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, August 05, 2011

Yard Work Fun

Yesterday after Robby and I finished our Golden Grahams, we put on our sneakers, grabbed our walkie-talkies and headed outside. My determination to clean up my yard was not stemming from the desire to increase our curb appeal but rather because we are hosting a picnic tonight. I didn't think it would be appropriate for our guests to have to walk over sticks, assorted bubble wands, broken pieces of sidewalk chalk and a lot of weeds.

Robby and I took opposite sides of the driveway and began weeding. He loved helping, and I enjoyed the running dialog he kept with each unwelcome plant before pulling it out. "Oh you're a nasty little bugger aren't you... well how do you like this? That's right, I've got you hanging by your roots. You're all mine (insert evil laugh)." I have to admit, he certainly knows how to make a mundane chore fun!

After we were done weeding, we moved on to consolidating our wood piles. Robby dubbed himself the official "Wormie Captain." Every time he saw a worm crawl out of the wood he called me on the walkie talkie. I, in turn, had to put the wood down and respond through my walkie talkie with an "Aye aye Wormie Captain." There were a lot of worms in the wood pile; it took over an hour to move the wood. (If I didn't have a Wormie Captain I suspect it would have taken no longer than 15 minutes.)

We worked for nearly three hours straight, but the outside is now presentable. Unfortunately, I forgot to apply bug spray, and Robby and I both suffered for the mistake last night. I felt horrible seeing the little bug welts all over his ankles and arms. My ankle was also covered with bites and it was driving me crazy all night. (A benefit of being an amputee is that I only get half the bug bites.) When I'm miserable and trying to not scratch, I sometimes envision the pesky little mosquitoes' shock and then painful death after biting into my carbon fiber socket. It makes me smile.

Despite the bug bites, yesterday was productive and fun. I normally hate working in the yard, but Robby's enthusiasm for helping made it a pleasure. I hope that he is this taken with yard work in a few months when the leaves need to be raked!

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Picnic Procrastination

During a visit with my prosthetist in May, I was asked to help organize a picnic for the children who are patients at his practice. We threw around ideas for a few days, and I quickly realized that he didn't particularly care about any of the details. His only request, being able to serve beer and wine to the parents, was going to severely impact our location choice. After discussing the picnic options with Scott, we volunteered to host the picnic at our home. If there is anything that I love, it is throwing a party!

Hosting the picnic sounded like a fantastic idea in May. After all, three months felt like more than enough time to get everything ready. I had a grandiose plan to keep my house and yard impeccable. I knew that readying my home for the picnic would not be a problem.

Summer has been flying by and reality has set in. I have not kept my house spotless. Although it isn't worthy of being featured on "Hoarders," it is cluttered with toys which haven't been put away, clothes piled in corners, spider webs and a lot of dust. Playing in the pool with Robby has monopolized much of my time, providing me with the perfect excuse to avoid cleaning.

Outside our grass is brown and covered with a layer of leaves that have begun to fall because of the heat and lack of rain. The only thing that is bright green are the plentiful weeds. I abandoned my back garden in June when I broke out in a poison ivy rash and saw a snake slither between my peonies. Unfortunately, in May I had envisioned the same snake invested, poison ivy covered back garden to be the location for the picnic!

Now the picnic that was months away is tomorrow. Yesterday, after a brief moment of panic, I dedicated myself to cleaning the house. I worked for 10 hours, but everything is (nearly) sparkling and clean. Robby even got into the action, excited to help me scrub the toilets and mop the floors. Much to his chagrin, he has been banned from his art supplies until after the picnic and has limited access to toys in our bedrooms.

Today, I am firing up the weed-whacker and tackling the yard. I'm hoping that the sound will frighten away the serpents that have taken residence in our weed garden. There is nothing I can do about the grass, but I'm optimistic that colorful lanterns and twinkle lights will provide a much needed pop of color against the dull brown.

Thankfully, I don't have to do a lot of cooking for this picnic because it is being catered. Robby is over the moon that a "ginormous super big" moon bounce is going to be set up in his yard! As soon as the yard is presentable, I know I'll be able to relax and enjoy setting up for the picnic. Until then, I'm cursing my procrastinating ways!

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

My New Old Life

I have often viewed my life in terms of before and after. There was my life before my foot was injured, and my life after amputation. I worked as a teacher for the blind before I became a mom; now I am a blogger who works for her prosthetist. My "before" and "after" lives have never collided--until recently.

While I don't miss working in the public school system and all of the paperwork associated with teaching special education students, I do miss making a direct impact. In particular, I loved working with the blind babies and their families and, at the risk of sounding vain, I was good at it. Giving up working with the babies to take care of my own was difficult for me.

As the years have passed, I have found new passions. I thoroughly enjoy working for my prosthetist, and I certainly adore taking care of Robby. I thought that I had replaced my passion for teaching and had given up on the idea of returning to the profession.

A few days ago I received a phone call from a parent whose baby I taught that threw an interesting twist into my career plans. The little girl, Abbi, has severe disabilities but a smile that is contagious. She is now 7 and, according to her parents, has not made much progress since I stopped working with her. I was asked to resume working with her privately and, to be honest, I was floored. I had never considered this as a possibility!

All of the necessary insurance requisitions were submitted by the parents and approved by the carrier before I was even contacted. After talking with the mother for a few minutes, I knew that I had to take this opportunity. I am confident that I can help Abbi and her family, and I'm excited to get started!

I never thought that I would be writing this, but I'm going to revisit my '"before" life. I'm going back to teaching. I couldn't be more excited to be returning to a career that I loved but thought that I would never see again!

