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, April 21, 2017

Busy Busy Busy

The next few days are going to be busy, and looking at my schedule I just hope that I have the energy to keep up. Even though I'm feeling a tinged overwhelmed by my calendar, I am excited about the opportunities and adventures that the next few days will bring. I can hardly wait to see how the coming week unfolds!

Today I'm heading up to my Mom's to prepare for tomorrow's birthday celebration. I have ordered all of the food (thank goodness for the internet, it makes party planning so much easier!) Tomorrow afternoon Robby and I are going to clean her house for the party. It's funny. Robby laments and whines whenever I ask him to clean at home, but he is excited about going to cleaning his Nana's house for the party.

When my niece and nephews come home from school I'm going to surprise them by taking everybody to the Glow Party at Skyzone.  Robby loves playing with his cousins but he doesn't see them often.  On the rare occasions when they can get together I like to go into "SuperMom/ SuperAunt mode" by planning an adventure. 

Saturday morning Scott and I will pick up all of the food and finish the decorations for the party. I'm hoping that my Mom has a good time, can feel relaxed and enjoy everybody coming together to celebrate her. I know that she does not relish being the center of attention, but everybody deserves to be doted upon from time to time. 

Sunday we're going to come home so that we can get ready for Timmy's birthday on Monday. I can't believe that my little Hamlet is going to be three! My goodness the time has flown by so quickly, but I suppose that is the topic for another blog (probably on Monday.) 

Tuesday and Wednesday I will be in DC, lobbying Capitol Hill with the Amputee Coalition for the needs of the amputee community. I'm looking forward about speaking with staffers and legislators about the issues impacting my friends. Even though I'm excited about going to Capitol Hill, right now I'm just trying to focus on my Mom's party. Once I get that done, I can concentrate on making Timmy's day special. One day at a time and hopefully I'll be able to fly through the coming week unscathed and with success.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Happy Blog Anniversary!

Happy Birthday AmputeeMommy!! Eight years ago I tentatively ventured into the bloggersphere. I wish I could say that I had a plan when I started my blog, but in reality it couldn't be further from the truth. Out of boredom and loneliness I pulled out the laptop and decided to start writing. Yes, AmputeeMommy was born out of a whim and was not part of a grander scheme.

I never would have imagined that eight years later I would still be posting, and that AmputeeMommy would become such an important part of my life and my identity. It has taken several years, but I finally feel confident telling people that I am a blogger. Creating something viable, on my own, has forced me to grow in ways I never imagined. My blog contains my personal accounts, and I have revealed intimate details of my life to the world. Doing so has rendered me vulnerable at times while overall Making me stronger.

Oh my, how my "silly little blog" has grown. For the first few months the only readers were family. I remember how excited I was when somebody from MA was reading my posts (I later learned it was Mary Hulser). Now I host 500,000 unique visitors per month and continue to grow. I don't know where AmputeeMommy will lead and how it will change, but I am committed to sticking with my blog. The outlet has been a godsend. Personally, professionally and creatively I am better because I started to write.  I think I'll celebrate my blog anniversary with a cupcake!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Happy Birthday Mom

Today is Mom's birthday. I won't reveal the number, but I will concede that she is celebrating a milestone age. I wish I could be there today to help her celebrate but with everybody returning to school and work, my traveling is not possible.

Instead I am going up to see her on Friday, so we will be able to celebrate her birthday through the weekend. I have planned a mini family party on Saturday. Per her request we are doing nothing fancy, but the house will be filled with love, laughter and lots of food. The internet has made long distance party planning a breeze, and I can hardly wait for everything to come together on Saturday.

Happy Birthday Mom. I wish I could find the words to convey how much you mean to me, but I know that I will always come up short. You are the strength and heart of the family. Your steadfast support and unlimited optimism have helped pull me through the toughest days of my life.

You were there when my foot was hurt. You were there through each of the 20+ surgeries. You were the one I asked for when I was waking up in recovery after my amputation. You are always there when I need you.

You were my supporter in school and my biggest cheerleader as I started my blog. I don't think I will ever be able to repay you for everything that you have done for me. Simply put, you are amazing.

My boys are so incredibly lucky to have you as their Nana. Robby loves calling you after each Taekwondo accomplishment. You are the first person he wants to call when he earns a good grade, or is recognized for good behavior. He tells me that you are always happy when he calls, and that you are always proud of him.

I love watching Timmy's face light up when he is playing with you. His giggles are among the sweetest sounds on earth, and you have a way of getting them out of him like nobody else. He is only two, but his love for his Nana is obvious.

I hope that you have a wonderful birthday. I love you, and we will see you in a few days.  Happy Birthday Mom!




Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Easter Wrap-Up

We had a relatively low-key Easter.  Robby and Timmy woke up to discover that the Easter Bunny had hopped through our house, leaving treats and scattering eggs through the yard. I'm confident that Robby does not believe the Easter Bunny facade, but he continues to play along with the ruse. At this point I'm not sure if he is doing it for me or for his little brother, but either way I'm happy that the magic remains intact for Timmy.

It didn't take Timmy long to embrace the joys of the Easter Egg hunt. He ran through the yard gleefully claiming any egg that was in his path. Unfortunately he failed to stop when he spied one, resulting in trampling more than a few. Two dozen colored hard boiled eggs were hidden through the yard. By the end of the morning 11 were smashed into the tread of Timmy's sandals. Oh well. We didn't succeed in making egg salad, but we were successful having fun.

My Mom and sister came down for Easter brunch. It was nice to see them and I'm happy to report that Timmy was fairly well-behaved at the restaurant. He only threw his silverware one time. Although my Mom is turning 70 this week, she still has catlike reflexes and was able to catch the knife flung in her direction in midair.  Robby enjoyed playing the role of waiter, raiding the buffet and bringing plates of treats to the table. 
 
Robby is growing up so quickly. When he brought me a plate of fruit he looked like his Daddy. Dressed in his new shirt and tie, along with the fedora for extra style, he no longer looked like my little buddy who had earned the nickname of Robby Rotten. Instead I saw a young man. When did that happen?

This morning our taxes are done and all of the Easter decorations are stowed. Spring break is almost over and the sun is shining. I won't say which of those brings me the most joy, but I will admit that the culmination has me feeling lighter and happier today. I enjoyed having Scott and Robby home, but after a week I was ready for the return of our routine. While I enjoy the company and Timmy certainly relished the commotion that comes from having a full house, it is considerably more work when everybody is home. More cooking, more dirty dishes and more interruptions cause me to wonder why everybody is getting a vacation except for me.
 

 
 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Old Friends= New Adventures

Friday afternoon I packed some clothes into my backpack and kissed all the boys (Scott included) before heading into DC for the night. Although nights away from my family are extremely rare, I try to make the most when the opportunity arises. This time I was meeting Tammy, my closest friend, in the city to prepare for the Tax March on Saturday. In order to avoid the chaos of trying to drive on the day of the protest, we opted to get a hotel room and a quick girlfriends getaway adventure.

I would say that I was sad driving away from my house, but that would be a lie. I did try to temper my jubilation from the boys as I said good-bye. I'm fairly sure that Scott saw me skipping to the car as I made my escape. I couldn't help but be happy to leave.  Hamlet has been extremely high maintenance, and I was in desperate need of a reprieve from the chaos. I was also looking forward to hanging out with my friend, an occasion which does not happen nearly enough. 

