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, June 19, 2009

One Last Feeling...

I try to not spend a lot of time on wishes and "what if" questions. I become depressed if I dwell on what has been lost or what can never become a reality. Every once in awhile I can't help but reflect on "what ifs" in my life. This morning I was thinking, if I could have my foot back for just one day,what would I do?

Perhaps it is the warm weather or watching Robby running around outside, carefree and happy. In any case, it didn't take me long to decide what I would do if I had my foot again. I would spend the day walking on the grass barefoot.

In the summertime as a child, I rarely wore shoes outside. I'm sure that I left rings around the bathtub each night because of my blackened feet. To me, the feeling of the earth under my feet reminds me of childhood. A stress free time when deciding what game to play or what flavor ice cream I wanted was the most taxing decision of the day.

Before my surgery, I tried to memorize the sensations coming from my foot. I was in a lot of pain, so this was difficult. I wanted to freeze time. I tried to soak in every feeling so that I would always remember what it felt like to have two feet.

As my surgery approached, I made an increasing effort to capture each moment. It almost became an obsession. I remember lying in the bathtub the night before my amputation trying to memorize the feeling of my foot in the water.

I guess one cannot commit a feeling to memory. I can't remember normal sensations from my amputated leg. I no longer remember what walking barefoot with both feet feels like. This makes me sad.

My dream is that someday a prosthetic will be developed that allows me to feel these ordinary sensations. It would be wonderful to put on a foot that allowed me to feel the cool soil, warm sand or the hot asphalt. They are making huge strides with prosthetic development, but I'm sure that incorporating these sensations is not yet a priority. Perhaps, one day, it will become a reality.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Support groups

My mom and I were talking the other day about my dream of writing a book someday. She knows that I have been thoroughly enjoying writing my blog because I have received e-mails from wonderful people all around the world who can relate to my stories.

We were talking about the transformation in my life after I became an amputee. Sometimes, being an amputee can be an isolating experience. I am writing my blog to let people know that they are not alone in their journey.

She then proposed an interesting question. "Why, if I often felt isolated after my amputation, did I not attend more support group meetings?" This question took me off guard. It took some reflection for me to realize the answer.

I did extensive research before my amputation. I spoke with doctors, prosthetists, and other amputees. I was invited to and attended a local support group meeting for amputees. I remain thankful for the invitation and the knowledge that I obtained through meeting with these people.

At the support group meeting I learned a lot about the "physical implications" of an amputation. I learned about the necessary accommodations at home that would make my life easier. I learned about prosthetics and their limitations.

This is a difficult blog because I do not want to offend anybody. I know that support groups can be and are an integral part of the healing process for many amputees. I know that my experience is not indicative of all support groups and that many foster a caring and loving environment for growth and personal acceptance. Unfortunately, this was not my experience.

I left the meeting armed with a lot of knowledge. I also left feeling scared and discouraged. All of the group members spoke about their need for pain medication. The members of this group spoke against using prosthetics. Many spoke about hating their bodies. I was shocked that none of them was employed. I was even told how to apply for disability so that I "didn't have to work anymore." These individuals had been amputees for over five years, yet their emotions seemed raw.

This was not the amputee role model I desired. I wanted to be able to move beyond the amputation. These individuals seemed to be living and struggling in a cloud of anger and depression. I didn't want to meet once a month to complain and to commiserate. I knew I wanted more.

Because of this experience, I never bothered reaching out to another support group. In retrospect, I should have visited more than one group in order to find one that was the right "fit" for me. I did not do this.

I suppose my negative experience with the support group led to my writing this blog. I want to let people know that they are not alone. I have been an amputee for five years, yet I still have the occasional "I hate my stump" day. I will allow myself to feel the emotions. I would not be true to myself if I denied them. However, I recognize that the negativity is fleeting that I cannot let it be a constant presence in my life.

So, Mom, I hope that I have been able to answer your question. I hope that I have not offended anybody by writing this post. I do believe it is a topic that is taboo and needs to be discussed. If you have an opinion that you would like to share about this topic or about any topic broached, please feel free to post on my forum at www.amputeemommy.com

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Poor Little Kitty...

I have been a Kitty Mommy longer than I have been Robby's Mom. Sophie, my persnickety little cat, is almost 13 years old. She was a mature cat when Robby was born and her little life has been in an upheaval ever since he began to walk.

