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.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day!

I have been prepping Robby for Mother's Day all week. He knows that he has to be a "super good boy" today. Last night, after Robby was tucked into bed, I grabbed my pillow and said goodnight to Scott. I headed downstairs to sleep, leaving Scott with all "monster chasing" responsibilities for the evening. I decided that I was going to sleep in!

I took a brief detour in the kitchen write down my favorite drink order from Starbucks. The menu does get confusing, especially for a coffee novice. I have learned years ago that Scott responds best to a direct approach, subtle hints are lost on him. Starbucks is such a treat for me that I didn't want to risk the order being wrong.

I woke up this morning to the pitter patter of Robby's feet in the kitchen above me. I heard Scott urging Robby to be quiet as they "snuck" out of the house. Success! My Starbucks hint worked. I stayed in bed and watched "Good Morning America" as I awaited my doting. Quiet time in front of the television and control over the remote is a rare luxury!

I turned off the television as soon as I heard the car pull into the garage. Robby came bounding downstairs, and then he began to blow his penguin whistle to wake me up. "Good Morning Momom. Hurry up. We have a big surprise for you! Hurry Momom hurrrrryyyyyyy!"

Upstairs I was presented with my large non-fat, two sweet n' low latte. How did they know that was my favorite! Robby also handed me a chocolate doughnut. He proudly showed me his sprinkle laden concoction that he talked his Daddy into at the grocery store.

On my first Mother's Day Scott commissioned a large banner that says "World's Best Mother." This banner is now hung every year from our deck, so that my mothering superiority can be declared to all of the families in our neighborhood. Just kidding! Even though I know it will be hung, the site of the banner always warms my heart.

I hope that all of my AmputeeMommy friends and family have a wonderful Mother's Day. Being a Mommy is a lifelong job, with no retirement or layoffs. It is a job without vacation time or sick days. We are not paid in money but in kisses and hugs, in giggles and carefully plucked dandelion "pretty pretty" flowers. Motherhood is the greatest adventure in the world.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Let the Training Begin...

Yesterday was a special day in our house: I received my new activity/running leg. I have been an amputee for almost seven years, yet I always become giddy with excitement when I receive a new prosthetic. My excitement was contagious. Scott even took off from work for the afternoon so that he could document the event!

My new leg looks completely different from anything that I have used in the past. I started my life as an amputee on a low profile veriflex. I transitioned to the Proprio foot, which I have been using as my everyday leg for three years. I also have a water foot from Freedom Innovations that I use in the pool and in the snow. Now I have a Mod III foot with a back socket mount.

Before my amputation I was ignorant about prosthetics. I didn't realize that each device is geared for specific activities, and that the amputee must have an arsenal of limbs at his disposal in order to be physically adventurous. Perhaps someday a prosthetic will be developed which is truly universal. For now, my trunk will be filled with prosthetic legs.

Although I knew that my new foot would be mounted on the back of my socket, I didn't fully grasp the concept until I saw the leg. It looks strange, and I was immediately concerned about my ability to ambulate in this odd looking device. I have always had the rod (for lack of a better term) directly under my stump. Now the rod is behind the bottom of my socket. In a sense, my leg no longer extends through my residual limb.

To my delight I found walking to be easy. In fact, after taking a few minutes to become adjusted to the new leg, walking felt both natural and comfortable. I was ready to run. Or, to be more specific, I was ready to attempt running.

So, I am not the fastest, nor am I the most graceful, but I remained upright and mobile. After my last running experience, that is an improvement. I came home from the prosthetist energized and ready to start my training.

Scott and Robby curled up to watch cartoons, and I laced up and got ready to run. With my cell phone in hand, I took a deep breath and started to jog. Yes, I was jogging! I felt like I was flying, but I know that my pace was not impressive. But I was doing it, and that is what counts.

I was able to jog and walk for 2.3 miles. I was hurting by the time I stumbled home, but I was still upright and moving. I would write more, but I am too tired! More stories will be forthcoming I am sure, but, for now, I am celebrating the new freedom the leg provides and will keep training so that I can complete 3.2 miles instead of 2.3 by race day.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

I Hate Math!

It has been brought to my attention that 5K is actually 3.1 miles. This is considerably longer than the 2.1 miles I was expecting to run on June 5. Nevertheless, I have made a commitment and I plan to see it through, even if that means I leave my lungs trailing behind me as I huff and puff my way along.

My new activity/ running leg is being made as I type, and I will pick it up on Thursday. I am so excited. I'm hoping that the mounted Mod III foot/ ankle will provide me with the extra spring I need to complete the race. Of course, perhaps depending upon my prosthetic to see me through the race may be faulty logic; perhaps I should start training.