While Scott took care of the boys, I had a fantastic time in DC. Tammy and I walked through China Town before meandering through the National Portrait Gallery (she is an artist). Tammy is one of the few people with whom I can be completely silly. It doesn't matter that we are both now in our 40's. Whenever we are together we end up giggling and acting like young college students. We spent our time at the Gallery posing with the various statues and paintings. Our silly poses were definitely not something I would have done if I were in the company of any other adults. But with Tammy, I don't have to worry about being mature. We just have fun.

After the gallery closed we headed back to our room, ordered room service wine and began to work on our posters for the Tax March. After the slogans were conceived, she was in charge of creation and design. I tried to help by coloring in the words, but in reality she did the lions share of the work for the signs and our shirts. Saturday morning we woke up, grabbed breakfast and headed to the protest.

I found being surrounded by thousands of like minded individuals to be empowering. I drew strength from the numbers of people standing with us to demand that President Trump's tax returns be released. Of course, our signs and shirts were a big hit with our fellow protestors. A stream of people approached us to take photos which was fun and added an unique aspect to the experience.

After the rally and march we headed back to the hotel, said goodbye and drove away in separate directions. Although it was only 24 hours, I left feeling stronger, happier and more centered. It is amazing what a few hours with an old friend can do!










Friday, April 14, 2017

Make Mess Monster

Yesterday morning Scott and I were chatting on the couch while Timmy was sitting in his bean bag chair watching Team Umizoomi. All of a sudden my little Hamlet jumped up and threw Puppy Blanket across the room as he began sprinting and squealing with delight. It was as if we were reliving the chaos from Wednesday evening when he morphed into a little destructive tornado. Scott and I both struggled to wrangle and restrain him until he was calm.

During the commotion Robby emerged from his bedroom. He calmly sat on the couch and watched as we fought to keep Timmy from destroying the house. Without much fanfare, Robby flipped the television channel and Timmy calmed down. Robby looked at us, smiled and changed the situation with his observation.  "Momom, Timmy was running around the house like the Gizmo on Team Umizoomi. They were running through the mall making a mess, and that is what he was doing in the house."

Scott and I were flabbergasted with the correlation that Robby revealed. Yes! Every night when Timmy goes wild we had been watching his favorite episode of Team Umizoomi. The little robots in his favorite episode had their buttons flipped from "Make Clean" to "Make Mess" and were wreaking chaos everywhere. Timmy hasn't been trying to be naughty or destructive. Instead, he was mimicking the cartoon characters.  Talk about a light bulb moment!

Timmy was well-behaved for the rest of the day. He didn't meltdown, and he didn't turn into a destructive little demon. It turns out that he is just susceptible to cartoon peer pressure. Upon this realization, Scott immediately deleted the episode from our DVR. Hopefully the "Make Mess" monster has also been erased.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Toddler Tornado of Trouble

For the second time in as many weeks, last night I went to bed knowing that I had been defeated by a toddler. My sweet little Hamlet burned into a tornado of destruction in the blink of an eye. One moment he was happily playing with his toy kitchen, whipping up and proudly serving me delightful plastic concoctions. In the blink of an eye, and seemingly without cause, I saw the twinkle of mischief in his eye and he started sprinting through the house like a wrecking ball.

He ran with his arms extended so that he could sweep and knock over anything and everything in his path. Giggling, he seemed to be on a mission to cause as much destruction as possible before being caught.  When we finally snagged him (he can duck and turn quicker than the most seasoned boxer), my little terror showed no remorse. He only laughed in our faces as we sequestered him to his room.

Usually he hates to be confined to his bedroom. Last night he took his punishment as a challenge. He completely destroyed his bedroom within minutes, knocking over his bins and stacking his wipes only so he could knock them down as soon as I opened the door.

I was completely at the end of my rope. Not knowing what I could do that would make an impact, I did the only thing that came to mind. I took his beloved Puppy Blanket and threw him out the window. The look on Timmy's face as he watched his beloved companion flying through the air only to land on top of the SUV in the driveway was one of devastation. With one single act I managed to break the cyclone of toddler destruction.

Usually I would feel badly about doing something to cause emotional distress. This time I felt victorious instead of remorseful. I finally found my bargaining chip with Timmy. When he misbehaves, he will lose Puppy Blanket. Hopefully I won't have to take the blanket often because I really don't enjoy being a mean Momom. 
 
 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Guesstimate Mishap= Mulch Mountain

Scott and I are especially bad at judging measurements and amounts. When it comes to deciding how much grass seed we need, how many yards of mulch would be appropriate for our flowerbeds and how many cords of wood will be needed to get us through the winter, we can't figure it out and end up guessing. (Just a hint if you ever find yourself deciding how much wood you may need to get through the winter. A cord of wood is a lot! I know this because two winters ago we ordered three cords to be delivered. It's still stacked in the driveway.)

Yesterday we accepted an obscene amount of mulch, another order based upon nothing more than a due a guesstimate and a quest for free delivery. Apparently the landscape store's offer to deliver 10 square yards of mulch wasn't an arbitrary decision. They deliver 10 yards because it is a lot of mulch. How do I know this? Because it's piled next to the wood pile that continues to mock us by standing tall and never seeming to diminish.

Scott and Robby worked throughout the afternoon scooping, schlepping and spreading the mulch through our flowerbeds and around the house. Despite three of the four beds being completely coated with a four inch blanket of mulch, we barely made a dent on imposing shredded wood mountain. Looking at the pile from the house, I'm fairly certain that it will be years before we regain complete access to our driveway.

The boys will continue to tackle the mountain today. I know that it won't be completely dispersed this week, but it will be nice to have everything mulched at the same time. When we're done, I might invite the neighbors to a fire pit party. It will be nice to sit and enjoy the freshly landscaped yard on a cool spring evening. I might even give out wheelbarrows of mulch as party favors!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The amp'd Amputee Bill of Rights


A few weeks ago Dave and I were approached with the challenge to create a Bill of Rights for the limb loss community. At first the task felt overwhelming, and my immediate instinct was to wait to tackle the project. Then a few hours passed, and I found my mind continually returning to the challenge. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, I began to feel excited about being part of creating such a unique document.  My feeling unprepared and ill-equipped slowly started to fade as I embraced the possibility that I am capable.  By the time the day was over I was chomping at the bit to get started. 

Pondering what I consider to be a right for every member of the limb loss community turned out to be a fascinating exercise of self-evaluation and reflection. What do I believe, and for what am I willing to fight to maintain or achieve? I was forced to pare down large concepts into firm beliefs, chipping away at the details until I had a solid foundation. I learned a lot about myself and my allegiance with the amputee community through this experience.

The process was laborious and deliberate. Dave and I separately created our own ten rights, exchanging lists only after we were complete.  We then worked to merge and create a master list of 15 rights. We released the draft to the community and invited input and suggestions. Friday night he and I spent hours on the phone, pouring over the suggestions we received in an attempt to create a solid, all-encompassing document.  Throughout the process it was imperative that the Bill of Rights be a crowd-source created document, and we were delighted with the response from the community.

After countless hours of reflection, discussion, writing (and rewriting), planning and organizing, yesterday we released the final amp'd Amputee Bill of Rights. This document details the 15 solid principles that we believe every individual living with limb loss should be afforded. A project which initially rendered me overwhelmed has left me feeling empowered and strengthened. I have no doubt that I will be a better activist because of this challenge. I now know, without hesitation, what I believe to be a right of every individual within the limb loss community.



Monday, April 10, 2017

Vacation Week Begins- Let the Chores Assigning Commence!

Today marks the first official day of Spring Break 2017, or as Scott coined SB #23 (because this is his 23rd year teaching).  Unlike the past few years, it seems that the weather is going to cooperate with a forecast of bright skies and warm temperatures. It will be nice to be able to spend time outside, enjoying the sunshine while getting the yard readied for summer. At least, that is how I framed it when I broke the yard work news to the boys.

