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.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015

Happy New Years Eve!

I have no aspirations of experiencing a glamorous New Year's Eve celebration this year. I have a toddler, and I have  accepted my current reality. I will be in bed promptly at 9:00, with the covers pulled up to my chin and my head on a pillow. On the bright side, Hamlet and I will be wide awake at 4 AM, which is midnight in Alaska so in a way I will still be celebrating.

I continue to hate New Years and all of the revelry that it involves. New Years epitomizes not only the turning of the calendar but also reflecting on the accomplishments and failings of the past twelve months. In my opinion, there is no better way to squelch the remnants of the Christmas spirit than forced reflection.

This year I am going to avoid the montages of celebrities who have died during 2015. I'm going to walk away from the news stories streaming highlights (which seem to be nothing but senseless tragedies) from the past year.  Instead, I am going to play with Timmy and Robby as we try to enjoy the last few days of Christmas vacation.




Wednesday, December 30, 2015

New Opinion

My second opinion went well.  I really liked the doctor, which speaks volumes. I appreciated the length of time that he spent talking with me and explaining my options. He disagrees with the original doctor concerning my benefiting from pelvic floor physical therapy. This new doctor doesn't feel that it would be effective in my situation, and recommended a less invasive surgery. 

I have some insurance hoops to hop through first (the story of my life) but I plan on proceeding my surgical treatment with the new doctor. Pelvic organ prolapse is all that he does, and I was impressed by both his knowledge and his bed side manner. While I am not delighted about the confirmation that  surgery is required, I am not surprised and I am delighted that I will not have to undergo the physical therapy.

When I came back to my Mom's after the appointment I was a tad sore, so I spent the afternoon watching Robby and Timmy play with their cousins. I just love hearing them squeal and laugh as they run around the house. Everybody went to sleep exhausted with a smile on their face from playing so hard!

Today I will head back home, but not before I take the kiddos on one epic adventure.  I don't want to reveal details now, because it is a surprise and my niece now knows how to find my blog on the computer.  :)

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Second Opinion

After much thought, I have decided to secure a second opinion concerning the multiple organ prolapse I am experiencing. I am willing to undergo the physical therapy if it is warranted, but something in my gut (no pun intended) keeps telling me that it isn't the correct course. I don't know if this feeling stems from my not wanting to endure the therapy, or if I am correct in believing it isn't the correct medical intervention.

Part of me believes that the therapy was prescribed as an effort for the surgeon to delay the operation due to his hectic schedule. Since he has assumed the patients for another doctor who is recovering from hip surgery, his case load has almost doubled. The receptionists and the surgeon made it abundantly clear that they were overbooked because of the situation. I left the office with an overwhelming feeling that my issues were being put off because of their scheduling conflicts.

Today I am going for my much anticipated second opinion. I'm not looking forward to the examination, but at least now I will know what to expect.  I'm nervous but I'm trying to remain optimistic. At this point I am anxious to see if the prescribed course of action is similar to what was already suggested.  Hopefully I will leave the appointment with a plan that makes sense, but I'm worried that I'll end up more confused.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Holiday Wrap-Up

We had a wonderful Christmas. We decided several years ago to stop traveling on Christmas, instead opting to stay home to allow Robby (and now Timmy) an opportunity to enjoy their surprises. The decision frustrated some, but it was the best choice for our family.

Robby was delighted with his Wii U from Santa, and couldn't wait to start playing. He was absolutely speechless when he unwrapped the TV which accompanied his gift. Scott immediately went to work mounting the television in our playroom, and it didn't take Robby long to realize that he now has a designated gaming area. Other than meandering out for food and drinks, we really didn't see him much after his gaming center was assembled.

Timmy was delighted with his ride-on train, happily chug-chug-chugging around the living room. He even learned to wave goodbye, which he practiced each time he rode by the couch. He is too young to realize the source or the reasons behind his surprises, but I know he was delighted.

Saturday morning we woke up and immediately began to remove the Christmas tree lights. The combination of the ride-on train and the tree, along with all of the other toys, made navigating the living room into an obstacle course.  Although we had a fantastic holiday season, I was ready to move forward.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!

Santa came last night and, judging from the piles in front of my tree, left a sleighful.

Timmy woke up at 4 and we have been patiently waiting for everybody else to fall out of bed. I thought it was going to be difficult to keep Hamlet out of the presents, but it turns out that he is a little frightened by all of the packages. He gingerly walks around everything, avoiding physical contact at all costs. Hopefully his brother will be able to coax him onto his new train!

He hasn't touched the presents, but he did manage to find the remnants of Santa's cookies. I returned from pouring another cup of coffee and caught him stuffing the last cookie into his chubby little cheeks. 

I'll post more photos as the day progresses.







*Update 1. Almost as soon as I hit the "publish" button Timmy climbed onto his train. It is safe to say that he is a fan.


Thursday, December 24, 2015

My Chair!

Scott and I have been together for 15 years, and during that time I have never seen him as excited about a Christmas present as he was for his gift for me this year. From the secret phone calls to slipping out of work early to accept a mysterious delivery, it is also safe to say that he has never put so much effort behind a gift. I have been intrigued so, when he announced that he had to give me my gift early due to reasons I would understand after seeing it, I agreed to an early Christmas.

He and Robby took off in the rain while Timmy and I were sequestered into the back bedroom. After several minutes and a lot of banging and commotion, he brought me into the living room. It took me a few seconds to process what I was seeing, but once it made sense I was absolutely gobsmacked. 

Scott managed to purchase and secure the delivery of the love seat glider I have coveted from a small Amish store in Ohio. Every summer for the past few years I have sat in this chair, dreaming of having it in my home. I envisioned rocking Robby (and then Timmy when he was born) while reading books and watching cartoons. I never really believed that it would ever make its way to my living room!

For the first time in 15 years, Scott left me utterly speechless. Although I'm sitting in my beloved chair as I write this blog, I am still in disbelief. I don't know why Santa Scott was so good to me this year, but this is a Christmas I will never forget!



Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Minimalist Holiday

It is hard to believe that Christmas is just two days away. I feel overwhelmed by the amount of work yet to be done, but I am slowly starting to accept that much of it will not happen this year. When I do have a free moment, I find tinkering in the kitchen with Timmy and Robby far more rewarding than spending my energy decorating.

The combination of caring for a toddler and having a lot of work projects on my plate has caused my holiday decorating to be minimalist at best. We have a Christmas tree, adorn with colorful little lights but no ornaments. I meant to put them up, but never quite got around to it. I have a beautiful Christmas dishes which will remain packed up this year. It seems silly to lug them upstairs for a few days. I have enjoyed the holiday season but I just haven't been motivated to put in unnecessary housework.

Robby hasn't seemed to notice the minimal decorating. While I miss my bright and glittery festive accents, their absence hasn't impacted my spirit or enthusiasm for the holidays. Perhaps keeping my decorating to a minimum will help to ensure that my decorations don't stay out until mid-June.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Winter Project

In the decade since Mr. Bill came into our lives, I have come to learn his patterns. He loves early mornings and naps every afternoon after lunch. He is happiest when working on a project, preferably when he is juggling many simultaneously. He is outside nearly nonstop during the spring, summer and fall but tends to retreat and become depressed during the winter.  The heat doesn't seem to bother him, yet he suffers with pain when the weather turns cold.

During the cold months we try to buoy his spirits by sending over care packages, dropping in frequently to visit, and checking on him regularly. Robby and Mr. Bill tend to spend their time talking and planning rather than working on a project. Despite our efforts, Mr. Bill still seems to struggle during the winter. 

