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.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Yard Work

We spent Sunday morning tackling the last pile of leaves for the year. Scott drove the mower, bagging up the leaves as he passed. When the bags were full he backed into the woods, where Timmy and I were waiting. After I emptied and reloaded the bags, Scott drove away to gather more leaves while Hamlet gleefully jumped into the growing mountain of shredded fun.  

While we were busy working on the leaves on the lawn, Robby was busy blowing them from the porch and steps. With everybody working together (although Timmy's contribution was really limited to staying occupied and out of trouble), the chore only took us two hours.  It was nice to be able to come inside for lunch with the satisfaction that the leaf gathering was done for the year.

As Scott and I were making breakfast, we started to chuckle as we were thinking about how our lives have changed. When we first moved into this house we were newly married and without kids. We slept until 11 on weekends and casually went out for breakfast on a whim. Hearing mowers and leaf blowers revving before noon was an annoyance because it disturbed our solitude.

Now that we have kids, we know that you have to take advantage of every opportunity. Out of respect we always wait until at least 10:30 before revving up any loud equipment, but I can't help but wonder if the young couple without kids across the street were annoyed by our Sunday activities. Even if they were, they will soon learn that our yardwork is minimal and that they won't be disturbed often.  ;)

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Bolder Run

Timmy and Robby are so different that it borders on fascinating. With the exception of their physical similarities, it is hard to fathom that they are closely related. Robby has always been studious, cautious and intense. Timmy is silly and an adventurous thrill seeker.

I spent several hours yesterday afternoon throwing a giant yoga ball down a hill. As it was bouncing towards him, Timmy tried to beat it down the hill Indiana Jones style. Most of the time he won, but the peels of laughter when the ball ran him filled the cold air. I can only imagine how odd my trying to bowl over my preschooler must have looked to the new neighbors!

Robby would have become panicked and insulted had I rolled a giant ball after him down a hill, but Timmy hatched the idea and begged me to help. Robby loved looking for bugs and examining intricacies of bugs and rocks. Timmy views rocks as obstacles that need to be jumped over or thrown.  

This little guy is certainly keeping me active!

Monday, December 10, 2018

Hibernation

I had a wonderful weekend doing absolutely nothing of import.  I had anticipated being festive and baking cookies. In reality, I ended up binge-watching cookie baking shows on television while relaxing in front of our fireplace.

After the phantom pain nightmare from last week, a few days of relaxing was a welcome change of pace. I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed being completely unproductive. To my surprise, the boys seemed just as content to stay home and play quietly by themselves for most of the weekend. I guess we all needed a break from the holiday hustle and bustle.  

Where we were relaxed and hibernating all weekend, the new neighbors were overflowing with activity. Saturday morning a U-Haul truck drove into Mr. Bill's driveway, followed by nine cars. (The house will probably always be referred to as "Mr. Bill's," regardless of who lives there.)  The crew spent the weekend moving and unpacking.  

Robby and I were toying with the idea of going over to introduce ourselves, but we decided to wait until the friends left and the situation was less hectic.  Maybe today we will bake some cookies to welcome the new neighbor. Even though we are still sad that Mr. Bill has left, I want to make sure that we don't take it out on the new owner.


Friday, December 07, 2018

Frustrations

I'm thankful that the phantom pain has finally waned, but I feel like the episode continues to impact my life. I'm chasing my tail trying to catch up on everything that I delayed while I was contending with the phantom stingers. I am fearful of pushing myself too hard to catch up out of the fear that the pain will return. So now I'm pain-free but frustrated and frazzled.  

I want to just relax and enjoy the season, but I find myself running around like a crazy woman. If I'm not chasing a kid I'm tripping over a toy or a cat. Worst of all, I am losing patience with my kids. They do not deserve to reap the unfortunate consequences of my pain!

Hopefully, I can use the weekend to recover and to reset. I hate feeling this way- like I'm never doing enough and like I'm always failing. I know that I need to switch my mindset but I'm not sure how to modify my inner dialog.  I guess I just figured out my New Year resolution!


Thursday, December 06, 2018

Relief!

Relief!

The phantom pain that has been plaguing me at night since Sunday has finally lifted. Last night I slept through the night. My leg was still and wasn't instinctively kicking as a response to the stinging sensations. My goodness, I feel so much better!

I am still confounded about the cause of this phantom pain episode. It frustrates me that I can be sidelined without cause. I have a hard time accepting the "sometimes it happens" explanation, probably because it reminds me that my lifestyle is vulnerable to my limb.

After struggling for the past few days, I have a new respect for my amputee friends who suffer from phantom pain on a regular basis. I am lucky that I only contend with the demon nerves a few times a year. I have friends who have contended with phantom pain for decades. I cannot imagine how they can continue to function. A few days nearly knocked me out and drove me off the abyss.  


Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Day Two of Pain

I was hoping that I would find relief from the persistent phantom stinging and biting, but my nerves never rested. Last night was as difficult as Monday night, leaving me running on fumes after little to no sleep since Sunday. Needless to say, I'm absolutely miserable!

I am still trying to figure out the cause of this sudden onset but I'm left without answers. The only conclusion that makes sense is that sometimes nerves just become angry. Having to accept both the pain and the vulnerability that it can occur at any time is humbling. 

Today I am going to be taking it easy, not so much because I want to relax but because my body is forcing me to slow down. I'm hoping that a day spent curled up on the couch without my prosthesis will help the angry but mighty little nerves to settle down. 

Have I mentioned how much I hate phantom pain?

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Phantom Yellow Jackets

I'm not sure of the impetus, but last night my phantom pain was through the roof. It began after dinner and the intensity only increased through the night. The phantom yellow jackets stopped stinging the bottom of my missing foot around 3 am, allowing me a few hours of sleep before Hamlet woke me up for the day. 

Struggling with pain in an appendage that is no longer attached is both physically and emotionally exhausting. I am trying to apply logic and reason to try to determine why my nerve endings were so angry last night, but I think it is fruitless. In the 15 plus years since I became an amputee, I have accepted that sometimes nerve endings just have a mind of their own. Last night they were asserting dominance, a painful reminder of my vulnerabilities.

