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 02, 2013

New Opportunities

Although my readership has grown substantially since I started writing, I continue to be in awe that somebody takes time out of their day to read my words. With each blog post, I strive to be honest and unbiased. (My husband would add that at times I am perhaps too honest.) I wanted to use this post to let everybody know about some exciting new opportunities have come my way.

Several months ago I was contacted by an up-and-coming website, Unlimiters.com. The founder wrote to me and offered me the opportunity to author a blog on his site. After sharing his story and his vision for his business, I agreed that it was something that I would feel proud to be associated with and signed on to be a Featured Blogger. 

Each Friday I author a post which features a product that I have found helpful since becoming an amputee. The products that I recommend, along with a myriad of others, become available in the virtual store on the site. Because I would never want to endorse something that I don't use or believe in, each featured product is of my choosing. These blog posts require a different style of writing and the challenge has been rewarding. I invite you to check out the website and blog, and please let me know if you have any product suggestions.  In the quest for full disclosure, I am financially compensated for those blog posts but not for the product sales.

A few weeks ago another interesting opportunity arose. I was contacted by the representatives of a VPN company, HotspotShield.com, and offered a unique partnership. To be honest I had no idea what a VPN was or why one would be necessary. When I received the email I immediately forwarded it to Scott with the request for him to research both the company and the product. 

It turns out that utilizing a VPN is a good idea, especially since I spend so much time on the internet. My IP address is automatically embedded in every email I write. It only takes an individual with unsavory intentions and a little computer knowledge to track down my location. When I learned this, I became alarmed. A VPN filters my messages through a third party server, masking my true location. Although I'm sitting on my couch right now, my computer thinks that I am in Australia. Even though my IP address is from the other side of the world, my surfing speed is not compromised.

Only after the company was vetted by Scott (and my Mom) did I proceed to investigate the partnership. After trying the service for myself and discussing the opportunity with my family, I accepted the offer. I am delighted to announce that I am the new "Mommy Ambassador" for HotspotShield.com!

As part of this new venture I will be exploring some of the benefits and attributes of utilizing this VPN service. From time to time I will mention the company in my blog, but please know that the information and experiences that I share are genuine. Above all else, I strive to maintain the integrity of my blog posts. I just wanted to make everybody aware of my new role and this opportunity.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

34 Days

In 34 days Robby will be going back to school. (At some point I really need to take down the "Last Day of School" banner that is hanging on my porch, but I digress.) Although I'm nervous for him because it is a new school with new classmates, my emotions this year are different. For the past two years I spent my Augusts angst ridden, crying at night, and constantly worried about his (and my) adjustment. I now find myself feeling more excitement than fear for him. I consider this progress!

I have no doubt that I will miss him while he's at school, but I am relying upon my experience to remind me that it will be okay. We will both adjust to the new schedule, and we will still manage to fit in our special adventures. The thought of him spending so many hours away from me still makes me sad, but I also know that he will be learning, having fun, and thriving. The trade-off is well worth it.

I think that I am approaching this school year with a new perspective because the prospect is no longer new and also because I am delighted with his new school. The administrators and his teacher have gone above and beyond to make him feel welcome. He is nervous, but he is not terrified like he was last year. I guess we are both growing.

The fuss that I encountered at his former school concerning my prosthesis is still a fresh wound. Although our decision to switch schools was made before the incident, it certainly helped to confirm our choice. The fact that there is a little girl with limb loss in Robby's class this year is a refreshing change. She made an impression on my little guy, and I predict that he will assume the role of protector as the year progresses.

Robby and I both noted that her prosthesis was held together with duct tape, a reality which bothered both of us. As soon as I find it appropriate I plan to investigate her situation and work to get her into a more durable and appropriate leg. I think Robby would spend the entire school year fretting if we didn't make a good faith effort to secure a quality prosthesis for her!

Until then we still have four more weeks of summer, and I intend to make the most of the time. We're going to spend our afternoons at the pool, ride a pirate ship in DC, go to an amusement park, play at the county fair and whatever else I can find. I want him to go back to school with wonderful memories of this summer. After all, I can sleep in September!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

My Energizer Koopa...

Robby and I have been going to the local Animal Park since he was 9 months old. All of the employees know us by name and always afford Robby special treats like helping to feed the turtles. One of the saddest days of the year is the day the park closes for the season, and one of the happiest is when it reopens. When the owner contacted me on Monday and asked for a favor, I just couldn't refuse.

A local television subsidiary was planning on remote broadcasting segments from the park, and the owner was looking for a few children to interact with the animals on camera. Despite having to get up early, I knew that Robby would jump at the chance to participate. When I told him about the invitation, he was excited and asked if Rowan could come as well. He quickly pointed out that she has never been on television and that this would be her chance. A few phone calls later and our group of three was confirmed for the next morning's broadcast.

Robby and Rowan were adorable during the drive to the Animal Park. I had to chuckle hearing Robby try to calm Rowan's television debut anxieties, carefully explaining everything that she might see and do. "This is just the news show, so they probably won't put powder on our noses. But remember to not look at the camera, but just keep smiling." I think he thoroughly enjoyed his role as expert!

Their delight and excitement radiated through the camera for the duration of the segments. I only cringed once when Robby stepped up to feed the llama while the reporter was talking. She patted and scratched Robby's head which I could tell he did not appreciate. The look that he gave her was priceless and fully communicated his feelings about having his head patted by a stranger. Remembering that he was on camera, he quickly composed himself and went about happily feeding the llama. I hoped that I was the only one to see his reaction, but the ensuing phone calls with my Mom and Scott let me know that I was not the only one to pick up on his disdain.

