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.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

Before I became a Mother, I had grandiose visions of what that meant. I would dream about what Mother's Day was going to be like. I smile when I think of how different my expectations were compared to living the reality of motherhood.

I envisioned the day starting with breakfast in bed, served at about 10:00. Only after I ate my wonderful breakfast, in bed, while maintaining complete control over the remote control, would I be ready for my day of doting to begin.

There were going to be flowers and drawings from the little one. I would not be needed for diaper changes, meal preparation or the dreaded dressing task. And somehow, in my fantasy, the house was always clean.

After insisting on taking our son with him to the mall, they would be gone for most of the afternoon. This left me alone. I would take a bath and then a nap. Scott and Robby would return from the mall, clean and happy. And carrying dinner (probably Chinese). My husband would present me with "the gift," which Robby helped to pick out.

Robby would then have a bath. He wouldn't scream when I washed his hair, and was happy to get out of the tub when we were done. He would give me a big kiss and hug, and go to bed without a struggle. Scott would then surprise me with some version of a heart necklace, with diamonds of course.

I love being a mother, but I have learned that my "visions" were more fantasy based verses reality. I have also learned that I am happiest now with the little things. I cherish the little hugs I get for no reason. I love that Robby loves to help me bake and cook. I am so thankful that he doesn't seem to be bothered by my leg.

I was able to run with Robby today at the park, and I was able to walk through the woods holding him without struggling. My wonderful husband hung a "World's Best Mother" banner on the house. As far as I'm concerned, there is only one thing that can make the celebration better. Instead of breakfast in bed and control over the remote control, I am really hoping that I don't have to get out of bed for the first cup of coffee.

To all my friends and readers, please have a wonderful Mother's Day.

And to my Mom, I want to thank you for all of your support you've given me. I now dream of being as good of a Mom as you, but if I am only half as good I still think I will be successful. Your unfailing support is the definition of unconditional love. I love you. Happy Mother's Day.

Liner woes...

When I first became an amputee, I used a liner and suspension sleeve to keep the leg in place. To say that I hated the sleeve is an understatement. My family, friends and prosthetist can all testify to my endless complaints.

My main issue, besides the heat, was that the sleeve simply didn't stay in place. It would roll down my leg, often over the prosthetic. My wardrobe was limited to skirts, because I was always having to fix my leg. It was so common I thought nothing of just lifting up my skirt, regardless of the environment, and rolling the sleeve back up so my leg would stay on.

I must have complained enough, because when Ossur came out with the seal-in liner system, my prosthetist called me into the office to give it a try. With one step, I was hooked. No more suspension sleeve, no more bunching up behind the knee or rolling down and off my leg.

Since I became a mother, I now spend a lot of time playing on the floor. The seal in system is perfect for me, because I can literally just step into my leg and go. I have learned that the fewer steps involved in putting on my leg has a direct correlation to my chances of catching my toddler as he is running to get something that he shouldn't have, usually the ice cream.

Despite all of the attributes of the liner system, I do have a slight complaint. The top of the liner often rolls down to the top of the prosthetic. It isn't uncomfortable, and more importantly, it doesn't interfere with the suction. My issue is that the rolled liner sticks to clothes, making an odd crease in all of my pants, skirts and dresses.

I have come to the conclusion that prosthetic designers must be primarily men, or women with small thighs and devoid of curves. I still love the seal-in liner. For me, from a functional perspective, it has been ideal. My complain is admittedly cosmetic and related to my vanity. This Mother's Day weekend, I have given myself permission to complain.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Mirror Mirror on the wall...

I think I am a well-adjusted amputee woman. To be completely honest, I am truly content and happy with my life. I have accepted the amputation, and I am trying to embrace the challenges that arise every day.

Despite my body and spirit transformation, I continued to dislike looking in full length mirrors. My prosthetists' gait training room has a huge wall of mirrors. In that situation, I recognize the benefit of looking at myself walk. I have, however, encouraged him to install a draw curtain so the mirrors don't have to be visible during fittings etc.. I would even sew the curtains myself! I certainly can't be the only amputee to feel this way.

