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, December 02, 2011

I'm Realistic, but Still Scared

I wasn't sure I was going to write about this topic, but since I have been so open about my life on every other issue it somehow felt dishonest to keep this information secret. I don't want to be an alarmist, but I also recognize that I am stressed and that my writing often helps. I don't have a lot of information so I am not jumping to conclusions or worst case scenarios.

Since I am a cancer survivor, I am vigilant about staying up to date with my physicals and necessary screening protocols. I am always wrought with anxiety before my appointments. The days leading up to my annual physicals are tense, sleepless, and tear-filled. During this period I am so afraid of receiving another cancer diagnosis that I go onto auto-pilot simply to function. I doubt that anybody who has not heard those words, "Your biopsy was positive. You have cancer" can truly understand the paralyzing fear that is evoked.

Earlier this week I went for my annual gynecological examination. Typical to my fashion, I was apprehensive. Unfortunately, this times my fears were apparently not completely unfounded and I was sent for more tests.

Yesterday, while Robby was at school I went to the hospital for an internal ultrasound. I was told not to expect any results until after the weekend. I decided that worrying was not going to help, so I did my best to push the entire issue out of my mind and simply concentrate on enjoying Robby.

My heart almost stopped when my caller ID came up with my physician's phone number later that afternoon. I quickly surmised that she was not calling to see how the test went, but that she had my results.

It turns out that I have a 4.5 to 5 cm growth on my ovary. I will be going for additional tests next week. All logic points to some sort of cyst. After all, ovarian cysts are common for women my age. I have so many friends who have had similar experiences. Unfortunately, my fears keep leading back to cancer. I am hoping that logic prevails!

This weekend I plan on throwing myself into Christmas revelry in hopes of both keeping busy and staying upbeat. After "Tool School" on Saturday, Robby and I will have cookies and hot cocoa with Santa and Mrs. Claus. In the evening we are going to cut out and bake our gingerbread train and assorted village houses.

Sunday morning we are going to a Christmas parade, and the afternoon will be spent assembling and decorating our gingerbread train and village while watching holiday cartoons. Hopefully it will be chilly so we can have a roaring fire!

I am nervous about the upcoming tests, but worrying is not going to change the results. My best course of action right now is to avoid thinking about the situation. Thankfully I have a wonderful little boy whose enthusiasm about all things Christmas is contagious. In spite of the situation, I don't think it will be difficult for me to feel happy this weekend!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Cover Girl!

Like so many other people, I have struggled with self-esteem issues periodically throughout my life. High school was a particularly difficult time for me as I was the recipient of taunts, nasty comments, and teasing by the run of the mill group of popular "mean girls." Graduation from high school was a joyous event for me--not because of the achievement but because I wasn't going to have to see any of those people again!

My self-value began to heal through college. I had, and still maintain, a tight group of friends whom I cherish. I was a confident and happy person before my foot was injured. The accident and subsequent amputation not only took my foot but also destroyed my fragile self-esteem. In many ways I felt like the scared, inadequate feeling girl from high school.

There were days when I didn't want to get out of bed (and more than I would like to acknowledge when I succumbed and hid under the covers all day). When I realized that I couldn't hide from my reality, I opted to eat my way out of the despair. That didn't work either. I simply ended up being an unhappy, obese amputee.

It has taken time, introspection, and hard work for my self-esteem to rebuild. After eight years I can finally say that I am happier than I ever imagined possible during those dark days when I was a girl in high school and hiding under my covers with a Snickers bar after my amputation.

Even though I feel as if I have healed from my emotional baggage, part of me continues to resent those "mean girls." I have been told that living a good life and being happy is the best revenge. While I agree with that sentiment, I have found something more satisfying. Old-fashioned, take a look at me now success!
I'm a cover girl! A photo of Robby and me has been chosen to grace the cover of the Ossur Product Catalog for 2012. I was the girl who was called fat, ugly, worthless, stupid, and unlovable. I tried to hide from the world because I thought that I had lost my beauty, my talents, and my ability to be happy when I lost my foot. It feels surreal that I am now featured on the cover of a major prosthetic company's catalog. Who knows, I just might go to my high school reunion next year-- with the catalog in hand of course!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Test Walk

There are hundreds of prosthetic components on the market, and each device touts a unique feature to distinguish it from the competition. The available choices can be both empowering and frustrating as you try to whittle down all the options to decide the correct prosthetic for your situation. The pressure of choosing the right prosthetic can be downright overwhelming!

New amputees often ask me if they have a role in the prosthetic decision process. My answer is a resounding yes. A prosthetist is there to build the device and to guide the amputee through the decision process. Although his or her expertise is needed and should be weighed, the ultimate choice lies with the amputee. After all, we are the ones who will be wearing the prosthetic and relying upon it everyday.