After spending three hours posing for the cameras and schlepping through the Animal Park, it was time to leave. We came home and ate lunch. Apparently I missed a pow-wow because when we sat down to eat, I was asked by both Robby and Rowan what time we were leaving for the pool. I hadn't been planning to go to the pool, but lacking any good reasons to deny the request, we finished our lunches and got changed into our swimming suits. 

Another three hours swimming and our day of adventure and fun was over. Don't misunderstand me, Robby had plenty of energy to keep going. I, however, was exhausted. I wish I had his energy!

Links to the two videos:



Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Helpful Friends

Robby is a happy little boy because, after a month of being away, his friend Rowan is home from vacation. Seeing the two friends run towards each other to reunite in the middle of the street was charming. After exchanging high fives, the pair went running into the woods as if no time had passed. The friends spent the afternoon running through the yards, playing with Nerf guns, and shooting hickory nuts from the tree house with their sling shots.

With Rowan and her brother returning from Iowa, we are finally able to make progress towards our summer goal. Until now, Robby has not mastered riding a two wheel bike. He still relies on his training wheels causing him embarrassment and avoids riding his bike around the neighborhood for fear of being teased. After talking with him, we decided that we would work on bike riding this summer.

Our first few attempts resulted in nothing but tears, a few scrapes and disappointment. Worried about falling and breaking his legs, Robby insisted that I hold onto the bike as he pedaled. I agreed to his request. After all, I remember my mom holding onto my bike as I learned to ride. I figured that it worked for me to master the bike, so I might as well keep the tradition going.

My mom taught me to ride by running alongside me while I learned to balance. I simply cannot run fast enough to match Robby's pedaling. As soon as he gains speed, my legs become tangled up and we both end up falling. After sharing an ice cream cone and a tube of Neosporin, Robby and I decided that I am not the best person to teach him to ride. Since Scott isn't any more swift running than I, we began to brainstorm our options.

We quickly concluded that Rowan's older brother Nathan would be the ideal person to help with this project. Not only is Nathan strong and fast, but he already has Robby's admiration and trust. We spoke with Nathan and his parents, and they all agreed with our plan. He came down yesterday for Robby's first lesson.

Instead of feeling inadequate that I could not physically do something, I was proud that we had come up with a solution. As Robby gets older, I'm realizing that I may not always be able to help by participation.  Hopefully he'll be wheeling down the street, unassisted, by the end of the week.  Wish him luck!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Growing Weary of Doctors

For the past week Robby has been talking about his newly discovered "eye magic." He has been a braggart about his ability to make things blurry along with his new found skill of double vision. I haven't given this much thought. After all, I know that experimenting with vision is a normal part of development. While he is impressed with his abilities, he is simply playing with his ocular muscles, and I wasn't concerned. 

Robby proudly pranced into the kitchen on Friday and announced that he has new "eye magic." I nearly dropped my coffee mug when he explained that everything on the sides was black and that he was looking out of invisible tubes. Playing a game, I calmly checked his peripheral fields. He did not respond. He was also tracking by moving his head, not his eyes. Within a few minutes the fields, and his vision, returned to normal.

My training and experiences as a teacher for the vision impaired has taught me to take vision changes seriously. Fluctuations in the peripheral fields can indicate serious and sudden onset issues. I realize that my mind automatically went to the extreme, but many of my students were disabled because of those rare, once in a million occurrences. I didn't want to panic, but I want medical peace of mind that he was okay.

I called Robby's pediatrician and asked for a referral to an ophthalmologist. After hearing, almost verbatim, my conversation with Robby she agreed that he needed to be seen sooner rather than later. I was delighted (and relieved) when he was fit into the schedule for a renown pediatric ophthalmologist the same afternoon.

I spent the majority of Friday afternoon nervously waiting for Robby's ophthalmology appointment. I kept reassuring Scott (and myself) that Robby was fine, but that we needed verification. Of course Robby was proud to be going to the doctor who was interested in learning about his unusual eye magic.

After a thorough examination, which to the chagrin of Robby included eye drops, the doctor deemed his eyes perfect. While I was delighted with the diagnosis of health, I was frustrated at the end of the appointment. The medical examination was impressive, but I felt like the doctor viewed me as a hysterical or panicked parent who overreacted. I kept pressing him about an explanation for the sporadic tunnel vision, and received no answers other than a shrug and a condescending smile. I left with the succinct impression that he did not believe me, or Robby, about what was experienced.

I detest being classified as an over reactive mother! I am not quick to rush him to the pediatrician for each sniffle or abrasion. I was not concerned about his eye crossing or blurring vision because I knew that both were the result of his own ocular control. The tunnel vision, which was not imagined or fabricated, was the reason for my concern. Again, I feel like I need to stress that I was concerned, but not panicked or frantic.

While I was delighted that Robby's eye examination showed no abnormalities, I was frustrated for the remainder of the weekend. I fluctuated between wanting to sink into a hole with my head covered and beating somebody with a frying pan. Robby is not a manipulative child, and I witnessed what he experienced. I don't believe that I overreacted, and I resent any implications to the contrary!

This is not the first time I have been marginalized by those in the medical profession and I doubt it will be the last. I hate that I cannot talk with a doctor without worrying about how I am going to be perceived. I know that I did the right thing when I was concerned about Robby's vision, despite the treatment I was afforded by the doctor. I am growing weary of feeling degraded and judged by those within the medical profession.