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.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

ACA Conference Bound!

My foot was initially injured due to a freak accident when I was attending a conference. I suppose that this is the reason I tried to gracefully bow out professional conferences when I was working as a teacher. When my attendance was mandatory, I muddled through, but I was never particularly happy to be there.

Other than the conference which crushed my foot, I had never been to an event which changed my views or made much of an impact. The speakers have always been dry and uninspired. I quickly learned that the attendees were there to collect professional development points, as was I, rather than to learn new techniques.

When I was asked to work in the Ossur booth at the Amputee Coalition of America (ACA) conference several years ago, I was expecting a similar experience. I did not expect to learn anything new or even to enjoy myself. I didn't realize that those few days would change my entire outlook on my life as an amputee.

I learned volumes during my time at the conference despite the fact that I never left the booth to attend any sessions! Seeing and meeting hundreds of amputees of different levels and abilities was inspiring. My job was to invite the attendees into the booth, answer their questions and make them feel comfortable. I didn't expect the memories of some of those individuals to be with me years later, yet I now know that I will never forget some of them.

I don't wear a cosmetic cover on my prosthetic. I did wear a cover for about a year until one morning I woke up and realized that I didn't have anything to hide. I wasn't walking on my real leg. I was tired of pretending that I had two legs simply to make the general public more comfortable: I was using a prosthetic which was beautiful in its own right. I peeled the cover off, and I haven't worn one since.

Because I don't wear a cover, I am more apt to receive stares and gawking glances whenever I am out. I have learned to continue with my activities and, most of the time, I don't notice. I was shocked at how liberated I felt being amongst hundreds of amputees at the ACA conference. For the first time since I lost my leg, I was not "the only one" but one of many.

There is a freedom to blending into a crowd that isn't missed until it is gone. I never realized how comfortable it is not to be deemed "different" in a crowd. At the ACA conference the tables were turned, and those with all their limbs stuck out and drew attention. Conversations about components, liners and "bad leg days" abounded, and nobody gave it a second thought. For us, it is just a part of daily life. For a few days within the confines of the hotel, being an amputee was the norm.

I spent a few days at the conference and I had the time of my life. I gained a lot of confidence and resolved to start writing about my experiences. I made friendships which I cherish. Although I missed my husband and my little boy, I didn't want to leave.

I am excited to write that I have been asked back to the ACA conference this year, and I will be working the Ossur booth again. If you are attending the conference this year, please stop by the booth and say hello. I would love to meet you, and I'll even give you a t-shirt! It would be great if we could arrange for all of my readers in attendance to meet up one evening. I'm not big into the bar scene though, so instead of meeting for a drink maybe we could all meet up for cake?


  1. Sounds like it is going to be amazing! Wish we weren't so far away or I'd pack the kids up and go to it. I know what you mean about the cosmetic cover. When my son was little, we tried and tried to make the leg look as much like his other leg--what a headache since a small child will tear a cover up in hours lol. We even tryed pantyhose once. But one day I had the kids at the YMCA and I noticed an adult amputee with a cool painted look to his prosthetic, I started thinking and realized no matter what I did the leg my son has would never look like his other! Many times he would say 'I like it this way' before we put the cover on. So I took a leap and found how to take a fabric and have the leg wrapped in it, this made my son a star in pre-k up till 5th grade lol. We have had sponge bob legs, Simpson's legs, blues clues leg (one of my fav.) tie died leg, flame leg and currently we have an outer space leg (in our quest for star-wars look) yes it does draw attention and I get ohh did he break his leg (odd question since he's above the knee and has just a metal pole below the knee attached to a foot). We get plenty of stares--but for the most part, people think it looks cool!

  2. Hi Peggy,

    I just want you to know I am glad to have found you. I lost my left leg (BKA) and right toes last November from complications of septic shock. I also found out that I am 5 weeks pregnant. I actually just started a group called Amputee Mommy-To-Be on babycenter.com (http://community.babycenter.com/groups/a6719485/amputee_mommy-to-be)

    I have a feeling noone is going to post anything...it seems like I'm the only pregnant amputee out there. I do have faith though, that's what tends to keep me going during my times of doubt, and that's why I started the group.

    Along with the unbridled happiness, I feel alone, I fear ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage because of my endometriosis and age (36,) I am worried about having to go back to work now all of a sudden because we have no money and I am on SSD, I don't want to rely too heavily on my partner or others because of my amputation...I just haven't had time to properly mourn/accept/deal with my limb loss and wonder if it will ever happen? I am still mad that it happened and ruined my life. Now I'm beginning to see, yes, my life goes on...indeed it does but it will FOREVER be tainted by this misery. I can't even bend by knee enough to ride a bicycle because of my damned prosthesis, and my prosthetist said this will never get better! I'm not willing to give up certain things from my past which I loved, and now I have to! And then to have my fears confirmed about how some other people perceive us (freaks and whores comments you shared really scared and upset me.) I have tears in my eyes writing this.

    In short, I just wish this had never happened and somehow still hope that I can go back to a "normal" life. Is his just a fantasy, will I ever be able to feel normal again? Or do I have to suck it up and deal with the fact that I am PERMANENTLY disabled, for my own good as well as for my baby's?

    Thanks for listening. Hope to hear from you soon!

  3. Astrah,

    First of all, congratulations on your pregnancy. Being pregnant is a terrifying yet wonderful experience for any woman... going through the process with limb loss certainly makes the fear weigh heavier.

    You are not alone, and what you are feeling is not unusual. I was terrified and angry when I lost my leg. I worried that I would never truly be happy again, that my joys would always be tainted by the loss of my leg. I am happy to report that I was wrong, and that I have emerged into a very happy, strong, adventurous amputee woman and Mommy. Life is different, but just as good!

    It is a long journey, one that only really begins when you get your prosthetic. Your pregnancy can still be a wonderful experience. I was diagnosed and treated for cervical cancer before I had Robby. I worried about miscarrying for the majority of the pregnancy, and was on bedrest for about four months. It was a hard time, but the end result was worth it. It's hard to enjoy the joys of being pregnant when you are riddled with fear and anxiety, but try to enjoy each milestone as much as you can.

    As for your knee not bending because of your prosthetic, I would question why it can't be adapted to fit what you want to do? You may want to think about a consult with another prosthetist... find somebody who will listen to what you want to do and will build the device to suit your needs... that is the way it is supposed to work!

    I'm on facebook where I started a group for those who follow the blog. You will meet a lot of very supportive amputee women and friends who can support you through your journey. The group is called AmputeeMommy Fan Page. Feel free to friend me as well, or email me directly if you want to chat. I'd be happy to send you my number so we can talk... I know it can be a lonely journey but know that there are others who have traveled the path before you and can help you navigate through the adjustment. I'm happy to listen and help anyway I can. Hope to hear from you soon.
    Peggy (amputeemommy@gmail.com)