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 13, 2013

Snake #3

When I found myself on my back deck, perched hands and knees with bits of plaster through my hair, pleading and making bargains with a cat who I swear hates me, I knew that I had hit a new type of bottom. It was one of those situations that felt surreal, but I knew that it was anything but a dream. It was simply the culmination of what turned out to be an extraordinarily bad morning.

Yesterday began with my rising early, not because I needed to work but rather because for some reason I can no longer sleep past 4 AM.  Scott came into the living room at 6:15, frazzled and shaking. He grabbed my hand and insisted that I follow him into our bedroom where I saw the beginning of my nightmare. A snake tail, approximately 18 inches long, was wiggling and dangling from the hole in our ceiling. His head was precariously stuck on the glue trap next to the rafter, but during the fight he managed to break through the plastic sheeting which was sealing the hole in our ceiling. To make matters worse, the snake was suspended a few feet away from Robby, who ended up sleeping in our room because of a nightmare. I can only imagine that waking up to a snake falling on his head would have been more terrifying than anything he could have imagined in his dreams!

Dealing with a crisis situation is not one of my husband's attributes. He froze, became panicked, and did not stop spinning. After pacing, wringing his hands, and cussing the snake for 25 minutes, he announced that he had to go to work. He wished me luck, grabbed his lunch, and ran out the door.

Needless to say I was not happy with being abandoned to deal with the serpent intruder. I can't help but feel that if he had been able to garner his courage instead of spending the 25 minutes frozen with fear, the snake could have been removed. Instead, I was wished good luck and left to deal with the situation by myself.

I hate snakes, but I hate the prospect of Robby being hurt more. Still fuming, and terrified, I woke him up and lured him to the couch to watch SpongeBob.  Knowing that my moment of bravery was fleeting, and that I was on the verge of running into the street screaming with Robby in hand, I went to work securing the snake in place. Standing on a chair, I swiftly stuck another glue trap underneath the wiggly and long enemy, trapping him against the ceiling. With his head on one trap and about 1/3 of his body on another, I knew that I had bought some time to take Robby to school and to device a removal plan. 

After dropping Robby off at school, I drove straight home to tackle the snake issue. I fought every urge and instinct to just keep on driving and instead decided to woman-up and take care of the issue. I closed the bedroom door, locking out the cats, and opened the sliding door leading to the deck. (Hoping that I wouldn't have to kill him, I wanted a clear path so that I could throw the snake outside.) I then positioned the ladder under the hole and climbed to the top.

I have always hated snakes. Since becoming an amputee, I have learned to hate climbing ladders. Having to deal with both foes at the same time was enough to bring me to tears. I climbed down the ladder and called my Mom. After calming down, I put her on speakerphone so that she could provide me with some encouragement when I made another trapping attempt.

Knowing that I had no choice, I made the move. I grabbed the glue trap, exposing the snake sandwiched between. I pulled hard, removing not only the snake but also a large chunk of the ceiling. Apparently the glue on those traps is extremely strong! Plaster bits, paint and dust showered down as I pulled the 3 foot snake from his perch. At this point he was barely alive, with his head stuck on the glue and his body exhausted from fighting the confinement.

I briefly toyed with the notion of spraying down the traps with oil to release him into the wild, but his distinct coloring and head shape convinced me that we were better off with a quick death. I wasn't dealing with a regular snake.  I feared I was dealing with a copperhead and I wasn't going to mess around. One swift hit with my homemade machete crutch and his misery was over. I folded the glue traps onto his remains and carried him to the trash.

I was shaking, terrified, and mentally drained when I started to put the ladder away. It was then that I realized that I had opened the bedroom door without shutting the door to the deck. Charlie, Robby's beloved feline friend, was strolling on the back deck. This indoor cat cannot be trusted outside, and I knew that Robby would be devastated if he became lost.

I crept over to the door, got down on my hands and knees and calmly began to talk with Charlie. I reminded him that Robby loves him very much, and that he has a nice life. I pleaded with him, and even promised him a can of tuna- packed in oil- if he quietly came back into the house. Slowly, Charlie stretched and meandered back into the house. I quickly closed the door, realizing how lucky I was to have even spotted him on the deck.

With new a new glue trap in place and the hole re-secured with new plastic sheeting, I spent the afternoon investigating handymen and exterminators although I took a quick break to run to the store to buy the tuna I had promised Charlie. I'm not sure if he understood our bargain, but I wanted him to know that I am a woman of my word.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Lounging All Day?

