About Me

My photo
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, June 05, 2009

There is no such thing as sneaking...

I had a difficult time waking up this morning. It's rainy and dreary outside which always makes it harder to wake up. I sat in bed, trying to will a cup of coffee into my hand. After waiting for my coffee to magically appear, I begrudgingly decided to put my leg on and go get it myself.

Gingerly, I walked slowly past Robby's bedroom door. He was up late last night and desperately needed to sleep. He is quite a grump when he is tired and, since it's raining, the last thing I wanted today was to be trying to entertain a fussy boy inside all day.

I made it past his room successfully and retrieved my needed caffeine. I knew if I made it past his room without waking him up, I would be able to drink the entire mug in quiet. A rare treat for his Mom!

Holding my coffee which, upon reflection, I had obviously overfilled, I set about my mission. Large steps, as gingerly as possible. Tip-toe... Kerplunk! Tip-toe... Kerplunk! I never realized how much louder my prosthetic step was before now. It seems that the softer I tried to put my foot down, the louder the Kerplunk. I stopped mid stride to reevaluate.

For whatever reason, I decided that I needed to move faster. I knew that I wasn't going to be able to soften the sounds of my prosthetic, but I hoped that Robby wouldn't wake if it passed by his room quickly. So with quick, large strides I continued. Tip-toe... Kerplunk... Tip-toe... Kerplunk. "Ouch... sh&@."

I spilled the overflowing cup of coffee all over the front of my nightgown and onto the hardwood floors. I quickly put the mug down and tried to lift the nightgown off my skin to prevent it burning more. I reached for his monkey towel which was hanging on the door and cleaned the coffee off the floor.

I retrieved my mug and walked to my bedroom. I was thankful I managed to save a half of mug of coffee from spilling. I took off my leg, put on CNN and anticipated drinking my coffee in solitude.

Just as I picked up my mug, I heard Robby's door creak open and saw him lumbering out of his room. The scowl on his face let me know that he was awake too early. CNN was switched to Blue's Clues and a grumpy little boy is trying to wake up next to me. I'm looking around the bedroom trying to figure out if I can move my coffee pot in here.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Sleep Dreams.

I was talking with a friend the other day who proposed an interesting question. She asked me to identify what surprised me the most immediately after my amputation. This is a difficult question to answer because, despite all of my research, I feel as if I was not prepared for such a drastic life change. My guess is that nobody can ever be completely prepared.

Immediately after the surgery, I was most shocked by the difficulty I had sleeping. It wasn't the pain, although that itself was enough to keep me from resting. I couldn't get to sleep because I couldn't find a comfortable position for my newly created stump.

My amputated limb felt foreign. I had spent my whole life feeling both legs under the covers as I slept. All of a sudden my body changed, and it was difficult to be comfortable within my own skin. Every position I tried seemed to amplify the loss.

Sleeping on my side, my stump felt odd against my other leg. On my back, the covers laid against the limb in an awkward manner. I couldn't lie on my stomach because of the incisions. I remember just finding a position and forcing myself to be still, regardless of the discomfort, until I finally fell asleep. Sometimes this worked. Many times it did not.

This period was, without question, the most difficult time in my recovery. Lying still, trying to ignore how foreign my body felt, I often felt lost. It is a horrible feeling when you don't relate to your own body- to feel like a stranger to yourself. During these nights I often felt a sense of despair that is difficult to relate in words.

Thankfully, the difficulty sleeping was a fleeting issue. Although problematic, I can only recall it lasting for only a few weeks. Slowly, with each passing day, I began to adjust to the new sensation of having an amputated limb. It is truly remarkable how quickly the body and mind can adjust.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Short video...The first time I walked on a prosthetic.

Kick Ball... Kick Leg

I guess I need to first explain that I use a seal-in liner suspension system. I absolutely love the seal-in system because I am able to literally step into my prosthetic and go. I don't need to worry about pins clicking into place or pulling up a suspension sleeve. For me, the liner has been
a Godsend.

I rarely have problems with my liner with the exception of it rolling down my thigh and creating an unsightly fold just above my knee. Although it is an extremely rare occurrence, the seal has failed to hold on my prosthetic on a few instances. The failure was due to my neglecting to wear a sock to combat volume fluctuations in my stump.

For whatever reason, today is a "small stump" day. I briefly flirted with the idea of putting on a three ply sock before going outside to play with Robby. I got distracted, and never got around to it.

Kicking a ball is a thrill for my little three year old. Kicking a standard soccer ball could damage the computer components of my Proprio ankle and I don't want to take the risk. We play with light bouncy balls.

Robby and I were in the driveway, happily playing kicking the ball back and forth. Because the ball is so light, I am able to kick it over his head and up a hill. He chases after it and I hope that the exercise tires him out and will force him to take a long nap. Sometimes this theory materializes and I am blessed with a long nap.

In the middle of our game, the UPS driver started down our driveway. Talk about exciting! Robby kicked the ball towards me and took off to greet the truck. In an attempt to move the ball all the way up the hill so that it wouldn't roll into the path of the truck, I kicked it harder than normal.

As my leg was in mid swing, I felt the seal in my liner fail. The driver opened his door in time to see my leg whizzing past his very surprised face. I then lost my balance and fell. Robby was jumping up and down and pointing to the "big truck."

Thankfully I wasn't hurt when I fell. I managed to manipulate my body so that I would fall on my hip. Other than my hip and ego being a little bruised, I am fine. My leg emerged from the flight a little dirty but no worse for the wear. The UPS driver was shocked, but I'm sure he now has a great story for his coworkers.

