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 15, 2013

Friend Time

I am delighted that it is finally Friday because this past week has been a struggle, both physically and emotionally.  With my leg finally healing and after being cleared yesterday for limited prosthetic use, I'm looking forward to the weekend!

I rarely have plans that do not revolve around my family or work, but this weekend is a rare exception. On Sunday I'm going to get to see my friend Tammy whom I haven't seen in over two years. Not only were Tammy and I roommates in college (just a few years ago) but we also shared an apartment for a few years after we graduated. Although we are still close, I'm looking forward to some one-on-one time with my dear friend.

Over the years Tammy has indulged my wacky ideas, most notably the time I convinced her that Karate lessons would be a great way to meet men. We didn't meet any suitors, but she did break a toe and I suffered a humiliation when my uniform split in the middle of class revealing my Donald Duck underpants to the entire dojo.  Perhaps the first benefit of my foot injury presented when we were finally able to quit the lessons because of my inability to participate.

Scott and Robby are going to have a "boys day" while I am gone. Normally I would feel a tinge of guilt about leaving for the entire day. This time I feel nothing but excitement. It's been a long time since I've done something just for me. I wonder what trouble we'll find this time!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Just Like Me

Yesterday I attended Robby's parent-teacher conference. During my tenure in the classroom I venture to guess that I have probably participated in well over 500 parent meetings, and I was always comfortable and rarely felt any anxiety.  Of course, it was a lot easier being on the other side of the table!

I was anxious all day as I tried to push my worries aside. Logically I knew how Robby was doing and wasn't expecting any surprises. After all, I talk with his teacher daily and I am fully immersed in the classroom activities. Despite knowing his strengths and weaknesses, I found myself increasingly nervous as conference time approached.

Thankfully, there weren't any surprises about his academic progress. He is doing well in his classwork and his handwriting has greatly improved. (If you have a youngster who is struggling with penmanship, I highly recommend the Handwriting Without Tears program!) After hearing the praise from his teacher about his behavior and his classwork, I should have left the meeting upbeat. Instead, I felt an uncomfortable mixture of pride and worry.

I'm so proud of how hard Robby has been working in school. His scores are above grade level and he is flourishing. His teacher described him as sweet, pleasant, accommodating and sensitive. He is the leader of his social group and doesn't hesitate to stick up for a friend who is being picked on.

Robby was also described as worried and fretful. He is a pleaser who becomes upset when he believes that he has caused disappointment. The drama surrounding his handwriting is a prime example of this trait. He wanted to be perfect and became frustrated when he thought he was failing. He tends to keep his feelings bottled up and shuts down when he perceives disappointment in others.

In this circumstance, I wish Robby did not so closely mirror me. I tend to personalize criticism regardless of the constructive nature, and over analyze everything. It has taken me a long time to recognize this trait, and I now actively remind myself that the mistake was in the product, and is not a flaw in my personality. It makes me sad to think that Robby might develop this internal conflict.

It also turns out that my little crusader, who is the first to step up for somebody who is being wronged, doesn't advocate for himself. His teacher noted that he consistently forfeits his turn as door holder (a coveted position) to any student who pushes his way in front of him. If a toy is taken from him during recess, he simply walks away rather than try to get it back. I don't want him to become a bully, but I certainly want him to find his voice and defend himself with the same conviction he affords others.

I'm grateful that his teacher brought these issues to light. Scott and I, along with Mr. Bill (who let's face it probably has more credibility in this situation) are going to remind Robby that mistakes are okay.  We are also going to start role playing situations so that he will feel more comfortable in his role as self-advocate. Hopefully he is young enough that we can nip these destructive thinking patterns before it become ingrained. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Robby's Retort

When I was Robby's age, one of my greatest fears was being sent to the principal's office. I knew if I were ever sent to the office, my parents would not be amused and had no doubt that my little world would come crashing down on me. The fear of facing the consequences was enough to keep me well behaved throughout my school career! As a parent, I find it somewhat amusing that I continue to worry about being called into the principal's office. The only difference is now I worry about being called to discuss the behavior of my son.

The other day as I was walking out of Robby's school, I was stopped by the principal. She asked if she could speak to me for a moment. My heart jumped and all of my elementary anxieties resurfaced as I followed her into her office and shut the door.  Although she had a serious tone, the smile on her face hinted that Robby was not in significant trouble. Taking a deep breath, I  tried to prepare myself for whatever news I was about to receive.

It turns out that Robby did not misbehave, but the principal wanted to make me aware of an incident that happened earlier in the week. Of course Robby never mentioned that anything significant happened in school, but I shouldn't be surprised because Robby rarely tells me anything about what he does at school. I digress and perhaps that is a topic for a future blog.

Apparently a third grader approached Robby and told him that her dad said that "his mom should have the decency to cover her fake leg because nobody needs to see that." Although I've heard my share of rude comments since my amputation, I am sure I gasped when this statement was relayed. I personally don't care what this father thinks, but I certainly became worried about my son's reaction. Children, and their ignorant parents, can be rude and hurtful.

