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, July 10, 2009

A Quick Update..

First of all, I woke up this morning uncomfortable and itchy. One look and I realized that there is no such thing as a "free" berry. In my zeal to score free fruit, I apparently came in contact with poison ivy. On the positive side, I only have the rash on one ankle.
I also realized today that I have the best "schloog" in the world. A "schloog" is a term used to describe the drunk people cheering, wearing costumes, carrying signs and running beside the cyclists on the side of the mountain. My little schloog wasn't drunk, but he was hitting the milk bottle pretty hard and looked adorable decked out in his monkey pajamas. He was frantically cheering "go Mama go go go" and running in circles. I really don't think I could find better motivation.

<-----Suffering up the mountains.

The view from my bike.----------->

My Lucky Day!

I never thought I would hear myself mutter the words "I'm really lucky I'm an amputee." I surprised myself with these words, but I am happy that I am finally at a place where I can appreciate the little blessings.

I was grocery shopping this afternoon with Robby and Scott. My husband is an anomoly because he loves grocery shopping. On more than one occasion I have sent him to the store to pick up milk, and he returned an hour and a half later with a car full of grocery "bargains." He loves wandering through the aisles, searching through the dented boxes and cans for deals. He gets more excited when he finds a bargain on expiring meat than he did when I agreed to marry him.

Robby is Scott's polar opposite in the grocery store. He hates the entire process. He has lost his "bus cart" privileges until he is 30, which means he has to ride in the front of the cart. This gets him mad. I try to push the cart through the center of the aisles to thwart his attempt to "help" me shop.

Today, as I was trying to pick up cans of tomatoes, Robby was reaching to find his own canned "treasures" to throw into the cart. I don't use "throw" as a euphamism. He was, indeed, throwing the cans. Before I could react, a large can of beans landed directly onto my prosthetic foot. In unison, Scott and I both commented that I was lucky the can hit my prosthetic because it would have really hurt.

Knowing that Robby's tolerance was thinning, we checked out. After a much needed nap (for me, not as much for Robby) we got ready to go to the park. I remembered seeing blackberries starting to ripen, so I had Robby grab his dinosaur bucket.

Robby was very excited to pick blackberries. He eagerly pointed out the berries that were ripe. Unfortunately, blackberries grow on vines with a lot of thorns. The majority of the blackberries seemed to be located on the other side of the vines, necessitating me to walk through the interwoven, sharp plants to reach the prized fruit.

Good thing I have a prosthetic leg! I was able to trample down the brush and the vines with my prosthetic, and I never felt a scratch. We have a bucket full of ripe, sweet blackberries and I emerged from the picking excursion without a nick or scratch.

I have concluded that today, I am indeed lucky to have an amputation. Had it not been for my prosthetic, tonight I would be nursing a broken foot. I would have neosporin covering numerous cuts on my leg from the blackberry vines. Instead, I am enjoying a bowl of free berries and writing a blog.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

I am Dreaming of Yellow.

The Tour de France dominates my July! I started watching The Tour in 2003 as I was recovering from my amputation. To be honest, I wasn't thrilled when the television was turned from Little House on the Prairie to a bunch of thin men in tights pedaling around France. I assumed that the television remote had been commandeered. I was in a lot of pain, and I was inmobile. I was a "captive audience."

I knew of Lance Armstrong. Being a cancer survivor, I was well aware of his struggle against the disease. I knew little of his cycling career other than he had one and was apparently pretty good.

That summer, as I was lying on the pull-out sofa recovering, I became transfixed. I quickly learned the intricacies of the sport. Team work, self-sacrifice, weather, endurance and machine all mingled to create a three-week race unlike any other in the world.

As I learned more about cycling, I became more informed about Lance Armstrong's story. He has accomplished more than merely survive a disease. By most accounts he should not be alive. The fact that he was pedaling over 100 miles a day, in heat and rain, and up some of the world's tallest mountains truly defied the confines of human nature.

He emerged from his disease stronger and more determined. The cancer angered him, and he fought not only to regain his life, but to surpass his own ambitions prior to the diagnosis. I felt a kinship. Lance overcame his cancer and thrived. I knew that I needed to overcome my amputation. Eventually, I would figure out a way to thrive.

When things became difficult during my recovery, I thought of Lance. I envisioned him on a stationary bike, weakened from chemotherapy but strengthened through his resolve to regain his career. On some level, I knew that if he could succeed, I could as well. I pushed through the pain and through the clouds of depression. "Bring it on" and "Livestrong" became my mantras.

Lance not only won that Tour, but also won a record seven. Many people do not realize the monumental feat he has achieved. Even sportscasters tend to minimize his accomplishment and joke about the sport of cycling.