I never appreciated the value in trying various prosthetics until a few years ago. I had a foot, and I was walking. I attributed my achy back, reluctance to walk distances, and mental fatigue simply to being an amputee. I didn't know that I was settling and that my walking experience could be better. Thankfully Elliot (my prosthetist) recognized my struggles when I did not and encouraged me to try different feet.

That trial experience in Elliot's office changed everything. I switched prosthetics to the Proprio foot, and I now walk without constantly analyzing and thinking about every step. (If you've been reading my blog for any length of time you already know how this device has positively affected my life.) That being said, I will continue to try new devices as they hit the market because I don't want to become complacent.

The best way to make a decision on what type of foot you want is by trying it. After all, most don't buy shoes or jeans without first trying them on. Why would I make a decision about something as important as what foot I want without giving it a test walk? You won't truly get an understanding for how the foot or knee feels and how it responds without trying it.

I have never had a prosthetic manufacturer tell me that I cannot try the product. Although it takes more time and is more work for Elliot, he has never denied me the opportunity to try a foot that has piqued my interest. He is a patient man because I have tried a lot of different feet!

Prosthetics are expensive investments. If you ask to try something and are told no, push for an explanation. If you still want to give a device a test walk and your practitioner won't accommodate your request, consider going to another prosthetist. You deserve the right to choose your own prosthetic. After all, you are going to be the one using it on a daily basis.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My Christmas List

What do I want for Christmas? While my wish list includes having the holes in my ceiling fixed, the roof patched and finally having an oven that doesn't have to be pulled from the wall and unplugged to change the temperature, I realize that all of these far exceed the financial means of anybody in my family. Therefore, after much thought, I have finally decided what I would adore receiving.

I want a solid, undisturbed, comfortable full night's sleep! I am not exaggerating by saying that I haven't slept more than 15 full nights in my bed since July. Between Scott's incessant snoring and Robby's recurring night wandering (which always seems to land him in our bed), I have been forced to sleep on a pull out couch or an abandoned race car bed nearly every night.

Being forced out of bed when you are an amputee is not a simple event. If it were simply a matter of moving to a different location, I doubt I would complain. However, by the time I locate my liner in the dark (sometimes knocking over a rogue glass of water in the process) and slip it on, I am more awake than I would like. I habitually fail to unplug my leg from the wall charger before embarking on my midnight move which typically results in either the cat getting whacked in the head with a charger or my becoming tangled and nearly falling. By the time I get to another bed, I am fully awake--and frustrated!

I try to push my frustrations out of my mind, but the fatigue only exacerbates the emotion. I often lie in a quasi-comfortable bed and stew over the fact that it isn't simple for me to get up and walk. Somewhere between "this really stinks" and "I really hate being an amputee," I eventually drift back to sleep. By this time at least an hour has passed.

To be honest, I'm not sure I could sleep for six solid hours anymore. I'm sure I would instinctively wake up and try to don my prosthetic. That being said, I sure would like to try! If I don't receive a solid night's sleep for Christmas, I suppose I would like more coffee.


Monday, November 28, 2011


All of the Thanksgiving fun seems to have caught up with both Robby and me. I have been dealing with phantom pain which, by my own admission, makes me grumpy. Thankfully, I don't have persistent phantom limb pain like many of my amputee friends because I'm sure nobody would want to be around me!

My pain seems to flare up during weather changes, socket adjustments, or increased activity. I was on my feet a lot more over the holiday, the weather has been unpredictable, and my prosthetic was adjusted on Tuesday. I suppose I unknowingly created my trifecta for phantom pain!

I notice the electric-like stabbing during the day, but it is most pronounced at night. My leg has been doing the jitterbug, keeping me awake and miserable. Massage helps, but unfortunately nothing seems to take it away completely. I know in a day or two my limb will return to normal and I'll be able to sleep. Until then, I'll be relying heavily upon my Gingerbread coffee to keep me going.

As if my fatigue weren't stressful enough, Robby Rotten has taken this opportunity to make an appearance. He has been downright ornery. If I tell him that it is a sunny day he immediately begins to scream that it is snowing, simply to be defiant. I am getting tired of arguing with my five year old!

Over the past two days he has systematically been stripped of every prized toy. Last night he sneered at me while he was standing in the time out corner and then proceeded to proclaim that it was a "cozy little spot to stand." Feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, I countered his taunt with my secret weapon- tears. Robby Rotten evaporated as I began to cry.

I'm sure that the SuperNanny would scold me for my guilting Robby into good behavior. Thankfully she doesn't know where I live because I don't need her yelling at me too! I never thought I would write these words. However, Robby Rotten and the phantom pain have beaten me down over the weekend. I am utterly delighted that Robby will be going back to school today!

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