Today is one of those days when I hate being an amputee. I resent the phantom pain that arrives uninvited, ruining both my mood and my night. I am trying to remind myself that, in comparison to my friends, I am lucky that my dealings with phantom pain are relatively few. It's hard to count my blessings when I'm so exhausted, but I'm going to keep trying! 




Monday, December 03, 2018

Emotion Overload

The weekend was a tsunami of emotions. On Sunday we said goodbye to Mr. Bill, our beloved neighbor and special friend for over a decade. Robby has taken his departure especially hard. The pair has such a strong and unique bond. My sweet Koopa is struggling with the new dynamic in their relationship and, much like his mother, he doesn't like change.  

After saying goodbye to our dear neighbor, we piled into the car and headed to the Christmas tree farm. We had purposely delayed getting our tree until after saying goodbye to Mr. Bill. We were hoping that the excursion would be a welcome distraction from our grief.  Thankfully we were correct, and Robby's mood elevated as we trekked into the field to find our tree.

Robby took a little while to get into the tree cutting spirit, but Timmy had enough joy to carry everybody. He was giddy during the hour-long drive to the farm, giggling and squealing with joy every time he saw a Christmas tree on a car. I'm certain he didn't remember what to expect, but that didn't curtail his enthusiasm. 

We ended up selecting one of the prettiest and grandest Christmas trees that has ever graced our home. Our 10.5-foot tree is gorgeous and full. Decked out with thousands of colorful lights, we definitely have a tree bright enough to be seen from Santa's sleigh!







Friday, November 30, 2018

Goodbye Mr. Bill

This is the weekend I have been dreading for months. On Sunday Mr. Bill's moving truck drives away, and he ceases being my neighbor. I have no words to describe our relationship. We are closer than neighbors and have transcended friendship. In the more than a decade that he has been in our lives, he has become family. 

Every time I think about him leaving I become weepy. Robby is also having a hard time with his Mr. Bill moving to Florida. The two buddies have forged a unique and strong relationship. Robby has never known life without Mr. Bill, and I know that his young heart is shattering watching his surrogate grandfather leave.  

I have been trying to temper my emotions in front of Robby. He is already struggling to accept the move and doesn't need to contend with my tears. Instead of dwelling on our loss, I have been focusing on everything that Mr. Bill is gaining through the move. I'm hoping that talking about the benefits his friend will reap will help to soften the blow of his departure.  

Mr. Bill is moving to be closer to his daughter in Florida. I know he misses her and is looking forward to reintegrating into her daily life.  There is no doubt that he will be more comfortable, especially during the winter months. The cold temperatures wreak havoc on his body, forcing him to stay inside for weeks at a time. If I were not emotionally invested, I could easily see that this move is what is best for him. 

Of course the "not emotionally invested" boat sailed a long time ago. Mr. Bill has fully integrated into our lives, our daily routines, and our hearts. To say that we are going to miss him is an understatement!

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Booty Dance

Hamlet has invited a new game. While he delights in his new activity, but I assure you that he is the only person who finds it fun. I wish he would adopt tag or even hide and seek. Not my kid. He prefers to drop his pants and shake his booty.

The "game" started by accident.  He loves shaking his booty and dancing, and one time he started dancing while we were trying to change his clothes. Scott and I made the mistake of laughing, and since that moment it has been game on for my Hamlet.

He has dropped his pants to dance in the middle of Olive Garden, standing in line at the grocery store and yesterday he did it in the Chick-Fil-A playground. The shock on my face, coupled with my sharp verbal reaction, turned the heads of every diner in the restaurant. If they hadn't already seen my little guy gleefully waddling and dancing around the playground wearing a pull-up with his pants around his ankles, they certainly were looking after I reacted!

I am used to people looking at me, and I am quite familiar with the judgemental glances when my children misbehave in public. The scorn that comes from your child dropping his pants to dance takes humiliation to a new level. 

The look on Timmy's face when he drops his pants and dances in public is one of pure delight. He is certainly having the time of his life, and I truly believe that he is entertaining people during rather mundane moments. Unfortunately for him, he is wrong. The stop, drop and shake booty needs to come to an end.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Cold!

It seems that the cold weather is here to stay. It is becoming increasingly difficult rolling out of my warm bed each morning. Having to don an icy cold liner onto my warm limb is an unpleasant shock that I dread for several months out of the year. It is amazing how cold the gel becomes overnight.

I try to remember to bring the liner under the electric blanket before I put it on, but I don't always remember. I instantly regret my lapse as soon as the cold silicone touches the bottom of my limb. Talk about an unpleasant way to wake up in the morning. It feels like my leg is being dipped into a bucket of ice water!

Not only does the liner become ice cold, but my limb becomes frigid in the winter. Even while wearing my leg, my limb often aches from being so cold. My winter evenings are spent with my limb wrapped up in a warm sock and under an electric throw. 

On "Cyber Monday" I ordered a case of hand warmers, which help keep me more comfortable during the winter. I discovered years ago that activating one or two and throwing them into the bottom of my socket before slipping it on really helps to keep the temperature regulated. With the dip in the thermometer, I'm chomping at the bit for my package to arrive!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Chaos

It didn't take long for everybody to get settled in since we returned home. My previously uncluttered and clean living room is being transformed into a train depot, thanks to the efforts of my littlest engineer. Robby's computer area is strewn with cups, assorted wrappers, and some random plates. Someday my house will remain clean and tidy, but probably not when the kids are still living here. 

When he hasn't been busy playing with his trains, Timmy has been dedicating himself to his role as a mischief maker.  While helping me make cookies, he took my bathroom break as an opportunity to add extra eggs to the bowl. When I returned he proudly showed me his efforts.  We ended up making 6x the original amount so I didn't waste the ingredients.  

Sitting on the couch, I slipped out of my legs so I could completely curl under the electric blanket. Hamlet lept on the opportunity like a lion pouncing on its prey. With a flash, he had grabbed my leg and ran to the back of the house, gleefully giggling. Without my leg and with no crutches in sight, I was captive to my four-year-old. Thankfully he only used the opportunity to get a cookie before returning my leg.  

I'm hoping that he calms down today because yesterday was exhausting!

