loved this show. Secretly, competing on this show was an ambition of mine. Although the show has been canceled, my dream survives.

Scott and I enjoy grocery shopping. We pour over coupons and sales circulars from a variety of stores in the quest for the best deal. We are not happy unless we leave the store with at least a savings of 50%. Our favorite bargains lie in the meat aisle. Yes, it is accurate to say that shopping for expiring meat has brought us closer.

Our grocery store offers deep discounts on meat which is getting ready to expire. Because we have a spare freezer, we are able to exploit these opportunities. Our freezer is stuffed with a variety of meat which has been deeply discounted. Yes, we are ready should a pandemic arise and we are forced to remain inside for several months!

Our meat sales have become a sense of pride for our little family. In particular, Scott relishes bragging to guests about how little the dinner cost to prepare. The Thanksgiving turkey my Mom prepared last week was from our freezer and cost only $3.20. Now that's a bargain!

The extreme discounts on meat products are indicated by the coveted "SPECIAL" sticker. This bright yellow sticker is our beacon, calling us to the sale. Robby has been indoctrinated into our bargain hunting ways. He becomes excited when he sees the "SPECIAL" sticker and enjoys putting the food into our cart.

Scott and I went to the grocery store the other day. We carefully examined the "sell by" dates on turkeys and turkey breasts. We marked the sell by date on our calendar and knew that the poultry would be marked down.

Robby was the first to see the yellow "SPECIAL" sticker. He spotted the stickers from four aisles away, and took off like a flash towards the meat case. By the time I reached him, he was happily pointing to the sale meat and jumping up and down. He began singing "Robby found the sticker... Robby found the sticker... Robby found the sticker... Robby found cheap meat hooray!"

Scott was tailing behind me, pushing the cart. After the traditional victory dance with Robby, I took note of the price. The turkeys were 19 cents a pound. My excitement got the best of me because I temporarily lost all sense of social decorum.

I yelled to Scott... This turkey breast is only $1.20. Scott froze and shouted back from across the island within the meat department, toss it here. And that is when it happened.

Instantly I went into my Supermarket Sweep mode. I tossed the bird to Scott who dropped it into the cart. He shouted, "How many are there?" I responded by telling him that there were seven, and tossed another turkey. Robby was jumping up and down screaming, "Yea... cheap boc boc turkey..."

I had thrown six turkeys before we noticed the commotion we had caused. Yes, people were stopped behind their carts, watching as a crazed one-legged woman with an excited toddler in tow was throwing poultry to her husband. We were caught up in the moment. We found a great sale.

Embarrassed by our demonstration, I opted to leave one turkey in the case. As Robby and I walked away, I saw one of our spectators claim the turkey. Robby continued to sing about finding cheap meat and stopped his song only to thank the butcher (who is familiar with our family) for the cheap food.

Unlike the contestants on Supermarket Sweep, we had to pay for our groceries. Six turkeys cost us only $8.90 and we felt victorious. We packed up our "cheap meat" and went home with our booty.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009


I was raised in a diverse family. My mother is Lutheran and my father is Jewish. My brother is adopted and is of Korean descent. I have openly gay relatives who have been involved in a stable, loving relationship since before I was born. I had a cousin who, through her struggles against cancer, lost her breasts, her hair and much of her body mass to the disease. We were taught to look for similarities instead of focusing on the differences among people.

Scott and I are striving to raise Robby with the all encompassing acceptance which was instilled within us. Robby has been interacting with amputees and individuals with other disabilities since he was born. He has been to Walter Reed several times, and I even volunteered him as a "practice baby" so that soldiers without hands could learn to change a diaper. Robby has a healthy curiosity, but he is not fearful of physical differences among people.

I firmly believe that discrimination, in any form, is a caustic force within human nature. Race, gender, disability, religion and sexual orientation are merely differences among us. I am disappointed to learn that discrimination biases are alive and active within the members of my small family.

When somebody verbalizes a dislike for a particular aspect of human nature, albeit race, disability, sexual orientation or religion, I immediately become angry. I have learned that debating an individual with these views is useless as the chance of changing such thought is improbable. I find it infuriating when religion becomes the reason behind intolerance.