I'm optimistic that this year may be different.  Although we can't do anything to prevent cold temperatures and snow, Robby may have unintentionally stumbled onto the perfect winter project. He drew a blueprint for a boat the other day when he was at school, and he couldn't wait to get home to show Mr. Bill.  After patiently listening to my eager little builder's ideas, the pair hatched a plan. They decided that they would visit the local hobby shop after Christmas and purchase a model kit for a remote control boat. They are going to build it together over the winter and launch it in the lake in the spring. 

Both of their faces were glowing when they conveyed their plans. Robby hasn't stopped talking about going to the hobby shop with Mr. Bill and building a boat. Mr. Bill has been looking online at different model kits and has already cleared a work space in his den for the project.  I think that building the model together might be the perfect solution for both friends!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Reflections of a Date with My 9 Year Old


Over the past few days, I have found myself thinking about my special Nutcracker date with Robby. I can't help but break into a spontaneous smile each time I think about our special night. Robby was simply charming, and his perspectives on the ballet were purely innocent and uninhibited.

We began by dining together at Cheesecake Factory which happens to be his favorite restaurant.  He practiced all of his chivalrous manners by opening both my drivers side door and the doors to the restaurant. Sporting his tux and top hat, he strutted up to the hostess and said "bon jour" in his best French accent (which is not convincing) before requesting a table for two. Needless to say, he garnered smiles from everybody.

He ordered a "man sized" milk before thanking the waitress for the bread. He remarked that the brown bread was his favorite and that he was planning on eating the entire loaf before his dinner arrived.  When she commented that he wouldn't be hungry for dinner if he ate the entire loaf, my little top hatted Koopa coyly smiled and said, "Well, that's okay. I'll take the dinner home with me and then I get to eat again. It makes coming here almost buy one get one free, which is good because it's expensive."

After dinner we headed to the ballet. Robby was awestruck by the concert hall, commenting to everybody how fancy the walls looked. As we were walking to our seats, he stopped and talked to every usher, showing off his new Nutcrackers and chit-chatting about the whether or not the gold on the walls and ceiling was "legit or fake."

We settled into our seats and Robby began talking to the man sitting next to him. He complimented Robby's attire by calling him dapper. Robby thanked him and then proceeded to have a long conversation about a string of random topics. I suspect that his neighbor was happy when the lights dimmed.

Robby's excitement when the lights were darkened was infectious. He sat on the edge of his seat throughout the first act, delighted to hear the music that he adores. Every once in awhile he leaned over to provide a comparison between the story we were watching and what happened during the Tom and Jerry version. He also provided commentary on the scenery, costumes and dancers.

During intermission we went to stretch our legs and get a drink of water. Worried about leaving his seat, Robby felt the need to inform the couple sitting next to me that we were leaving and would be right back. He also asked the stranger to keep an eye on his Nutcracker because "you can't be too careful." Covering his bases, he also told the usher of our plans and asked her to make sure that nobody stole his Nutcracker. 

Robby was just as attentive during the second act of the ballet, grinning widely and applauding gleefully when the "death defying tricks" were completed by the dancers. At the conclusion of the show, he was the first to leap to his feet while clapping. He also enthusiastically screamed out "Bravo," "Bellisimo" and "Great job" before lamenting that we failed to bring roses to throw onto the stage like they do at the end of Tom and Jerry. 

He couldn't wait to call his Nana as we left the performance, eager to tell her all about the show. "Nana, they played the Nutcracker music. There were people dancing, too." He also declared that he loved it, and that he wants to do it every year.  On the drive home he talked nonstop about the performance. He did mention that he felt bad for the boy dancers, because their tights were all the way between their cheeks. "Really Momom, can you believe that they didn't once reach back to pick out the tight wedgie? That means that they had a really good teacher."

Friday, December 18, 2015

Date Night

Ever since Robby was four he has loved hearing the Nutcracker music. Whenever it plays, albeit in a store, mall or at home, he stops and strains to listen. This year he learned that the music actually accompanies a ballet (I don't know how he missed this tidbit) and he asked if we could try to get tickets.  Thanks to a fantastic LivingSocial deal, I was able to grant his Nutcracker wish with ease.

I am not sure what YouTube video or movie he watched, but Robby certainly had a vision of what one wore to the ballet. Earlier this week he asked me what I was planning on wearing on our date.  He was not satisfied with hearing "a dress" because before I knew it, my little guy and I were shopping for something he deemed "fancy enough." Robby carefully shopped the store aisles until he found me the perfect dress. Blue velvet because it felt smooth and looked "fancy and festive." 

Last night was our date night. He insisted on wearing his tuxedo, complete with top hat. (He wanted a walking stick but I managed to convince him that he didn't need it because he doesn't have trouble walking.) I donned my new dress, complete with sparkly necklace and tiara.  Thanks to my little stylist, we certainly made a statement.

After dinner at Cheesecake Factory (gentleman's choice) we headed to the ballet. Needless to say, we garnered smiles and compliments wherever we walked! Robby loved the ballet and beamed in awe throughout the performance. As soon as the final curtain fell he began asking to make our Nutcracker date a tradition. I guess we will add it to our ever-growing list of Christmas activities!




Thursday, December 17, 2015

Lotion Solution

My leg is healing, thanks in large part to a homemade lotion brought to me by my Mom. Trying a new, all-natural product was a bit of a Hail Mary on my part, but I had exhausted everything in my amputee toolbox and was willing to give it a try. I wasn't overly optimistic that a lotion bar was going to make an impact but knowing that it wasn't going to hurt, I decided to lather up and give it a try. I couldn't believe it, As I was walking, I felt the improvement on my first step.

The lotion bar was precisely what I needed to alleviate the nagging friction problem on the back of my socket. Instead of rubbing my skin sore, my leg now glides smoothly with each step. Unlike other lotions and ointments that I tried (and trust me my medicine cabinet now looks like the skincare aisle at CVS), this formulation does not melt and pool to the bottom of my liner. I have to reapply twice during the day which is a minor inconvenience compared to the constant trouble I was experiencing for months.

I have been struggling with skin breakdown since September with the pain vacillating between nagging and nearly incapacitating. Being free of pain and of the need to constantly pause to readjust my leg and liner, has been liberating. I never would have imagined that a simple lotion bar would be my solution, but I sure am glad that my mom thought it was worth a try!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Back to School

The beginning of the week has not progressed as anticipated. I was planning on a week of holiday fun as we led up to the last day of school celebration. Instead of surprising Robby's class with baked surprises, I've been delivering water and medicine to his bedroom. It has been impossible to feel festive when there is a sick kiddo in the house.

I've tried to keep Robby quarantined to keep his nasty cough from spreading through the family, but my efforts seemed to have served only as a challenge for Timmy. He dashed down the hallway at every opportunity, frantically banging on his brother's bedroom door. I tried to explain that big brother isn't feeling well and needs to nap, but my determined toddler wouldn't sway from his mission. He knew his brother was home, and he wanted to play.

The unseasonably warm temperatures have been a blessing, allowing Timmy and I to escape outside while Robby slept. (I quickly realized that the lure of going outside to play trumps trying to harass his big brother.) Instead of baking and decorating for the holidays I have been swinging, kicking the ball and exploring the woods with Timmy. Not exactly Christmas activities, but I managed to keep Timmy occupied while Robby recovered so I will consider it a victory.

After a few days of rest and lots of spoiling, I think Robby is well enough to return to school today. Hopefully he can enjoy the last few days with his friends before his vacation begins. Back to cookie baking!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Disability "Perks"

Vowing to maintain a semblance of a schedule, a few weeks ago Dave and I recorded another podcast. We were rather boastful with our accomplishment of recording on time, even congratulating ourselves for a job well done before disconnecting the call. I promised to upload the recording in a day or two so that we could maintain our newly adopted schedule.

