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 20, 2013

A Few Moments Can Change a Lifetime

Wednesday morning I walked into my favorite flower store hoping to say hello to a friend and purchase bouquets for Robby's teachers. Instead of feeling the festive rush that often occurs when I'm "elfing," I learned news that struck me to my core. Upon hearing the news, I found myself standing in the middle of the store, paralyzed by grief and with tears streaming down my cheeks. 

I had to read the sign at the register twice before I could fully comprehend the message. Daphne, the owner of the store, had passed away on Tuesday. Although it is always sad when somebody passes away, especially this time of year, this death hit me unexpectedly hard.

Daphne was the only amputee who reached out to me before my amputation. I will never forget the phone conversation that we had and the advice that she imparted. Although she wasn't the support system that I desperately needed largely due to her own physical struggles, the knowledge and time that she gave me during our brief chat meant the world to me.

Not even sure of what to say, I remember answering the phone and choking up with tears after she introduced herself. Composed, she simply said, "It's scary, but it will be okay." At that moment in time, that is precisely what I needed to hear.

I revisited our conversation numerous times during my recovery. It is amazing how much wisdom she managed to fit into a few minutes! Daphne warned me that despite feeling prepared, I was going to grieve my foot at unexpected times. She was right. She told me that the surgery was going to "hurt like hell" but that I would recover and the pain would eventually fade.  She was right. She warned me that I would experience body image issues and that sex and intimacy would be awkward and difficult for awhile. Again, she was right. She promised that I would eventually feel normal again and that I would "get my groove back." Thankfully, she was right!

Perhaps more than her words, Daphne's legacy for me was her demonstrating the profound impact of reaching out and helping somebody. While she was not able to be a consistent support system, she did provide me with a glimpse into the benefits of peer support. The fact that another amputee took time out of her day to talk to me, a scared novice, meant the world to me.

I have never forgotten the kindness that she showed, and I will always remember how much I appreciated her advice and experiences during those unsure times. When I read that Daphne had passed away, it felt like I was emotionally transported back to that tumultuous and frightening time in my life. I relived and felt all of the fears and worries that I experienced nearly 11 years ago. For a few moments on Wednesday, I was again that scared young woman who was petrified of living a future without her foot.

It has taken me several days to process Daphne's passing and my profound reaction to the news. After numerous phone calls with my mom trying to talk through my feelings, I have come to the conclusion that Daphne impacted me far more than I realized. It was because of her reaching out to me that I now feel compelled to help other amputees and their families.

There is no doubt in my mind that my adjustment to limb loss would have been easier if I had a peer support system. I have never resented that she could not be that support system for me, but I have realized that her kindness demonstrated by reaching out to me during a time of need planted the seed for this blog and for all of my outreach efforts. Daphne epitomized the potential of peer support, and for that lesson I will always be grateful. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Busy Party Elf

Tomorrow is Robby and Scott's last school day for 2013. To the delight of both boys, they will be able to enjoy 16 days at home before returning to school.  While I will be glad to have them home, I am withholding judgement about the length of their vacation. After all, having them home all day always equates to more dishes, food preparation, need fulfillment and overall messes for me to fix.

Robby's excitement about Santa visiting next week has been tempered by the anticipation of his classroom party and performance. His class has been practicing their song for the past month, and he is eager to finally take the stage. Much to his delight, Scott and his Nana (my Mom) are going to be able to come to his little performance. He is over-the-moon to have his own cheering section!

Before Robby's concert I am hosting the class Christmas party. I have bags overflowing with crafts, games and special surprises. Robby has become accustomed to my planning his class parties, but even I am impressed by everything that I have planned for him and his little friends.We will make ornaments, paint snow scenes, play a variety of reindeer games and even have our own snowman dance party. I anticipate being exhausted by the time his concert begins. 

