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 26, 2009

Ready, Set, Ride!

I woke up yesterday morning resolved to overcome my fear of riding the bicycle. I told my family and friends my plans. I wrote about it on my blog. I made my resolution public because I wanted the avoid the possibility of giving up and not trying. If I didn't attempt to conquer my fear, I knew that I was going to have to write about my failure in my blog, or lie and tell everybody that I was successful. I vowed to never lie in my blog so I knew lying was not a viable option.

As the day went on, my nerves started to increase. Logically I knew that I had built up the fear to a paralyzing level. I also knew that it was something that I needed to accomplish for myself.

My Mom called several times to see if I had ridden yet. My mother-in-law asked if I was successful. My sister called to tell me that she was proud of me. These calls all occurred before I even attempted to ride. I knew with all of the support I received, I had no choice but to try.

Scott disconnected my bike from the trainer stand. He pumped the tires with air and found my helmet. In the meantime, I went through my purse and found my medical insurance card. I put $20 in my pocket for the hospital co-pay. I called my Mom for a last minute pep talk, and I went outside.

Robby was eager to get on his bicycle next to Mommy. Seeing him standing next to me, wearing his helmet and a huge smile, provided me with the motivation I needed. I looked into that sweet little face, and I knew I had to try. He was so excited to go on a bike ride with Mommy; I just couldn't let him down.

After last minute jitters and some anxious moments as I tried to adjust myself on the bicycle, I started to pedal. To say I was cautious would be an understatement. Scared stiff would be a more apt description. I rode to the end of the driveway, but I felt like I had just won a stage in the Tour de France.

I rode in the driveway with Robby for a few minutes. Then I knew it was time for the next step. Riding my bike in the driveway was one thing, but riding on the neighborhood roads would be another challenge.

Scott and Robby got into the "team car" and drove behind me as I cruised through the neighborhood. It was invigorating feeling the breeze through my hair as I rode. Turns and corners still cause me anxiety but I'm sure that will subside with time.

I am proud to report that I overcame my fear by riding my bicycle outside. I am going to continue riding my bike through the neighborhood. I'm sure that I will still be nervous, but I won't be terrified. I know that the fear will lessen with each ride until it is a memory. However, I will continue to keep my insurance card and co-pay in my pocket.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

My Confession.

I have a confession, something that I have confided only to close family. It is a fear that has kept me back and has caused me to avoid participating in the activities I love. Since my amputation, I have developed a paralyzing, irrational fear of falling off a bicycle.

I have always loved to ride my bike. I have fond memories of the carefree rides I took as a little girl, with my hair in pigtails listening to "Leader of the Pack" on the cassette player I had positioned in my white plastic basket with pink daisies. I never had a fear of falling although I did take my share of spills.

My fear is silly when I look at it logically. Currently I am riding my Trek bike positioned onto a Tacx indoor trainer. The trainer simulates the terrain to provide the most realistic experience. I have no problem getting onto and off my bike, nor have I become unstable. The bike is, however, on a stand. When I first started training after the amputation, I was only able to ride for only 15 minutes. Now I am able to ride 35 miles a session, with an average speed of 22 mph. Not too shabby!

I know that I have the strength to ride. I am also fairly confident in my ability to maintain my balance. My fear? I am afraid that, should the bike become unstable, I would put down my prosthetic leg to steady. I am fearful that the prosthetic will slip off, causing me to lose my balance and fall. I also worry about falling hard onto my prosthetic side, resulting in cuts or breaks in my residual limb.

I am frustrated because I have been successful conquering numerous fears. I am able to walk, run, skip and jump with my prosthetic leg. I am very proud that I am now doing things with my prosthetic that I never dreamed about doing when I had both limbs. The fear of falling off my bike is paralyzing, and it gets me angry.

I had the opportunity last year to participate in a bike ride with Floyd Landis, the Tour de France winner 3 years ago. I love professional cycling and he is a hero of mine. Riding with him would have been a dream. I am ashamed to admit it, but I just couldn't get over my fear.

It is time for me to face the bicycle outside. Logically, I know that I have all the prerequisite skills and that I will be okay. I know that if I do fall, I will probably sustain only a few bumps and bruises. I've certainly endured more than that! I know that I can do this.

Scott is going to take the bicycle off the trainer today. I am going to put on my helmet, take a deep breath and pedal. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My toddler's liquor bill.

Robby has become a grumpy shopper. I find this not only an inconvenience, but also sad because I enjoy shopping. He has become particularly bad in the grocery store. So bad, in fact, that we have learned to develop an attack plan for our shopping.

As soon as we park the car, Scott and I separate into our assigned roles. He removes Robby from the car seat and walks with him into the store. I walk ahead of them, scouting out the carts. Any Mom will agree that the car cart is the coveted cart at the grocery store. If we are lucky enough to nab a car cart, I am able to breathe a sigh of relief. The probability of a successful shopping excursion just increased exponentially.

The other day Scott went for a haircut, and I took Robby to the neighboring grocery store to pick up a few items. Robby absolutely hates the barber and screams from the moment that he enters until he leaves. I decided it was best to spare the other customers my son's behavior.