Of course, neither Scott nor Robby are particularly ecstatic about my slipping yard work into the plans. The pair have been looking forward to spending the week watching television, eating snacks in bed and playing computer games wearing nothing but their underwear.  Yesterday I ruined their underwear-only initiative by insisting that they put on pants so that we could all go outside for awhile.  After a lovely bike ride through the neighborhood with a happy Hamlet in tow, I ruined Robby and Scott's lazy day aspirations by requesting help picking up sticks.

It wasn't long before they realized that this Spring Break was not going to be a gluttonous electronic binging fest. I'm pretty sure I'm going to be elevated to public enemy number one when the 10 cubic yards of mulch is delivered on Tuesday. I'm not going to be a complete tyrant about working during vacation, but I am going to make sure that at least a chunk gets crossed off of our family to-do list!

Friday, April 07, 2017

Vacation!

Happy Spring Break! 

Yesterday was Robby's last official school day until after Easter. Picking him up from school he was giddy with excitement, vowing to enjoy eleven full days of fun, relaxation and "no learning whatsoever." My young lad is going to be disappointed when he realizes that I have some yard work projects in store for the coming week. However, I'm a nice Momom so I'll allow him to enjoy his revelry before bursting his bubble. 

Scott's vacation starts at the end of the school day today, and then we will all be together for the next week and a half. I know that Hamlet is going to be delighted to have his brother and Daddy home for an extended period of time.  While I doubt that he will be helpful with our yard work, I'm certain that he'll thoroughly enjoy being outside and in the middle of the action. Who knows, maybe we can channel his love of throwing things to help us clear sticks out of the yard. 

I know that by the middle of next week I'll be ready for my routine to resume, but I'm going to try to make the most of enjoying everybody being home. I'm bringing out the paper plates and stocking the freezer with assorted snacks in an attempt to minimize my "family vacation workload." Hopefully this time we will all be able to relax and enjoy the vacation.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

"Patching Up" the Green Belt

Yesterday my little karate Koopa earned his green belt. I am so proud of the effort that he has put towards this accomplishment. Physical feats do not come easy for him, mainly because of some equilibrium issues from his hearing problems, but what he lacks in natural skill he makes up for with grit and determination. He isn't the most graceful, but he never gives up!

What should have been a proud moment was marred at the end of last night's belt ceremony. I knew as soon as the instructors started bestowing special patches on select students that my kiddo was going to leave the mat with hurt feelings. The pride that he felt when his belt was tied around his waist evaporated when his name was not called to receive a patch. Instead of celebrating his accomplishment, he quietly asked me why his instructors don't like him.

If the patches are necessary, I suggest that the instructors consider doing it privately. Holding up select students on a higher pedestal during a ceremony meant to honor all who have earned their belts only serves to deflate those not chosen for special recognition. Perhaps privately handing a student a patch after a particularly good skill session would be more appropriate. I need to be clear on this point: I would feel the exact same way had Robby been selected to receive a patch.

I don't believe that his not receiving a patch was a purposeful slight. In fact, I think that the feelings of all of the students was not on the radar of the instructors. We live in a prize driven society, and the patches are simply an extension of that mentality. Instead of allowing kids to feel the pride from working hard to earn something, we now try to pad the experience by creating extra awards and recognition. Unfortunately, creating awards has the opposite effect by devaluing the accomplishment for each student who worked hard and earned the belt.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Storm Door

Although we have the best of intentions, Scott and I are not particularly adept at home repairs. Try as we might to remain calm and focused, our projects almost always end up with bloodshed, bruises and more cursing than one would hear on a pirate ship. Because we don't have a stellar track record, we tend to wait until something is completely broken or debilitated before embarking on the project.

Our front storm door had been hanging by two hinges for the past two years. We've had to physically lift the door up to put it back into place whenever it was opened. Because the door didn't close without our not-so-subtle fix, it had become a source of embarrassment whenever anybody came over. Despite not hanging properly, not closing completely and being rotted through the bottom, we procrastinated procuring a replacement because we dreaded the installation.

Over the weekend we finally had enough of our broken down front door and decided to tackle the project. With tools in hand, Scott set out to remove the old door which turned out to be easy because it was only secured with two hinges. Because the removal was so easy, Scott and I were optimistic that the new door would go up as easily.  After all, even the box boasted "easy to hang" written in large red letters.

The box is a liar. It took three hours, multiple attempts and more than one episode of colorful language to get the "easy to hang" door in place. At one point it was resting squarely on top of my prosthesis so that Scott could line it up properly. (A benefit of being an amputee I suppose; I was able to keep the door in position without feeling any pain or expending any effort.)

After an afternoon that was worth of our procrastination, the door is finally hung and fully operational. It looks and works great. Soon our bruises will heal and we will be able to look at it without scorn and resentment.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Shattered Glass

I think we missed the mark when we bestowed the nickname of Hamlet onto Timmy. In retrospect, we should have called him "Boo Boo" because my sweet little boy is constantly covered with bumps, scrapes, bruises and cut lips. He is my little carefree daredevil who lives to push the limits. In other words, he scares the heck out of me!

Yesterday morning I was cleaning up in the kitchen while Robby was on the computer and Timmy was in the playroom. Within moments, my typical morning turned into a panicked meltdown. Timmy walked into the kitchen and handed me a bucket, filled with broken glass and covered with blood.

I yelled for Robby to bring me a towel while I lifted Timmy onto the counter to rinse his hands. He wasn't crying from pain but was definitely fretting over the blood oozing from his hands. Once cleaned up, I counted ten small cuts over both hands. Thankfully none of them were deep lacerations requiring stitches, but my goodness they were covered with blood.

Hamlet handled the clean up like a seasoned champion. Robby was an awesome big brother, offering support and even calling his Daddy at work to provide a blow-by-blow account of the morning's events. It took awhile to get the crime scene cleaned up, but we were incredibly lucky that he wasn't severely cut.

After he was cleaned up I looked at the blood covered glass pieces in the bucket he brought to me. I found a few other shards in the corner of the playroom. Apparently he had picked up a glass, broke it somehow and tried to clean up after himself. While I applaud his intent of cleaning up his messes, I really wish he would start with his trains or Legos instead of broken glass.

Monday, April 03, 2017

Intoxicating Taxes

I've been putting it off for months, but Saturday I knew that the clock was ticking. If I was going to get the taxes done and submitted in time, I needed to buckle down and get to work. After Timmy went to bed I sequestered myself in the living room, poured a (obscenely large) glass of wine and fired up my laptop. I fully anticipated a frustratingly long evening, and I was not disappointed. 

Little frustrates me more than dealing with numbers. I have not been gifted with a math talent, but thankfully in this computerized world, taxes require little more than answering some questions and plugging information into the forms when requested. Even though it wasn't particularly cerebrally challenging, I found the entire experience agonizingly frustrating.

It seemed that with each question I answered the ticker noting the amount we owed climbed. I was almost in tears after the first hour. Knowing that crying would do little to help with the situation, I poured myself another (large) glass of wine and tried to refocus.

By the time I was done with the income section of the website, my panic about the obscene tax bill morphed into resigned defeat. Instead of pouring myself another glass of wine I opted to just grab the entire bottle before moving onto entering the deductions. It turns out that we don't owe as much as I feared, which is definitely a good thing.  Of course, I need to go over them at least one more time, without the wine. I discovered that trying to figure out your taxes while drunk may not be the best approach when you are striving for accuracy. 