I am riding the Tour this year with Lance. Every morning, I put on my cycling shorts and Livestrong shirt. I fill up my backpack with water, and I climb onto my bike. I set my trainer to approximate the terrain of the Tour for that day, and I ride.

Today cyclists in the peloton rode over 121 miles. I rode over 40. Robby loves to cheer me on, and his chants of "go Momma go" keep me motivated. When I first started watching the Tour, I was beaten down and I couldn't walk. Now I am running after a toddler and riding my own bike. I look back and I realize that I have exceeded my expectations for a happy life after an amputation. I may never wear the coveted yellow jersey, but I feel like a winner.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

My Little Helper...

Robby is at the "independent, I can do it myself" stage. To be honest, many times it would be a lot easier and faster without his "help" but I know that this is an important developmental stage, and I do not want to discourage him.

From "helping" with the laundry to "sweeping" the floor in the kitchen, Robby is always eager to lend a hand. Today Scott was replacing the hallway light, and Robby was by his side, holding the flashlight and bringing him tools. Unfortunately, Robby became distracted by the beam from the flashlight. He ended up shining the light on his hand and up my nose instead of on the ceiling. He also delivered more tools than the ledge on the ladder could accommodate.

Robby doesn't like to help out just at home. I went to see my prosthetist yesterday, and my little guy was eager to help with Mommy's ankle adjustment. He was curious about the "buttons of mystery" on the front of my prosthetic that he has been banned from touching. He became excited when the buttons beeped and was anxious to try to press the buttons himself.

My prosthetist showed him how to press the buttons on my Proprio ankle. He also showed Robby how to insert the wrench into the screws at the bottom of my socket. My Little Helper was taught how to turn the wrench until it moved. He was thrilled to be so helpful! Because he was such a good assistant, Robby was given a wrench of his own to take home.

The sun was shining and bright today. It was hot and I was anxious for some summertime fun. I set up the sprinkler, donned my water leg and took Robby out to play. We had a blast.

After we came inside and got changed, I put on cartoons and went out to the kitchen to start dinner. After about 30 minutes I realized that my "helper" had not visited me, and my house was eerily quiet. I had a sense of foreboding when I looked down and realized that I was still wearing my water leg.

I found Robby, sitting next to my leg, with his prized wrench in hand. He managed to disconnect and remove the battery. Because of my prosthetist's wonderful instruction, Robby was able to remove the screws that keep my ankle in place. He was extremely proud of his accomplishment. He looked at me, smiled and said, "Momma, Robby help fix leg."

I bribed the wrench out of his hand with the promise of an ice cream cone with sprinkles. I was able to reattach the ankle to the socket, and the battery has been reconnected. Unfortunately, my alignment is off so I'll be making another visit to the prosthetist tomorrow. This time, I will leave "the helper" at home.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

What Should You Say to an Amputee? Or not say...

There is an etiquette, many times left unspoken, when dealing with an amputee. Many of the "rules" are driven by common sense and basic manners. Unfortunately, I frequently encounter individuals who unknowingly commit a manner faux pas. In most instances, the offender is unaware of the breach. Although it varies according to the tolerances of the individual amputee, I wanted to share my personal list of etiquette "rules."

1. Yes, my name is Peggy. Please refrain from calling me Peg Leg Peg. I may use this nickname for myself, but I don't find it humorous when called out by others. Along this line, don't refer to me as "Hop Along," "Gimpy" or any other term considered endearing for an amputee.

2. I may, at times, make fun of my amputation. A tight knit circle of friends and family have earned the right to joke about my disability. As a general rule, if you question whether or not you have a relationship appropriate for such jokes with an amputee, err on the side of caution and refrain.

3. If my prosthetic should fall off, it is okay to laugh with me. I do not think it is okay to laugh at me. I know that it can be humorous, but please remember that it is also embarrassing for the amputee.

4. Many people do not understand that a residual limb becomes a private, personal part of an amputee's body. In many ways, it becomes as personal as the genitals. I don't mind showing somebody my stump covered with my liner, but I shy away from displaying my uncovered limb.

Do not ask to see somebody's stump. Do not try to "catch a glimps" when the amputee is not looking. Do not take a picture of an amputee without his or her knowledge, especially if the individual usually wears a prosthetic and is not using the device at the moment.

5. It is okay to inquire about the circumstances surrounding the amputation. Rely upon both verbal and non-verbal cues before soliciting more details. Sometimes I feel comfortable sharing specifics of my story, and sometimes I do not. Please try to be respectful because the amputee may not be ready or comfortable sharing all of the details.

6. I am never offended when a child asks about my prosthetic. I am happy explain my amputation and my prosthetic to any youngster who asks. I would rather a child simply ask and learn versus whisper and hide from me.