Robby loves Sophie. I love Sophie. Sophie tolerates Robby. She is still mad at me for bringing this little boy into her life. She used to sleep on me at night. She now sleeps on Scott. This is partly because she is annoyed with me, and partially because of my "cricket leg."

Several times a week, my leg will kick rapidly at night. I cannot control the movement. It is also uncomfortable because it feels like my stump is being stung. Sometimes I am able to sleep through the movement but, unfortunately, my husband and the cat rarely do.

I feel bad for Sophie. All of a sudden she is woken because my leg is kicking her. She is chased all day by Robby, and he thinks her toys are better than his! And, on more occasions then I would prefer to admit to, her paws and tail have been stepped on by my prosthetic.

Scrambling around, trying to clean up or chase after Robby, I am stopped dead in my tracks by the horrible high pitched squeal of my kitty in pain. It takes me a split second to process that the noise is the cat and that I am stepping on her. Because of the prosthetic, I am missing the normal kinesthetic feedback through my foot to let me know that I am stepping on her. I am forced to rely on her scream.

I feel horrible after I step on her because I am sure it is quite painful. She often runs away and starts licking whatever appendage I happened to step on. After an hour or two Sophie will reemerge to her normal stalking grounds.

Not that my amputation hasn't benefited Sophie, because it has. She spent an entire summer in bed, lying next to me and on my lap while I recovered. I am pretty sure that she is the only family member that enjoys my revision surgeries (more lap time).

I knew that the amputation would have an impact my life and the lives of people close to me. I never realized how it would affect a pet. Between my "cricket leg" and being stomped by my prosthetic, Sophie's life has been impacted greatly by my amputation. A pet's love must be the definition of "unconditional" because she doesn't complain. Like everybody in the family, Sophie has learned to adjust to life with an amputee.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Enough with the muffin top!

There is one item that trumps my hatred for shoe shopping. Luckily it only needs to be done once a year. My anxiety begins to rise weeks before the actual event. This past weekend I finally gathered my nerve and set out on my mission. I needed to find a new swimsuit.

Looking at the women who were rustling through the racks of the skin bearing apparel, it was easy to determine that this was not a happy section of the store. I felt a camaraderie with these women, as we frantically searched for the perfect tight fitting, figure flattering, age defying, cellulite reducing garment that would transform the middle aged Mom into a fabulous beach bunny.

I have all of the insecurities of most women. I have a curvy figure which, over time, I am learning to embrace. My bottom has cellulite. I bought cellulite reducing cream a few weeks ago. I quickly realized I was going to need to invest a lot of money in cream to keep covering this area twice a day.

I have lost over 100 pounds, leaving me with some strange "flabby" areas. Despite riding the bicycle over 30 miles a day, my legs continue to jiggle. And, as if the swimsuit gods didn't curse me enough, I have one leg.

Despite being adjusted to life as an amputee, I continue to have body image issues. I don't relish looking into full length mirrors, but I don't get as upset as I had in the past. I have learned to "dress for my prosthetic." Typically I wear shorts or skirts that go fall to the top of the knee to disguise the top of my prosthetic. Unfortunately, camouflaging is impossible in a swimsuit!

I was disappointed this year because I couldn't find anybody brave enough to embark on the swimsuit shopping journey with me. I was forced to face the racks of swimsuit pieces and the full length mirrored dressing rooms by myself. I took a deep breath, hummed "I am Woman" softly and began.

Because I have lost weight since last summer, I started by determining my swimsuit size. I grabbed several pieces, in various sizes, and went into the dressing room. I tried to avoid looking in the mirrors while naked. I peaked. Wow! When did my body start to jiggle like that?

Trying to keep a straight upper lip, I shook off my revulsion and blamed the lighting. It turns out that my top and my bottom are two very different sizes, so I decided that I needed to look for swimsuit separates. I am either too old or too self-conscious to wear a bikini, so I knew I needed to find the "tankini" type top. I very quickly realized the top was not going to be difficult. Finding the bottom piece was going to be the problem.

Much to my husbands dismay, I usually wear swim skirts. I'm sure that it doesn't disguise as much as I think it does, but I just feel more comfortable with a little more coverage. Unfortunately, the skirts become unflattering once I enter the water because they start to float around me. Because I spend a lot of time in the water with Robby, I was looking for a better solution.

