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 18, 2009

Livestrong... and Science

I have written in the past about my admiration for professional cyclist Lance Armstrong. Having survived cancer myself, I tend to look to fellow survivors for role models. I have a Livestrong band around my prosthetic and my yellow rubber bracelet is never off my wrist.

When people are diagnosed with cancer, they are often met with a barrage of "keep the faith" or "stay strong" or other well meaning mantras. Yes, it is important to keep a positive attitude. However, it is important to remember that a positive attitude is not the only variable when battling this horrible disease.

Surgeries, medication and other pharmaceutical interventions are usually necessary components when battling this illness. Personal fortitude and strength enable the patient to withstand the devastating treatments and certainly makes it easier for family and friends to support the individual through the disease.

When somebody says that an individual merely needs to stay strong and think positive, I shudder. Statements such as these, although well intended, unintentionally condemn those who did not survive. It is implied that the deceased were weak or somehow lacking faith. An individual with the strength of an army can still succumb to the disease.

15 years ago today, one of the strongest women I have ever known passed away from cancer. My cousin, Louise Ann, battled cancer in various forms since she was in her early 20's. According to the experts of the day, she was to die within a year. She not only survived, she continued to live a life full of love.

Louise Ann gave birth to a son (Dan), whom she adored. The bond between Dan and his Mom surpassed that of mother and child. Knowing that her time on earth to be his mother would be limited, she truly epitomized making every moment count.

As cancer continued to take parts of her body, she became more determined to fortify her son with the values, love and memories that usually evolve over decades. When Dan wanted to take karate, she took the lessons with him. She participated in all of his Boy Scout activities; they were always late to the Memorial Day picnic because he was folding the flag.

They went on vacations which, as a child, filled us with jealousy and wonder. I remember the summer they went to a Dude Ranch. We went to the Jersey Shore. Honestly, there was no comparison.

As Louise Ann's cancer progressed and moved into her bones, her physical strength began to weaken. She became emaciated and was in constant pain. She knew that her time with her beloved son was coming to an end. She was not only leaving her son but also her family and her circle of friends.

Surely she was angry. I never heard her complain. The strength and grace which she demonstrated was nothing short of epic. Her focus remained her child.

If attitude and strength were the only factors necessary for destroying cancer cells, Louise Ann would have been victorious. But she died. The will to live by itself cannot beat the disease because attitude only helps and supports the living.

I know individuals who were negative, angry and mournful during their cancer treatment and who are now survivors. I have also known friends and family members who, despite a seemingly endless reserve of strength and will power, ultimately died because of the disease. Advances in science made it possible for Louise to live twenty years past the initial prognosis; attitude and will made that extra time on earth a blessing to all who knew her.

Dan lost his Mom when he was a teenager, but he has memories to last a lifetime. He is going to be a father in April, and was over the moon when he learned that they are expecting a little girl. Louise Ann will never have the opportunity to hold her granddaughter, but I know that the child will know her love.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Have Ham, Will Fly.

On your mark. Get set. Travel! Watch out airport, the Chenoweth family is traveling again.

We are going to see Scott's family in Ohio for the weekend. Robby is excited to go and can hardly wait to get on the plane. When we told him that we are going to Grandma's house he immediately retrieved his Go Diego Go backpack and started filling it with toys and binkies. Stuffed to its limits, he told me he was ready to "go go go."

I have written about this before, but it bears repeating. After my amputation I have learned to hate flying. I don't mind the plane ride itself. I resent the hoops I have to maneuver through airport security.

I dug through my dresser and found my "flying" undergarments. A sports bra without any metal clasps or underwires keeps the detector wand from being triggered thus eliminating the necessity for the "frontal" pat down. Anytime I can keep a stranger's hands off my breasts, I consider it to be a good thing.

I carefully choose my wardrobe when flying. I steer away from any garment that contains metal, including rivets and zippers. Keeping my prosthetic somewhat exposed helps me go through security with minimal hassle. The screeners often need to wand the prosthetic for explosives. and keeping it exposed helps them gain access. I have also discovered that weary travelers and frustrated employees tend to be a little more considerate and accommodating when they can see a physical disability. When traveling with a toddler we need every consideration possible!