Despite my best intentions, the recording sat idle in my computer cloud for two weeks. I tried to upload it once but met with some technical glitches which frustrated me to the point of angrily logging off the computer. I've been meaning to return to complete the upload but seemed to get distracted every time I remembered.

Finally, after two weeks of frequently remembering but never doing, the file is uploaded. This episode of Amp'd was inspired by a recent (well, now it isn't quite breaking news) story concerning a Paralympic athlete's request for a handicapped bus pass. This irony led Dave and I into a meandering path where we evaluated the odd hypocrisies that we both assume concerning the acceptance of disability "perks."

Enjoy!


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Monday, December 14, 2015

Santa

Sunday morning we dressed in nice (unstained) clothes and went to the much anticipated brunch with Santa. Robby was looking forward to the all-you-can eat buffet, promising that he was going to eat for hours to "get our money's worth." We were a little nervous about taking Timmy into a restaurant. The last time we took him out to eat, he shrieked in the high chair and threw food at everything in reach. I ended up getting my food to go and sitting in the car with an angry toddler while Scott and Robby wolfed down their meals. We drove home frazzled with the promise that he would not set foot in a restaurant until he was 18.

We decided to make an exception to our self-imposed exile because this event was geared for children. I was hoping that Timmy would be amused being in a dining room filled with excited children and that the setting would be more relaxed. When we walked into the waiting area and were met by a maitre d' wearing a full tuxedo, my anxiety began to rise. The ballroom was decked out with fine linens, full table settings and stemmed glass wear.  Little girls were proudly twirling in their sparkling Christmas dresses and boys were awkwardly wearing their best suits. I took one look at my ragamuffin clan and knew that we were under-dressed.

After being seated at our table, Robby asked the waiter if he could have a paper napkin because he had the sniffles and didn't want to "get boogers on the good cloth one." After being reassured that it was okay to use the cloth napkin, Robby eagerly declared that it was "time to get our money's worth and eat like a man." He took off to conquer the buffet while I fumbled to try to push everything out of Hamlet's reach on the table. 

Unfortunately, it didn't take Timmy long to figure out pulling the tablecloth expedited his efforts to grab the forbidden items. Pulling the beautifully set table settings dangerously close to smashing on the floor, we ended up moving Timmy's high chair out of reach. He was not happy being exiled and began to squawk like an angry chicken. 

Timmy was bribed into silence with a steady stream of cantaloupe. Robby accumulated a small tower of plates from his visits to the buffet and Scott seemed to relax. Everything was going well, until the jingle bells began to ring.

Santa came into the ballroom sending the children into cheers.  Well, all of the children except Timmy, who began to scream. He became so scared that he projectile vomited, thoroughly dousing the fancy table linens and the elf who happened to be standing in the path. Disgusted and probably fearful that he would be next, Santa practically threw the presents to Robby and Timmy as he hurried past our table. Timmy took the opportunity to throw his package back at Santa, hitting him squarely on his back.

Our photo opportunity with Santa didn't fare any better.  As anticipated by his previous response, Timmy melted down. It took both Scott and Robby to wrangle him to stand close enough for a picture. We are all a little worried that Timmy's demonstration  might land him on the naughty list.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Magic.

Robby was delighted when we turned into our driveway after school and he spied his Nana on the swing set. She didn't come down for a casual visit, after all 3 hours is too far to drive for a drop-in. Instead, she was planning on attending his magic performance.  

My little Koopa has been taking magic classes for the past few months. At first I was surprised when he inquired about lessons, but after some thought I realized that magic is a logical extension of his interests.  Probably due to his ear issues, he is certainly not athletic. (At this point his 19 month old brother can throw a ball better than he can.) 

Robby is not a child driven by competition. He roots for everybody! When he was playing hockey, he was chastised by the coach for cheering when the other team made a goal. He was genuinely happy for the players success, regardless of the team colors being worn.  

Scott and I have been searching to help Robby found an extracurricular interest and were delighted when we found the magic classes. While I wasn't thrilled about tackling DC traffic during rush hour to ferry him to and from his class, I accepted my fate as Mom taxi driver. Seeing Robby's excited face when he walked out of the class, and listening to him recount all of his "amazing feats of magic" repaid me for the hours in traffic.  

Yesterday was Robby's big magic show. Dressed in his magician's tuxedo (with top hat) I could tell that he felt both confident and ready to perform. Standing alone in front of an audience is difficult for anybody but he handled his nerves beautifully. I'm proud of my little magician!


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Tree Trauma


It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas in our house.

Yesterday Robby had off from school because his teacher needed a personal day, and she had a difficult time securing a substitute. I was going to take him on an educational trip, but when we woke to a dreary foggy day, we decided to stay inside in our pajamas. Instead of learning, we opted to spend our free day baking and decorating.  If you ask me, we made a wise decision.

 Our tree is erect and beautifully lit. Because we don't trust Timmy with any ornaments, we opted to use only lights this year. While little Hamlet was sleeping, Robby and I strung 3,000 bright and colorful LED lights through the branches. I have no doubt that Santa will be able to see our tree when flying through our neighborhood! 

I was certain that Timmy would be awestruck by the colorfully lit Christmas tree. Toddling down the hallway after his nap, he did not react as expected. Instead of being enthralled, he was utterly terrified. Using the corner for cover and peeking past it, he hid and began to cry.

I scooped him up and held him to examine the tree. He sobbed for nearly 20 minutes, pointing to the tree (which by that point had been hurriedly unplugged) and refusing to release his tight grasp on my shirt. Based on his reaction to discovering a tree in the house, I am not overly optimistic that he is going to enjoy sitting on Santa's lap this year.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Introducing Timmy the Terrible

A few weeks ago I made a resolution to improve my health by eating a better diet and moving more. I knew that weight was creeping back on, and I wanted to take care of my bad habits before they spiraled out of control. In my zeal to improve my life, I invested in a Jawbone fitness tracker.

I have noticed a strong correlation between Timmy's mischievous behavior and my step count. Yesterday, Timmy the Terrible introduced himself to our family in a whirlwind of chaos and tantrums. He hurriedly moved from one naughty activity to another with virtually no time to rest. He seamlessly moved through his repertoire of misbegotten behaviors with such fluidity that I am convinced that it was a well-planned assault. Nobody will ever convince me that it wasn't planned.

As soon as I heard the cat food scatter across the kitchen floor, he was headed into the bathroom to splash in the toilet.  (Note to self, he has figured out how to open the lid. I need to get toilet bowl latches today.) I picked him up, soaking wet and screaming, only to see the toilet paper strewn through the hallway. All of this occurred before I finished my first cup of coffee.

He snatched two eggs and smashed them on the floor when I was trying to make a quick batch of cookies. He lost the batteries to every remote and screamed until he was red faced and sweaty when I dared to take my phone out of his sticky little hands. 

He calmed down slightly when we went to get our Christmas tree. He found a fish pond and seemed amused watching the occupants swim in circles. Only in retrospect did I realize that his calm demeanor was simply a ruse to gain my trust. Just as I released his hand he twirled around and grabbed a stack of greeting cards. Before I could respond, he threw them into the fish pond, thoroughly soaking the lot. Our Christmas tree was $40. The water logged cotton candy pink flamingo and lizard Christmas cards cost me $30.

By the end of the day I was exhausted. When I logged onto my Jawbone app before going to sleep, I realized that my chasing Timmy had accumulated over 5 miles. Who needs to go to the gym when there is a toddler in the house!