Along this line, sometimes children ask inappropriate questions. I do my best to respond to their inquiries, but parental guidance is always appreciated. Sometimes children will want to discuss all of the gory details at a time when I need to focus on something else.

7. My amputation has not made me oblivious to the medical struggles and the pain of others. I know that sometimes people don't want to complain to me because they view their pain "trivial" compared to my amputation. Pain is not a competition. I don't minimize somebody else's pain through comparison. I can relate, and I am happy to be a sounding board.

8. I know that I have a limp. Its severity varies depending upon a variety of factors, including but not limited to shoes, socket fit and pain. Unless asked, don't comment on my limp. It makes the amputee feel self-conscious and insecure.

9. I am continually astounded by the number of individuals who feel comfortable approaching me to voice their opinions concerning my disability. I had a woman at the grocery store tell me, in no uncertain terms, that I was not going to go to heaven because I was an amputee. I have been approached by salespeople hawking magnets and oils. I have been told that I was a sinner who was being punished by God. All of these encounters have left me unsettled and upset.

10. Yes, I have a handicapped parking placard. Yes, it is convenient, especially at malls and amusement parks. No, I am not "lucky." I would gladly give up my priority parking tag for my leg. It was not a fair trade.

Every amputee has a different set of etiquette standards. When in doubt, err on the side of caution and simply ask. I am never offended by questions brought about out of concern and with sincerity.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Slip n' Slide fun?

I strive to be a fun Mommy. This isn't to say that I don't discipline Robby, because I do. Sometimes I think the only words he hears during the day are "no," "stop it" or "put it down."

After Robby was born, I resolved to be the kind of parent that plays with her child instead of being content to sit back and watch. I do this partly because I want to show him that I am not limited by my amputation. I try to demonstrate that a disability does not have to be a limiting force in life.

Robby and his three cousins were ecstatic when they saw the Slip n' Slide set up at the Fourth of July picnic. In spite of their excitement, none of them quite knew how to use it. With no adults volunteering, I decided to take action. Strutting my cool Mom attitude, I put on my bathing suit and assumed the challenge of "Slip n' Slide Instructor."

As I stood in front of the slide, wearing my swimsuit and water leg, I realized that I have never been on a Slip n' Slide. Undeterred by my own inexperience and feeling pressure to succeed from my growing audience, I quickly analyzed the situation in an attempt to determine the best approach.

I instantly reasoned that I was missing the natural grace required for the belly flop style approach. Running and flying through the air onto a thin sheet of wet plastic just isn't my style. Besides, I was pretty sure that any combination of running and flying would quickly land me in the hospital. Instead, I opted to lie down on the very small, child-sized boogie board that was included in the package and to push myself down the slide.

Lying on the boogie board, and with a captive audience of both children and adults, I pushed with my arms to start the descent. I didn't move. I pushed harder. The boogie board stayed put, but my body went whizzing down the hill and into the splash pool at the bottom of the slide. Cold water splashed my face and grass went up my nose. The children cheered and the adults were laughing as I struggled to my feet.

I discovered that I needed to keep my prosthetic leg elevated throughout the ride to avoid snagging the plastic. Standing up after the slide was an exercise in acrobatics. My water leg is great in the pool but is not designed for walking and standing in the grass.

The kids needed the Slip n' Slide modeled only once before they caught on. Unfortunately for me, they preferred sitting on my back and using me as the boogie board versus the small plastic one included in the package. This meant that I was going down the slide a lot! This also meant that I was using my arms to push off countless times, and endured numerous splashes of water in my face as I plunged, face first, into the pool at the bottom of the slide.

Many times the pool stopped my momentum. Unfortunately, most of the time I continued through the pool and onto the grass. I had mud, grass and, much to my chagrin, I am fairly confident that I also had dog poop all over my chin and chest by the end of the afternoon. With each painful and tiring ride, the kids cheered and chanted "more more more." My ego kept me from stopping because the cool Mom never stops when the fun is in full swing.

Finally the Slip n' Slide was interrupted by the call for dessert. Cake trumps games every time. I was thankful for the reprieve. I quietly disconnected the slide and limped into the house. The rest of the afternoon was filled with Wiggles DVD's with an unlimited supply of Lucky Charm marshmallows.

I woke up this morning, very sore. My residual limb hurts and my thigh is aching from holding up my water leg during my numerous rides. Bruises cover just about every part of my body. My arms feel like they each weigh 100 pounds. I feel old.

I had a revelation as I was struggling to open the Tylenol bottle. I am a 35 year old woman with one leg. After a certain age, Slip n' Slides become a conduit for injury and pain. I am still going to attempt to be the cool, fun Mommy. I just need to make sure I always have the Tylenol within reach the next morning.