I worried, "Do I dislike seeing the prosthetic on me because it forces me to face my reality? But don't I face that same reality every day when I put my leg on and walk?" I think it started out as avoidance, but evolved into more of a habit.

I don't want to present a simplistic representation of the body image issue. It has taken me more than 5 years, and a lot of work from the inside out, for me to get to this stage. I took down and gave away every full length mirror in my home. I bought my clothes over the internet so I wouldn't have to look into the mirrors when I tried them on. I fought back more tears than I could count when I would catch an accidental glimpse of myself in the mirror or window.

Everybody has a different way of dealing with these fears. For me, I decided that I needed more of a desensitizing approach.

So, I started looking into full length mirrors more often in an attempt to prove to myself that I really am okay with what I see. It has taken a long time, but I am no longer afraid of what I see when I look in the mirror. Most of the time, I feel empowered. I still have the occasional internal pang of loss when I see myself as an amputee. The majority of the time, I see woman who is proud of who she is becoming.

This being said, there is one challenge looming. Something both my Mom and I have been dreading for months. I need to look in those dreaded mirrors wearing...... a swim suit.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Pinch cuts... yep, I've got one.

Bring out the Neosporin. I've got another pesky pinch cut on the back of my knee. These cuts, although no deeper than a paper cut, can be extremely uncomfortable. It is also an inconvenience, because I'll have to try to take my leg off as much as possible today.

I try to not take my leg off in front of Robby, because I'm never sure what he will do with it. For some reason, Mom's leg is the coveted "toy" that he only gets to play with occasionally. When he sees that it is off, he swoops in as fast as an owl catching a mouse at night. And then he runs. Let's be realistic, he is only three and carrying a 5 pound leg. He doesn't really go that fast. Unfortunately, he still runs faster than I can hop, so he usually gets away.

I suppose his keen interest in playing with my prosthetic is my fault. My husband and I decided, before Robby was even born, that we never wanted him to be afraid of my leg. We wanted him to be comfortable around prosthetics and stumps. I fear we may have taken our desensitizing a step too far.

I am nursing my last cup of coffee, smiling because I know the adventure packed day that lies ahead for my prosthetic. While I am putting on antibiotic ointment and resting my stump, my leg will have a very active day. If the past is any indication, I think Mommy's leg may go for a few rides in a shopping cart. It will then become an obstacle course for trains and cars and a basket for small balls. I'm sure the leg will become an ant smashing dinosaur at some point. And, if I'm really lucky, it may receive a make-over with Thomas the Train stickers.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

If the shoe fits...

I admit it. I absolutely hate shoe shopping. I know that this is a joy for most women. For me, it is a chore. Now, to be completely honest, I wasn't a huge shoe connoisseur when I had two feet. The complication of a prosthetic foot has merely added the "foreboding" factor I experience every time I realize I need a new pair of shoes.

I hate shoe shopping for several reasons. The most glaring being that my feet are now two sizes. Until technology evolves a little more, I am apparently stuck with this frustrating reality. I either have to buy two pairs of shoes to accommodate the different sizes, or I wear a thick sock. The first I only do for special occasion shoes, the latter is my normal course of action.

My family recognizes my frustrations when shoe shopping. I guess me griping about it for a few days before I go is usually the clue! They have taken the "divide and conquer" approach.

My Mom has drawn the short straw, and usually goes to the shoe store with me. In her normal style, she tries to turn it into a comical adventure. Often, she ends up carrying my prosthetic around, asking the shoe clerks if they have anything that will fit. The stunned responses of the employees and bystanders usually releases my tension and makes me laugh, which is another reason I love her.

After the shoes are selected, my husband leaps into action. His job is putting the shoe on the prosthetic. I feel that I am a well adjusted amputee. But, for some reason, this task makes me sad.

When Scott sees me coming home with the dreaded shoe box, he immediately goes to the kitchen and gets two butter knives. He then stops by the hall closet to get his needle nose pliers out of the tool box. These are his tools for getting the shoe to slide onto the prosthetic. It may sound strange, but it works. He often ends up contorting himself, and often choice words are muttered. But, the shoe somehow always ends up on my prosthetic. He does this without complaint and question, which is another reason I love him.