Seeing a car cart, Robby went running. He hopped into the car and immediately started honking the horn. He was happy. I was happy because I was able to get some groceries. Scott was happy because he was getting a haircut in peace.

Unfortunately, the tranquil moment was fleeting. In retrospect, I think that Robby was planning his escape from the moment we entered the store. He was merely using the horn as a guise for his master plan.

When I turned to weigh the bananas, Robby took the opportunity to jump out of the cart. He took off running and laughing. I grabbed my purse, left the cart and pursued my child. He was fast!

I cornered him at an aisle end cap promoting a local wine. He grabbed a bottle and held it out. I told him in my sternest Mommy voice to put it down immediately. He threw the bottle down, about 3 feet away from him. Red wine splashed everywhere.

The horrified look on my face must have let my child know he was in trouble, because he grabbed another two bottles and ran. At this point, everybody in the store was watching. I imagine the average shopper wasn't expecting to see a one legged woman chasing a toddler carrying wine.

I suppose he was trying to gain more speed, because Robby off loaded the wine while running. Yes, another two bottles were smashed. I finally caught him. I held him, wiggling and screaming under my arm as I paid the manager for the three bottles of wine my little cherub destroyed. I guess I should be grateful that he likes cheap wine.

Robby has since been banned from the car carts unless they have a strap. Scott and I have found a new grocery store where we can do our shopping. We also found it ironic that our toddler's liquor bill was higher than ours for the month!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Summer is officially here.

For most people, Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer. If you are a teacher or, like me, you are married to a teacher, you know that summer doesn't really start until school is over for the year. Tomorrow is Scott's last day of school and the first day of "our" summer vacation.

I am looking forward to his summer vacation, although I admit it does require a week or two of adjustment. Robby and I have carved out a comfortable schedule. Although it is wonderful having him home, Daddy's presence tends to disrupt the schedule.

For one thing, Robby absolutely refuses to take a nap when his Daddy is home. I suppose he takes it as his personal mission to entertain his Daddy, a job that he takes very seriously. This makes for a very cranky little boy by midafternoon.

I am in the process of trying to wean Robby from using his pacifier. He is now three and simply too old. Robby no longer asks me for the pacifier during the day. He has learned that I won't give it to him. He has also learned that his Daddy will, and it is one of the first things he requests when Scott comes home from work. It has become a family joke, because Daddy is going to have a harder time than Robby in giving up the pacifier! Hopefully we will be able to reach an understanding before the end of the summer, or Robby and I will have a major battle come fall.

I completely understand that summer vacation is meant to be spent relaxing. I have learned, however, that there is no such thing as a vacation when you become a Mommy. Although I do like having Scott home with us during the day, his presence translates into more work for me.

For instance, instead of preparing lunch for just Robby and me, now I will need to make lunch for Scott as well. There are more dishes to be washed because he is home during more meals. There is more clutter to be put away because he has more time to scatter things throughout the house. Basically, it is just more work for me during the summer.

I don't want to insinuate that Scott doesn't do anything during the summer because that would be untrue. Robby loves having his Daddy home with him during the day. I enjoy his being home as well, most of the time. I am wondering, however, when do I get my vacation?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Why do we need to compete?

I have been debating whether or not to write about the following topic. I have discussed it with some friends and family but I still couldn't make a decision. An experience Friday morning solidified my need to bring up this relatively taboo topic.

I was entering my prosthetist's office and ran into an above knee amputee who was leaving. Unsolicited, he looked at me and said, "I wish I was a bk (below knee). You get all the cool stuff." Then he said, "I don't even know why you bother to call yourself an amputee, you have it so easy." He then jokingly laughed as I stood still, stunned. Keep in mind that all of this was said without any pleasantries being exchanged.

Now I completely understand that ak (above knee) amputees have a unique and difficult set of struggles with which I cannot even begin to relate. I don't pretend to know what it is like to be an ak. Nor do I know about the unique yet equally difficult struggles of arm amputees.

Why is there such competition among the amputee community concerning struggles and obstacles? I am not the only amputee who has noticed and been bothered by the animosity displayed by other amputees towards individuals whose amputations are deemed lower on the "struggle totem pole."

When I first lost my leg, I thought there would be an unspoken understanding and a sense of empathy among all members of the amputee community. After all, the opportunity to interact with others who truly understand the loss of a limb is rare. When I do see another amputee, I certainly don't want to engage in the "I have it worse than you have it" game.

Before I became a Mommy, I was a teacher for the blind. I know that a similar and unspoken hierarchy exists within the visually impaired community. Those who were born totally blind are at the "top," and are deemed to have it worse. That is followed by those lost their vision later in life. Individuals who have partial vision, although recognized as blind by the rest of the world, are many times not accepted into the blind community. The pecking order is clear.

My point is this: The amputee community is small. As amputees, we all face obstacles and struggles which are not encountered by our friends and family members who do not have a limb loss. Why do we then need to further divide and isolate ourselves into subgroups? The answer appears to lie in human nature.

It would be wonderful if, as amputees, we could just support each other. Instead we are dividing ourselves into a class system based on disability level. Maybe, if we are more aware of the prejudices we inflict, we can begin to erase this class system. After all, nobody wins when we discriminate against each other!.