I am immediately ushered into the Plexiglas "special screening area" by TSA. Scott and Robby are left to fend for themselves. Typically this involves Scott trying to restrain Robby to keep him from following me. Robby is often screaming and crying and very wiggly. Scott is forced to hold him as he walks through the metal detector.

I would like to say that I feel guilty leaving Scott in this situation, but to be honest, part of me enjoys watching the scene unfold. Maintaining control of Robby and keeping everything in order remains my responsibility for the majority of the time, so it is refreshing to see the tables turned. One inner voice is saying "oh no.. poor Scott." The other inner voice, slightly louder, is saying "Ha ha."

Within one of our carry-on bags this year will be a large frozen ham. We are making a holiday dinner for Scott's brother's family and for my mother in law. Since our Christmas budget was spent on plane tickets, we are trying to save money by bringing the meat from our well stocked freezer. I am a little concerned that the frozen pork will spark increased scrutiny of our luggage and my prosthetic.

I am not having visions of sugar plums dancing when I sleep. Lately I've been having nightmares of maneuvering airport security. In particular, my dreams focus on security dogs. I imagine the drug seeking canines violently ripping through our luggage, snarling and drooling as they seek out the coveted Honey Ham. But I digress.

Every year you see horror stories on television featuring passengers stranded on planes and within the terminal. This year we are prepared. In addition to the extra diapers and Desitin, we will be fully stocked with marshmallows, lollipops, cheese crackers and, of course, a spiral sliced ham! We are off and ready to Go, Go, Go!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

My Last Poop Blog (fingers crossed...)

Since Thanksgiving I have been held hostage by the pooping habits of my three year old. Robby's "withholding" has affected every aspect of my day. I haven't been able to leave the house for more than an hour at a time for fear of "leakage" burning his sore and raw bum. We have both been miserable.

I have conducted countless hours of research on the internet trying to find a remedy. After a discussion with other Mommies, I opted to try the "mineral oil" treatment. The oil is supposed to lubricate the bowel movement, making it painless when passing. Theoretically, after a few pain free bowel movements, Robby's fear of poop was to subside, and life was to return to normal.

The first day Robby was on the oil yielded limited success. He pooped in the bathtub. At the time I was elated. The entire family erupted into the "poopy dance." In retrospect, the poop was probably due to his screaming and his inability to control his muscles while throwing a tantrum.

The second day of the oil treatment produced no movements. Robby continued to withhold and his diaper rash continued to worsen. More research led me to slightly increase the oil dosage.

Yesterday Robby began to poop. As soon as he pooped without screaming he was rewarded with a trip to the bakery. There he picked out a giant Christmas tree cookie, smothered in green frosting. Yes, I am not above bribery, especially when desperate!

Scott and I thought that we had conquered the "withholding" issue. We decided to continue a maintenance dose of the oil to keep things "running smoothly." Poop talk in our house has become both natural and matter of fact.

Today I woke up determined to resurrect my dwindling Christmas spirit. I put on a brand new bright red cable knit sweater. Robby, dressed in red pants and his Santa Claus shirt, looked adorable. I must admit, we were quite the festive looking pair! We set out for the mall so that Robby could meet Santa.

I was delighted when, after some coaxing, Robby approached Santa. He was eager to sit on Santa's lap as soon as he saw the basket of lollipops next to Jolly St. Nick. Again, he is still at an age where he is easily and cheaply bribed. I got a wonderful picture of him with Santa.

Robby began complaining of a tummy ache almost as soon as we got home. He told me that he needed a new diaper. I no sooner took off his diaper when I received the surprise of a lifetime.

I've experienced projectile vomiting before. I didn't know that projectile diarrhea was a possibility--until today. Before I could seek cover, I was being sprayed with bright green liquid feces.