Monday, November 26, 2018

Home Again

All good things must come to an end, and unfortunately, this includes our Thanksgiving week-o-fun. Although we were only at my Mom's for a week, we managed to pack a lot of activities (and memories) into those seven days. I'm not looking forward to the next few days as we play catch-up with work from our adventures.

Our shopping on Friday was successful but somewhat subdued. We have a nice start on our holiday shopping and we were even able to pick up a few items for ourselves. Robby, who has been alternating between three long sleeve shirts for the past few weeks, now has a fully stocked closet overflowing with warm and comfy clothes. Scott was able to find a handful of work shirts and I picked up some sweatpants and sweatshirts for Hamlet. I even treated myself to a new pair of cozy pajamas! 

The ability to shop online has definitely impacted our Black Friday traditions. We still went out late Thursday night but we weren't worried about nabbing a coveted doorbuster. It was nice being able to shop with Scott, Robby and my niece without the pressure of snagging an elusive item.

We were sad leaving my Mom's house, but it is nice to be home. Timmy immediately started assembling train tracks as soon as he walked into the house. Robby played with the cats and I was able to relax in front of the fire and decompress. It was nice to be away, but there is a comfort that can only come from being home.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!                         

The house is prepped and the food is ready to be put into the oven. I'm looking forward to seeing my extended family. Because we are all busy with our own careers and families, we really only see each other once a year. I wish it were more often and this is definitely something we need to work on!                                                         
Yesterday I was asked to answer some questions concerning the adjustment to the loss of a limb. While I can only speak from my own experiences, somehow it feels appropriate to share this Thanksgiving. Much of my recovery is due to the support of my friends and family. I am beyond thankful for their care, support and for being my cheerleader when I couldn't see any light at the end of the tunnel.
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Losing a limb, especially when it occurs during adulthood, is a life-shattering event. Whether the amputation is immediate due to trauma or drawn-out through limb salvage attempts, the individual is forced to rebuild their life. From home modifications to struggling with body image, the life before the amputation can feel completely foreign as if it was lived in the distant past by somebody vaguely familiar.

Body image issues are rarely voiced but plague most amputees. When you no longer recognize your body shape, the simple task of wearing pants feels foreign and uncomfortable. Sleeping, bathing, and other everyday mundane tasks suddenly become constant reminders that your body, and your life, are irrevocably altered.

Sexual intimacy is another area that is often only discussed in whispers. It is difficult to be intimate when you feel uncomfortable with your body. It is paramount that the couple maintains an open dialog as both individuals learn to navigate a new normal together.

When a limb is lost, everything feels different. It is terrifying to feel uncomfortable and a stranger in your own body. Adjustment takes time, and while it can be coaxed and supported, it cannot be forced. Every amputee has their own journey but respecting the life-altering event and the ensuing emotional trauma is paramount for supporters.

The phases of adjustment are like the stages of grief, although the cycle is more abstract. The new amputee needs a safe place to express their grief, anger, and fears over living without a limb. Every situation is unique to the individual. Adjustment is fluid over time, and a well-adjusted individual may experience periods of profound grief over their limb loss throughout the course of their life. Keeping an open dialog and providing a safe way to communicate emotions is the best way to support a loved one through an amputation.

Society fully expects amputees to be able to ambulate with a prosthesis. Walking is a concrete milestone that society uses to judge recovery.  I would caution against believing that every amputee is well-adjusted to their limb loss simply because they are using a prosthesis daily. For some, learning to walk again was the easiest part of their journey.

The physical wounds often heal before the emotional adjustment begins.   Redefining a new normal after an amputation takes time and the journey is often wrought with both victories and setbacks.  Learning about and mastering the use of ambulatory aids, including prosthetic devices, can feel overwhelming. The expectation by family and friends that the new amputee should be “fine” when they have learned to walk with a prosthesis only serves to invalidate the emotional turmoil that arises when grappling with a monumental life change.




Wednesday, November 21, 2018

The kids are having a fantastic time on their Aunt Peggy Thanksgiving Adventure!  We are headed back to the pool ( which they also closed down last night). 








Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Adventure Coming

Because the Cousin Crew won't be together on Thanksgiving, I've decided to create a spur of the moment adventure. Today, while they are at school, I'm going to finish prepping my Mom's house for the party. While I'm cleaning my Mom is going to gather a pair of pajamas, fresh clothes and a swimsuit for each kiddo. As soon as they get off the school bus Robby is going to tell them to pile into the car for a Thanksgiving Adventure.

We are heading to the Hershey Lodge for the night.  This kid-friendly tween eutopia features a waterpark, a variety of activities and a full arcade. I know that they are going to have a blast! As an added bonus, with the kids out of the house, my mom's house has a chance at staying clean until Thanksgiving. 

Photos to follow!

Monday, November 19, 2018

My Favorite Week

This is one of my favorite weeks of the year. The boys and I are already in Pennsylvania, visiting with my Mom and preparing for Thanksgiving. (Scott has two more days of work to finish before he joins us.)  Lists have been drafted and we are formulating our Thanksgiving readiness plan of attack. The next few days will be busy, but it will also be a lot of fun!

I love that Robby is still able to come up with me for the week. This year, I am thankful that he is thriving in his new school situation. I honestly don't remember him ever being so excited to learn, and so eager to tackle his classes. I realize that our cyberschool/ hybrid approach isn't for everybody, but it is perfect for our family at this point in time.

Today we will be busy cleaning and prepping for Thursday. Robby is eager to put the knife skills that he has been practicing in his home-ec class to the test in his Nana's kitchen. The teacher also stresses the importance of cleaning up after you cook, so hopefully he will put his dishwashing skills on display as well.

Of course, Timmy is more than willing to help wash dishes if Robby balks at the job. Unfortunately, washing dishes for a four-year-old equates to playing in a sink filled with bubble water. I'm pretty sure that the only thing that gets clean when he "helps" me are his hands, but it certainly makes him happy to try!

Friday, November 16, 2018

Baking Fun

We have had a handful of hurricane-related school closings over the years, but I can't remember ever having a snow day before Thanksgiving. Yesterday we had nearly 3 inches of snow, topped off with about 1/4 inch of ice, which prompted the first official snow day of the year. If our recent weather is any indication, we are in for a wild winter!