The Halloween and Thanksgiving parties in his class have certainly set high expectations for his classmates. Although we had a great time with each celebration, the kids have no idea what fun I have in store for them tomorrow. For the past few days I have been inundated by prying questions as his friends try to figure out the party secrets. I just love seeing the excitement in their eyes every time they ask. They don't know what we are going to do, but they do know that it is going to be a lot of fun. After this much planning and prep work, I venture to say that I am probably as excited as the kids for the party!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Magic Lotion

To say that yesterday was hectic would surely be an understatement. I woke up early, tired from a restless night of trying to calm my worries and anxieties about the day's activities. I had a camera crew coming to my home to film an interview for a possible national story. Needless to say, every insecurity and minuscule details suddenly became paramount.

Thinking ahead, I had scheduled for a cleaning service to come on Monday. I wasn't expecting a miracle, but I was hopeful that they could make my home presentable. Not wanting to disturb the countless Christmas decorations strewn everywhere, the crew certainly had their work cut out for them! With the cleaning off my worry list, I was able to focus on more pressing issues, such as what I was supposed to wear.

There is no denying it; I am now wearing maternity clothes. Although I avoided the switch, as soon as I felt the soft elastic around my belly, I knew I had made the right decision. The clothes are certainly not the most fashionable, but most of the time I tend towards comfort over style. 

Of course, this time I wanted to achieve both style and comfort, a quest akin to chasing windmills when you are relegated to a maternity wardrobe. Finally giving up, I settled for a pretty teal sweater and my black maternity pants. Understated and certainly not trendy, but classic and presentable. By the time the crew pulled into my driveway I was dressed, my make-up was applied (twice) and my hair was styled (to the best of my limited abilities).

Robby, recognizing that I was nervous, decided to give me my Christmas gift early. He was insistent that I open it despite my reminders that Christmas is a week away. After unwrapping the tube of lotion, he proclaimed that I needed it because it was magic lotion which would give me "super powers" for the interview. Applying the lotion failed to result in my becoming a super hero, but the (extremely) sweet aroma reminded me of Robby. Maybe his confidence in me was the booster that I needed.

All things considered, I was pleased with the interview. I didn't stammer, and I am fairly sure that I spoke cohesive thoughts with minimal "umms and yeahs." (My former speech teacher would be impressed.) I don't know if my portion of the story will make the cut or if it will make the cutting room floor. Either way, I know that I invested my best effort in the project. Considering the topic for the story, highlighting people who have made a difference utilizing blogs and social media, I am honored to have been courted for an interview. I'll keep you posted with details as they arise. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas Crafts

We are in full-blown Christmas mode. Tinsel, paper-chain garland and decorations are strewn everywhere, provided it is 4 feet and below. Robby and his friend Rowan have invested hours happily decorating for the season. I think their artistic vision is charming and haven't changed a thing. (Okay, I did remove the ornaments that were hanging on every light switch so that the lights could be turned off.) Martha Stewart would certain not approve of our decor, but I probably wouldn't feel comfortable in her home anyway!

With the interior exuding Christmas spirit, Robby and I switched our attention to other traditions. Every year he loves decorating his Gingerbread house. I don't necessarily enjoy the process of mixing, cutting, baking and assembling the structure for him, but seeing the excitement in his eyes makes it worthwhile. For some reason, pre-made Gingerbread houses are too perfect and uniform for our home. Our cookie creation has lopsided walls and a bumpy roof, but I think those imperfections add character. At least, that is what I tell myself when I prop a variety of glasses, bowls and DVD cases against the walls to keep them in place while drying. 

After setting up Robby with a dozen bowls filled with colorful candy, novelty sprinkles and other edible decorations, I seized the opportunity to work on another festive craft. A friend of mine sent me a link for what Pinterest claimed to be an "simple, no-fail Christmas craft geared for children." I thought the result was clever, and considering that I am certainly not a child, I felt that I possessed the skill level required. I grabbed 20 candy canes, my glue gun and sat across from Robby to create my own festive masterpiece.