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Missing Dad


Over the past week I have been thinking a lot about my Dad. Since he passed away he has never been completely out of my mind, but lately I feel as if I have been haunted by his loss more than normal. It feels like every time I turn around I confront another reminder that he is really gone. 

This past weekend we went to National Harbor for a holiday getaway. In years past, my Dad would have used his hotel reward points for our room. With a quick phone call he would instantly turn our planned day trip into an overnight adventure. Having to book the hotel felt surreal because it was yet another reminder that he is gone. I suspect that I will always think of him when we are going on a weekend getaway. 

My grandmother's Menorah is on my kitchen table, and we have been dutifully lighting it every night. While I won't pretend to know all of the Hanukkah traditions, lighting the Menorah has been a tradition in our home since my Dad moved in with us more than a decade ago. Whenever possible he came home early from work during Hanukkah so that we could light the candles together. One of my favorite photos of my Dad was taken during Robby's first Hanukkah. I smile every time I see the image of baby Robby in a Santa suit, sucking a binkie and looking at Candy Papaw lighting the Menorah. This year, as we light the candles, I find myself fighting back tears. 

Going through our decoration boxes, yesterday I pulled out the stocking I embroidered for my Dad when he was living with us. Sitting on the living room floor holding his stocking, I broke down. I tried to throw it away but couldn't bring myself to do it. Instead I just put it back in the box of decorations I am not going to use and packed it away. Someday I'm sure I'll throw it away, but right now I'm just not ready.


Monday, December 07, 2015

Family Holiday Fun

A holiday trip has quickly become a tradition in our family. Last year we went to Williamsburg, but this year we decided to soak up the festive spirit a little closer to home. This past weekend we packed up and went to stay at a Christmas-themed resort in National Harbor. 

With over two million lights adorning the massive lobby and atrium area, the setting was simply breathtaking. It was hard to not feel the holiday spirit when walking around the hotel and through the harbor shops. Everybody, Timmy included, seemed to enjoy the leisurely afternoon we spent on Saturday. It has been a long time since we simply strolled through an area. We have become so busy that being able to relax and just unwind together has become a luxury.

Of course, we weren't the only family with the idea of going to National Harbor for a pre-holiday getaway. The hotel, although massive, was packed. I typically don't mind crowds, but fighting through them at every turn became frustrating. I think we would have spent more time outside of our hotel room if we didn't have to retreat from the overwhelming hustle and bustle around us.

To my delight, Timmy surprised everybody by sleeping well. I was prepared for a difficult and sleepless night because he typically doesn't do well when traveling. Thankfully none of my worries came to fruition. Although he had some trouble settling down, when he did finally fall asleep he slept soundly through the night. (In full disclosure, he ended up falling asleep on the floor. Instead of risking waking him up to move him, we opted to cover him up. He didn't stir until morning.)

We thoroughly enjoyed our holiday getaway, but it was nice to come home. I spent Sunday tidying up and getting ready for the week while the boys watched sports and videos. I think we would all like to return to the hotel, but maybe we will go during the off-season. We'll miss out on all of the lights, but I don't think we'll miss the crowds.




Friday, December 04, 2015

Quality Care?

I was scheduled to begin my pelvic floor therapy this week, an appointment which I have been anticipated with dread that stems from an impending sense of humiliation and pain. I was encouraged to have somebody drive me to the first appointment, so Scott secured the day off work. Everything was ready and while I wasn't looking forward to the appointment, I was anxious to get it over.

As the appointment day approached, I kept reminding myself that anticipated pain and humiliation was probably stronger in my mind than in reality. Just as I was psyched up and emotionally ready to conquer the therapy, the rug was pulled out from under me. Hours before the appointment, the therapy office called and cancelled.

On one hand I felt like I had received a stay of execution. At the same time, I was frustrated, disappointed and angry. I had invested so mental energy preparing for the appointment and I felt emotionally strong and ready. Scott had taken a day off work to support me, which could not be undone. While I knew that it wasn't my fault, I felt guilty that he had burned a precious personal day for no reason. 

My interactions with the medical community surround this organ prolapse has been exasperating at best. Between cancelled appointments, unanswered messages and examinations void of any compassion, I am experiencing considerable concerns about the quality of my medical care.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Disabled or Amputee?

Today is International Day of People with Disabilities. Apparently it is a UN sanctioned designation to increase awareness about the estimated one billion people around the world living with a disability. In researching this holiday, I learned that 15% of the world's population is disabled, making us the largest minority group.

I learned about this holiday through a friend, who sent me an email wishing me a happy International Day of People with Disabilities Day. To be honest, I was initially taken aback by being included under the disability umbrella. Although I have no problem identifying as an amputee, I don't consider myself to be disabled. I always considered my inclusion under the disability label to be a technicality rather than a reality.

The only times I feel disabled are when I am experiencing socket issues or limb pain. Having to modify my activities because of my amputation both annoys and frustrates me. I resent having to accommodate because of my limb loss, and during those times I identify most as disabled.

When my prosthetic is fitting correctly and my limb is healthy, I feel completely able-bodied. My prosthetic allows me to function and feel like my bi-ped friends. Being considered disabled just because I can take my leg off feels unnatural. My inclusion under the umbrella makes me uncomfortable.

I know that my friend sent me the greeting with kind intentions. I am sure that I am overthinking the issue, but for some reason this has really struck a chord with me this morning. While I don't consider myself to be disabled, I received the label when I became an amputee.  For most of the world, being an amputee and being disabled are paired. Perhaps they are only separate in my mind.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Proud Mom Moment

Lately Robby has been showing more signs of becoming a teenager. While he is only 9 and, at least in my eyes still a little boy, he has become increasingly snarky. He always has to have the last word to prove that he is correct, and seems to relish pointing out my mistakes. With everything I do wrong, it is absolutely amazing that I have lived over 40 years.
 Whenever appropriate, I try to bring my boys with me when meeting with a new amputee family. I find it helps to authenticate my experiences. It is easier to believe that recovery and adaptation are possible when witnessing me trying to wrangle everybody during the visit.  Yesterday afternoon, I took Robby out of school a little early so that he could accompany me on a visit to meet with a new amputee mom and her son. (I quietly hoped that the lure of being released from class an hour early would help to keep the pre-teen monster in check.)

The visit went well and everybody was behaved. Timmy quietly played with his toy laptop while I met with my new amputee friend. I answered questions and shared my experiences, but most of the time I just listened. Robby spent the time playing and chatting with her five year old son.

As we were preparing to leave, Robby said goodbye to his new friend. Without prompting from me, he gave the little guy a hug and spoke carefully. "Always remember. Just because you are scared doesn't mean that you aren't strong. Having a mom without a leg is no big deal, but I know that you don't know that right now. Soon you will though, and her robot leg will be normal."

Witnessing this heartfelt interaction, my heart swelled with pride. Despite his pre-teen demeanor at home, Robby continues to show empathy and compassion in public. (Apparently the rest of the world is not nearly as inadequate and mistake riddled as his own family.)

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Busy Visits

Today is sure to be draining, both emotionally and physically. In addition to chauffeuring Robby to and from school and my own work obligations, Timmy and I have three visits scheduled with new amputees. I wish the weatherman had received my memo, but the persistent cold rain seems to have settled in for the week. It looks like I'll be doing a lot of driving in the rain today.

I always feel pressure when I am asked to meet with a new amputee. I know how difficult it is to reach out and to ask for help. I always worry that I won't find the words and that my visit will be viewed as a waste of time. More than anything, I want to make sure that the individual(s) know that they are not alone.

