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, March 01, 2013

Communication Issues

Yet again I have been reminded that the statement "I want your honest opinion" should not be taken literally. Instead, perhaps it would be more realistic to begin the conversation by saying something like, "I  want you only to agree with me. If you have any other opinions, please keep them to yourself and simply tell me that I'm wonderful." Although the statement goes against social convention, it would certainly provide an more honest key to the conversation!

I hate hurting somebody's feelings. Knowing that my words or actions have caused distress in somebody instantly fills me with remorse and guilt. Because I hate having negative emotions, I try to avoid possible conflicts at all costs.

A few days ago I was asked for my honest opinion about a scenario posed by a friend. Largely in part of the request for honesty, I provided my perspective. Evidently my position clashed with her views because I was summarily dismissed and the friendship was severed.

I try to temper my words, but I become frustrated when an individual has an extreme response simply because a differing view has been voiced. Please don't ask for my honest opinion if you don't want to hear what I have to say. I become both disheartened and angry when my words cause pain. 

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Adjustment Issues...

During the past few days, I have been reminded of the fragility of my comfort level. Between the carbon fiber socket, the spacers and the foot component, I am reliant upon a lot of manufactured parts. When something is not set up in what I dub "the sweet zone," my gait, the length of time I'm able to wear my leg, and my comfort are all compromised.

Getting a new leg always produces a mixture of emotions. While I'm excited about being able to sport new components and a snazzy new chromed socket, I also dread the inevitable and frequent trips to my prosthetist's office for minuscule adjustments. No matter how comfortable the leg feels at the first fitting, I always end up requesting minor changes as I search for ideal comfort. In my quest for the sweet zone, I have learned to carry a light schedule the two weeks following the delivery of my new prosthesis. 

My new leg felt great when I received it last Friday. True to form, I began to notice small discomforts as I continued to wear it. By Monday I was back in Elliot's office getting an adjustment. Although it initially felt better, I suspect that the tweak made the situation worse. By Tuesday I was hobbling and Wednesday morning I was back in his office, hoping that he could work some wrench magic.

After nearly an hour of trial and error, which included creating and adding handcrafted wedges, the fit was perfect. I walked out of the office feeling like my prosthesis was a natural extension of my leg. The absence of pain is a wonderful feeling!

While my leg is perfect right now, I won't be surprised if it will need another tweak (or two). My prosthesis is something that I depend upon everyday, and although I may be considered picky, I refuse to wear something that causes pain. When it comes to my mobility, I am not willing to settle.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Who Caters Your Lunch?

Monday night was full of anticipation in our household. Robby came home from school with no homework and exciting news. He was going on a field trip the next day, and if that weren't exciting enough, he was going to be allowed to pack a lunch!

Due to food allergy issues, Robby's school has a strict "no food from home" policy. He, along with his classmates, all eat the same prepared school lunches and snacks. Needless to say, I often pick up a famished little tyke at the end of the school day.

The fact that he was allowed to bring a lunch to the field trip garnered as much, if not more, excitement than the trip itself. He carefully picked out a lunch box in August and hasn't been able to use it. Monday night, I emptied all of the green plastic army men out his Lego lunch box in preparation for its inaugural lunch.

After much discussion, which involved my vetoing his request for a marshmallow sandwich with a side of bacon, Robby requested a ham and cheese sandwich, cookies, sour cream and onion potato chips (in a separate little bag) and a bottle of water. I quickly realized that we did not have any lunch meat, we had no bread, and I had eaten all of the cookies. Obviously I am woefully unprepared to pack a school lunch!

After a quick trip to the grocery store, and spending nearly $20 in supplies, I packed Robby's first lunch box. He was so excited carrying his little yellow Lego lunchbox into school, and I was satisfied that I had a packed a nutritionally sound (sort of) and kid friendly lunch.

As I was putting his lunch box into his cubby, a fellow parent came into the classroom carrying a sealed pink tray. I didn't think much of it until another parent arrived carrying a similar style tray, only in blue. As I was getting ready to say goodbye to Robby, he asked me if I remembered to put the potato chips into his lunch. I assured him that his chips were safe in the lunch box. The parents smiled and remarked that Robby seemed excited about his "homemade" lunch.

Homemade lunch? Until yesterday I was under the assumption that all packed lunches were homemade. I learned that all of the colorful trays that were lined up in the cubbies of Robby's class contained his classmates lunches, artfully prepared by a lunchbox catering service. In our house, the lunch box caterer responds to the name of  "Momom." Always striving to be in vogue, many parents utilize a specialized catering service which prepares, whimsically packs, and delivers the lunches for their little cherubs.

The abundance of colorful trays did not seem to phase Robby, but it certainly took me off guard. I invested a lot of time and care in preparing Robby's lunch. I even woke up early and baked Robby's favorite sugar cookie knowing he would be excited to find this hidden (and contraband) treat. In an odd way I felt deflated as if I invested time but was outdone by a paid caterer.