I was shopping the other day, and I came across the perfect gift for my husband. A shoe horn! We'll give it a try the next time I change my shoes... who knows, maybe the butter knives can stay in the kitchen.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Mom's leg, a.k.a "The Crusher"

I was emptying the dishwasher this morning, singing a Wiggles song with Robby. He was "helping" me, meaning that he was handing me the dishes from the dishwasher, one at a time and with great purpose. He is in the pleasing stage, which is wonderful. I've discovered that it also means it will take me at least twice as long to get everyday tasks done because I am accommodating his help.

In any case, I was walking to the cabinet, with my one clean glass to put away, when it happened. With one step, I heard the unfortunate CRUNCH beneath my prosthetic. Before I even picked up my leg, I knew that yet another plastic toy was destined for the garbage.

As if instinctual, I directed Robby's attention to the poor unsuspecting cat who was unassumingly eating her food. He excitingly pranced over to harass her, allowing me the opportunity to see which toy was destroyed by the "leg crusher" this time.

I was lucky. Today, the casualty was a plastic car. Easy to replace, and it probably wasn't going to be missed. Last week I managed to kill a plastic dinosaur, a baby elephant, a few cars and numerous M&M's. And we're still trying to get over the trauma of Mommy crushing Thomas the Train last month!

Stepping on plastic treasures has become a frequent occurrence in my house. I can't feel the toy beneath my prosthetic, and the majority of the time I don't know that I'm stepping on one until I hear the familiar crunching sound. I've concluded crunching small toys is an unavoidable consequence of having a prosthetic leg. Trying to be optimistic, at least we continue to help the local toy economy.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Monkey see... monkey do

When we come inside from playing outside, I am trying to teach my son to remove his shoes. This is not because I am a neat freak, but rather because we have a very muddy yard and very light carpet.

This morning, when we were coming inside from getting the newspaper, I asked Robby to take off his shoes. As he sat on the steps, I removed the shoe from my foot. I then wiped down the shoe on the prosthetic, and proceeded up the stairs.

From the top of the stairs, I watched him remove the shoe from one foot. He then took the same towel, wiped down his other shoe (keeping it on his foot) and walked up the stairs. He is now proudly prancing around the house with a shoe on one foot and only a sock on the other, just like his Mommy.

From removing only one shoe to walking with a bit of a limp like his Mommy, Robby copies everything he sees. The only exceptions? Picking up his toys and cleaning up his messes!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

I am a robot....

Years ago, before I became a Mom, I went to visit a very dear friend, whose 4 year old son I haven't seen since he was an infant. It was wonderful to see her again. I brought her little boy a truck because, to be honest, I'm not above resorting to bribery to gain a child's affection.

Her little boy eagerly led me to the playroom so that we could play with all of his toys. I asked my friend if her son knew about my amputation. She responded proudly, by asking him, "Do you remember we talked about Miss Peggy? How many legs does she have?" He looked up, grinned a crooked smile, and said one. He then proceeded to push the truck around the room.

Secure in the knowledge that I he knew about the amputation, I proceeded to sit on the floor and take my leg off.

The little boy looked up, saw that my leg wasn't attached and he ran to his Mommy, visibly upset and shaking. She tried to calm him, reminding him that I only had one leg and that I used a prosthetic. He responded by saying that he knew that I only had one leg, but that she didn't tell him that I was a robot!

His reaction both melted and broke my heart. I was sad that I had upset him by removing my leg. I always check before I pop off my leg because I don't want to take anybody off guard. The innocence of his reaction was endearing. He was prepared for me to have one leg, but was not prepared for me to have a leg that could be removed. Now, before I remove my prosthetic, I always show the child my leg while I am wearing it. I talk about how it helps me walk, and how this special leg can be taken off whenever I want. I have yet to meet a child who didn't find this fascinating, as long as they are prepared correctly.

The little boy finally forgave his Mommy for not telling him that I was a robot. Unfortunately, I didn't get off that easy! It took 2 more trucks and a trip to the ice cream store, but I am happy to report that we are now buddies. Did I mention that I'm not above bribery?