I am always honest when answering questions, but I am also strive to portray the amputee community in a positive light. Unfortunately, many in our society continue to view amputees with ghastly horror. The idea of living a life without a leg or an arm (or both) is too overwhelming to imagine. When somebody finds themselves thrust into that new "dreaded" reality, it is imperative that I demonstrate that their perceptions about amputees were incorrect.

Despite the weather and my own blistery limb issues, today I will be putting my best foot forward. I will be cognizant of my steps to mask my limp, and I will be smiling and upbeat despite the pain in my back and the achy rain. Wish me luck as I welcome these new friends into the amputee community. 

Monday, November 30, 2015

Back to Reality

My week long Thanksgiving vacation has come to an end, and today we return to our routine of school and work. The week flew by so quickly it is hard to believe that it is over. I had a wonderful time visiting with my Mom and seeing my family on Thanksgiving. I always enjoy going home, but it is especially nice when I am able to extend the visit beyond the weekend.  I know that she enjoyed her time with the boys, but I also think she appreciated the quiet and calm after we left.

During the past few weeks I have noticed some changes in Timmy. He has always been curious and borderline mischievous. Lately he has been flirting with Santa's Naughty List as he pushes his limits and tests everything and everybody around him. "No no no" has become our family mantra as we are constantly trying to discourage him from his latest adventure and investigation. I can tell by his guilty giggle and the smirk on his little face that he is well aware of what he is doing.

Timmy has been keeping me on my toes. He would be exhausting under the best of circumstances. Unfortunately the blister on the back of my stump has reemerged, making each step painful and deliberate. Lacking the empathy that comes with both age and experience, Timmy has taken full advantage of the head start my bum leg affords him. I am seriously considering keeping his child leash attached while inside just so I have a chance of catching him before he climbs to the top of the kitchen table to dance and swipe the cookies- again.

I'm beyond frustrated with the recurring blister on my leg. I have exhausted every amputee hack I know, and have finally conceded that a new socket is in order. I texted Elliot on Saturday and we will begin the process today. While I'm not thrilled bout the idea of having to juggle the fitting appointments into my already packed schedule, I know it will be worth it in the end. After all, I really don't have time to be in pain.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Black Friday

I will return to blogging on Monday.  Right now, we're tackling the crowds.  Happy Black Friday- Happy Shopping!


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Getting Ready

Happy Pre-Thanksgiving Day! 

Scott arrived late yesterday evening, after driving over four hours for what should have only taken two hours. So much for his plan of avoiding the travel rush by leaving a day early! Needless to say, he was frazzled, hungry and drained by the time he pulled into my Mom's driveway. 

Robby was thrilled to see his Daddy, relaying every detail of our military museum adventure.  He eagerly demonstrated everything that he learned, and proudly showed off his souvenirs. I'm so glad that the museum was a hit with my little Koopa!

Today will be spent getting ready for Thanksgiving. We are all going to help my Mom cook, clean and organize in preparation for the family crowd that is expected tomorrow. It will be hectic and busy, but fun as well. 

I love Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Fun Day

Yesterday Robby and I bundled up and headed out for our special adventure. My Mom offered to watch Timmy, which allowed me to give my full attention to Robby. I knew that we were going to be busy, but I underestimated the level of activity required to conquer the Army museum. Decked out in his Air Force leather flight jacket and snoopy hat, I knew that he was ready for the adventure.

The Army museum was, to quote Robby, simply amazing. My little Koopa loved every moment, smiling from ear to ear and talking nonstop about every exhibit. We were assigned a docent when we entered, a retired Vet whose job was to get us started in the exhibits. He ended up staying with us throughout because of Robby's continual narrative and peculiar questions.  He remarked numerous times that he was impressed by both Robby's knowledge of military history and his interest in details.  Needless to say, Robby was on Cloud 9 knowing that he impressed the guide. 

We thoroughly enjoyed our military themed adventure, and I have no doubt that we'll be back soon. Robby is already asking when he can return, and wants to bring his Daddy. He is sure that his Daddy won't need a docent because he is an excellent tour guide. (I'm fairly sure he is correct.) 

Robby wasn't the only one to have a fantastic day. Nana took the opportunity to spoil Timmy by taking him to Toys R Us. When I came home, he was busy bouncing in his own inflatable ball pit.

What a great start to our Thanksgiving vacation!






Monday, November 23, 2015

War College

Happy Thanksgiving Week!

The boys and I made our traditional pilgrimage to spend the week with my Mom. Scott will join us on Tuesday when he is done with work. In the meantime, I have a few adventures planned (in between resting and relaxing of course.) 

Today Robby and I are going on a special trip to the War College in Carlisle. My little Koopa has become quite the history buff and has recently become enthralled with World War II.  I must admit that I was a bit taken aback when his interest in World War II started to grow.  When I saw that one of his drawings from school featured a Nazi flag, I knew that I had to intervene.  I know that zooming planes and torpedo boats are fun for little boys, but the horrific atrocities needed to be appreciated.

I grew up with a Jewish father who made sure that we understood and appreciated the history of the holocaust.  After much searching, I found a kid-friendly documentary on the holocaust, and I sat him down a few weeks ago and made him watch the film. Unlike so many documentaries about the atrocities committed, this film was not graphic. However, it did enlighten Robby about the crimes committed and the torture endured during that time. 

After watching the documentary, Robby's interest in World War II was solidified. (Thankfully now the only time he draws the Nazi flag is on the tail of a plane violently crashing.) While I don't understand his fascination with all things military, I love that he is a little sponge soaking up as much information as possible. I know that he is going to love learning about all of the different wars and seeing the artifacts in the museum. It should be a fun day!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Personal or Property Damage?

A few weeks ago my friend Dave participated in a panel discussion. Typically I would just retweet the event and not give it much thought after logging off. This time was different because I found the topic captivating.

Should damage to a prosthesis incurred during an accident be considered property or personal damage? I kept thinking about this debate long after his panel participation. Finally I called him and suggested that we record a podcast to explore the issue. Enjoy!


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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Hocus Pocus

I'm gearing up for another busy day. After dropping off Robby at school, I have to leave for a slew of work appointments. Hopefully Timmy cooperates because he is going to have a lot of adventures (also known as errands and meetings) today. When school is over, we are heading to Magic School, which Robby adores but I am starting to dread. I love seeing him so happy, but the reality of facing Washington, DC, rush hour traffic takes a large bite out of my enjoyment. 

It turns out that magic is right up Robby's alley. He isn't particularly skilled or swift with the tricks that he has learned, but his enthusiasm radiates with each not-so-slight of hand movement.  He approaches his craft with an intense seriousness, faithfully referencing the "magician's code of secrecy" each time I ask him how he does his trick.

I certainly don't expect him to become the next David Copperfield, but thankfully his expectations are realistic. When asked why he was in the class, he proudly told his magic teacher (and all of his classmates) that he is hoping to learn tricks so that he can "impress girls at the bar someday." What can I say?  At least he is planning ahead!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Hair Adventures

Feeling either ambitious or a glutton for punishment, yesterday I decided to get my hair cut. Since my hairstylist opened a small salon in her basement and eager to establish her business, she invited Timmy to come along with me. I thought that her idea of allowing me to bring my toddler, saving me the hassle of securing daycare, was a stroke of brilliance. A parent-friendly salon would be the perfect solution for so many work-from-home moms.