Nothing was safe from the wrath being produced from his bottom. Bright green (yes, Christmas tree cookie green) odoriferous fecal matter was spraying in 180 degrees for at least 10 feet. Diarrhea covered my brand new Christmas sweater, my hair and my face. The white carpet in my bedroom was splattered with little smelly green dots. My sweet little white cat also received a direct hit. She was not happy!

The rest of my afternoon was spent cleaning up after his anal explosion. With everything properly disinfected and cleaned, the smell is beginning to dissipate. Looking on the positive, Robby is no longer withholding. I have clean sheets on my bed and my carpet is clean. After seeing the damage inflicted on my sweater, red and green will forever have a different connotation.

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find the cat.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My Twelve Days of Christmas

Our holiday season has been hijacked by a withholding toddler. Robby has become fearful of pooping, and apparently has decided he will never do it again. To date, nothing has been successful in reversing his decision. He is nothing if not stubborn.

All of our family conversations lately have revolved around poop. Scott no longer asks how I am doing, instead he immediately begins discussing Robby's lack of bowel movements. I have become frustrated with the limited range of topics in our family.

As I was lathering up Robby's red bottom with more Desitin and Vaseline I began to hum the Christmas songs. The humming began as my way of blocking out his screaming, which is more out of habit than pain at this point.

By the time I had his bum lathered I had rewritten the first few lines to the Twelve Days of Christmas. I suppose this song is a reflection of how my holiday season is progressing. It made me smile to write it out, and I think that many Mommies will be able to relate.

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas my Family Gave to Me:

Twelve days of poop talk,

eleven cartoons playing,

ten toddler tantrums,

nine dozen cookies,

eight dirty diapers,

seven loads of laundry, six stumps a-hurtin',

Five sleepless nights,

Four bags of trash,

three cookie men,

two pinch cut sores

and some Desitin mixed with Vaseline.

I have never liked that song.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Thoughts on Rudolph

Of all of the classic Christmas cartoons, I would have to say that Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer is his favorite. We have the show on DVD and recorded on the DVR. If Robby knew how to operate the remote controls, I am certain that Rudolph would be playing on a continual loop in our home.

I have always found Rudolph to be an adorable Christmas symbol. The story is charming and always makes me smile. I have Rudolph ornaments that we hang from the chandelier every year. Robby and I have matching Rudolph shirts, and yes, the noses actually blink. My car is easy to locate in the crowded mall parking lot: it is the only SUV with antlers sticking up from the windows and a red nose on the grill!

That being said, I have always had issues with the cartoon classic. Even as a child I was haunted by some of the discrepancies brought to light in the show. I must have been an analytical child!

My main issue with the cartoon was Santa's behavior towards Rudolph. Santa, who is supposed to be loving and nice, was downright rude to Rudolph simply because he was different. Even as a youngster I knew that Santa was wrong, and part of me wondered if he disliked disabled children as well. I also knew from a very young age that, had I been Rudolph, I would have told Santa to grab a flashlight and pull his own sleigh! After all, Santa only "accepted" the nasally challenged deer when he needed something. Rudolph was being used.

I never completely "bought" the notion of the island of misfit toys. If Santa knew when I was being good or brushing my teeth, how did he not know that these toys existed? I assumed he went to rescue the toys because he was guilted into acting by Rudolph. I was also fairly certain that the toys were going to be distributed to "economically disadvantaged" children.

I could accept that the other reindeer were mean to Rudolph. I had certainly witnessed enough playground teasing to know that kids were cruel. I never understood how Rudolph's father could be so unaccepting of his son. Daddies are supposed to protect their children. Donner was ashamed of his son and was mean to him. It was just wrong.

Robby and I have watched Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer at least 25 times this year. I have had a lot of opportunities to analyze and dissect the cartoon. I suppose that being "politically correct" did not exist when the cartoon was created.

My issues aside, I like Rudolph. I wouldn't miss watching the cartoon every Christmas season. He makes me smile, and I am glad that he agreed to pull the sleigh for Santa. He is a better deer than me!