I try to remind myself that I am probably not the only amputee with a "muffin" top thigh. The skin on my amputated leg hangs over the top of my prosthetic. I have come to the conclusion that it has very little to do with toning or exercise. I think it is just plain ugly. I didn't know about the "muffin top" thigh before my amputation, which is why I mention it here. If you have this issue, know that you are not alone!

I tried on several different styles, all of which were supposed to "flatter" the hip and thigh area. I shudder to think of what I would have looked like in styles not designed for minimizing! Not surprisingly, I was not able to find a bottom that minimized the "muffin top" leg. The more I tried various styles on, the more I became upset.

Trying to keep from tearing, I finally settled on a pair of sporty brown swim shorts and a colorful halter tankini. When I was checking out, the clerk asked me if I found everything okay. I said no. I told her that I was looking for a swimsuit that took off 15 years, toned my thighs and hips, kept my bumpy butt from jiggling and made my prosthetic and muffin top thigh seem "natural."

The clerk giggled and handed me my change. Finished with my task, I felt victorious because I was able to find a swimsuit. I didn't have to face the mirrors, the lighting and the challenge for at least another year. I left the store and headed straight to Cinnabon.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Yes, I have one of THOSE children...

Scott and I have made an effort to expose Robby to a variety of cultural experiences since his birth. We have been to the circus, numerous Wiggles Concerts, fairs and festivals. My five year old niece Tiffany had her end of the year dance recital on Saturday. I decided that it was the duty of a good Aunt to attend and rationalized that it would be a good "cultural experience" for Robby.

Robby, my Mom (his Nana) and I piled into the car and drove to the ballet recital. We griped about the tickets costing $15. That is a lot to watch a bunch of five year olds dance a bumblebee dance for three minutes. We also discussed the irony that Tiffany was a bumblebee considering my experience being Queen Bee earlier in the week.

My sister and Tiffany were busy backstage when we arrived. We met up with my brother-in-law with my two nephews, age three and two, in tow. They were planning to sit in the front of the auditorium. I opted, with my Mom, to sit in the back row. I needed an accessible escape route should Robby become restless.

The performance started, and Robby was mesmerized- for about 2 minutes. After the novelty of the environment wore off, he began to chatter. The more I reminded him to speak softly, the louder he became. We were drawing the attention of the other ballet patrons. I quickly realized that we were situated right next to the audiovisual recording equipment. I decided to move.

We moved into the back section of the auditorium where we were isolated. We could still see the stage but Robby could walk between seats without disturbing others. My Mom situated herself in the very last seat, in the very last row of the auditorium. I never had a chance to sit.

As I see it, Robby had two main advantages over me. He has two feet and he is small. He could move more quickly than I. He also has the ability to maneuver through very small obstacles and through small aisles. The deck was stacked against me.

Initially he was happy dancing in the back of the auditorium. Then he decided to start spinning. Then he combined spinning and running. I knew we were in trouble when he started to roll.

Loudly, Robby began running between the aisles, squealing "wheeee." He was having fun and, trust me, everybody in the auditorium knew it. I tried to catch him.

He was ducking between seats and through the aisles. My prosthetic kept kicking and getting caught on the auditorium chair legs. I was wearing my Proprio ankle, which is wonderful for everyday activities but is not meant to sustain a lot of impact activities. Running after a three year old is definitely an impact activity!

My receptors in the prosthetic couldn't respond quickly enough to keep up with my running, so my ankle movements were always a half a step behind. This was causing me to stumble and slowed my speed. I ran into the arm of a chair with my thigh. Robby was giggling with delight.

Robby's behavior continued to draw attention from the audience. It is no wander they were staring. He was screaming "wheee" as he was being pursued by a frustrated and angry one-legged limping Mommy. I looked to my Mom for help. She was laughing too hard to be of assistance.

Finally, I managed to grab him. Screaming, I carried him out of the auditorium. We spent the remainder of the dance recital in the lobby. Robby made a fort under the refreshment table and occupied himself pulling old gum off the bottom of the table. I was able to watch my favorite little bumblebee dance through a crack in the auditorium door.

Most of the time my husband and I are extremely proud of Robby's behavior in public. He is usually a very sweet little boy. Every once in awhile, he does something to remind us that, although he was born 5/30/06 his due date was really 06/06/06.

<-----The Cutest little Bee EVER! Robby, playing with the gum he found under his "fort."-------------------------->