Entering her basement with a squirmy Hamlet in tow, I realized that I misunderstood her invitation. She was not relaying that her business was child friendly but more that she was willing to tolerate him during the appointment. From sparkling glass coffee tables with carefully arranged magazines to expensive throw rugs strewn through the sparsely furnished room, this was definitely not a kid-friendly environment. With the exception of the puny toy I grabbed from the car as I unlatched him, there was nothing productive for my mischievous little toddler to do. 

I immediately sensed that this appointment was going to be anything but relaxing. I tried to reschedule for a time when I had care for Timmy, but she was rather insistent that we proceed with the appointment. I reluctantly sat in the chair and allowed her foil and brush on dye. While I was being "pampered," Timmy was knocking over every magazine, dancing in circles and throwing a Nutrigrain bar across the room. Not exactly  my most proud moment!

After the dye was applied, I was freed from the chair, allowing me to (attempt to) play and entertain Timmy. Needless to say, it is exhausting keeping an 18 month old busy without the benefit of toys. I was compelled to purchase only 2 bottles of shampoo (due to him gnawing on the caps while my hair was being rinsed), so I will consider my efforts a success.

I emerged from the basement two hours later, my hair newly cut and colored but soaking wet. (I didn't want to risk the time needed to dry and style, so I decided to forgo that luxury.) Maybe someday I'll be able to enjoy relaxing and being pampered during a hair appointment, but in the meantime I'll remember to bring more toys to the next one.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Healing

This past weekend I went to visit my Mom which was just what I needed (both physically and emotionally.) We didn't do anything of consequence, but just sitting around and relaxing certainly felt like a vacation. My Mom assumed early morning Timmy duty allowing me to catch up on some much needed sleep.

I have been dealing with the sores on my leg since September. The severity has varied with my activity level and socket fit, but they have never gone away. I've tried just about everything to promote healing, but my efforts only produced modest improvements. I was growing so tired of the nagging pain each time I took a step. The discomfort was omnipresent, but it wasn't intense enough to force me off my feet.  

Staying off my feet was exactly what was needed for the sores to finally begin to heal. With my Mom and sister eager to entertain Timmy, I was able to keep my leg off for most of the weekend.  In a few short days, the leg misery of the last few months began to dissipate.  

Once again, I'm reminded that I'm not too old to need my Mom!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Personal Justification

I realize that the personal nature of my blogs last week may have made some readers uncomfortable. My decision to write about such an intimate and personal topic was not taken lightly. Believe it or not, there are some details of my life that I keep private! 

I decided to write about the multi-tissue prolapse including the examination by the doctor because I was feeling alone and scared. Much like the times I tried to research my amputation, I found no first-hand accounts from those who had experienced this situation or the surgery. I decided to come forward about my condition in the hope of minimizing the isolation I was feeling. I am also optimistic that my relaying my experiences will help another woman in the future from feeling the embarrassment that the examination and diagnosis evoked in me.

Since the prolapsed blogs published, I have been flooded with emails and messages of support. I have heard from women across the country who have been living with the same diagnosis. Because of the intimate nature of the organs involved, I've learned that prolapse is discussed in hushed tones and often confided to few outside the immediate family circle.

I began this blog so that I no longer felt alone and with the hopes of helping others feel connected. I apologize for the embarrassment that my blogs last week may have caused, but the reward of starting a dialog about this difficult topic makes my coming public worthwhile. I assure you that this will not become a "prolapse" blog, but since this is now part of my reality, I will probably refer to it occasionally. I will try to refrain from being graphic, but will not hide this diagnosis in the shadows anymore.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Adventures- Part 2

After meeting the business end of my doctor's trident, I was physically and emotionally spent. All I wanted to do was put my underwear back on and waddle to the car. Instead, I was ushered into his office to talk. I could tell by the number of pamphlets he pulled off the wall as we left the examination room that the "talk" was not going to be pleasant. 

I'll be honest, after such an intimate encounter I was having a hard time looking in his eyes. I found myself staring at the desk and at the imposing pile of pamphlets that were systematically handed to me as he went over the results of my exam. He was professional and patient, but I had a difficult time getting over my own embarrassment.  He tried to counter my embarrassment by reminding me that he deals with this every day and, while it isn't normal for me, it is part of his routine.

He slowly began to review my findings. He explained that my pelvic muscles were damaged when I was carrying Timmy  and that strong adhesions had formed. These adhesions were the source of some of my pain and needed to be addressed.  I was handed a pamphlet for "Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy." 

Before he continued, I had to question the method of this physical therapy. He smiled and explained that the therapists were highly trained and professional. I asked him how my pelvic floor was exercised.  It turns out that it isn't exercised but physically manipulated.

Internally manipulated. Twice a week. For the next three months. My mind was reeling, and I just wanted to cry. 

He continued with his results.  I learned that my vagina is like an old gym sock which has lost its elasticity. Yep, my new doctor actually called my vagina an old gym sock. Let me tell you, that does nothing to boost the ego!  He definitely needs to come up with a better analogy.

My washed out old lady parts are prolapsing. As is my bladder, and my rectum. Lovely. Just freaking lovely. I was warned to try to refrain from heavy lifting so that my bladder doesn't completely prolapse. All of a sudden I had an image of my bladder hitting the floor of the bounce house when I'm playing with Timmy. That would certainly traumatize the little tykes, wouldn't it! 

I didn't even know it was possible for my vagina to fall out of my body, but apparently it is happening. I guess I shouldn't be surprised since it is apparently washed out like an old gym sock.  Yep, that one is still sticking in my craw.  

The details of the invasive surgery were reviewed, and I was handled more pamphlets. The doctor wants to wait until the adhesions and muscle issues are addressed through PT before performing the surgery. In the meantime, I have to hope that my bladder, rectum and washed up gym sock of a lady part will all defy gravity and stay upright. 

Getting old stinks!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Adventures at the Urogynecologist- Part 1


Between  my re-amputation, childbirth and my hysterectomy, I have endured more than my share of medical embarrassment. It is safe to say that I have been poked and prodded in more locations and through more methods than I care to admit. Throughout all of this, I have always tried to maintain some semblance of dignity. 

None of my previous experiences prepared me for my appointment with a urogynecologist. While I knew that the exam would definitely involve disrobing and some degree of intrusive exam, I was woefully unprepared for what was waiting for me behind the exam room door. I have never had such an intimate encounter with a man, including with my husband, as I did with the urogynecologist who examined me yesterday.

After a lengthy history, I was instructed to void my bladder over a specialized mat which was designed to measure flow intensity and speed. Urinating without a seat was difficult, but performing in front of an audience certainly made this normally mundane task an event. After a few episodes of urinary shyness, I was finally successful. I'm not too proud to admit that I almost broke into the "Happy Pee Pee" song and dance from our toilet training attempts.

I slipped into the paper gown secure in the knowledge that the embarrassing part of the exam was behind me. I was expecting a pelvic exam. Anytime I see "gynecologist" on the door, I am prepared to stirrup up and take one for the team. After childbirth, I no longer feel the squeamish embarrassment that was the norm in the blissful naivete of my youth. Middle-aged and more experienced, I confidently slipped my bum to the edge of the table, slipped my legs into the stirrups, buried my head under my arms and spread eagle. Within moments my doctor was lubed up and fully engrossed in his task at hand.  (I can't be certain, but at one point I think only his elbow was visible.)

Between the cancer and my pregnancies, I have probably experienced more than 50 pelvic examinations.  While they are never fun, the experience has always been predictable. Yesterday my doctor took me off guard by shaking up the mundane.

When he told me that he was going to perform a rectal exam, I assumed that he was joking. I even chuckled and said something classy like, "Oh, you have got to be kidding. Trust me, nothing- I mean nothing- has ever been there."  With the swiftness of an alley cat stalking his prey, I learned that he was not a jester. After what felt like an eternity of pushing, pulling and prodding, I just wanted to put on my panties and cry. Little did I know that this exam was not yet over. 