Robby had a great time on his field trip and for the first time all school year did not come home famished. He thanked me numerous times for the surprise cookies and raved about how good everything tasted. When I asked him if he felt bad that he didn't have a tray lunch like his friends he simply said no. He said that his lunch was delicious and that the only thing that would have been better was if I had allowed him to pack his favorite sandwich: a bacon sandwich, hold the bread. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Not So Big Dig

The weather this past weekend was unbelievably beautiful. The cool and crisp air paired with the bright sun shining in a brilliant blue sky made yard work an easy decision. Sunday morning I woke up eager to break in my new leg by spending the day getting ready for spring!

It wasn't hard for me to lure my little helper away from the XBox. I simply had to ask if he knew anybody who was good at digging in the dirt and he was off the couch and pulling on his cowboy boots. After he explained that he was six years old now and too old to use a child's shovel, Robby dragged the large tool out of the garage and asked me where I wanted my holes. He certainly does love digging.

I decided to spend the day creating a walkway through the flowerbed in front of our house. The muddy marks on my stairs are a constant reminder of the shortcut that I take on a daily basis. Since I don't see my habit changing, I decided to create a brick walk through the bed to minimize the dirt that we all traipse into the house. I marked the area that needed to be excavated and let Robby go to town.

After about twenty minutes, Robby's shovel struck something unusual. He brushed off the dirt and proudly proclaimed that he found a meteorite. Dropping the shovel he ran into the house (so much for keeping the dirt outside) and retrieved his metal detector. He began jumping up and down when the machine beeped, confirming the metal content of the mysterious object. Mr. Bill, hearing Robby squeal and seeing him excited, meandered over to help us investigate.

It turns out that Robby did not find a meteorite but unearthed part of a canon ball from the Civil War. Robby delighted in his first archeological find and took off running through the yard with his metal detector, determined to find more treasures.

Mr. Bill stopped working his yard and brought over his metal detector. The two friends spent the afternoon searching the yard and uncovering cans, nails and the occasional unidentified metallic object. I lost my digging buddy and finished the excavation by myself.

As the afternoon wore on, I began to suspect that Robby's archaeological find was not accidental. When I asked Mr. Bill if he planted the canon ball, he simply smiled and responded, "You never know where you're going to find them. I put 'em all over your yard." While my enthusiasm was somewhat squashed by this confession, Robby remains oblivious to the baiting of our yard.

I suspect that the canon balls were buried in an attempt to reignite Robby's interest in metal detecting with his friend. If that was the reason, it certainly worked. Robby is now counting down the days until he and Mr. Bill can go metal detecting in a "real field." It'll be fun to see what the pair digs up!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Pimp My Leg!

When I received my first prosthesis nine and a half years ago, I was insistent that it be covered with a flesh-like covering. I was horrified by the thought that the casual observer would know that I no longer had my leg. I remember explaining my decision to Elliot (my prosthetist) by saying something along the lines of, "It's bad enough I have to walk on this thing. I don't care what it costs. I don't want anybody to know."

In retrospect, it is certainly easier to see that my desire to create a life-like prosthesis stemmed from shame. I had not fully embraced the reality of being an amputee and continued to be embarrassed. In many ways I was taken back to the angst of the teen years when the thought of being viewed as different was mortifying.  Having my prosthesis matching my biological leg provided me some comfort and allowed me to feel somewhat normal.

During the 18 months that I wore the cover, something unexpected occurred. I slowly began to adjust to my limb loss and without realizing it, my definition of "different" changed. I realized that different doesn't have to be bad or to equate to anything negative. Instead, many times different can mean just that: different. I slowly became okay with being different and no longer needed to try to conform.

One night after Scott went to bed I woke up, went into the kitchen and began to dismantle the artfully crafted cosmetic cover. I remember feeling an odd sense of exhilaration as I cut the foam and nylon and slowly exposed the metallic pylon and carbon fiber socket. That evening I realized that different can also mean unique, and that was something I could embrace!

A few weeks ago during a conversation with Elliot about a new leg he was creating for me, we started to talk about socket art. Until now, my sockets have typically been polished black carbon fiber. We were set to go with the same sleek look until I casually said, "If I ever get the chance I'm going to get it chromed." Elliot tilted his head, smiled and said, "I think it would look bad-ass. If anybody can carry it off, it's you. Let's go for it." 

I certainly have come a long way from that timid and scared amputee of a decade ago! Instead of trying to fit in, I've learned  not only to embrace but now proudly flaunt what makes me unique. I love my new chrome socket. I know my new leg invites second glances, stares, and probably volumes of comments. Instead of cowering or trying to blend, my pimped out leg shouts confidence.