Friday, March 31, 2017

Anxiety Mantra

My doctors tweaked my medicine last week. As he was walking out of the exam room, the doctor casually mentioned that I might feel some side effects as my body adjusts. He failed to mention that the medication change would throw my entire emotional equilibrium into a blender. Knowing the cause is organic and fleeting, I've been struggling to remain centered and happy.

Yesterday I woke up in the middle of a panic attack and, unfortunately my day failed to improve. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't get into the groove of the day. I smiled, played with Timmy and cuddled with him on the couch throughout the day, but I still felt off somehow.

I honestly don't know how my fellow anxiety suffers cope with regular occurrences. I felt like I was walking on egg shells, waiting for an atomic bomb to drop all day long. Logically I knew that I was safe and that everything was fine, but knowing and feeling are sometimes different things.

To add insult to my already frustrating day, I dropped my cell phone and cracked the screen. I became angry knowing my anxiety jitters contributed to my phone clumsiness. At that point I just locked myself in the bathroom and cried.

Reminding myself that the medication adjustment is temporary has been both my mantra and my lifeline. I'm hoping that the adjustment is short. I am grateful that my anxiety days are not frequent, and I'm hoping that they will soon be behind me.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Red Wagon Adventures

With the weather improving and spring fully in bloom, we've been able to spend more time outside. Timmy is delighted playing on his swing set, looking at bugs and exploring the woods. I've tried to keep him out of the stream (with less than stellar results). Odd, Hamlet hates bathtubs but gravitates towards any other form of water.  Maybe if I threw a few sticks and small frogs in the tub he would hop in without squawking like a pig being taken to slaughter.
There is no doubt that being outside makes both of us happier people. Over the past few days I've logged miles pulling him up and down the street in his little red wagon. We've seen squirrels, bird nests and of course, Mr. Bill.

There is no doubt he was most excited about seeing Mr. Bill. I love watching the bond form between the two of them. It is different than what he has forged with Robby, but no less strong and just as needed. Both of their faces light up when they see each other. I'm reminded again how very lucky we are to have him in our lives. 

With all of miles I've spent pulling Timmy in his wagon, I haven't been worried about adding extra exercise to my routine. It turns out that pulling toddler and toy filled wagon around the neighborhood is a complete full body workout.  Maybe I could rent him out and start the next fitness trend?  

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

ABCMouse Mom

Yesterday was rainy and dreary, forcing us to stay inside most of the time. After my whimsically decorated and artfully laid out playroom was utterly destroyed, a task that hurricane Timmy managed to complete in mere minutes, my little destroyer moved his attention upstairs. Desperate to keep further destruction at bay, I logged onto the computer.
Timmy, like most little kids, is fascinated with computers. He was more than willing to cuddle up next to me to play on his favorite website. While I'm not sure he fully understands all of the educational games on ABCMouse, he does enjoy watching the computer chickens cluck around the farm. At that point in time, I was just happy that he was still and quiet for awhile. If it took computerized cluckers to achieve that zen moment, I was more than happy to boot up the laptop for him. 

Before I became a Mom I had a lot of opinions concerning the use of computer games and television with children. I was judgemental and quick to lay blame on lazy parenting. Then I experienced my first rainy day with a toddler and my perspective completely changed. I have become the "lazy Mom" I had previously scorned and so ignorantly judged.

Oh, irony will never cease to amaze me!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Defining My Rights

A few weeks ago Dave (my podcast partner and friend) and I were approached with an interesting challenge: to develop an Amputee Bill of Rights. At first the task felt overwhelming, but we decided that the process would be fascinating. Without conferring with each other, we each developed ten core principles that we believed every amputee deserved to expect. Only after we each completed our list did we share our ideas and thoughts.
This exercise forced me to reflect upon what I really valued and believed. What do I want for the limb loss community? What do I expect as a right versus something that might be negotiable? In the end I carefully chose those principles for which I would fight and advocate.

This exercise was cathartic as I was forced to become retrospective. While I was evaluating every aspect of my life, questioning what was a true entitlement, I uncovered clarity. I now have a concrete list that will become my springboard for future work.

As expected, Dave and I had several core principles that were nearly identical. About half of our principles were vastly different and unique to our life experiences and perspective. Dave focused more on insurance and access to devices whereas I tended towards addressing issues that were more personal in nature.
After much back and forth, we managed to merge both lists into one document. Our Bill of Rights is still in its infancy and we are seeking input from the community. What would you add to the list, or what would you take away? I would love and appreciate feedback.

Monday, March 27, 2017

On Trend

Being trendy has never been one of my hallmark traits. My fashion leans towards the comfortable, my taste in music is narrowly defined and I don't understand (nor do I particularly care about) references to reality show stars or the majority of television dramas. I wouldn't go so far to say that I exist in a vacuum, but I am definitely not one to change because of the latest issue of Vogue or because of a new celebrity trend.

Although I tend to be stagnant against cultural trends, I try to stay contemporary with political issues. This is especially true when an issue may impact the limb loss community. Last Thursday, as it became clear that Essential Health Benefits were in jeopardy with the revised AHCA, I had two distinct thoughts.  At first I was horrified with the prospect of the community suffering such a significant blow to quality prosthetic care. Almost simultaneously, I felt an unexpected sense of vindication because something that I had been warning might become a battle had quickly materialized. For once, I was actually ahead of the curve!

Of course, having Essential Health Benefits in peril was not a prediction I wanted to see realized. Friday was tense as I waited anxiously awaiting for tidbits of news. When it was confirmed that the entire bill was pulled, I nearly cried from relief.

At this time prosthetics will continue to receive EHB status. I'm delighted, but I am realize that the fight will continue. With so much at stake, I really wish I hadn't been on trend with this issue.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Two Years

I'm waking up this morning feeling sad, but I knew going to bed that today was going to be difficult.  It has now been two years since my Dad died, but sometimes I feel the loss so profoundly that the grief feels fresh and new. It is hard to believe that it has been two years since I've heard his voice. I wish I could pick up the phone and call him, to seek his advice or just to tell him about the kids. It hurts when I realize that his phone number now rings to somebody else, and that I won't be able to talk with him again. 

Today, whenever I feel sad I'm going to redirect the grief into doting and spoiling my kids. We're going to play some extra games, make some cookies and just spend time having fun. I don't think it will be hard to convince Robby to curl up on the couch with me tonight to watch Karate Kid (again.)  I know that my Dad would prefer today be spent doting and spoiling the children (his grandchildren) instead of dissolving into an emotional mass and crying.

I'm going to try to get all of my crying out of the way now so that I can be at least quasi-productive today. If I can stay busy enough, hopefully the anniversary will pass quickly.  I don't know what else to say, except that I miss my Dad.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Today Will Be Better...

Yesterday was not my best demonstration of parenting.  Timmy woke up obscenely early (3:30) and could not be rocked back to sleep. He didn't feel well and was tired, a combination which always leads to a crabby toddler. Nothing I did could soothe him, and he was just plain miserable all day.

We spent an inordinate amount of time flipping between Thomas the Train cartoons ("Oh bother!") and Paw Patrol.  I was exhausted from getting up with him, so my affect wasn't much better than his. Basically we were two grumpy and tired souls trying to get through the day until it was time to go to bed.

Hopefully today is better for both of us. It is 6:30 and he is still asleep.  This is a rare for him, and I'm taking it as a good sign that he is catching up on some much needed sleep.  Because he slept well, I was able to get to bed early. Today will be better because he deserves a happy Mom, and I miss my sweet little mischief maker.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Weight Loss Drawback

Since January I have lost nearly 30 pounds. While I'm delighted with my weight loss, it has not come without a cost. All of a sudden my leg doesn't fit, and I'm struggling to stay inside my socket.  My walking has been slowed because I worry that I'll step out of my leg entirely if I'm not deliberate and careful. I feel like this situation is the epitome of no good deed goes unpunished!