Robby and Scott were delighted to be off of school, and Timmy was nearly as giddy at having his brother and Daddy home for the day. Both boys desperately wanted to play in the snow, but much to their chagrin we kept them inside. We weren't anticipating a snowfall and hadn't yet secured new winter garb. I felt like a mom-fail not preparing earlier for winter, but I hopped onto Amazon and their new warm-weather gear will arrive by Monday.  

Instead of playing in the snow the boys and I spent the day playing and baking. It turns out that stamping out sugar cookies is nearly as much fun as throwing snowballs, and all disappointment melted away. With the snow covering the front yard and Christmas cookies piled on my kitchen counters, it is looking more and more like the holiday season.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Snow Day

The boys went to bed last night happy in the knowledge that they didn't have to wake up at a designated time. Our first winter storm was forecast and schools closed in advance. I know other parents feel differently, but I always appreciate when schools make the decision before everybody goes to bed. The 4 AM phone call always jolts me from my slumber and I find it difficult to get back to sleep.

Although many of my friends felt that canceling early was an overreaction, I had no doubt that we were going to experience a strong weather event. My limb has become the best predictor of winter storms. Yesterday my limb was achy and sore throughout the day, and the pain only intensified as night encroached.  

Trying to sleep was difficult because the discomfort turned into phantom pain, which made for a miserable night. The long-range forecast predicts a heavy snow season, which also means that I am sure to experience a painful winter. It's a good thing that Scott is home today because I didn't sleep well last night and this momom is going to need a nap!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Timmy the Terrible.

I don't know what got into Hamlet yesterday, but he was a handful from the moment he woke up until he finally went to sleep. After spending several days outside with us, I think he was frustrated with being housebound. With a constant cold rain falling and my to-do list piling up, we stayed inside all day. Regardless of his motivation, he had a severe case of the naughties.

Timmy the Terrible started the morning by drawing on my wall with a blue crayon. I thought that being directed to remove the markings with a Magic Eraser would be a just punishment for his action. I was wrong. Apparently using a Magic Eraser when you are four is a lot of fun.  At least the crayon and a large portion of my hallway wall were thoroughly cleaned below 40 inches, even if he did enjoy his punishment. 

I spent the lion share of my afternoon stopping my tornado of destruction while desperately trying to work on my computer. He was not content to watch cartoons, nor was he happy playing on the iPad. Instead of playing quietly by himself, he opted to become the preschooler of mass destruction.

At one point I put my work aside and played trains with him for nearly an hour out of the hopes that he would continue independently. No such luck. As soon as I stopped playing the track was destroyed by an irate little boy who decided to use his trucks as bowling balls.

Throughout the day Timmy the Terrible continued his destruction.  I found him standing on my counter trying to reach the Halloween candy.  He was lifted off the counter only to begin scaling the shelves of the fridge as if he were a versed mountain climber.  He grabbed the eggs and ran through the house, thoroughly enjoying the chase.  He tried to give the cat a bath and attempted to swing like a monkey on our chandelier over the pool table. 

On a day when I really needed him to be good, he seemed to accept the challenge to make things as difficult for me as possible.

Hopefully today will be a better day!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Wheelbarrow

With Scott off work, our yard work extravaganza continued yesterday. We were able to get rid of the leaves in the yard and in our flowerbeds, which is no small feat considering that we live in the woods. While Scott was mowing the leaves the boys and I prepared for winter by swapping the outdoor summer toys for our winter sleds.

With our wheelbarrow filled with 100 pounds of potatoes covered in straw, I walked over and asked Mr. Bill if his was available to borrow. He choked up and I saw his eyes start to tear as he said, "Yes Buddy. This is how we started, do you remember?"  

Mr. Bill and I became friends when he brought me his wheelbarrow to use so many years ago. He was watching a toddler Robby and I fill a snow sled with mulch. He gathered up his wheelbarrow and pitchfork and came into our yard.  He took the pitchfork and picked up mulch, putting it into the wheelbarrow before looking at me and saying, "Work smarter, not harder."  

At the time I wasn't sure what to make of the elderly man, but I was grateful for his offer to lend his tools. Robby and I finished the mulch, cleaned out the wheelbarrow and returned it with a plate of cookies. Robby immediately took to the grumpy man, escaping into his yard to help whenever possible. 

As I was walking over to borrow the same wheelbarrow, only this time with Timmy in tow, I also remembered how he came into our lives. I was surprised at Mr. Bill's reaction to my request, I didn't think he remembered the day he came into our lives.  It is going to be hard to see him move away next month. I know that the neighborhood, and our family, will never be the same.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Stacking Wood

Yesterday I celebrated my 15th Walking Day. It is hard to believe that so much time has passed since that exciting day. In some ways, it feels like it could have happened last week, while at the same time it feels like a lifetime ago. When I think about the years I become overwhelmed, so I have decided to respect and honor the past by living my life to the fullest every day.

We celebrated my Walking Day by splitting and stacking an insane amount of wood. We worked most of the day, but we managed to split just about every tree segment that had been lining our driveway and those that were piled in our flowerbeds. It was hard work, but it was also fun having everybody help and participate.  Even Timmy got into the action by proudly carrying and handing me cut pieces of wood to be stacked.  

I'm incredibly sore this morning, but I am relieved that the log segments are gone and that we have ample firewood for the winter. There is no way I would have been able to help split the logs if I had not had my amputation. Perhaps there was no better way to honor my Walking Day than by doing an activity that would have been unattainable if I had not opted for an amputation so many years ago.

Friday, November 09, 2018

Walking Day!

Yesterday was my Dad's 71st birthday. I made it through the day without crying, but I certainly felt his absence. I miss him dearly. I was happy for bedtime because it meant that I had survived another milestone without my Dad. The sun came up this morning, and the heaviness of his loss has eased back to the normal level.

While yesterday was difficult, this weekend will be celebratory. Sunday marks my 15th Walking Day Anniversary. It is difficult to fathom that I took those first tentative steps so many years ago. When I close my eyes it feels like yesterday, yet I have had a lifetime of experiences since I became an amputee.  

We celebrate Walking Day in our family because it marks such an important milestone in my life. Scott may forget birthdays and wedding anniversaries, but he has never missed a Walking Day. Although I took the steps, the day means as much to him as it does to me. He was with me through the difficult recovery, and those first few steps solidified our belief that I was going to be okay.