This fall is going to be a period of adjustment. I am going to continue working for my prosthetist by writing his blog and maintaining his social media connections. I'll also be teaching Abbi and her family once a week. Factor in writing this blog, working on my book and taking care of my family, and I don't foresee a lot of down time. It's exciting to be busy following such different passions!

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Prosthetic Priorities

Before this blog is read, I would like to clarify a few things. First, I love animals. We have two cats in our home whom we consider to be members of our family. Second, we have gone to extraordinary measures to keep our pets happy and active, including ordering a doggy wheelchair when my childhood dog could no longer use his back legs. Third, animal "feel good" stories typically make me smile. Nothing compares to the complete devotion offered by a pet to his caretaker.

Lately both the mainstream and social media have been abuzz with stories featuring an animal using a prosthetic. In the past two weeks, I have read articles about a horse, an elephant, two cats and a turtle. All of these animals would have been put down had it not been for the generosity of the public and the gumption of a veterinarian willing to try.

The first few articles featuring limbless animals made me smile. How wonderful, I thought, that prosthetic technology is helping our little four (now three or two) legged friends. After reading the article about the turtle who has been fitted with a wheel, my happiness began to turn into frustration.

I can't help wonder how the thousands of amputees who cannot afford a prosthetic feel when reading about the community rallying around a turtle. It must be horribly frustrating to realize that a turtle has received more support, admiration and financial assistance to regain mobility!

Many people assume that insurance along with Medicaid/Medicare will pick up the financial burden of a prosthetic. While these programs pay for some of the cost, many amputees incur costs of thousands of dollars to pay for a basic prosthetic.

Insurance and government assistance programs often pay only for 80%. At a time when a basic prosthetic leg ranges from $10,000 to $35,000, coming up with the additional 20% is many times not financially feasible. When the prosthetic lifetime cap is met, the amputee is left with a choice: a hefty bill or no prosthetic. Factoring in the medical costs accrued from the amputation and time off work, the new amputee is left both financially and emotionally drained.

The article about the wheeling turtle, which was meant to be a feel good, light-hearted story, gave me pause. I read about how the community rallied behind the reptile raising upwards of $25,000 to fit him with a wheel. I couldn't help but think about the new amputee who had just learned that he cannot afford the "luxury" of walking again. It must be a horrible play second fiddle to a turtle!

I certainly don't begrudge these injured animals receiving the gift of prosthetic mobility. I just wish that the public would rally behind their amputee neighbors to offer the same level of support. Personally, I would rather contribute to help my neighbor gain a leg so that he can return to a more normal life than to a turtle who wheels around a zoo pen!

Monday, August 01, 2011


Yesterday I woke up without anything on my daily agenda. This was not because there isn't a mounting list of things that I should be doing, or even things that need to be done. It was simply too hot to tackle more housework, and I wasn't inclined to torture myself by working in the yard.

As I was trying to figure out what to do with the day, I logged onto the computer to check my email and Facebook messages. As luck would have it, I read a post that provided me with my answer: a magician was going to be performing at the Animal Park, and I knew that Robby would love the show!

After teasing Robby for about two hours by claiming to have a secret, it wasn't difficult to corral him to the car. He tried to guess our surprise destination during the entire drive. When we pulled into the Animal Park parking lot, and I told him that we were going to a magic show, he threw his little arms around my waist and proclaimed me to be the "best Momom in the whole wide world."

Robby took a seat directly in front of the stage and waited patiently for the show to begin. He looked like such a big boy sitting in the audience! I have to admit that it made me a little sad to see him looking so grown up.

Robby was utterly amazed by the magical feats being demonstrated. He actively participated with the young audience, chanting "Abracadabra" on cue. His belly laugh was contagious, even the magician began to giggle upon hearing Robby.

I thought that Robby was going to jump out of his skin when he was called onto the stage to assist with a trick. (Okay, I was pretty excited about it as well!) He beamed as he waved the magic wand and a jelly sandwich magically appeared in a paper bag. He is still talking about working as a "magic helper" and, although he tried several times, he couldn't recreate the trick at home. (He blames the goldfish bread for the failure.)

The magician taught the audience how to perform several simple tricks during the course of the show. At the conclusion of the performance, he invited all of the children onto the stage to demonstrate the trick that they learned. Perhaps it was the heat, but none of the young audience members remembered the trick.

Child after child took the stage to demonstrate the same magic disappearing act. After instructing the audience to close their eyes, each child frantically ran and hid behind the black curtain on stage. At first the trick was cute. After the fourth child, only their parents found it endearing.

Robby patiently waited in line. Finally, he took the stage. As he was smiling broadly, I prepared to watch him repeat the same disappearing act performed by all of the children before him. Since he is my kid, I was prepared to applaud and take pictures.

"I need a beautiful assistant, please" he announced. He then pointed and called me onto the stage. "Lovely Momom, I need you to help me with this trick. Have a seat, my magical assistant." He was so serious, it was cute and I complied!

Robby then faced the audience and proclaimed "You are going to be amazed by trick. It is crazy! (Envision him dramatically throwing his hands over his head for emphasis.) When I say Abracadabra, I will take the leg off of my lovely, um, person." In a flash he screamed Abracadabra, pressed the valve on me leg and gave it a pull. "Ta Da!"

All of the adults in the audience were squirming uncomfortably, trying to not snicker or look in my direction as I grabbed my leg and put it back on. The magician was speechless for the first time since the show began. However, every child was utterly mesmerized and amazed by Robby's feat of magic. He received a rousing applause from the young audience while all of the adults sat stone faced.

After slipping my leg back on, I stepped off the side of the stage and waited under a tree. I was embarrassed, but that feeling quickly faded. In that moment, I realized that Robby is proud of me. He doesn't see anything "shameful" about my limb loss. I began to stand straighter and hold my head high. All of the other parents might have been mortified by my son's trick, but at least he was creative!