I have worked so hard to shed the pounds and I'm frustrated that my efforts to become healthier are directly responsible for my mobility issues. Where most people just need to change jean sizes when they lose weight, I need major socket adjustments for each 20 pound fluctuation.  A shrinking bum is something to be celebrated, but a reduction in limb size is not nearly as fun. Unfortunately there is no way to lose weight without impacting the girth of my limb, but that doesn't mean I have to be happy about it.

I am going to need to get a flexible liner made for the inside of my socket. Hopefully this will tide me over until my weight loss is complete, or until I lose enough to completely justify a new socket. I hate wearing a leg with the flexible liner, but I detest falling more so I will suck it up and wear it.

I've put a lot of work into losing the weight and I'm trying to not become discouraged by my ill-fitting leg. I know that the need for a new socket is a milestone in my weight loss journey. I am not yet at my goal weight, so I expect that this won't be the only time I shrink out of my leg. Looking on the bright side, at least I need a small leg instead of a bigger one!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Writing an Investigational/ Exerimental Appeal

One of my great professional pleasures lies with writing and winning appeals for prosthetic devices. Insurance claims too frequently are subjected to the rubber stamp denial in a quest to deter patients or, at the very least, to delay payment.  This approach must work or the industry would change tactics. I abhor the thought of amputees in need of a prosthetic being bound by needless red tape.

I wish I could lay claim to the method I use when writing an appeal, but it was taught to me by my friend and podcast partner Dave. The method is brilliant in its intuitive simplicity, yet the nuances of presenting information in a specific method stacks the deck in the patient's favor. In this week's episode of amp'd, Dave and I presented the method for writing a strong appeal for an insurance denial on the basis of investigation or experimental.

One of the lingering side effects of the Medicare LCD from 2015 is the resurgence in vacuum technology denials based upon being experimental or investigation. The LCD proposal opened the door for insurance companies to change their stance on this thoroughly vetted suspension system. Although elevated vacuum has been around and accepted for more than a decade, and the benefits have been well documented in numerous research studies, patients are being once again being denied this previously accepted suspension system.

We recorded this episode in hopes of helping those who are facing experimental and investigational denials. While we based our sample appeal on a vacuum denial, the system can be tailored for any device deemed experimental or investigational. Our goal is that the tools we provided will empower patients to fight and appeal their denials. As always, we are happy to answer questions!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Cotillion Teasing


With the wonky weather this past weekend we didn't do anything of consequence.  Timmy and I played with trains for what felt like an eternity. For a little boy who is a thrill seeker, I am amazed at his focus when trains come out to play. He becomes an intent little engineer, purposefully connecting and pushing them through various tunnels and over and around obstacles. I don't really understand his delight with trains, but I have come to accept that he loves them and thoroughly enjoys my filling the role of assistant engineer. 

When I wasn't busy with trains I was on the internet, scouring for speech therapy options for Robby. In the days since the Cotillion Ball he revealed that he was teased both during the classes and at the dance because of his speech and hearing impairment. It hurts me to my core to know that he is being made fun of for something that is entirely out of his control. The fact that he was teased during a course that was supposed to instill manners and etiquette is an irony with which  I am still trying to grapple.

I cannot fix Robby's hearing, but we are going to do our best to augment his speech. As a family, we have decided to double down on therapy to try to hasten improvement with his articulation issues. After research and talking with some specialists, we have decided to proceed with Skype speech therapy. As he is getting older, I know that the opportunity for teasing will only increase. We are going to be enrolling him in an intensive program to try to minimize the issue before middle school (gulp).

Scott and I are walking a fine line between supporting Robby's speech endeavors without making him feel inadequate for having an issue. My normally secure little Koopa has become sensitive about his speech differences. More than one time we have stopped him from skewed self- assessments. Every time I hear him refer to himself as "stupid" or "dumb" I want to wrap him in a bubble and remind him that he is perfect to me. I know that isn't what he needs to hear, especially at ten years old, so instead we acknowledge that he has trouble making some letter sounds while discussing his many cool talents and abilities.

While I expect that he may always have some mild articulation issues, I'm optimistic that we can normalize his letter sounds in the coming weeks. Through intensive "speech boot camp" I'm hoping that Robby will hear progress and take pride in the fact that he is tackling an issue head on. He is a strong, smart and caring young man. Together, we're going to tackle those silly /r/, /s/ and /y/ sounds.

Friday, March 17, 2017

The Ball

Last night was an exciting one in our house. Robby's cotillion season (yes, apparently the course is referred to as a season) came to a close with the much anticipated Black and White Ball. He was excited and nervous all day, scared that the girls would say no when he asked them to dance and fearing that he would spill water on his rented tux. I reminded Robby that he was obliged to ask and that the young ladies were probably obliged to accept. Knowing that they would be forced to dance with him somehow eased his worried mind.

I thought it was adorable that he was so worried about dancing with a girl. Meanwhile I was worried about him breaking into fits of giggles when they formally welcomed him to "The Ball." Up until last night, he couldn't hear the term without turning red faced and breaking into peals of laughter. We actually practiced hearing "The Ball" without reacting so that he would be prepared.

Dressing him in his tuxedo was a feat worthy of a comedy routine. Neither Scott nor I have experience with tuxedos, and trying to wrangle one onto a squirming 10 year old was difficult at best. I took the back and Scott took the front, but it still took us nearly 20 minutes to dress him. Frustrated and worried about time, we told Robby to put the silver cuff links in his pocket to worry about later. His jacket extended over his sleeves, so we figured he would be okay.

Still, despite our best efforts Robby still looked awkward in his tuxedo. The vest fell too high on his waist, exposing the bleached white shirt underneath. Not knowing what to do, we advised him to suck in his gut and to deal with it. I explained that obviously they measured him wrong and provided the wrong sizes but that we had no choice but to make it work. 

Scott and Robby headed to the Ball while I stayed home to take care of Timmy.  About 30 minutes after they left I received a text photo from Scott with the explanation that the photographer fixed his tuxedo.  It wasn't the wrong size; it turns out that his parents are just idiots who couldn't figure out a tuxedo. 

Robby quickly threw us under the bus as they fixed his attire, explaining that his parents "had a hard time figuring out this cockamamie costume. For $100 it should have come with instructions or something. I mean really, that's a lot for one night." Lovely. Thanks, Robby the Parrot. And any hopes of maintaining family dignity evaporated when he pulled the cuff links from his pockets and asked what he was supposed to do with these "useless button thing-a-ma-bobs." 

Despite the dressing fiasco, Robby had a great time. I'm not sure we are meant to be a Cotillion family, but these lessons were good for him. At least he now knows how to put on a tuxedo which is a skill his parents lack.






Thursday, March 16, 2017

Fun Play Day


Our midweek vacation has come to a close, and today everybody is returning to school. I know that both Robby and Scott are bummed that the snowfall wasn't enough to yield more than a two day respite. This winter has been a weather bust, but at least they had a little snow day magic.

Robby spent almost all day playing outside with his friend Rowan from down the street. We haven't seen her since September, but the snowy roads meant that her various extracurricular activities were canceled and she was able to play. Robby was over the moon when he saw her trudging down our driveway with sled in tow. Normally a multi-step process, he managed to throw on his winter gear in record time before running outside.  He finally came home at 5:30, frigid and famished.