Robby and Scott have been back to school for a week, and I think we are all starting to settle into our new routines. Although both boys continue to grumble each morning, they are adjusting well to the earlier mornings. I am still waking up before dawn, but now it is due to insomnia rather than a need to tackle my work.

I absolutely love working from home. Although Robby is in school all day, I want to remain accessible should a need arise. I am thankful that I found positions which allow the flexibility I need so that I can still be involved in Robby's class. (Of course, I would be remiss if I didn't admit that I relish not having to put on make-up and a bra each day before heading to an office.) I am so lucky to be able to assume the role of room mom in his class.

Each morning I drop Robby at school, drive home, and change into my comfy pants.  I grab all of my computers and phones, pop off my leg and curl up on the couch. I then immerse myself in writing and researching until it is time to pick him up. I venture to say that I am more productive working alone because I am not confronted with the distractions of socializing!

I realize that I have an unorthodox workplace, but the location does not diminish the importance of my projects.  Yesterday a friend made an off-hand comment saying that I am lucky that I can come home and relax on the couch until it is time to pick up Robby. In order to maintain some sense of civility, I stopped myself from responding, "Have a good day at work, drinking free coffee and passing time by playing Farmville." Instead I muttered something nonsensical and walked away.

I assure you that although I am may be on the couch, I am doing anything but relaxing. I am often covered with piles of papers while contending with endless phone calls and emails. Sometimes I feel like I'm juggling so many balls in the air that I should be highlighted in a circus. Despite the frustrations, stress and long hours, I wouldn't have it any other way. I am so lucky to have rewarding jobs with employers who trust me enough to get the work done off-site. Right now, I am at a good place both professionally and personally, even if others perceive me as lounging all day!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Lesson through Baking

Today I will avoid watching television opting instead to tune into the Waltons' marathon. I simply can't handle being bombarded with the seemingly endless retrospectives of September 11, 2001, a day which remains a horrific memory. I understand that some may take solace in watching the analysis shows, video clips and now antiquated videos, but for me they provide no comfort. I don't plan on forgetting; I just don't need to be inundated with the tragedy.

When Robby was born, I struggled to find a way to teach him about the attacks without violating his sense of security. Scott and I both believe that it is imperative that Robby understand and respect what happened, but instilling terror is not necessary. After much thought I ended up doing what comes natural: we baked.

Each year Robby and I bake cookies on September 11 which we deliver to our local firehouse. While we are baking we talk about the tragedy, keeping the conversation age appropriate. At this point, Robby knows that many innocent people died, including a lot of first responders. We deliver cookies because the firefighters are sad on that day because so many of their co-workers died. I always assumed that he would eventually learn the gravity of the events but felt strongly that I did not need to expose him to the horror at such a young age.

Yesterday Robby's class was discussing the attacks from September 11th. I wasn't surprised when I learned that Robby chimed in and explained our cookie tradition. Apparently his classmates and teacher loved the idea and they have decided to embark on their own cookie baking project. Tomorrow his whole class will be baking cookies in honor of the victims of September 11. Local firefighters will be going to his school to receive the cookies and to allow the students to tour the trucks.  Robby is as proud as can be that our family tradition is being adopted by his school. He is also thrilled that he will be able to tour the firetrucks again. 

According to his teacher, Robby told his class that we bake cookies because "the best way to remember those who died is by showing other heroes that they are important." If he has to learn a lesson from September 11, 2001, I am glad that this is it!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

No Comparisons

I have received several emails during the past few weeks that have been disturbing. After processing the sexually graphic messages, it didn't take me long to realize that I was dealing with an aggressive devotee. As if living my life without my foot wasn't frustrating enough, I must contend with those who possess a fetish about limb loss.

After blocking his emails and logging his name in my personal "devotee watch list," I decided to do embark on a little cyber-sleuthing. Before I began, I made sure to tinker with the settings on my Hotspot Shield VPN. I wanted to make sure that my computer remained as untraceable as possible, especially when I knew the sites I would be visiting.

I began by typing the sender's name into Google. Immediately several websites popped up, each with the same repugnant theme. I am not going to name the websites for two reasons: I don't want to give them undo publicity and I don't particularly want my blog listed among them during searches. Although I am not naive when it comes to devotees and wannabes (individuals who yearn to live without one or more limbs), I become both confounded and disgusted whenever I delve into the abyss of their cyber world. 