Thursday, November 08, 2018

Rumble at the Playground

Every Wednesday we drive Robby to class and Timmy and I play at the local park until he is finished. Going to the park has quickly become a highlight of his week. Playing with a buddy reigns supreme, so when no kids are present I am happy to fill the role. Yesterday the park was busy so I sat on a bench and watched from the sidelines. 

Part of playing with other kids is to not only have fun but also to learn how to navigate relationships.  Yesterday Timmy wasn't feeling fantastic, so he opted to quietly build a mulch castle on the perimeter of the play area. He worked for nearly 30 minutes building his masterpiece, complete with stick flags and a sand moat. He was proud of his creation, fetching me several times throughout the construction process to admire his work.  

While he was working on adding some height another little boy came over to him. I heard the interaction, but I decided to not intervene. The little boy said that he was going to smash the tower. Timmy immediately said no. The boy, with complete disregard to Timmy's wishes, proceeded to stomp all over the castle.

I saw Timmy's face morph from joy to devastation in record time. As the little boy kicked the remnants of the castle around the playground, Timmy became irate.  He grabbed a handful of mulch and threw it onto the boy.

With a flash, the other mom swooped in and swatted Timmy on the bottom. I lept from my perch and picked up Timmy, comforting him from both his castle destruction and being hit by a stranger. I looked at the woman and snapped, "Don't ever touch my kid."

She looked indignant and replied, "Your son threw mulch all over him. When I see somebody throw mulch on my child, my first reaction is to swat." 

I didn't address the fact that her little angel needlessly and gleefully stomped Timmy's castle. Instead, I took a step towards her, overwhelming her personal space. I put Timmy down and looked directly into her eyes. I was livid. 

"When I see an adult hit my child, my reaction is a lot stronger than a swat. Keep your hands off my kid, or you will get hurt."  I glared into her eyes as she quietly took her son's hand and backed away.

In full disclosure, I have never been in a physical fight. I am not a violent person, and I always lean towards communication instead of violence. But this lady hit my child, and with that, all rules are out the window.  

I'm fairly certain I would break my hands, wrists and probably a multitude of other bones if I had actually tried to hit her. I was rolling the dice that this lady could be intimidated.  Thankfully I was right.  

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Eat the Cookie

It is the day after the midterm election, and I could not be happier! Results notwithstanding, I am delighted we will be afforded a break from the nasty political scene. Magically all of the commercials have switched from fear-filled nasty rhetoric to snowmen, cookies and holiday joy. 

I wonder if the spite-filled and toxic nature of our politicians and their followers would change if we, as a society, concentrated more on the messages streamed in holiday commercials instead of investing our mental energies into those during the election.  Either way, I'm soaking up every moment of the season, because before I am ready the commercials will again change from being happy and eat-the-cookie to go on a diet and you need to improve.

Today I am in Pennsylvania so that I can take my Mom to her surgeon for a follow-up. Last night I went on a grocery shopping spree, setting her and the kids up with food and treats for the next few weeks. After two weeks of not being able to drive, her shelves were becoming sparse. 

Thankfully my mom is getting around better and is feeling less pain every day. Even though she is improving, I worry that she is going to overdo it.  She is stubborn and is doing more than she probably should do, but there is absolutely no stopping her when she gets her mind set on something.  (If you were to ask Scott I am sure he would describe me in a similar way.)

After Mom's appointment, I need to drive back to Virginia so that Robby can make his app building class in time. I wish I could stay longer, but this is a busy week with classes, appointments, and meetings. 

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Vote

Happy Election Day!

I'm looking forward to the cessation of the vile political ads that have been streaming nonstop since summer. I have found it hard to remain optimistic and happy with the constant stream of attacks and lies bombarding me through every possible platform. No wonder there is so much negativity and anger in our culture!

I have voted in every election since I became eligible at age 18. I remember driving home from college to cast my ballot, and mailing my ballot when I was attending Michigan State. Robby and Timmy have both accompanied me to every election, regardless of the weather or situation. Robby is old enough to understand the importance of casting a ballot, and he has the appreciation that every voice and every vote matters. Timmy is too young to comprehend, and he is simply happy to get a new sticker.  

After I vote today I will be heading up to PA so that my Mom can cast her ballot. She has a doctor's appointment tomorrow to have the staples removed from her knee. I know that she is looking forward to increased mobility and getting rid of the uncomfortable pulling from the staples. Hopefully, this will be another step towards healing. I know that she is frustrated with both the pain and the limited mobility since the surgery.  

Go vote!


Monday, November 05, 2018

Cleaning to Escape

I spent the weekend cleaning the house and purging the kids' rooms. After working nonstop on all day Saturday and on Sunday morning I decided to stop for the time being. When everything was done, I ended up with nine black contractor trash bags filled to the top with items for donation. My house looks less cluttered, and my heart is happy knowing that some other kiddos will be able to enjoy the outgrown toys and clothes.  

I always become melancholy when I'm purging the kids' rooms. Sorting through the clothes, determining if it still fits or if it has been outgrown, is a concrete reminder of how both kiddos have grown. It is particularly hard with Timmy because he is my baby. Even though the task always makes me sad when I'm doing it, I am always happy when the rooms are clean and the items are donated. 

My motivation for cleaning wasn't limited to wanting to declutter the house. I was also eager for a distraction from the constant stream of bad news and vile political ads on television. I cranked up the Christmas music, sang loudly and actually had a great time sorting and cleaning. Being unplugged from the last-minute push of political commercials was enough payment for my efforts!

I am looking forward to waking up on Wednesday morning when the commercials will magically switch from hate-filled rhetoric to those advertising cookies, treats, toys and other accouterments required for the idyllic holiday. This election season has been both long and vile. 

Friday, November 02, 2018

Reconciling Emotions

I'm so happy that today is Friday. While we don't have any plans for the weekend, I am in desperate need of disconnecting and relaxing. I'm still reeling from the drama with my brother, and I haven't had much of an opportunity to decompress.

My brother is in jail, which continues to stir the odd concoction of emotions of both relief and grief. I keep imagining him incarcerated and my heart breaks. Then I give myself a reality check about the individual that he has become and I am glad that he cannot hurt anybody. I continue to hope that this time will allow him to heal and begin to recover from his demons. I feel helpless because, when it comes down to it, nobody can fight this battle but him.  