I was delighted to watch him playing outside, laughing and having so much fun. Despite being busy with taekwondo, he has been lonely since his friend moved away last summer. While it turns out that his moving was actually a blessing, Robby has missed having somebody to buddy around with outside.  The pair get along well and have similar personalities. I'm certain the only reason that their friendship isn't stronger is because they lack the opportunity to get together.

Rowan excitedly told me that her schedule is easing up and that she will just be playing on one softball team this year. Most years she travels out west to stay with her grandmother, but this year she will be home during the summer. I'm hoping that she will be around so that Robby will have a friend to play with in the neighborhood again.

There is something special about having a friend live down the street. Being able to hop between houses and play all day through the neighborhood is something that Robby has been missing. He hasn't complained, yet I know that he has been lonely at times. As much as I try, I am a poor substitute for a neighborhood friend.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that her predictions are true and that she will indeed be able to play more frequently. Personally, I think it would be beneficial for all involved.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Snow Day 2


Happy Snow Day #2.  Needless to say, all three boys are delighted with the prospect of another day at home. Okay, Timmy doesn't really understand but again he was more than willing to participate in the celebration when the schools announced the closings. 

Compared to the predictions, our "blizzard" definitely failed to fulfill expectations. Despite the lackluster showing, we did receive enough snow to thoroughly coat the ground and to provide hours of amusement for the boys. The roads are fine (according to Scott who fled the chaos three separate times to go to the store) but the school systems were not able to adequately clear the parking lots and walkways. So, we have another snow day to relax and enjoy the benefits of being a teacher (Scott) and a student (Robby). 

Timmy thoroughly enjoyed watching the snow, and was fascinated when we took him out to explore. He didn't want to go sledding, but was more than happy licking snowballs and watching his brother play. I think he may need a few more snowstorms under his belt before he fully understands sledding and all of the snow fun available. I'm sure by next year I won't be able to keep him inside!

After a quick tromp through the snow in the morning, I spent the majority of the afternoon baking. I love filling the house with the aromas of freshly baked bread and cookies when everybody is home because of snow. It just makes everything feel cozier and warm when treats are lining the counters. After the cookies cooled, Robby donned his snow garb and took off through the neighborhood, delivering cookies to Mr. Bill and his friend down the street. I think that they have become accustomed to my baking tradition because neither seemed surprised by the treat delivery. 

I'm sure that Robby will resume playing in the snow today. He needs to make the most of this snowfall, because it is going to be a long time before he has the opportunity again. I hope.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Snow Day!

Snow day! 

After a winter yielding disappointing amounts of snow fun, the boys are finally enjoying their first snow day of the season. With both schools making the call to close schools early in the evening, everybody was able to get into the snow day spirit early. Timmy, unaware of the reason but wanting to be included, joined the fun by jumping up and down and squealing along with his brother and Daddy. I really wish I had captured a video of their little dance, but to be honest I was too busy participating. Sometimes you just have to stand up and dance with your family!
 
Yesterday, in anticipation of the snowfall, I readied all of the sleds. Mr. Bill helped me wax the rails on Robby's so that it glides easily down the hills. Timmy's brand new toddler sled was taken out of the basement and the bottom was treated to a quick wax. (We didn't want to make it too slick because I don't want my little daredevil to slide too quickly. We plan on him being pulled rather than sledding independently, so I wanted a little assistance.)
 
Right now the sun is starting to rise, and Timmy and I are the only ones awake. I'm sitting by the fireplace, sipping on a cup of coffee while he is peering out of the window loudly oohing and aahing of the odd white coating on everything. He even retrieved Puppy Blanket and his elephant so that they could have a look out the window. (It's absolutely adorable!)  I am certain he doesn't remember snow from last year but it probably won't take long before he wants to go outside to check it out. 
 
Typically March snowstorms are frustrating because we are tired of the snow routine. This year is different because it is the only snow we have seen this year. It isn't the biggest snow that we've encountered, but it is definitely a welcome event. I know that the boys are going to love playing in the fluffy cold wonderland.  It's a good thing I didn't put the hot chocolate machine away yet, I have a feeling it will be fired up at least a few times today.
 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Perspective

Scott and I moved into this house in January 2005. We were newly married and childless, yet I instantly envisioned raising a family in this home. We loved the small stream trickling at the bottom of the woods, the big windows and the exposed beams in the living room. From the moment we moved in our first boxes, I knew that I was going to create a memory wall in the living room. 

Time went on, children were born and I became busy with work. Photos were piled and moved into boxes instead of being displayed. I knew that someday I would work on my wall, but time was always in short supply.

With Timmy and I on germ lock down, I found myself with both the time and the motivation to finally create my wall. I spent hours framing and hanging our photos, some posed and some casually captured, on my memory wall. I am almost done with the existing photos, but I am loving the results. In the early morning, while Timmy is drinking his milk and watching a cartoon, I find myself looking at the wall and smiling. If my children ever lament their childhoods, I am just going to show them the wall, filled with wonderful memories and adventures.

As I was digging through boxes, I found a slew of photos from years before I knew Scott. Many I put into boxes and labeled for another time. Some, mostly of family members and a few friends, were hung downstairs in the new playroom.Robby enjoys looking at the photos of my more youthful years, and is quick to point out nuances that he notices. 

One particular photo has struck his interest, but not for the reasons I expected. The boardwalk "Old Time" photo (something I try to do whenever possible) captured my friend Tammy and I when we were fresh out of college. I thought for sure that Robby would remark on the slightly saucy outfit I was wearing (we chose the wild west cantina girl costumes). While I was correct that it was my appearance that struck Robby as odd, it had nothing to do with the costume I was wearing. 

The photo was taken in 1996, before my foot was injured. This snapshot was the first time Robby has ever seen me with two biological legs. I was taken aback by his revelation, but upon further reflection I guess it makes sense. While I'm sure I have some pictures tucked away in photo albums somewhere, I don't have full body photos of myself (especially pre-injury) displayed. All of the photos of my childhood, college years and early adulthood tend to be focused on my face.

He viewed the photo as a curiosity not because I was twenty years younger, but because it showed a part of me that he had never before seen. It definitely feels weird knowing that my son had never seen my biological leg. Sometimes it is refreshing to be reminded that, in his eyes, my being an amputee is just who I am and is neither unusual nor an oddity.



Friday, March 10, 2017

My Views

I think this weekend we are going to embark on a family-wide news hiatus. For the sake of my mental health, I need to disconnect for awhile. Each news report feels more heartbreaking than the latter, and I find myself spiraling deeper into frustration by the moment.

A few days ago Scott found out that the father of a student is being deported. Obviously, he was living here illegally. But this "illegal" individual is also an employee, a husband, a father, a church member, and a community volunteer. He has committed no crimes except for the minor traffic violation that caused him to be pulled over by police. This family is being torn apart, and children are being left without a father.

I understand the stance against illegal immigration is strong. Knowing the faces, the stories and the hearts behind the "offenders," the deportation issue becomes more complicated. This is an issue involving people, not just citizenship. I avoid discussing and debating these issues because I respect the views of others enough to realize that my perspective will not cause an epiphany to change their hearts. But since this is my blog, I feel that it is okay to reveal that my heart is being torn apart.  I certainly know enough to realize that I don't have a solution to the situation, but not knowing how to resolve an issue doesn't absolve me from feeling empathy for those involved.

The weather is supposed to be miserable, which provides the perfect excuse to curl up in front of the wood stove and hibernate for awhile.  Timmy will be delighted to stream cartoons all day, and I'm sure I can convince Robby to watch movies with me at night. I'm looking forward to my no news weekend!