Within minutes of the glue gun turning on I remembered an important fact about myself. In my incapable hands, the glue gun becomes a weapon of self-destruction. I managed to drip hot glue on just about every pour of exposed skin. I am still trying to figure out how scalding hot glue ended up on my forehead and scalp!

The Christmas music in the background was drowned out by my not so festive cursing as I tried to deposit the glue onto the candy canes instead of my fingertips. After several reprimands from Robby, I finally just dropped a ten dollar bill into the cuss jar, hoping it was enough to cover the offenses. I tried to temper my words, but hot glue under my fingernails apparently brings out the sailor in me. 

My fingertips were sore and blistered by the time my "simple, no-fail" craft was complete. All the wreath needed was another candy cane heart to fill the void. Unfortunately it didn't fit. I have no idea how the Pinterest crafters were able to create a complete wreath, because mine simply wouldn't close. Obviously, I was incorrect in my assumption that I had the crafting talent of a child. 

Out of fear of using up my credit in the cuss jar, I decided to walk away from the project. My wreath may not be a complete circle, but I am trying to be optimistic. Instead of being a Pinterest failure, I crafted the opportunity to include a large bow for hanging. Somehow, this funny looking wreath looks perfect next to our candy covered crooked Gingerbread house.


Monday, December 16, 2013

Oh Christmas Tree...

Cutting down a Christmas tree has been a tradition in my family since I was young. I can remember going to a tree lot only a handful of times in my life. Bundling up in coats, hats and scarves and "braving" the frigid temperatures in search of the perfect evergreen is a highlight of our holiday celebrations! Of course, some years we were in short sleeve shirts and tromping through the mud, but the colder years are the quintessential memories I cherish most.

Preferably the tree is always cut from the same farm in Pennsylvania although we have been known to deviate from that location depending upon the circumstances. Although Scott grumbles each year about driving 2 hours for a tree, I know that he understands the sentimental value that the tree farm provides. Not necessarily an outdoors man, and certainly not somebody who enjoys schlepping through the woods and getting covered with tree sap and debris, even he has come to appreciate and enjoy the tradition.

This year, our family again piled into the car and headed to Pennsylvania. This year my Dad, who lives in Texas, was able to coincide a visit with a business trip in the area. To the delight of all of his his grandchildren, their beloved Candy Papaw was able to come to the Christmas tree farm. 

Robby was practically giddy at the prospect of being able to cut down a tree like a lumberjack. His Paul Bunyan fantasies were slightly tempered when he realized that he had to use a saw instead of an ax. After emphatically informing me that an ax would be a better tool for the job, he begrudgingly took a saw and hopped onto the hayride destined for the tree fields. 

After carefully evaluating his options, Robby chose a beautiful (and incredibly large) Christmas tree.  After measuring to make sure it would fit (we ended up clearing the ceiling by two inches), the boys began to cut it down. Robby, insistent that he did not need help because he is "becoming a man" finally allowed his Daddy a turn with the saw. Thankfully Scott took full advantage of the brief window and made a rather deep cut in the trunk. If he hadn't, I'm fairly sure that my little man would still be in the field hacking away at the tree!

As soon as we brought the looming evergreen into the house Robby wanted to commence decorating. Wanting a tree that exuded Christmas spirit and was bright enough for Santa to see from his sleigh, Robby begged for me to put on every light strand we own. Caught up in the festivities, I agreed. An hour later we stepped back and turned on the tree. 

My first thought after seeing the tree illuminated was "Holy Hell this is bright!" It turns out that 2,000 miniature LED lights can put off quite a bit of illumination. Mr. Bill actually called because he could see the tree shining brightly from his living room window! I went outside to evaluate the visibility of our tree to discover that the bottom portion of our driveway was illuminated with a beautiful montage of red, blue, green, yellow and purple.  Our living room looks like a 1970's nightclub from the road.

We definitely crossed the line from festive to full-blown tacky, but in Robby's eyes, it is nothing short of spectacular. He has no doubt that Santa will be able to see his tree. I'm pretty sure that the astronauts on the Space Station are also the recipients of our shining Christmas spirit!