The principal apparently read my reaction because she immediately calmed my fears. She was ready to intervene when she heard Robby's retort. Apparently my little guy, after thinking quietly for several seconds, looked at this girl and in a matter-of-fact manner said, "I think your dad should have the decency to wear a hat. After all, he doesn't have any hair on his head." Described as dumbfounded, the little girl simply stormed away. 

The Principal went on to explain that she felt Robby handled the situation beautifully. I have to be honest. I am really proud of his response. He stayed calm and was able to use this little girl's logic against her. When I asked Robby about what the little girl said, he looked up from his DS and said, "Momom, I schooled her good."  I couldn't agree more!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

15 Years

I am proud of myself for suppressing the urge to spend the day hiding under my covers with a bag of Hershey Kisses while catching up on the latest season of The Biggest Loser.  I detest not being able to walk. Whenever I am restricted from using my prosthesis, regardless of the reason, I become an anxious and resentful shell of my former self.

Those who know me well realize that there is more behind my somber mood than my recent setback. Fifteen years ago today was the final time I was able to walk unassisted and without pain. In some ways it feels like just yesterday that I was that eager young woman attending her first conference. At other times it feels like it was another lifetime and a different person. 

Thinking about the ramifications of that seemingly benign business trip, I feel a enormous sense of loss. I don't particularly enjoy feeling negative emotions, so today I'm going to try to switch my internal dialog. Losing a limb was never part of my anticipated life path, but sometimes wonderful opportunities spring from a tragedy.

Had I not attended the conference 15 years ago, I would probably have remained bi-legged. I would probably be able to wiggle all ten toes instead of my just five, and I wouldn't even know what a prosthetic issue meant. I wouldn't have handicapped bars in my bathroom and a knee scooter ready for when I can't walk. I wouldn't have to make room in my suitcases for my specialized prosthetics when I travel, nor would I have to reinforce the knees of my pants to prevent the holes that always develop between the top of the socket and the fabric. Life was certainly simpler with both legs!

However, had I not been injured and moved to Virginia I never would have met Scott. Had I not met Scott, I wouldn't have Robby. I know that I'm biased, but I think he is a pretty great kid! I can't imagine a life where I am not Robby's Momom.

As of today, I have been dealing with leg issues for 15 years. So much time has passed that it's increasingly difficult for me to relate to my pre-injury life. I feel sad when I think about what I lost, but today I am choosing to be grateful for what I have gained.  I may not have my left foot, but I do have a life that I love, and I am surrounded by people whom I cherish. On my injury anniversary, I think I'll treat myself to a cupcake.

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Painful Purple Beast

I spent all day Wednesday playing in the snow with Robby. Thursday was spent at Chuck E. Cheese keeping track of two kids while trying to temper my gambling compulsion. When I checked my limb on Thursday night I noted a little discoloration but nothing of serious concern. I attributed the color change to mild bruising which happens occasionally when I am adjusting to a new socket.

Friday morning I awoke to discover that the sheets were covered in blood. In the middle of the night my leg began to bleed, became swollen, and had mutated into a painful purple beast. After quelling my panic, I snapped a picture of my limb and sent it to my prosthetist. He wrote back within minutes insisting that I come to the office as soon as I dropped off Robby  at school. 

Wearing my leg was painful but not unbearable as I slowly prepared Robby for school. By the time I reached my prosthetist's office the pain had intensified, and I couldn't wait to remove the leg. A pool of blood tinged liquid had accumulated in the bottom of my liner during the brief time I had worn my leg, solidifying my gut feeling that I was in for a long and legless weekend!

It only took a few seconds for me to receive the diagnosis of Verrucous Hyperplasia which I have since learned to be a nasty and potentially dangerous skin condition for amputees. In layman's terms, my limb was becoming stuck within the socket keeping the distal end from reaching the bottom. Because of the lack of contact, my limb was swelling within my socket, cutting off circulation to the lower portion of my leg. It is as if a tourniquet had been tightly tied around the middle of my limb cutting off blood flow to the entire lower region.

The black spots that were starting to develop were indications that the tissue was in the process of dying. Hearing those words terrified me! I was strongly urged to avoid wearing my prosthesis or any shrinkers or liners until the tissue returned to normal. If the situation worsened, I was to call my doctor and go to the hospital.

While I was not pleased to be without my leg for the weekend, the fear of causing further and possibly permanent damage was enough to convince me to follow medical advice. I may push the envelop at times, but I never mess around with the health of my residual limb! I called Scott and resigned myself to a weekend of legless misery.

After keeping my leg off all day Friday, I began to feel tingling in the bottom of my limb early Saturday morning. Although the constant pins and needles became grating, they also served as a reminder of circulation being restored. Over the weekend the deep purple slowly started to lighten and the red areas became less inflamed and less sensitive. I am optimistic that the issue was caught
early, thwarting permanent damage. 

While I'm thankful that I am recovering, I can't help but still feel both frustrated and angry.
I had been so active, feeling no pain and enjoying life. In an instant I was contending with a potentially serious limb issue and my activities were curtailed. Welcome to the reality of life as an amputee. I can be fine one day only to be sidelined by a prosthetic or limb issue the next! I realize that it is not productive, but I must point out the obvious: this really isn't fair!