Thursday, March 09, 2017

Permission to be Sad

Yesterday the weather was warm so Timmy and I were able to hang out outside for a little while.  We are still in hibernation mode, but it was nice to be out of the house for awhile. Although he doesn't have a lot of energy, he loved playing with his trains on the driveway and swinging with me on our double porch swing. I think the fresh air did us both good!

I can't wait until he is completely healthy again so that we can properly resume playing outside. In the meantime, I'm going to make the most of the increased cuddling and quiet time.  We go back to the doctor next Friday, and I'm hoping that we have more information about his health status. Compared to other struggles faced by families with sick children, I know that ours is mild. But sometimes it doesn't feel mild when it is your reality. I am trying to remain thankful that he is not worse and that the situation is manageable, but lately I've been feeling sad that my perfect little Hamlet isn't perfectly healthy. 

Over the past few weeks I've realized that I am an incredibly social person, which is strange because I don't necessarily enjoy talking with people. I actually think I tend towards being shy (except when I'm hiding behind a keyboard) so the fact that I miss interacting has taken me off guard. I know that this time of isolation is temporary, but it is definitely starting to take a toll on my psyche.

I really miss our adventures and play areas. I don't want my little Timmy to have an autoimmune issue. I want him to be healthy, silly and crazy active again. I don't want to fret about him not eating and being pale. I want to be frustrated that he climbs everything and explores beyond my comfort zone. I am sure that this is just a little blip in his childhood, and that soon everything will be back to normal. But today I'm tired and I'm giving myself permission to be sad
.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

The Impact of the AHCA on the Limb Loss Community

Monday evening the Republican leadership released their plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.  The legislation, known as the American Health Care Act (AHCA), has been received with mixed reviews by both sides of the aisle.  While some important provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) remain intact, there are some noteworthy differences that will impact the limb loss community.

Dave and I (more he than I ) studied the bill yesterday in an effort to provide an accurate overview for the amputee community. Last night, after taking care of Timmy's evening routine and cleaning up Scott's birthday dinner, I managed to sneak away for 30 minutes to record a "breaking news" podcast on the AHCA. As always, our ultimate goal was to remain politically non-partisan but unabashedly pro-amputee.

An important takeaway, and an immediate but not yet solidified victory for the limb loss community, is the inclusion of essential health benefits (EHB) which were established by the ACA. The inclusion of EHB's is important because it safeguards access to prosthetic care by eliminating lifetime and yearly caps on coverage. Because EHB's are maintained in the AHCA, prosthetic users will not be subject to the archaic and many times disabling monetary limitations dictated by their insurance policy. As an EHB, prosthetic care must be covered in a manner reflective of other benefits in the policy.

 It is important to note that maintaining EHB's in the first draft of the AHCA does not mean that the battle has been won. This legislation will go through numerous revisions as it evolves. It is paramount that the community remain vigilant about voicing our support for maintaining EHB's in the AHCA going forward.  Please take some time to listen to our podcast (it is only 30 minutes long) and learn about the other aspects of this legislation. Stay informed and stay involved in the process.  In the end, this legislation will impact everybody.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Happy Birthday Scott!


Today is a special day in our family because today is Scott's birthday. Last year I turned his birthday into a week long celebration, making this year's plans pale in comparison. Of course, last year he turned 50 and was not accepting the new digits gracefully.  This year the celebration is low-key with a quiet dinner at home and his favorite chocolate cake.

Although he already received his birthday gift of hockey tickets, I have another small surprise or two ready because it isn't fun not to have anything to unwrap after blowing out the candles on your cake. Even though we aren't going out on the town, I am going to try to make today special.  Happy Birthday, Scott.  We love you!

Monday, March 06, 2017

Unfathomable Choices

The past few weeks have been stressful. Since Timmy received his autoimmune diagnosis, our family has been hyper focused in an effort to help him regain his health.  We have traded our typical adventures for home activities, a change that has required adjustment and flexibility from both me and Timmy. I have been keeping myself busy in order to avoid the anxiety and sadness I feel for my little Hamlet. 

In the middle of this chaos, I was reminded last week that we are extremely fortunate. Timmy was lucky to have received a diagnosis and he will regain his strength. This is a quick hiccup in his childhood, and it is definitely causing more angst for us than it is for him. He is only two, and he won't remember not feeling well for a few weeks or months.  Last week Scott told me the situation of one of his students, and my heart broke.

The child, only 14 years old, is facing surgery in two weeks. The surgery is imperative to saving his life, yet because of some cardiac issues the surgeons are uncertain if he is strong enough to endure the procedure. His family has been faced with a decision that I cannot even begin to fathom. Without the surgery, he will suffer excruciating pain as his body collapses upon itself, ultimately resulting in death. A successful surgery will eliminate the pain and prolong his life, but he has only been provided with a 10% chance of surviving the involved and lengthy procedure.

I look at my two sons and I cannot even imagine the grief and anxiety that has befallen that family. I remember the horrendous drive to the hospital on the morning of my amputation. As I try to imagine driving my child to the hospital for surgery, knowing that there is a 90% chance that he will not survive, I find myself emotional and angst ridden on the families behalf.  I pray that I never have to experience this impossible situation, and I find myself thankful for our seemingly trivial issues. 

Unfortunately the child knows the situation and the odds that have been presented. Again, I can't imagine being fourteen years old facing such an overwhelming situation. My heart breaks each time I think about him, which happens frequently since Scott shared his struggle. 

A Go-Fund-Me page has been started to help cover the medical costs and to minimize the financial struggle for the family during this time. If you feel inclined, I'm sure that they would appreciate your support. In the meantime, I'm going to go hug my kids a little more. I may be stressed out and worried about Hamlet, but I was reminded that his issues are minor compared to those faced by many others.  

Friday, March 03, 2017

Using Our Lock Down Time Wisely

While I know that staying in and away from germy society is best for Timmy, I have to admit that I'm going stir crazy. My little guy is still not up to par, so I am prepared to hunker down as long as necessary. His doctors are in agreement that he needs to safeguarded from infections, and I won't do anything to jeopardize his health even if that means I become antsy.

Since we have been put on society lock down I have purged and reorganized our basement into a toddler wonderland. While Timmy has been breaking in his new play land, I have framed a decades worth of memories and hung them prominently on our walls. We are not only caught up on laundry but the laundry room has been cleaned and my detergents have been categorized. My pantry has been cleaned and our Christmas decorations organized.

In the past four days I have stuffed 12 yard sized trash bags with crap that has been stuffed in drawers, on shelves and in the corners of my closets. Mr. Bill came to my rescue, schlepping all of the bags to the dump for us. I'm not cleaning and organizing because it is fun. I just never realized how much stuff we have stored and stashed throughout the house. Staying home all the time has forced me to face our clutter head on. On the positive side, my house is going to be amazingly organized and completely decluttered by the time Timmy is cleared to resume normal activities!

Thursday, March 02, 2017

New Liner Day!

Today is going to be a great day! 

I don't have any grand plans. I'm not expecting surprises or accolades. I am not expecting anybody to help me around the house, nor am I convinced that Hamlet will remain tantrum free. But I know that it is going to be a great day because today is "new liner day."

Unlike new leg days, where I receive either a new socket and/or a new feet, on new liner day I feel nothing but benefits. Sometimes new sockets can be frustrating as the kinks are worked out in the quest for a perfect fit. A new foot forces me to reevaluate my gait pattern, which can become tiresome. The compression and cushioning of a new liner leaves me with a spring in my step without any of the frustrations associated with other prosthetic changes. 

