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, January 15, 2010


I just put Robby to bed and I think he is relieved. I've been smothering him with kisses and hugs all day. The images coming from the Haitian earthquake are heart-wrenching. With every news story I find myself reaching for another kiss or hug from my precious little boy. I am reminded how lucky I am.

I am not a doctor, nurse or engineer. I do not have the means nor the knowledge to provide assistance directly. I must rely upon others, who are trained and knowledgeable, to provide the aid so desperately needed.

I am particularly moved by the stories of individuals who are thankful to be alive but have sustained an amputation. I cannot fathom the pain that these people are experiencing, but I can relate to the grief felt when a limb is lost. When I lost my leg I knew that I would rely upon a circle of professionals who would provide me with the tools and the knowledge I would need to walk. I cannot imagine the desperation felt by the amputee without that luxury.

Like millions of others, I have made a donation to the Red Cross. I wanted to do something more, something personal. I did some research and found this organization. I thought that others, particularly amputees, might be interested in their work.

Healing Hands for Haiti is a non-profit organization with a mission of providing prosthetics for the Haitian people. Unfortunately I fear that the need for their services are going to skyrocket in the coming months and years. For me, this is a small way one very grateful amputee can reach and provide assistance to another amputee who is not nearly as lucky.

Try and Try Again.

I was raised by a mother who taught me, through her example, that it is imperative to be self-reliant. Repairmen are expensive and should be called as a last resort. Nobody would describe me as particularly handy, but I am resourceful and determined.

During the past 48 hours, I have focused my energies on repairing our broken septic system. I knew that the chances of resolving the problem myself were slim, but I was determined to try. My arms are sore from plunging, and my hands are blistered from snaking. My Livestrong sweatshirt and my favorite lounge pants were ruined when my "great idea" resulted in the septic volcano spewing poop from the end cap.

My attempts to fix our septic issues have been in vain. Hours of research have yielded no viable solutions. Robby is becoming bored with cartoons and needs attention. I am officially waving the white flag. We called the septic man.

Tired and dirty from my day as pseudo septic repairwoman, I was looking forward to relaxing in a long bubble bath. Then I remembered that bathing was not an option because of the backed-up septic system. Miserable, deflated, and tired, I was forced to settle for a sponge bath and a lot of Purell.

Feeling less than refreshed and reeking of hand sanitizer, I climbed into bed, hoping my dreams would take me anywhere that didn't involve poop! I settled down, ready to relax and eager to watch American Idol. I pulled off my liner and discovered it filled with blood.

Blood is never a good thing, especially on my stump.

I located a small pin-size hole on the incision of my residual limb. The tip of a stitch was beginning to poke through the opening. A stitch, designed to dissolve, was working its way to the surface of my skin. I had been forced to contort myself into unusual positions in my attempts to fix our plumbing. I suspect that my twisting caused the stitch to surface.

I have been dealing with the problem of so-called dissoluble stitches surfacing for several years, but this is the first instance that it has happened on my stump. It is not unusual for stitches to surface within the incision on my thigh. Every few months I notice a red blister bump, followed by the edge of a stitch. I typically clip the stitch with sterilized fingernail clippers, and it causes no problems.

This has been the first time a stitch has surfaced on my stump. I clipped the stitch and covered the area with antibiotic cream. I hesitate to put a lot of pressure on my stump because I don't want it to become infected, so I am trying to keep my leg off as much as possible. My limb is sore to touch and the suction within my socket is painful. I am not having a good leg day!

The last time I tried to fix our plumbing issues, I ended up on IV antibiotics for a week. Apparently, you need to wear gloves when using a plumber’s snake. (I certainly didn't make that mistake again.) This time I ended up with a bloody and painful stump.

I am starting to realize that plumbing is not one of my talents. Thankfully, my stump will heal in a day or two, and our septic system has been professionally repaired. All of my snaking and plunging could not have moved the plastic dinosaur blocking the pipe. According to Robby, he wanted to "swim" in the potty.

I am retiring my plumber’s snake and admitting defeat. I plan on following a rule developed by a friend of mine. Plumbing jobs can be attempted as long as they involve only clean water. When poop is involved, it is always best to call the professional. However, I do think I deserve credit for trying.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

My Stump is Ugly! But I am Not.

I have received a lot of positive feedback from my post dated December 12, "Yes, I'm Talking About Sex." I appreciate everybody sharing their stories with me. I know that opening up about such a delicate issue is difficult. It seems that regardless of the location of limb loss, one common factor remains: issues surrounding intimacy.

