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, September 02, 2011

Army Men To The Rescue!

Monday morning Robby was evaluated for Kindergarten. After his session, we stayed so that he could play with his new classmates for about an hour. Seeing him having so much fun and having him beg to stay has made my accepting school easier.

I have been worried about Robby's acclimating to school, especially since he has never been to preschool. He is a social child, but has not had daily opportunities to put those skills to use. I know that he will thrive from being around other children his age everyday,

Unfortunately, I also know that he will probably catch every cold and flu bug that enters the school. He has been extraordinarily healthy, but I know that our lucky streak is ending. Being at home with me, he simply hasn't been exposed to the germs. School is an opportunity for him to spread his wings- intellectually, socially and (unfortunately) immunologically.

We spent about 90 minutes at school on Monday. Wednesday morning Robby, dealing with the sniffles, began complaining that his ears were "farting." Yesterday Robby was diagnosed with a double ear infection and strep throat. I think that this is going to be a long school year!

Robby was put on antibiotics, a necessary evil. He does not take medication gracefully, and I dreaded the battle which was going to be fought three times a day for the next ten days. We have been known to have full wrestling matches on the bed as I struggle to get the syringe of medicine in his unwilling, clamped shut mouth.

With tears welling in his eyes when he was told he needed medication, I knew I had to think quickly. I told him that needed to take his medication because it was the army needed to fight off the infection. My off-hand comment then turned into a thirty minute fictional explanation. Yes, I lied to get him to take his antibiotic without having to put him in a headlock.

I told Robby that each drop of his medication is filled with tiny little soldiers armed with guns and grenades. The medication soldiers seek out the "bad germs" and fight them until they are dead. He has to keep taking his medication to replenish his army so that it is stronger. He also needs to drink a lot of water because he will pee out the bad germs after they are killed by the tiny guns and grenades.

Apparently my little story made an impression. Robby handed the prescription to the pharmacist asking for "extra guns and grenades in a cherry flavor please." Luckily she didn't understand his request, so I didn't have to elaborate. After I explained how the medication works, he has been looking at the clock eagerly anticipating his next dose of army soldiers. We may have a long few months of viruses and bugs ahead of us, but at least Robby and I won't be clashing over taking his medication anymore!

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Going to the Chapel...

I have written in the past about my wedding and my feelings about the event. For me, our ceremony is marred with bad memories. I was not comfortable with my new amputee status and was self-conscious. In retrospect, the reason for our destination wedding stemmed more from my desire to escape the spotlight than the beauty of the Caribbean. I was an unhappy, overweight and insecure bride.

To further sour my thoughts about the day, we discovered that our wedding license is not as "universally accepted" as the Internet promised. Apparently a handwritten half-sheet of paper, which refers to me as the "Spinster Margaret" is not legally binding in the state of Virginia. I have not been able to officially change the name on my driver's license or my passport. Incidentally, our bank and insurance companies have never asked for proof of marriage so I can use my married name for these institutions.

We have always intended to renew our vows and to have our wedding officially recognized outside of the Caribbean, but we never seem to get around to it. Despite our intentions, life always seems to intervene and a wedding is put on the back burner. I'm tired of having to fly using my maiden name and of explaining to salesclerks why my license has a different name than my bank card.

After years of talking about it, I am so excited to inform everybody that our wedding re-do is finally going to happen. Ossur, the prosthetic company that I represent at trade shows etc., contacted me and invited the three of us to Las Vegas. I will be working at the AOPA conference, but on the day before the conference begins, Scott and I will be married (legally) again. They are even throwing a reception for us after our ceremony to celebrate the day. After seven years, our marriage will finally be official!

In addition to back-to-school chores, and preparing Robby for the "k" word, I have been busy planning our little ceremony. I have an adorably appropriate wedding dress (but I won't describe it because I want Scott to be surprised) and have found a little suit that is perfect for Robby (although I conceded and promised him that he could still wear his boots). Unfortunately, Scott's suit no longer fits, so his outfit is a work in process.

After everybody goes to bed I've been playing on the Internet, planning everything from our cake and our chapel. I never planned my original ceremony- I never realized how much fun I was missing. I can't believe that, after all these years, I'm actually planning my wedding!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


A few weeks ago I read an article that brought me to tears. Although I knew I would address the article in this blog, I needed time to process how I felt. I have to admit that my strong reaction surprised me.

Our Texas vacation and Scott's return to work intervened, and I managed to put the topic out of mind. Yesterday I read another article about the same topic. I took the repetition as a sign that it was the right time to delve into the issue.

For those who may be unaware, the world's first double leg transplant was successfully completed in Spain. If I had been asked to hypothesize on how I would feel should a leg transplant occur, I would have proclaimed that I would be both excited and happy. After all, medical advances such as the leg transplant will only help people by expanding the working knowledge base of surgeons!

Instead of being elated, I hesitate to admit that I was angry. Although I posted the article on the Facebook AmputeeMommy page, I couldn't comment on it. Every time I thought about the surgery, I could feel myself becoming upset and emotional.

