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 17, 2009

Leg Transplant?

Yesterday I saw a news segment featuring the country's first double hand transplant recipient. I am astounded at the feats of medical technology. The man and his family seemed thrilled with the surgery as his surgeon spoke the normal, yet very true, medical risk "jargon." The segment got me to thinking, if I was offered the opportunity to receive a leg transplant, would I accept?

My first instinct is to say yes, I would love to receive a leg transplant. The thought of being able to walk without a prosthetic excites me. To be able to feel the ground and earth with a "real" foot, hot and cold and to not be considered disabled are all reasons for the surgery.

This was a fleeting thought though, because upon reflection I would have to say that I would not want the surgery. I know first hand the risks and medical complications caused by the anti-rejection medications that were vaguely alluded to by the surgeon on the news. For me, these health implications are not worth the trade of not having to wear a prosthetic.

My step-brother Christopher received a lung transplant. Although the transplant was successful and he was able to breathe freely for the first time in his life, the medications were both confining and disabling in their own right. He had to be vigilant of infection and rejection. He had a weakened immune system and relied upon an arsenal of medication to stay healthy. He has since passed away. Although the transplant was deemed successful, I have no doubt that the medications he depended upon contributed to his untimely death.

Christopher had no choice but to receive his transplant. In my hypothetical question, I would have a choice. I would not need a leg transplant out of medical necessity but out of a desire to live without an amputation.

When I first had my amputation, I suspect I would have jumped at the opportunity to receive a leg transplant. I would have gladly assumed the risk of the anti-rejection regiment without much pause if I could walk with a "real" leg. I would have had the surgery out of fear of living as an amputee.

I learned that my amputation has changed my life but has not ended my life. I'm not sure you could have convinced me of this when I lost my leg. Living as an amputee for the past five years, I have learned to adjust.

For me, the transplant wouldn't be worth the risk of a lifetime of medication and further surgeries. I am functioning well as an amputee. I fear that the transplant would leave me with more issues. I don't have the luxury of time to recover and to participate in physical therapy. The risk of increased nerve damage, infection and subsequent surgeries just isn't worth the benefit at this stage in my life.

I have a little boy to take care of and he depends upon me. I am not at a stage where I can take a risk that could have significant, or even life shortening, consequences. Being able to take care of my family trumps my desire to have a "real" foot.

I can see how a limb transplant would be a choice made by some individuals. I am a below-knee amputee. I am low on the totem pole of amputee issues. Hand transplants would certainly be able to affect more positive change in somebody's life and may be worth the risks of medication. I cannot answer the "what if I lost a hand" question because I know I cannot begin to relate to the issues pertaining to that type of amputation.

It is wonderful that limb transplants are progressing and improving. Additional options that are becoming available can only benefit patients. Surgeons learn vast amounts about limbs through the transplant process. I am sure this knowledge is be applied towards saving and rehabilitating damaged limbs, thwarting the necessity for amputation. This is a good thing for everybody!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Yes, I Ran. Yes, I Fell.

I went to the running clinic yesterday. I was surprisingly nervous as Scott and I drove to our destination. In an attempt to ease my nerves, we joked about the luck that the clinic was in close vicinity to a hospital, should I break a bone. I was amazed at how comfortable and at ease I felt with the other participants once we started. They were "normal" amputees, not the super athletes I feared.

My gait was analyzed to help me minimize my limp. I don't think my limp is too noticeable, but I am self-conscious at times. I would like to be able to walk into a room wearing pants and have people not know that I am an amputee-- a tall order, but one that I think can be attained. I discovered that I don't move my shoulders when I swing my arms while walking. I am going to try to work on this so that my limp will disappear (hopefully).

I was nervous running. The instructor was patient and was able to break the act of running into simple steps. He walked me through the steps and, by the end, I was running! I was so excited. Scott was there to video the milestone. I also learned how to skip, although I am not graceful and it doesn't look as "effortless" as it does for children. Regardless, I can now skip with Robby.

Because we were progressing quickly, the instructor decided to work on some balance and strengthening drills. We were supposed to side step through the straight course. I didn't have a problem side stepping when I was leading with my sound side. I was nervous about leading with my prosthetic.