I was surprised how many amputees shared their feelings of embarrassment concerning their residual limb. In particular, it seems that many of us have issues looking at our newly shaped limbs. I suppose when somebody feels that a particular part of their body is ugly or grotesque, it is difficult to be completely relaxed and comfortable during intimacy. At least, I have found it to be true.

My amputation occurred over 6 years ago. I look at my stump every day. Every evening I examine the limb for abrasions or sores in an attempt to avoid an infection. When I am looking at my stump, I find that I turn off my emotions. I concentrate on my purpose and avoid thinking about what I am doing. In a sense, I guess I look at my stump, but I avoid really seeing it.

On the rare occasion that I allow my emotions to intervene and I see my stump, I become self-conscious and sad. I appreciate that my limb is healthy and functional. I hesitate to admit this, but I still think that my residual limb is ugly. It has an odd shape, strange bumps and is covered with hair. For me, it is not a vision of beauty!

I used to believe that acceptance of my amputation would necessitate at the very least neutral feelings concerning its visual appeal. I have given up on that notion. I continue to feel that my stump is unattractive, I have evolved into a well-adjusted, happy and in many ways, a thriving amputee woman. It has been a relief to learn that adjustment to my amputation and a visual acceptance are not necessarily correlated.

I don't like having my stump touched. In addition to being ugly, it has pockets of nerve bundles which have created sensitive spots. I prefer that the limb be ignored when uncovered which includes during intimacy. In many ways my stump has become a non-entity during intercourse.

I have learned to function with my limb and appreciate its value while ignoring the its unsightliness. Sometimes emotions sneak up on me, and I find myself staring at my stump. I start to feel grotesque. Usually Robby and Scott will come into the room, and I am distracted from my wallowing. I put on my leg and I shake off "the uglies" and keep going. It is the only coping mechanism that seems to work for me.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Potty Talk!

I am tired of the language that has been used in this house. Scott and I have been engaging in more potty talk than either of us would like. I wish I were referring to cursing. That would be easier to resolve.

I suppose it started in November when Robby began "withholding." Apparently deciding that he was never going to poop again, Robby developed a horrific diaper rash and was in a lot of pain. This has been an ongoing situation for nearly two months.

Robby has been placed on a protocol of a high fiber diet combined with mineral oil. The treatment has been effective in producing movements but has not solved the problem. As soon as we stop the oil, Robby resumes his withholding behavior. We now fluctuate between painful withholding with constipation and pooping like a goose.

When Scott calls from work, his first inquiry is always about Robby's bowel movements. Family and friends, all concerned about Robby, continue to ask about the effectiveness of the oil. Quite honestly, I'm tired of discussing the pooping habits of my three year old.

Finally, I have been able to determine the correct dose of oil. Robby has been able to poop without pain and doesn't seem as frightened. I have been able to change his pants without getting sprayed by projectile liquid feces.

Robby's bowel habits are no longer the main topic of conversation in this house. What a relief! We are finally able to talk about something other than poop.

Or so I thought...

We are now having septic issues. When it is extremely cold outside, sewage is backing up into the shower downstairs. It has been perplexing because it only occurs when the temperature is below freezing. During the day the shower remains clean. Now, instead of calling to ask about Robby's issues, Scott calls to discuss the poop in the shower.

I have completed hours of research concerning the bowel movements of toddlers during the past few months. I have now found myself researching septic systems, discovering where the poop ends up. I have thus learned about the entire poop cycle.

I refuse to drive to Wal-Mart to have a bowel movement, so we are left with no choice but to repair the system. I am looking forward to putting our poop talk behind us (pun intended) and moving onto more stimulating conversation. In the meantime, I think I'll go bake a cake. No, it won't solve our septic issues, but it will certainly make me happier.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Organization is in the Bag.

It might be easy to mistake my home for a toy factory. My floors are littered with small cars, dinosaurs, animals and various assorted toys. There is an indirect correlation between Robby's age and the size of his toys. As Robby is getting bigger and growing older, his toys are becoming smaller.

Small toys are hazardous, especially for the amputee. I am not able to tell when I am stepping on something until it cracks or I fall. I have stepped on more cars, animals and action figures than I can count. Robby has recently discovered marbles and received hundreds for Christmas. These little glass balls scare me. My friends have started a pool guessing when I will slip on a marble, and what will be broken.

I woke up this morning with a determination to get organized. After surveying the preferred play zones of my toy monster, I began to formulate a plan. I pulled out my embroidery machine, several cloth tote bags from my sewing basket and set to work.