Over the past few days, I have come to the realization that I am investing too much of my own energy into fretting and worrying about a situation beyond my control. I can't fix my brother, nor can I change his current situation. I need to focus on my own life and put my energies towards situations which I can impact. 

This weekend I am going to actively work towards relaxing and rediscovering my happiness. (The fact that I have to work to relax is an indication of how psychologically involved I have become with the situation.)  I have to reconcile the brother of my past with the present. I'm not sure how to do this, but I need to figure it out!

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Halloween Wrap-Up

Another successful Halloween is in the books.  Per tradition, Robby and Scott went through the neighborhoods on the scooter. With Scott driving to each house, the pair were able to optimize their trick-or-treat potential. 

I pulled Timmy in his wagon through our neighborhood. I'm not sure which delighted him more: wearing a costume and getting candy or experiencing the neighborhood at night. At one point every leaf that he saw on driveways was "hot lava" and necessitated a jump. Considering that our neighborhood is set in the woods, we did a lot of jumping. Between his distractions and tackling the neighborhood by foot, Timmy did not score nearly as much candy as his brother.

I'm surprised by the degree of soreness I feel through my legs and shoulders this morning. I am not used to pulling a wagon for two hours, and my body is definitely feeling the effort today. I'm glad that my new socket by LIM Innovations was up to the task of Halloween night.  The last thing I needed was to have a prosthetic issue sideline our night!



Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween!

I have a house of excited boys this morning, chomping at the bit for the spooktacular adventures of the day. Their excitement is contagious to the point where I'm now counting down until it is time to go out for trick-or-treating.  We will unveil this year's costumes tomorrow, so be sure to check back. In the meantime, enjoy our Halloween memories!















Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Regrouping

My mom's pain is lessening and her mobility is improving. It was hard to leave her yesterday afternoon, but with my sister and her kiddos home during the evening, I felt comfortable going home knowing that she won't be alone.  I'll be returning for the weekend, and soon if needed, but I wanted to get the boys home for Halloween celebrations.

Between my mom's surgery and the chaos and heartbreak of dealing with my brother, I had completely lost the Halloween excitement. If I had my way, I would turn off the lights and forget about the holiday altogether. But with a 12-year-old a 4-year-old, canceling trick-or-treat isn't an option. I'm hoping to recapture some of the fun today by baking spooky cookies with the kids. Even if I don't feel the mood, I know that my boys deserve to be excited and celebrate. 

I want to thank everybody who reached out and offered support during the past few days. I am both heartbroken and relieved that my brother is in jail. Hopefully, he will dry out and gain some perspective. I am not optimistic, but I always have hope.  

Monday, October 29, 2018

The Real Monster

My Mom continues to recover from her knee surgery. The fact that she is feeling both stronger and less pain has been the bright spot in an otherwise dismal weekend. The rest of the weekend has been a nightmare.

Drugs are a horrible scourge, so those impacted still hide in shame. My brother has been addicted to drugs and alcohol for nearly 25 years and over that time I have watched his demise and spiral out of control. I thought I had witnessed his bottom so many times, but each time he demonstrated that he was capable of diving deeper into the darkness.  Nothing over the past 25 years prepared me for the monster that emerged over the weekend.

With my Mom out of commission, I tried to pick up the support reigns with my brother. When he called and asked me to send him some food because he was both homeless and hungry, I obliged. I ordered him a sandwich and Gatorade from Subway for delivery. My act of kindness was met with greedy wrath.

He called me and demanded that I send him more food, cigarettes, and beer.  When I refused, he became belligerent.  When I refused again, he became abusive. I ended up blocking his number to the house phone so my Mom could rest. The berating threats continued through text messaging.
You are a whore.
You are ugly.
You are fat.
You are worthless.
I hope you get cancer again and die.
I hope your children die.
You are disgusting.
You should make me happy by killing yourself.

These are only the texts that I feel comfortable sharing, and those with the expletives removed. He became far more threatening as time passed and when he wasn't getting the money was demanding. He detailed both his hatred for me and his plans to kill my family. He was graphic and engaged.

He doesn't realize that I am desensitized to his abuse. After each message I responded with the same words.  "I love you. Please get help."  Engaging him in any other way only causes more ire.

I am accustomed to his verbal abuse and threats of violence, but I was surprised when the police showed up at my Mom's house on Friday afternoon.  He actually called the police to report me for abuse! He had bragged in an earlier text that he was reporting me for molesting my children, but I didn't think he would actually follow through with his threat. When the officer showed up I simply handed him my phone so that he could read the exchanges. The officer took his name and number and promised to follow-up with the Austin police for wasting his time and resources.

My brother is currently living in Austin, which is my only solace in this horrific situation. I sleep better knowing that the monster is too far away to show up at my door. It feels odd calling this monster my brother, because the brother that I knew and loved died many years ago. His body is still moving, overtaken by a demon. I no longer recognize this person.

I found out this morning that my brother has been arrested (again.)  I feel guilty for feeling relieved that he is no longer able to harass and threaten the family. For a little while, I will sleep easier. I continue to hope that my brother finds sobriety and recovers, but I am resigned to the fact that the decades of abuse have caused irreversible damage.

My heart is broken.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Update

My Mom was released yesterday afternoon. She continues to experience considerable pain, but we are all happy to have her at home. Her dog is especially delighted and hasn't left her side since she came into the house. Hopefully, the pain will begin to wane today and each day she will discover more comfort.  

Today, and through the weekend, will be spent keeping Mom comfortable. 

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Recovery

Mom's surgery went well.  She is in pain but the surgeon feels that the new knee cap will help her maintain stability and remain more comfortable when she walks. Of course, she has to heal from the surgical pain before she will reap the benefits and right now that is the priority. She spent the night in the hospital for pain control, but hopefully she will be released today. 

Robby, Timmy and I are at my Mom's house to prepare for her return and to help her during the recovery. I'm thankful that we have the flexibility to adjust our schedules to be able to help her. Heaven knows she has spent enough time helping me recover from surgeries!