I needed to plot out my training course. Back roads are a must as I don't want to distract any drivers with my humorous running style! Yes, the sight of me running on the road could lead be a driver distraction, so I am best kept out of sight. I am opting for a course through the streets in my development. After all, my neighbors are accustomed to seeing me humiliate myself, so I won't be a distraction if they are driving by.

I strapped Robby into his booster seat, reset the odometer and took off to plan my route. I was amazed at how slowly the odometer turned even though it seemed like I was driving quite a distance! Convinced that the odometer was incorrect, I reset it and measured the course again on my way home. To my disappointment, my odometer does not have a mechanical malfunction. Wow, 3.2 miles is longer than I thought!

Tomorrow I will start my training. I would start today if I had a proper running prosthetic. Surely injuring my limb by running on an improper device would set my training behind. Does that sound like procrastination?

I know that I am not going to run the entire route tomorrow. I am hoping to run a mile, and walk the remainder. I am running towards a goal, which will help. Not only do I want to prove to myself and to my family and friends that I can do this, but also I want to raise money for a worthy cause. I know that I can do this!

The training will be hard, and I know that I will want to give up. I am not a quitter, but I may need an extra boost of motivation towards the closing mile of my run. I often respond best to instant gratification. That is the reason that, at the end of my strategically planned training route, I end up at the 7-11. When I want to quit, the lure of the Slurpee may be just the extra motivation I need to keep me running!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Not Worth the Price

A few weeks ago I met with Elliot, my prosthetist, to discuss my liner issues. I love the practicality of the seal-in liner I have been using because I'm able to simply step into the socket and walk. My biggest complaint with the liner involves the fit. It is a cylinder shape that does not accommodate for a "shapely" thigh. The liner consistently rolls down my thigh, and it drives me absolutely crazy.

I have tried several stop gap measures to fix the rolling liner problem. I've cut a wave design in the top of the liner which was moderately successful. Unfortunately, as the liner becomes worn there is nothing that keeps it in place on my jiggly thigh.

I have gotten into the habit of simply folding the liner over the top of my socket. Folding the liner eliminates the uncomfortable liner roll which interferes with the bending of my knee. Unfortunately, the liner sticks to my pants and skirts when it is folded over. I have also discovered that the durability of the liner is compromised by folding it over the socket, lending itself to developing holes and tears.

I have complained about the liner shape to everybody who would listen. I had the opportunity to meet some research and development specialists from Ossur several months ago, and my liner woes were at the top of my list. I have been assured that an improved shape is in the works, but that certainly doesn't help me now.

Elliot has heard my complaints about the rolling liner for years. He invited me to try a new liner, manufactured by Evolution Industries. The Origin liner is a new seal-in liner that is touted to stay in place. I was psyched and ready to give it a try.

The Origin Liner is a two part system. The first piece is similar to the common silicone liner that is used for sleeve suspensions. I was impressed the first time I rolled the new liner onto my limb. Although it was thicker, the material was smooth and comfortable. The conical shape worked its geometric magic as the liner did not roll down my thigh.

The second part of the liner is similar to a prosthetic sock with the addition of a seal. It was simple enough to slip on, although to be honest I wasn't thrilled with the extra step. I suppose I have become lazy when it comes to putting on and off my leg. I don't need to wear prosthetic socks anymore and I have become spoiled with the "get up and go" system I have been using.

If I had written this blog after the first day in the liner, my report would have been glowing. I loved the fact that it stayed in place. Once I trusted that it would not roll down and stopped walking stiff legged in order to thwart movement, I found walking to be easy. The suction was strong and I was thrilled.

After the first day, my experience started to go downhill. The liner left my limb cherry tomato red after a few hours. I found that I was constantly releasing pressure in the socket to provide relief. The thick material was impeding my ability to kneel down and squat.

On the third day I abandoned the new liner altogether. I developed painful and bloody sores on my knee along the line of the liner. My leg was stinging whenever the liner was removed and my limb felt like it was burning when I rinsed it off. The discomfort and skin breakdown was not worth the "luxury" of a liner which stayed in place!

With the "new" liner by the wayside, I set out reconfiguring my seal-in liner. Since it was already riddled with holes, I knew that there was little damage I could inflict to make the situation worse. I opted to cut the length significantly so that the liner ends just below my knee. (I suppose I could have taken more care to cut a straight line, but I was frustrated and looking for a solution.)

I have been thrilled with my liner since I made this adjustment. My knee is completely free, allowing for full mobility of the joint. I no longer have to worry about the liner rolling down, or creating an unsightly fold over my socket.