I embroidered both the name and picture of each item that was to be placed into the bag. I made one for blocks, animals, trains and cars. After each bag was complete, Robby set out through the house to fill it with the appropriate toy. It took most of the morning, but Robby seems to understand the new organizational system. If the bags keep the toys off my floor and keep my pathways from become plastic mine fields, it was well worth the time!

I was beginning to pack up my embroidery machine when Robby dug through my sewing basket and pulled out another bag. I asked him what he wanted it to say. He told me that he wanted it to say "Mommy" with a happy face. Thinking that he wanted me to have a bag to gather my items, I obliged and embroidered the tote.

When the bag was finished, I put it on the bed. I proceeded to pack up my embroidery machine and prepared to tackle my mounting "to do " list. When I came out of my little sewing corner, I was shocked by the state of my bedroom.

Toys, which were previously cleaned up and placed into their designated bags, were scattered everywhere. My new tote bag organizational system was a failure. My house was a wreck. Deflated, I thought I was going to cry.

I saw Robby, sitting in the middle of the mess as he was frantically sorting through his toy bags. Toys were being tossed over his shoulder as he emptied each bag. Occasionally, he stopped and placed a toy into the bag on his lap.

I walked over, prepared to place him into time out for making a deliberate mess. He smiled and proudly showed me the "Mommy" bag on his lap. I looked inside and found it filled with a variety of toys and animals that had suffered a limb loss from being trampled.

Robby was creating his own organizational system. The cars, trains, animals and dinosaurs were returned to their designated totes. All of the amputee animals were placed into the "Mommy" tote. Hopefully, the new organizational system will keep the "Mommy bag" from getting any fuller!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Froggy Love

The past few days has been too cold to play outside with Robby, and despite his new toys, he has become bored. As often the case with a bored toddler, he has focused his energy towards destruction.

In an effort to save my sanity and to give the time out corner a reprieve, I packed up little Robby Rotten and headed to a movie. Since he received frogs from Santa, I thought the perfect way to pass an afternoon was to see the movie A Princess and the Frog. The prospect of not having to reprimand my little tornado of terror was motivation enough for me to bundle him up and head to the "Movie Cafe."

The Movie Cafe is an ingenious set up that must have been invented by a Mom. Instead of traditional seating, the theater is filled with round tables and lounge chairs. They have a small menu and the food is brought to you.

It is the ideal location when taking a toddler to a movie. Robby is afforded a little more movement than in a traditional theater seat. When he becomes bored he occupies himself by eating fries or popcorn. We always choose a table towards the back, providing us extra room should Robby need to roam.

I also appreciate the extra room. I am provided ample space to stretch out my legs and, should it be necessary, I can remove my prosthetic. Since we sit in a discrete location, I often pop off the prosthetic and prop up my legs during the movie. One drawback to being an amputee is that being seated for long periods with limited leg room often leaves me cramping and uncomfortable within my socket. After all, it is a rarity for me to be able to relax in a dark room and when I can, I certainly don't want to deal with cramps!

Robby was well-behaved during the movie. He danced in his seat during the songs and insisted that we clap when the characters were done singing. He could not have been cuter. What a nice change from the Robby of only a few short hours ago who was running naked through the house wrapping the furniture in toilet paper.

He seemed attentive during the movie, but I am never sure how much he is understanding or absorbing. He seemed most amused by the bug that flew up a man's nose in the film, a scene which he talked about incessantly on the drive home. Typical boy I suppose.

After we got home Robby began to play quietly in his room while I worked on dinner. I checked on him to make sure he wasn't getting into trouble. After all, Robby Rotten is always lurking around the corner. I am glad that I had my camera handy so that I could capture the scene.

Apparently Robby did understand more of the movie than I assumed. I caught him trying to kiss his new frogs. When I asked him why, he told me that he was "ascared that they were people and needed a Robby kiss." That statement made the frustrations of the morning evaporate.

I smiled as I thought about my little boy, kissing frogs at such a young age. After all, I didn't start kissing frogs until I was in my teens! Kids grow up so quickly these days.

I assured him that his frogs were indeed frogs and not people. Frogs that are really people can sing and often wear hats. His frogs can only swim. Satisfied, he moved on to play with his trains.

I was proud of my quick thinking. I know that he won't always be so easily convinced, so I am going to enjoy his trust while I have it. I only wish I could somehow convince him that it is more fun to clean than to make a mess. Then I could apply for "Mommy of the Year."