The excitement of seeing the "big truck" paired with running up and down the hill, Robby finally took a nap. I used this time to dig through my drawers to find my prosthetic socks. I am now keeping some by the door and bed. I was lucky that nobody was hurt. I am also very lucky that my prosthetic wasn't damaged. Despite the hassle, I am now vowing to wear a sock when I feel like I might not have a great seal on my leg. If I don't, I am worried that I'll need to put up a sign warning visitors of the possibility of flying legs!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Handicapped Parking

Yes, I do park in the handicapped parking spots when one is available. I have a valid handicapped tag through the DMV because of my amputation. Before Robby was born I didn't always utilize the spots, but now I do and I do not feel guilty about it.

I have learned through experience that my stump can become sore and my prosthetic can become painful almost instantly. My husband I were shopping in a store a few years ago when this occurred. I was walking through the aisles, happily looking at my coupons and sale circular. All of a sudden, I couldn't put any weight on my leg. The pain was paralyzing. I needed a lot of assistance to get to a bench and I waited while my crutches were retrieved from the car. The discomfort was so intense I started to cry.

I was lucky that day because I was not alone. Because of this experience I utilize the handicapped parking spots without guilt. I suppose I am always worried that I may not be able to easily walk out of the store, and I want to be prepared for the worse case scenario.

After I pull into a space and disembark from the car, I immediately feel the judgmental glares of onlookers who don't immediately see my prosthetic. I can feel the spectators visually dissecting me to determine if I am, indeed, disabled. When my prosthetic is visible the glare is almost immediately followed by a smile or approving nod.

When my prosthetic is not obvious, the glares shift into disapproving gawking. Many times my limp seems to be enough to reassure these handicapped parking police because they seem satisfied that I am "disabled enough" to use the spot. On occasion, but always when I am alone, I have been verbally confronted about my use of the handicapped spot.

I have been followed into a store, cornered and questioned about my handicapped parking. I have had individuals tell me that using the tag of somebody else is illegal and that I should be ashamed. The shame shifts quickly when I show them my leg!

I understand the frustration that arises when a car is parked in a handicapped spot without a tag. When somebody has a tag, it has to be assumed that the individual has some sort of disability that entitles them to use the spot. Not all disabilities are visually obvious. I am hoping that someday I will be able to go to the mall, pull into a handicapped spot and walk into the store without seeing onlookers play "guess the disability."

Monday, June 01, 2009

A not so amusing amusement park story...

Robby turned three this past Saturday. In honor of becoming a "big boy" we took him to a small amusement park. I am feeling a lot of pride because I think Scott and I have managed to execute the perfect birthday for our little boy. Unfortunately, last July we had the opposite experience at a different amusement park.

Last July we took Robby to Six Flags near Washington D.C.. Robby was two and was immediately mesmerized by his surroundings. And, much to our dismay, he loved the rides. Because he is still too young to ride alone, we were forced to endure the rising g-forces and the unbalanced equilibrium the rides tend to inflict on its passengers past the age of 30.

We waited in line for nearly 30 minutes for our turn on the log flume ride. If you've ever waited in a line with a toddler, you know that this was no easy task! After much anticipation, it was our turn to get onto the ride.

In an attempt to build excitement, I chatted with Robby about our upcoming ride as I took my seat. Robby was thrilled to finally be on the ride. We locked into our seats and waited to move. We felt a soft jerk and then the ride was stopped.

I looked up to see the slumping teenager approaching me. In a loud voice I was told that I needed to exit the ride. I asked "why" and was informed, "you need one arm and two legs to ride."

Immediately I became furious and my frustrations only rose with each fidget of my excited little boy. I asked them to show me where this rule was posted. The teenager informed me that it wasn't posted, but that it was a "park rule." Instantly, I began to rationalize that I had two legs, but only one foot. I then tried to reason that my prosthetic was a leg the only difference being the ability to remove it.

Finally! I thought I had made some headway with the obstinate teenager. He walked back to the stool to consult with his coworker. I saw them talking back and forth for several minutes. Collectively they decided that the foot was the same as the leg and therefore I needed to get off the ride.

I was stumped. I had never run into this situation. I did not want to exit the ride but the increasing stares from onlookers who were waiting in line became nearly unbearable. I took Robby, who was hysterical, and walked off the ride. I felt humiliated.

Fuming but calm, I proceeded to guest services for clarification. I received perplexed expressions when I informed the representatives about the "one arm two leg rule." I asked them to contact their employees at the log flume ride to tell them that no such rule existed. Instead of being remorseful about the encounter and accommodating about my request, they handed me a park handbook and suggested I return to the ride to educate the employees.

Flabbergasted, I tried to explain that educating the employees was not my responsibility. I was asked if I wanted to file a formal complaint. This was the first and only time I have taken such an action. My husband entertained Robby while I filled out the paperwork and wrote my detailed account. After nearly 45 minutes, I emerged from the Guest Services trailer frustrated and angrier than when I arrived.

As I wrote in a previous posts, my anxiety starts to rise as the impeding visit to an amusement park looms. I am thrilled that Saturday went off without any conflicts or drama and that we had a wonderful time. I left feeling tired but happy.

Last July, as I was walking out of the gates of Six Flags, I felt beaten down and disabled. My son was disappointed because my amputation kept us off a ride. I felt like a failure. Worse than that, I felt like a disabled failure. To date, I have yet to hear from a representative of Six Flags.