I have been in the seal-in liner for several years and have been complaining about the issue for as many years. I spoke with researchers for the prosthetic company and various prosthetists about the issue. Despite all of the expertise I solicited, nobody was able to solve the problem. The solution was so simple! Why didn't I think of this earlier?

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Little Boys Cannot Fly!

Dear Robby,

I know that you love birdies. They look so pretty high up in the sky, flying around. I know that you want to be able to fly like a bug and go through the clouds. It would be a lot of fun to fly around. Mommy wishes that she could fly, too.

But Robby, you cannot fly. No matter how many times you stand on the top of your race car bed bookshelf to try to get more height. No matter how hard you flap your arms. No matter how high you jump. People cannot fly.

Robby, you have sustained multiple bumps and bruises pursuing your dream of flying. While I admire your gumption, I must ask you to stop. This morning you hurt yourself, and Mommy was scared.

You tried to fly again this morning, but you missed your landing pad. You landed on your foot and hurt yourself. You weren't able to walk and you were in pain. Your ankle was swollen and red, and I was worried that you broke it.

Mommy is very sensitive when it comes to foot issues. I ultimately lost my foot because of a seemingly benign injury. I am always going to worry when an injury occurs to your foot that you might suffer the same fate. I know it sounds silly; the chances of you sustaining an amputation are minuscule. Statistically, I should still have my foot. I don't trust fate. You scared Mommy!

Because of your unsuccessful flying attempt you had to go see the doctor. You don't have a broken ankle, but you do need to stop trying to soar "high high up." Mommy doesn't want you to get hurt.

You hobbled around all day, and your foot is now starting to feel better. Why then, after everything we went through today, after all of our discussions, did I find you perched on the top of your race car bed, looking guilty and clutching a feather duster? Your idea of needing feathers to fly is a good one, but you are incorrect. You don't need feathers in order to fly. Little boys cannot fly. Please stop trying. Mommy already has enough grey hair, and it is becoming difficult to keep it colored!

Love, Mommy

Monday, May 03, 2010

My Busy Weekend

This has been a busy, yet productive weekend. My muscles are sore and my stump hurts, but I can look back on the tasks which were completed with a sense of satisfaction that only comes after hard work. I am amazed with how physically strong I have become during the past few years. I know that just two years ago I would not have been able to do half of what I accomplished with relative ease.

My mom is in the process of building a mini playground for the grandchildren. I find it ironic that she purchased a swinging and twisting tire swing, a few regular swings, a sandbox (filled with green sand of course) and a trapeze for her grandchildren's amusement. When we were growing up, my siblings and I had a rusted swing set that would thump precariously whenever we were swinging too high and an old truck tire for a sandbox. We had a scoop by the sandbox where we would remove the droppings from the stray cats that visited our "sand tire" in the evenings.

In order to build a proper play area, she wanted her brick patio to be removed so that 6 inches of fluffy playground mulch could be laid. Upon initial inspection, the job looked relatively easy. I figured that it would be a good calorie burning activity, and I would be able to help my mom at the same time. I agreed to help.

I spent several hours over two days hunched over with a crowbar and a wheelbarrow, pulling up bricks and stacking them several yards away. I learned two important things while I was cursing the brick patio: First, there were a lot more bricks than I realized when I offered my help with the job. I made ten trips with a full wheelbarrow and made only a small dent in the patio. Second, bricks are heavy. Picked up in isolation the weight is not significant. Piled full into a wheelbarrow and constantly picking them up to move them makes the weight more noticeable. My arms are tired!

In addition to dismantling and relocating a brick patio, I helped my cousin clean out his grandma's house. My Aunt Ethel is now residing in an assisted living facility in Ohio and the house is going to be put up for sale. In order for the house to be readied for sale, the clutter and personal items needed to be removed.

My mom watched Robby Rotten and Abbi, our newborn cousin, on Saturday (no easy task) while I helped my cousin and his girlfriend pack, move furniture and clean. After working for 10 hours, all three of us were ready to drop. We were sent to the house with a lengthy and detailed to do list. I kept cracking the whip and we were able to accomplish most of the tasks.

As I was driving home to Virginia from Pennsylvania I thought about everything that was accomplished in two short days. Do you know what I realized? My amputation did not interfere with my ability to move piles of bricks, nor did my limb loss affect my ability to help my cousin move.

As a matter of fact, I am the perfect furniture moving partner. If the furniture becomes too awkward or heavy and needs to be put down quickly, I don't have to worry about my toes getting pinched. I also discovered that, in a pinch, my socket makes an excellent tool to unhinge the bed frame from the headboard if a hammer isn't handy. I suppose that now I can no longer use my amputation as an excuse to avoid helping others move!

I'd say this was a good weekend!