The doctor said something, but I couldn't really understand him over my whimpering. Judging from what happened next, I can only assume that he said something about inserting a catheter.  I don't know if it is a good thing, but I was too uncomfortable to feel the level of humiliation that the trifecta warranted.

Tune in to tomorrow's blog where I will tell the rest of the story. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Walking Day!

Even though I felt like I was dragging, the absence of vomiting made it a better day. Timmy gifted me by taking a lengthy nap, allowing me some much needed sleep in the middle of the afternoon. We both woke up feeling happier, I really wish that he would make napping part of his daily routine!

Today is a special day in our home because it is my Walking Day.  Twelve years ago this morning I received my first prosthetic, allowing me the opportunity to take my first steps (literally and figuratively) towards independence.  I will never forget the trepidation and excitement that I felt as I donned my first socket.

Trusting Elliot, and knowing that I really had no option rather than move forward and try, I took a deep breath and carefully moved my prosthetic leg in front of me. Just like a baby, I could only concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other.  Within minutes of slipping on my prosthetic, I was walking and independent.  The experience was truly magical.

With so many sad anniversaries related to my amputation, Walking Day is the one that I decide to celebrate. Instead of remembering what was lost or how everything changed because of my accident and amputation, Walking Day allows me to celebrate the moment I regained my life and independence. This video documents this special milestone in my life, and watching it always brings a smile to my face.

Happy Walking Day to me!


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Sick

I have come to the unfortunate conclusion that my feeling ill was not emotionally driven. Yesterday I continued to feel lousy. Although I was functional, I was dragging and feeling off all day. By nightfall, my stomach started to cramp again and a wicked headache began to form. 

I fought to become comfortable, but it wasn't until after I vomited that I felt relief from my cramping. Once everything was expelled I was able to get some sleep, but it was fitful at best. Needless to say, I have a feeling that today is going to be a long one.

Hopefully Timmy will take his cue from the dreary rain and enjoy a substantial nap. If my little Hamlet cooperates, I plan on unplugging and joining him in sleepy land. Fingers crossed that both of us can get some rest!

Monday, November 09, 2015

Surviving Another First

Yesterday was my Dad's birthday. I suspected that the date was going to feel bittersweet, but the strength of my emotions took me off guard. Every year I would call him to wish him a Happy Birthday. He might or might not have answered the phone, depending upon what he was doing. He might or might not have called me back after I left a cheerful message singing Happy Birthday. It isn't as if his birthday was a grand event, but yet I found myself missing him terribly.

A few days before his birthday I received an email which contained a tribute video that was played at a conference my Dad organized. I knew that watching the video would be difficult, but I was unprepared for the Pandora box of emotions that opened as I watched the tribute.

The man featured on the video, although he looked and spoke like my father, was not the dad that I knew.   He gave the very best of himself to his profession, and to his family with Jeanette. I had glimpses at the man featured in the video, but my dad was a different person with me.  His passion and priorities were his work, not his children. In a way it saddened me watching the retrospective of his professional life because I would have loved to have known the man featured. 

The video, coupled with his birthday, made for an emotionally wrought weekend. I am sure that the grief, and my attempt to reconcile our relationship, will continue to ebb and flow throughout the coming months. In the meantime, I'm going to just try to push the conflicting emotions to the side and concentrate on my kids and family. I'm sure that psychologists would disagree, but in this situation I will rely upon my go-to coping mechanism, avoidance. 


video

Friday, November 06, 2015

Rest?

My leg is improving, but the progress has been excruciatingly slow. I was hopeful that the sores would be closed and healed by now, but they are certainly taking their time. At this point, I need to be satisfied with the fact that they are not infected, and that they are slowly starting to shrink. Although the healing is slow, the fact that it no longer hurts to don my leg and walk is a victory I will embrace.  The absence of pain has been liberating, leaving me feeling energized and happier. 

I have no doubt that the sores would be completely healed if I could go a few days without wearing my leg. Each morning I vow to take it easy and to remove my liner as much as possible. Then Timmy starts running around the house and the chaos of life with a toddler begins. I shutter to think of what would happen if he had the advantage of my being slowed with crutches or my knee scooter.  Because I continue to wear my leg, my healing time has been extended from a few days to a few weeks. 

This weekend will be spent trying to strike the nearly impossible balance between resting my leg and entertaining Timmy. I am tiring of worrying about the sores and constantly checking for size and infection. I'm looking forward to being normal again.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Podcast

After the news of the LCD (Medicare) proposal being pulled from contention, Dave and I immediately scheduled our next podcast. I know that his schedule is hectic, but I also recognize that he is a leading expert on this issue and his perspective would be valuable to document.  We typically try to record when we know our houses will be quiet, but this time we felt that being timely trumped delaying because of ambient noises.  We did our best to create a quiet recording environment, but despite our efforts you will hear Timmy screaming in the background, Robby squawking about a video game and Dave's wife talking.

Despite the audible contributions from our families, this podcast provides a concise explanation of the complex issues. We discuss what happened, decipher the carefully worded response from the White House, and offer predictions of what we expect to happen in the coming months. Enjoy!


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Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Early Morning

I used to love the first few days after turning back the clock. I remember basking in the extra hour of sleep and how the benefits were felt for days until my body fully adjusted. Then I had kids, and the days that I had previously enjoyed turned against me in the most ironic manner.

Children, especially toddlers, have no concept of time or the clock. My little tireless Timmy has woken at 3 AM every morning this week. The fact that it is pitch dark outside and that the house is quiet, seem to be irrelevant. I've been trying to keep him up later in the evening to encourage a later wake-up time, but so far our efforts are in vain. Where he is alert and ready to play at an obscene hour, I find myself struggling to function. A steady stream of coffee has become my faithful companion as I try to wrangle an energetic and mischievous toddler. 

Sitting in the dark and quiet room, trying to rock a wiggly and energetic Timmy, my mind begins to wander.  This morning I envisioned my future, visiting him when he is grown and settled with a family of his own. I was reminded that these long and exhausting days will not last forever. Before I am ready, my house will be quiet and I will again have the luxury of sleeping. Soon, this will be nothing more than a memory.  When I am visiting a grown up Timmy, I plan on reminding him of these special hours we spent together. 

Thinking about my future, I couldn't help but smile as my mind concocted the perfect scenario.  I plan on waking him up at 3 AM by frantically demanding breakfast. I will throw the scrambled eggs on the floor, his windows and his cat. I'll stomp and squawk when he fails to read my mind, threatening to wake up everybody in his house with my tantrum. When he thinks that I am calm and happy, I am going to sneak into his bathroom and unravel an entire roll of toilet paper through his hallway before I disrobe and pee on his floor.

I know that these early morning wake up calls won't last forever. In the meantime, I will probably continue to spend the wee hours of the morning imagining my revenge.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

We Did It!!

Friday morning I received news that left me absolutely overwhelmed with excitement. Although my first instinct was to log onto my blog to share, I knew that I needed to wait for the official announcement or risk being cut out of the information loop. I was assured that the announcement was imminent, so I eagerly refreshed my inbox and constantly checked my phone throughout the day.  By nightfall I finally received word that the announcement was being held until Monday morning because the powers-that-be didn't want to bury good news over the weekend. 