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Worried

The next few days will be a bit wonky for our family. Instead of going through our normal schedule, we will be heading to Pennsylvania. We are planning to stay at least a week to help my mom recover from surgery.  She has nursed me after surgeries more times than I can remember. It is odd being on the other end of the relationship, but I vow to do my best!

Today my mom will be going into surgery to have her prosthetic kneecap replaced. Although she has been doing well since her bilateral knee replacements six years ago. Unfortunately, one of her kneecaps has shifted and needs to be replaced. The surgeon promises that both the procedure and the recovery are considered "easy," but that did little to calm our anxiety. Until my mom is fully recovered and out of pain, I am going to worry.

Please send her some good thoughts today. I know that she is going to be fine, but having her go into surgery at all is worrisome.  

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Sleep Interrupted.

Yesterday morning I was up at 5 but not by choice. This time I wasn't awoken by an excited and precocious four-year-old; rather, I was roused by an uninvited phone call.  We received a robocall announcement from Scott's school, informing all staff of a credible threat made by a student. My mind immediately propelled into panic mode.

As my mind was conjuring the worst case scenarios I continued to listen to the announcement. The student who made the threat had been apprehended without incident. Talk about a whirlwind of emotions in a short period of time! I would have preferred to have been awoken by Timmy. He is far more predictable than a telephone call. 

Even though we were assured that the student was apprehended and that the school was deemed safe, and despite the assurances of an increase in police presence, it was hard for me to relax. My anxiety quickly turned to anger as I reflected upon now living in a society where school threats are becoming commonplace. 

My mood lifted through the day simply because I was distracted by work and my kids. As the night rolled around, my frustrated anger returned. Between the kids and work, I have so many good reasons to worry and fret. Worrying that my husband may be gunned down in a school should not be one of them!

Monday, October 22, 2018

Disconnected

Saturday I had to work, which was a bummer because the weather was beautiful. Sunday I was determined to spend some quality time with the family so I logged off the computer for the day. It was oddly empowering to turn the computer off and to break the electronic tether that has become my norm. Instead of working, we all headed to Pumpkinville for the day.

Timmy was ecstatic to show his brother and daddy around one of his favorite places. Robby Rotten, the snarky tween who has recently invaded my son's body, stayed away all day long. Robby and Timmy played beautifully together, giggling among the hay bales and racing each other on the giant slides. Timmy was over-the-moon to be playing with his hero all afternoon!

I thoroughly enjoyed having Scott and Robby along during this Pumpkinville visit. Typically I am Timmy's playmate because I'm usually the only one there. I don't mind going down the slides and meandering through the mazes, but I was certainly happy to relinquish the role for the day. I loved being able to relax and just watch the brothers play.  

My weekend was shortened by a day, but we definitely made the most of it. I think I'll start to disconnect more often. I certainly feel more rested, centered and happier than I have in a long time!











Friday, October 19, 2018

Accident

My poor little Hamlet.  Yesterday he was having the time of his life, riding his new bicycle with his brother when he hit a nut and veered off the road. He ended up flipping his bike and landing sliding down the embankment, thoroughly entangling himself in a thorn bush. It took Robby and me nearly 10 minutes to extract him from the thorny prison.

By the time we freed Timmy from the thorns, Timmy was a bloody mess. I could tell by the way that he was holding (and hiding) his left hand that he was injured. When I finally coaxed him into allowing me to look at his hand I knew that we needed to go to the walk-in clinic. He had huge thorns thoroughly embedded into all of his fingers and his ring finger looked to be pointed in the wrong direction.

Even though he hates blood, Robby was a big brother rockstar throughout the afternoon. Without missing a beat he crawled under the kitchen table to try to encourage Timmy to let us look at his hand. He desperately tried to keep his little brother calm throughout the visit to the doctor, although there was nothing anybody could do to quell the screams of pain that were emitted when the thorns were dug out of his hand.

Timmy had a dislocated ring ringer and eight large thorns embedded in his left hand. The finger was set and the thorns were removed. Today he continues to be protective of his hand and is reticent to use it. Hopefully it will heal soon, I hate seeing him in pain!

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Bike Riding

The air is crisp, the air is dry and the sun is shining. Finally, fall is here! My little Hamlet is so happy to be able to play outside again. It feels like months since we have been able to ride our bikes, jump on the trampoline and play in the treehouse. I am relieved that the muggy rain clouds have finally lifted. My goal is to spend as much time as possible outside before the cool air turns cold and the rain turns to snow.  

While at Walmart last week Scott bought Timmy a brand new bicycle. He still loves riding his balance bike through the house, but having one with pedals like his brother has brought his enthusiasm to a new level. In one short week he has proven to be a pro at pedaling and steering, but he is not consistent braking and stopping. 

Much to his chagrin, until Timmy can demonstrate that he knows how to brake we are not allowing him to go down hills. I am forced to run next to him to physically slow his momentum when he is out riding. I'm a tad concerned that he might run me over, but I will assume the risk if it keeps him from flipping out of control on the asphalt.  

Watching a little one learn to ride a bike is not for the faint of heart. My heart quickens to aerobic levels whenever I see him pedal and cruise around the driveway. Between the anxiety and my running next to him to help him stop, I am definitely getting my work out completed!

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Chasing Windmills

Yesterday evening, as I was changing into my pajamas, I quietly lamented having to remove my leg in order to take off my jeans. Such a small task of slipping off the socket so that I could pull the jeans off of the prosthesis suddenly felt inconvenience and frustrating. It only took me a few seconds and it is something that I do every single day when wearing jeans, yet for some reason, I found the modification extremely annoying

Almost as soon as I slipped back into my leg I felt a surge of guilt. Here I was, complaining about having to remove my leg in order to take off my jeans, when I had just met a woman a few miles away who would give anything to have my inconvenience. I suddenly felt embarrassed for my skewed perspective.

Scott called me earlier in the afternoon, asking me to reach out to his school guidance counselor. A student confided that she and her mother were living in a local homeless shelter following a series of medical setbacks. I wasn't sure why my input was requested, but upon receiving the contact request I  immediately called to see how I could help.

It turns out that the mom had developed Compartment Syndrome and had recently had her leg amputated. Due to the combination of missed work and mounting medical bills, the family was evicted from their home and had no other options but to move into a temporary shelter.  I cannot fathom her despair after losing both her home and her leg!