I couldn't imagine how somebody could be so afraid of living as an amputee that they would subject their body to such a risky procedure, leaving them forced to live their life in a medically vulnerable state. Actually, I could relate to the patients fear. Before my amputation I might have jumped at any opportunity to have a "real foot." I have been living as an amputee for awhile and have learned that losing a limb does not mean that my life is over.

As frightening and overwhelming as it feels at times, limb loss is not the end of the world! The fact that surgeons would think that an individual would be better off living with a transplant, with all of the inherent risks versus living with a prosthetic or in a wheelchair, frustrates me.

As I began to research the case, I learned that this young man had a difficult time being fit with prosthetic legs and was resigned to a life in a wheelchair. Although I cannot put myself in his position, I can't help but think that I would opt to stay in the wheelchair. My step-brother underwent a double lung transplant. He came through the surgery with flying colors, but the anti-rejection medication became debilitating and, at times, controlled his life. For me, legs are simply not worth risking my life.

Despite my frustration, I appreciate the medical information that was gained by completing this complicated and groundbreaking surgery. Hopefully the knowledge will be used to help treat leg injuries in the future, sparing others the heart wrenching decision that I faced. From a strictly surgical perspective, the success of this procedure is inspiring. I only hope that this medical triumph will translate into more successful limb salvaging procedures instead of transplants.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Why I Wore Pants

Over the years I have become comfortable with my body and its new form. It has taken me a long time, but I finally reached a place where I could wear my prosthetic with pride instead of embarrassment. My prosthetic is not my biological leg, and I no longer feel compelled to try to replicate what I lost.

Carbon fiber and titanium springs can be just as beautiful and functional as skin and bone. I haven't worn a cosmetic cover on my prosthetic in years although I understand and respect that other amputees choose to wear a cover. I think that choice is one of the greatest advantages of being an amputee!

I'm not embarrassed about being an amputee, but I have come to realize that showing my prosthetic in public comes with a cost. The visible components are a magnet for stares and attention. The first few days of Kindergarten are not about me--they are about Robby. Yesterday morning while preparing for the Kindergarten evaluations, I struggled with whether or not I should have my prosthetic visible.

I wanted Robby's classmates to get to know him on his own merits before learning that his mom has a robot leg. I knew that by donning my typical wardrobe with my prosthetic in full sight, the attention would automatically be shifted from him onto me. I wanted my son to have the attention of his peers, not me and my leg.

After struggling with what I should wear, I realized that Robby deserved the right to make his own first impression. Yesterday morning, despite the temperatures, I wore pants to the Kindergarten evaluation. I didn't conceal my leg out of shame or embarrassment. I didn't even wear pants to try to spare Robby from the comments of his classmates. I wore pants because the moment was about Robby and not about me.

In time his peers will discover my prosthetic, and I have no doubt that they will be fascinated. I will use my leg as an opportunity to educate them about amputees and people with disabilities. Yesterday I did not feel that it was the appropriate time for that lesson.

Despite my best efforts to keep it from happening, Robby is growing up. I find it impossible to believe that he is five and ready for school. Unfortunately, everybody keeps reminding me that I am now the parent to a school aged child!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Come on Irene!

For our family, this past weekend marked the end of summer vacation. Much to his displeasure, Scott must wake up this morning and return to work. He a full week of meetings and classroom preparations ahead of him in anticipation of students returning next Tuesday.

We had hoped to spend the past weekend outside celebrating the end of our summer vacation. Instead, we were forced inside by a tiny little storm named Irene. It's amazing how quickly a hurricane can derail a family picnic!

For days we were inundated with radar images and worst case scenario prophecies from the media. Living just south of DC, we were clearly in the path of this giant storm. We heeded the advice of all the experts. We had plenty of water and food that wouldn't spoil or would require heating, opting to fill our emergency provisions with Pop-Tarts, Rice Krispie treats and a chocolate cake. Scott and I spent an hour taking the batteries out of all of Robby's remote control cars so that they could be charged in anticipation of losing electricity. By the time the first rain drop fell on Saturday, we were ready for the hurricane Armageddon that had been predicted.

By the time Irene reached our house, her winds were downgraded to tropical storm status. Personally, I think that the demotion angered the storm because she seemed to be blowing pretty hard around here! Riding out a hurricane inside a house with floor to ceiling windows and in the middle of the woods is not a lot of fun.

I slept (or rather tried to sleep) with my liner on my stump all night. I felt more secure knowing that I would be able to move quickly if necessary. I kept having visions of our majestic trees falling onto our roof.

Thankfully my premonitions never materialized, and we awoke on Sunday to discover only a lot of downed branches. To my shock- and delight- we didn't lose any trees. Robby was elated that his tree house weathered its first hurricane unscathed with the exception of the pulley bucket which apparently blew away.

Sunday morning we all had chocolate cake for breakfast. (Don't judge me, after all I didn't want it to get stale!) I then went outside and spent the afternoon cleaning up branches and debris from our yard. Robby spent the afternoon helping Mr. Bill pick up sticks and branches that were littering his yard. I guess cleaning up sticks is more fun in a neighbor's yard!

I'm relieved and grateful that we survived the hurricane without damage or injury. We never lost power and nothing was damaged. Looking at the news reports I saw the destruction this storm heaped upon others, and I am feeling so lucky that, despite the predictions, we were spared!