Yesterday, around 2 in the afternoon, the White House finally issued a follow-up response to our We the People petition.  In short, we won! Although the wording stopped short of using the term "rescind" the White House response indicates that the current draft policy will not be finalized. Instead, a "multidisciplinary Lower Limb Prostheses Interagency Workgroup" will be convened in 2016 to draft a policy that makes sense. Upon reading of the formation of this group I immediately reiterated my offer to serve on the committee. I am hopeful that they will include "real life" amputees in this workgroup, but the membership requirements was deliberately vague in the issued statements.

The statement did ensure that whatever the workgroup proposes will be subject to public response and input.  The opportunity for input was not guaranteed until this statement was released. Rest assured, I will closely monitor the situation and provide updates throughout the process.  Hopefully the new draft policy will be fiscally sound without restricting prosthetic care.  If it is lacking, I am fully prepared to respond.

Although I know that the battle to ensure quality prosthetic care for all amputees is far from over, today I will celebrate this victory.  The community rallied, and we were able to thwart Medicare from adopting an atrocious policy.  With professional groups, manufacturers and a small army of grassroots advocates working together, we were able to effect meaningful change. I am so incredibly proud to have been part of this effort!

Monday, November 02, 2015

Halloween Round-Up

Another successful Halloween is in the books. Scott and Robby took off on the scooter in search of the "good candy." The pair scouted our area in the summer with the theory that the bigger the house, the bigger the candy score. For Robby, the joy of Halloween lies in the pursuit of candy. He still doesn't eat it, but has created a game out of getting as much as possible in the two hour window. 

With Robby and Scott trolling for the good candy, Timmy and I went trick-or-treating up our street. My little eaglet thoroughly enjoyed prancing down the street flapping his wing but seemed ambivalent about approaching houses. I finally convinced him to go to two doors, but by the time he was finished, an hour had elapsed. I picked up my now screaming eagle, his pumpkin carrying the two pieces of candy and schlepped him home.

After tucking Timmy into his crib, I settled in for a night of welcoming trick-or-treaters. I waited until the boys returned at 8:30 before shutting off our lights, disappointed that we only had one group of trick-or-treaters all night. Robby fared far better, bounding up the stairs with two grocery bags full of candy.  His hypothesis of the bigger the house, the better the candy had been tested and proven correct. The amount of candy he scored borders on obscene. 

Robby will probably spend the next few days organizing, sorting and admiring his candy haul. By the end of the week the novelty will be gone, and we will send the loot  with Scott to give to his students. I'm sure that they will appreciate his efforts. 




Friday, October 30, 2015

Toddler Tornado

Yesterday morning I woke up, bent down to put on my leg and became stuck at a 90 degree angle. It took me almost 5 minutes of rocking and stretching (and cursing) before I was able to don my leg and limp out of bed. Lately I have been able to predict the productivity of my day by the level of pain I experience in the morning. Judging from the fact that I could only move with my body contorted like a reverse question mark, I knew it was going to be a long day.

Keeping up with a mischievous toddler while trying to nurse an aching back is an exercise in futility. Although he is only 18 months old, I am fairly certain that Timmy knew that my defenses were weakened. I would love to report that he was caring, loving and well behaved all day out of empathy for my pain. Instead, he took full advantage of the opportunity to wreak as much havoc as possible.

Within a 30 minute period he splashed in the toilets, shoved cat food into his mouth by the fistful and unraveled two rolls of toilet paper through his bedroom. Hoping to minimize the damage, I ended up blocking the exits and limiting access to the living room. I was hoping that he would calm down and quietly play with one of his numerous toys.

I was wrong. My little Hamlet spent the next hour pressing every button available, unplugging cords and raging against the barriers until he was released from his make-shift prison. As much as I begged, he just wouldn't stay still. 

I felt a severe muscle spasm last night, but after that episode I am feeling much better. Today I'm able to bend and walk erect without pain, which is definitely a good thing because I need to start cleaning up the remnants of the toddler tornado that hit my house yesterday.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Party Time

Happy Halloween!

I realize that I am a few days early, but today Robby is attending two Halloween celebrations, and we are fully awash in the spirit of the holiday. This morning his class is going trick-or-treating at a local mall before enjoying a special lunch at the food court. Usually taking Robby to the mall is accompanied by a stream of complaints and procrastination. When he is going with his class, the mall suddenly becomes an epic destination. 

Although he won't have a clue as to what is going on, Timmy will delighted to join the "big kids" for the morning.  (Hopefully the excitement of trick-or-treating will tucker my little eaglet out and coax him into taking a nap.) I'm going to try to keep my little eaglet separate as much as possible, but I suspect that he will spend much of his time frantically pulling on his baby leash as he struggles to keep up with his brother.

After school we head to magic class where they are celebrating the holiday with a magical-themed Halloween party. Much to Timmy's chagrin, he is not invited to this celebration. I will probably end up pushing him through the aisles of a local grocery store until my little magician is done with his party. I'm expecting that Timmy won't be thrilled with this activity, but hopefully I'll be able to distract him and keep him occupied. 


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Want To Be My Buddy?


Lately it feels as if I am spending the majority of my waking hours either preparing for a doctor's visit, sitting in his (or her) office, or decompressing afterwards. Between the boys, Scott's extensive dental issues and my own medical needs, I am sitting in a waiting room several times a week. Timmy, normally happy and ready for an adventure, has begun to fuss and cry as soon as we walk into the reception area.

Yesterday it was my turn to sit on the examination table. I was called into the office to investigate some variations in my recent blood work. Although he was disgruntled and tired, amusing Timmy was not the most frustrating experience during my appointment, nor was the  blood draw before I left the office. For me, having a needle jammed into my arm is not nearly as angst-ridden as stepping on the scale.

I can't say that I was shocked that I've gained some weight. I may be denial expert, but even I recognized that my pants were tight. I guess I was just surprised the number that was staring me down. I wanted to break down and cry, but I chose a different approach. Without giving it much thought, I broached my weight with my doctor.

I was proud of  myself for admitting to the doctor that I needed to and wanted to lose weight. For some reason, I have always felt that a desire to lose weight is a taboo topic. Ironic, because weight is definitely one issue that is impossible to mask. By telling the doctor that I wanted to lose weight, I feel like I took the first step towards a healthier life. Wish me luck, and feel free to email/FB/Tweet (@amputeemommy) me if you want a weight loss buddy. I don't really want to do this alone.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Just Another Manic Monday

For the second day in a row, Timmy has slept past 5 AM. I don't want to jinx this trend, but I will say that the extra sleep has been wonderful. I am cautiously optimistic that he has turned the corner with his exhausting sleep pattern. It never hurts to hope, right?

Yesterday was a typical Monday. After the chaos of getting Robby ready for school, part of me was happy when he climbed out of the car. It isn't that I don't love my little Koopa, but I'm not thrilled with the snarky attitude that has started to emerge recently. All of a sudden I do everything wrong. I'm amazed that I have been able to survive before my know-it-all nine year old was there to remind me of everything that I am doing wrong or that should be done better. Needless to say, I'm not loving this stage. I'm fairly confident that it is only a sneak peek at the teen years, but I'm going to mask myself in denial and hope that the Snarky Robby doesn't visit for long.

After dropping off his brother, Timmy and I headed to the doctor. After an extremely long appointment (which is surprising because we saw the physician for maybe 5 minutes) I carried my exhausted, hungry, angry, screaming toddler to the car. He fell sound asleep on the way home but of course he woke as soon as I turned the ignition off and opened his car door.  My hopes of a productive nap time were ruined.

Instead of napping, Timmy and I made cookies for his Daddy's school.  He isn't a skilled assistant (yet) but he certainly enjoys sampling the dough! I am thoroughly enjoying having a little baking assistant again.