This mom would give anything for the frustration of removing her leg to put on her jeans. Unfortunately, the policymakers in this country continue to tie the means to ambulate with monetary worth. Until this hardworking single mother is able to become financially stable, her ability to walk again will remain the impossible dream.

Today I will be working the phones to try to locate some assistance to help this family. Her daughter's school work is starting to suffer, which is understandable considering the chaos and uncertainty that the family has been enduring. Unfortunately, this heartwrenching situation is unfolding in homes and shelters across this country. As long as the tools to ambulate are intimately tied to financial means, we as a society will continue to further disable the amputee community. 




Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Blending In

I think it is safe to say that we are done with shorts for the year. The temperatures have been consistently falling, and the long range forecast continues this trend. I haven't completely packed away the summer clothes, but they are slowly being pushed to the back of drawers and onto the top shelves of closets.  

Timmy is having some adorable issues adjusting to the change in clothing. Frustrated by the different feel of his clothing, he works hard each morning to push his sleeves up to his elbows and to pull his pants above his knees. I know that it won't take long for him to adjust, but watching the transition is charming.

My little Hamlet isn't the only one who is adjusting to the winter wardrobe. With my wearing almost exclusively jeans, I have resumed blending in with a crowd. Wearing shorts and sundresses for the past few months I became accustomed to garnering stares and second glances each time I ventured into the community. After a summer of near-constant stares, it is eerily odd walking into a store and not being noticed. 

Like Timmy, it won't take long for me to adjust. Soon I won't even notice the absence of reaction or stares when I walk into stores. It is nice blending into a crowd and, while I prefer warmer weather, the anonymity is one of my favorite parts of the season. 

Monday, October 15, 2018

Relax

After weeks of feeling as if I'm treading water to keep up the pace, this weekend was a welcome respite from the constant movement and chaos. I was planning to take the boys to the farm to play either Saturday or Sunday, but the weather intervened. Instead we stayed home, where the boys played quietly and I was able to relax on the couch and binge watch Halloween Wars on the Food Channel. Our low-key, stay-at-home weekend was just what we all needed.

Timmy spent the weekend alternating between playing with his trains and watching video games. Robby spent his time playing video games and watching Battle Bots reruns on TV. Scott watched football and I caught up on some work and just relaxed on the couch. It has been a long time since we haven't done anything, but I we all needed a breather.

Our lack of ambition was rewarded with everybody feeling energized for the coming weeks which is a good thing because the next few days will be busy.  Between chauffeuring Robby to and from classes and my work schedule, we are about to enter another hectic spell. I'm glad I granted myself permission to relax because I have a feeling my reserves will be tapped soon!

Friday, October 12, 2018

My New Socket

Several weeks ago, during my visit to San Francisco, I was fit with a new socket. I haven't been able to disclose the process or the new socket because it was classified within the company. With the official release of the new Infinite Socket TT-S by LIM Innovations, I am finally able to write about my secret. 

My new socket has been a difficult secret to keep. I have been chomping at the bit to talk about my experiences. I have been wearing the adjustable socket now for several weeks, and I have been gobsmacked by the benefits I have reaped.

Ever since my re-amputation four years ago I have struggled with socket comfort. I used to be easy-to-fit, but the surgery changed the shape of my limb and my tolerances for pressure. Elliot and I finally settled upon a socket shape that allowed me to be mobile, but I have never been completely comfortable.

For the past four years I have lived with a love/ hate relationship with my prosthesis. I loved that I am able to walk and take care of my kids, but I hated the discomfort I experienced throughout the day. During normal days I was forced to stop my activity to release the valve and readjust my prosthesis 20 times in a quest for comfort. Having to constantly fiddle with my prosthesis had slowly become my new norm.

My limb health has declined over the past four years. I developed small sores on the back of my knee in 2014. The sores have gone through various stages of healing, but they have never completely closed and healed. It is frustrating to acknowledge that I have had small sores for four years!

I was skeptical when I was asked to try the new TT-S. Although I have struggled with cramping within my socket, my volume fluctuation remains stable. I wasn't sure that I would reap the benefits from an adjustable socket, but I was excited to try a new style. My goodness, I completely underestimated the benefits of the new TT-S.

After four years of struggling, the sores on the back of my leg have completely healed within one week of wearing the new socket. The skin on the back of my limb is no longer tomato red but has resumed a healthy hue. Once I get the compression dialed in on my socket, I don't have to constantly manipulate my prosthesis to remain comfortable. Even Robby has noticed that I am no longer constantly releasing and readjusting my leg. I put it on in the morning and I don't even think about it again until I take it off at night. The absence of the constant cramping and the nagging leg sores has been liberating!

Today LIM is hosting a Facebook Live at 2 pm EST to showcase the new socket. I hope that you can tune in and check it out. I am confident that the TT-S will revolutionize the prosthetic experience for so many because it has made a world of difference for this skeptic. 

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Unraveling Yarn

Last night I had a dream where I was pushing a large ball of yarn up a hill. I didn't quite know why I was tasked with pushing the yarn, but I felt an overwhelming compulsion to keep moving up the hill. When I finally arrived at the top of the hill a large bird came and landed on the top of my yarn. The weight of the bird dislodged the ball, and it began to teeter. Although I scrambled to regain control of the yarn I was not successful and I was forced to watch it roll and unravel down the same hill.

By the time the yarn reached the bottom of the hill the hall had completely unraveled to a single long strand. I woke up feeling distraught, scared and frustrated. Who would have thought that a weird dream about yard would elicit such a strong response?

I'm not versed with dream interpretation, but even I could decipher the message. Recently I have been feeling like my life is beyond my control. I know that I cannot control everything, but it is time that I start reigning in what is within my power. Of course, that is easier said than done.

Part of my problem lies with my ignoring my own needs. I am so busy with work, school, taking care of Timmy and trying to keep up with the house that I feel like I am unraveling. I keep wanting to return to my meditation and to improve my own self-care, but by the time I'm done with everything for the day I'm too exhausted to add anything to the mix. 

Have any other Mom's been in this predicament?  How did you keep your thinly veiled metaphorical yarn from unraveling?