I accept that everybody has the responsibility to develop his own views, and I will not attempt to influence them. I believe that everybody has the right to develop his own thoughts and to utilize his individual moral compass. Our "compass needles" may lead our hearts in different directions, but family ties will always remain.

Often times, those who discriminate have never felt the effects of such negativity personally. Perhaps if they felt the wrath of their words, a different perspective might be gained. Unfortunately, I have witnessed the pain caused by discrimination throughout my life.

My brother was not only the only Korean in our neighborhood, but also the only non-Caucasian. There was another child, a girl, in his class who was also of Asian descent. My brother was paired with her at every school assembly, square dance and recital. It was natural to pair the two "Asian" children together. The possibility of my brother dancing with a white classmate in the first grade Christmas program probably never entered the mind of the teacher. At such a young age, the difference between my brother and his classmates was being amplified.

Since the advent of my disability I have had the displeasure of experiencing discrimination on several occasions. I was strongly encouraged to wear a cosmetic cover on my prosthetic when I was working. I suppose I am stubborn because I refused. I was forced to confront this bigotry at the same time I was trying to survive a difficult pregnancy.

Scott and I laugh because we customarily cannot receive assistance in stores. We went shopping for a new stove and stood patiently for a salesperson to help. Another couple entered the store, and a salesman practically ran out of the back room and vaulted over me to help the couple. We were left standing, with no one to answer our questions or make the sale. The only difference between the couple being helped and us was my disability. It is difficult not to conclude that discrimination played a role in that situation.

When I know that somebody actively discriminates against another person, regardless of the rational, I have a difficult time. I muse that the individual's feelings towards those with a disability may also be negative. After all, how would I really know if I am held in a lesser regard merely because I am disabled?

My heart is saddened by the discrimination voiced within my family. Many relatives on my father's side survived the holocaust. Growing up, I was surrounded by stories about the atrocities committed as well as the heroic acts offered by strangers. My Grandfather believed that the events of World War 2 divided human nature into two categories: those who would offer safety within an attic, and those who would turn you in. I know into which category I fall.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Cookie Man!

Robby is beginning to notice that his Mommy is different. He is becoming more aware of my prosthetic and of my stump. He knows that I need to wear my prosthetic to walk, and helps retrieve my liner and leg for me in the morning. He has started referring to my residual limb as "Mommy's little leg."

I was at the grocery store last week where we saw another amputee. Seeing another amputee in the community is a relative rare occurrence. There is an unspoken respect among amputees. We typically exchange the discrete "knowing nod" and continue without interacting.

Of course, Robby doesn't understand the concept of "discrete." He saw the prosthetic, and became ecstatic. I tried to quietly talk with Robby about his "discovery" without drawing unnecessary attention. He began to frantically scream, "Momom, Momom, man with special leg like Mommy." He drew the attention of everybody in the produce section, including the amputee.

I knew that Robby was not going to be quiet until we met the man. I quickly tried to devise my introduction on the walk from the sweet potatoes to the lettuce section. It turns out, introductions were not necessary. After all, I had Robby!

He ran right up the man and pulled up my pant leg. "See... See... Momom has special leg too... See... See..." Robby was very proud that he had "found" another amputee just like his Mom. I knew a smile was coming over my flushing face and I couldn't help but laugh. Luckily the man did not mind the intrusion and was kind enough to talk with Robby. My little boy chattered about the other special leg the rest of the shopping trip. He even said good-bye and hollered, "Bye-bye special leg" when we saw him leaving the store.

Today Robby asked for a cookie. We have been making Christmas cookies and he is particularly fond of the "cookie man." This morning he was playing with his cookie man on the table, having him "walk" to the sippy cup for milk. After carefully examining the cookie he proceeded to bite off one leg. He then smiled at me, with cookie crumbs falling out of his mouth, and showed me the cookie. "Look Momom, look. Cookie man has little leg like Mommy."
Maybe he'll grow up to be a surgeon...