There is nothing quite like the feel of a new liner on my limb. Cool and crisp as I roll it on, my limb feels happy with the cushiony support that is only provided by a new liner. As the days go on and the liner becomes worn, it is inevitable that the compression will loosen and the cooling gel will wear away. But today, the liner feels awesome and I plan to enjoy every step.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Lessons on Slowing Down

The days at home have been beneficial for me in unexpected ways. I have been forced to slow down and relax. Whereas I'm always used to running around to visit various play areas with Timmy, we are now staying put. Not going anywhere was initially uncomfortable for me, but I am now finding the solitude relaxing.

Timmy doesn't seem to be missing our excursions. I worried that he would become cranky and bored without the excitement of adventures, but the opposite has happened. He and I have been spending hours playing in his new playroom, making up games and rediscovering toys we have long ago put away. He seems to be relishing the alone time playing with me.

The quiet time has done us both some good. My leg has almost completely healed, and I am no longer feeling pain or discomfort when I walk. My anxiety tracker is not buzzing nearly as frequently, and I am now caught up on laundry and housework. It turns out that my compulsion to remain in constant motion was a source of stress and anxiety. Now that I've slowed down, I am feeling more centered and comfortable.

Timmy is still not feeling well, so we will be holed up for awhile longer. When we are cleared to interact again with the public, I am going to take the lessons that I learned over the past two weeks to heart. Adventures are fun, but there is also value to staying still and playing at home.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Every. Single. Day.

I used to love to cook. When I was in my twenties I remember looking forward to coming home from work so that I could start whipping up some kitchen magic. Although my skills are neither gourmet nor fancy, I have always prided myself on my solid 'home cooking' results. 

As both myself and our family grew, my love for spending time toiling in the kitchen has decreased exponentially. While I still enjoy baking, especially with my little helpers, cooking has turned from something that I adored into a daily chore. I jokingly tell other Moms that I don't mind cooking dinner but the fact that they want something every single day is exhausting. 

I know that my boys (Scott included) are not picky eaters by definition, but they are averse to trying something outside of our taste repertoire. If I were to count, I would probably guess that they all enjoy 12-15 meal plans. I try to rotate those throughout the month, but after more than a decade the culinary routine has become monotonous. In order to try to rekindle the same enthusiasm from my youthful days playing in the kitchen, every once in awhile I like to try new recipes.

Last night was one of those occasions. With Timmy occupied with his new playroom,  I excitedly planned, prepped and worked in the kitchen to prepare what I was sure to be an epicurean delight for everybody in the family.  I couldn't wait for everybody to taste, and of course rave, about my newest masterpiece.

Well, it didn't work out as planned. The littlest boy, feeling no compulsion to mask his displeasure, promptly threw noodles at my head.  The middle boy turned up his nose and picked at his plate as if he was dissecting a biology specimen. (If he only put as much attention into cleaning his bedroom!) The biggest boy ate the most modest of servings, proclaiming that it "wasn't bad." 

Not exactly the home run I was expecting. I guess I'll return to the rotation later today.  I'm bored with it, but at least I know that the food will be both enjoyed and consumed. 

Monday, February 27, 2017

Timmy's Playground

With Timmy ill, our quarantine remains in effect until he is both fully recovered and has a strong immune system. Needless to say, I'm hunkering down for the long term on this one.  Despite not leaving the house our weekend was busy, mainly because my being home all the time has caused me to note some neglected projects.

Our downstairs, which I had painstaking cleaned last year, again has become a dumping ground.  Timmy no longer played in the space because he was forced to tiptoe around the minefield of junk scattered about the room. Robby refused to enter in the evenings because he was convinced that it was haunted. Essentially, nearly one-half of our house was not being utilized.

Clean up phase one was completed last week when the couches and larger items were removed by the donate/junk man.  With the large objects removed, it was obvious that the room had become overrun and needed a lot of work. Saturday morning I turned on my music, grabbed some trash bags, and headed into the cluttered abyss.

I emerged four hours later exhausted, dirty and out of trash bags.  The room had been completely purged of junk, decluttered an reorganized with Timmy in mind. He won't be going to his beloved indoor playground for awhile, so my goal was to bring the experience to him.

Shelves were lowered on bookcases so that he could reach more toys. Labeled canvas bags were hung at his eye level for easy retrieval. I attached Lego plates and magnet boards to the walls in different "stations" of the room so that he can build and play. His slide and his trampoline have all been set up and are ready (and safe) for use.  

Yesterday Scott and Robby moved my rockers downstairs so that I had a comfy place to sit and work while he played. We may not be visiting any toddler playgrounds for awhile, but I think he will be content with "Timmy's Playground" in the basement. I know that I'm delighted with the result of our efforts!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Your Insurance Denial Battleplan

Helping individuals fight their insurance companies to obtain the devices that are both necessary and entitled policy benefits has become a professional highlight. Over the past decade, rubber stamp denials have become the industry norm. I suppose that these multi-million dollar companies are hedging their bets that people will become lost in the sea of red tape and eventually give up pursuing their benefits. Enough people must accept the denial to make the process profitable for the insurance company, otherwise claims would have always had a fair review upfront. 

Declaring a device or component "Not Medically Necessary" is one of the hallmark rubber stamps used by insurers. This often blanket verdict is baffling for the patient and cumbersome for the practitioner to fight. Although it shouldn't be this way, far too often the patient is left to fight for the device with little or no support from the provider.  Ideally the prosthetist would take the lead during the appeal process, but the emails I receive from frustrated patients tells a different story.

Dave, my podcast partner, and I have been talking for years about providing a guide for individuals to fight their insurance denials. We have wanted to map out the method that we have both successfully utilized to overturn denials during the appeal process. In full disclosure, I can lay no claim to the method. I learned it from Dave during a seminar and have applied it (with success) through the years.

In last week's podcast, we finally walked through the process to fighting an insurance denial on the basis of medical necessity. We have provided a clear method to drafting an appeal with the greatest likelihood of overturning the denial. While nothing is 100%, we believe that following the steps that we have outlined and explained provides the best chances for a positive outcome.

I always feel more comfortable writing something after reading an example. With this in mind, we have created and included a full appeal on our website. It is our hopes that, by using the steps we outlined in our podcast and after reading the example, patients will have a better chance at obtaining the devices that they so desperately need.  If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out to us either through this blog or ampdpod@gmail.com. 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Pup Rescue

Although it started out mundane, yesterday morning quickly became action packed and is sure to be one I won't forget. On my way home from dropping off Robby at school I saw plumes of black smoke billowing so strongly that I knew the source was nearby. Intrigued and worried, I turned down the road to investigate. My heart stopped when I saw flames starting to whip out of the back windows of a house that was situated down a small hill from the edge of the cul-de-sac.

Shaking and with my heart racing, I nervously dialed 911. I stammered over the street name and was unsure of the house number, but I assured the dispatcher that the house would be easy to locate because it was gray and it was on fire. (Apparently I become a tinge of a smart ass when I am panicked.) As I was hanging up the call I noticed movement in the backyard of the house that was ablaze. I immediately knew that it was a dog.

Thankfully the flames, although still flickering out of the windows, were not encroaching on the yard. I managed to grab the cantankerous dachshund as the fire trucks began to arrive. A neighbor met me at the front of the house and agreed to hold onto the puppy until the owner arrived home. I gave her my phone number and name should it be necessary for insurance claims or an investigation before schlepping back up the hill to my car. Timmy was still playing with his little train in the backseat, completely unimpressed with the scene that just unfolded. 

It took awhile for my heart to calm down after returning home. Fires are scary and are not something you want to encounter! After the adventure of the morning, I was happy to spend the rest of the afternoon with my convalescing little Hamlet.