The websites I uncovered were particularly graphic and repulsive. Details concerning methods of self-amputation were not only provided but also were advocated. Despite my attempts at comprehending the thought processes involved, I will never understand why somebody would desire to live without a limb. I love my life, but I would never have chosen to live as an amputee. There are too many frustrations, pains, and inconveniences involved for it to be a life ambition. 

My amputation was considered "medically elective" simply because it was not a life-threatening situation. I could have lived with my broken foot, but it would have been an existence of constant pain and surgeries. I opted to amputate because my foot wasn't functional, not because I desired a life without my limb. I am not in the same category as the wannabe, and I find the insinuation utterly repulsive. 

Although I feel that these individuals are making a horrific mistake by self-amputating limbs, I also recognize that this fringe group feels strongly in their desires. At this point I really don't care if they chop off all of their limbs. I do find it aggravating that they contact and harass me. To them I would say, "Do what you want to your own body, but don't attempt to bring me down to that level."

Monday, September 09, 2013

Magic Lady?

I spent much of Friday preparing for my presentation to Robby's class. Although I wasn't nervous, I wanted to make sure that I didn't embarrass Robby by providing either too much or too little information. I also wanted to make sure that I could explain my amputation in a way that would answer questions but wouldn't leave his new friends scared.

Robby was as proud as he could be when I walked into his classroom. He quickly rounded up his classmates and announced that I was going to be the teacher for a few minutes. He perched himself right in front of my chair and was smiling from ear to ear. (I just love seeing him so happy!) After everybody was settled, I took a deep breathe and prepared to deliver my over-rehearsed spiel.

"I had an accident and the doctors tried to heal my foot. When they couldn't fix it, they decided it was best to give me a new one. My new foot is called a prosthetic, and it's special because I can take it off."

Simultaneously his classmates began shouting comments, observations and questions. Unfortunately none of the questions had to do with a prosthesis or living as an amputee. Instead, they all seemed to involve magic.

"Do you know how to pull a rabbit out of a hat?"
"Can you make me disappear?"
"What's your favorite trick?"
"Do you still have the sparkle dress?"
"Why couldn't he just make your leg re-grow?"

All of these questions seemed odd. I had tried to prepare myself for every possibility, but I was woefully unprepared to discuss magic. How did a discussion about my leg turn into a conversation about magicians? I must have looked confused because Robby's teacher stepped in and began to address the class. "Mrs. Chenoweth came to talk about her prosthesis. It is important that we all listen politely to what she has to say. Perhaps she can come in at another time to talk about being injured as a magician's assistant. She then looked at Robby and winked. 

The pieces of the puzzle suddenly began to fit together. Obviously Robby had provided some misinformation concerning my foot accident, and it apparently involved my working in a magic show.  Unbeknownst to me at the beginning of my presentation, Robby was peppered with questions about my prosthesis on the first day of school. He didn't feel that the true story was spectacular enough, so he decided to embellish it a bit. He told his classmates that I was the "pretty girl in the magic show. The magician had her step into the box because he was going to cut her in half. He messed up because he used the wrong magic word. He ended up cutting her leg off. It was very very tragic."

I can see how Robby's version of my accident is more dramatic and exciting, especially for young elementary students. I just wish I would have been prepared to answer magic show questions! Not wanting to throw my little guy under the bus in front of his new classmates, I knew I needed to change the dialog. I did the only thing I could think of--I stopped talking and took off my leg.

Immediately all of the questions ended and the class was mesmerized by the prosthesis with everybody eager to examine it. Once they were busy taking turns wearing my foot and hobbling across the classroom, his teacher and I had a chance to talk. She explained that Robby tried to answer his classmates questions truthfully but was pressed to provide more fantastical details. Wanting to impress his new friends, he embellished. His teacher did not think that I had reason for concern because he did confide in her that the story wasn't true. She even offered to use the magic show leg story as the starting point for a lesson on fiction vs. non-fiction.

Thankfully all conversations about the cause of my amputation became moot after being allowed to don my prosthesis. Driving home, I asked Robby about his imaginative leg story. He simply shrugged his shoulders and explained that "the computer monitor story is boring. I thought my new friends would like to hear about a magic show instead. I know you weren't really in a magic show Momom, but it would be cool if you were."

I think I need to help Robby figure out ways to answer questions about my amputation without resorting to imaginative tales involving feats of magic!