The instructor, standing in front of me, was moving so quickly and gracefully on his prosthetic. After hesitating, I took a deep breathe and started to move. I was doing it. I decided to try to speed up, in a vain attempt to keep up with the others. Prosthetic, good foot, prosthetic, good foot, prosthetic, oh shit! I fell hard onto the asphalt.

I was instantly embarrassed that I fell, but I tried to brush it off and continue. I finished side stepping with my prosthetic to the end of the course. My husband came over to see if I was okay. I had a road rash on my elbow which was bleeding, and my hand was sore from breaking the fall. I continued with the drills for the remainder of the day despite my broken skin and bruised ego.

It must have been the adrenaline from the situation, but I didn't feel a lot of pain right away. In fact, I impressed myself with my ability to brush it off, as if I was used to falling and that it was "no big deal." I thought that, just maybe, I was tougher than I realized.

On the drive home, my hand started to ache more. By the time I got home, my wrist was beginning to swell. I was having trouble moving my hand, and the pain was increasing. I decided to get it checked.

So, it turns out I went to a running clinic to learn how to move swiftly on my prosthetic, and I ended up breaking my wrist. I'm pretty bummed out. I'm also a little angry but not at anybody in particular because it really isn't anybody's fault. I think I'm just mad that it happened at all.

I try to be graceful and coordinated. It just doesn't seem to work out. I learned so much today about running and walking. I don't regret going and participating in the clinic. I just wish I was a bit swifter and a bit less clumsy.

So, to recap my week and my current physical state. Broken wrist and road rash from today. Public humiliation due to my streaking through the sporting goods store chasing Robby running with my clothes. Poison ivy on my ankle and in both armpits from the "free" berries I discovered at the park. Oh, and I failed to mention the free mandoline that I got, which promptly cut the tip of my pinky finger.

I now have a cast and I'm covered with Diego band-aids. I have used all of my Neosporin spray. Is the week over yet?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Amputees Run With A Paralympic Gold Medalist | WUSA9.com | Washington, DC |

Amputees Run With A Paralympic Gold Medalist | WUSA9.com | Washington, DC |

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Last Minute Nerves..

I really should not be this nervous going to the running clinic. After the fiasco of finding the perfect "cute" running outfit yesterday, I should be able to handle anything they throw at me today. My Mom is coming down to watch Robby, so Scott will be able to come and take pictures and videos.

Knowing that my natural grace and coordination will shine today, Scott gave me a gift this morning. I was touched that he knew that I was going to be nervous and planned ahead for a good luck gift. What a sweet husband I have.

What did he give me? A first aid kit.

Running Mommy!

My prosthetist phoned the other day with an intriguing invitation. He asked me if I would like to participate in a running clinic. With invitations few and far between these days, and never one to back down from a challenge, I eagerly accepted. Only after I hung up the phone did I realize the commitment I had made.

There are a few talents that I obviously do not possess. I love to sing, but I have absolutely no talent. Robby has started putting his hand over my mouth when I break into song with his cartoons or CDs. Running is another ability I am missing. I have the heart of an Olympic Champion. I have the grace and coordination of a recently beheaded chicken.

I was unable to run when I had two feet! It isn't that I didn't try to run, because I did. I played softball for years. Although I felt like I was going very fast, apparently I was not. I could hit the ball into the outfield and still get only a single.

My softball coach was concerned about my "unusual" running style. In his less than sophisticated style, he asked my mom if I was "deformed." Regardless of the instruction I received, my running style always remained the same. I put my head down, leaned foward and my legs kicked out to the side, frog fashion. I guess you could say I "waddled" very fast!

I have had a few occasions to run after my amputation. Usually they involved chasing after Robby through a store, park, airport terminal or doctor's office. I have always been successful catching him, but I think it has more to do with the advantage of arm reach versus running ability. All things being equal, Robby could take me in a full out sprint. This is an unfortunate fact I discovered as I was shopping for appropriate clothes for the running clinic.

I was told to wear running shorts and a comfortable shirt. The problem? I don't own a pair of running shorts, and pretty much all of my work-out t-shirts have stains and a lingering odor. An excuse to go shopping! I packed up Robby and headed to Dick's Sporting Goods.

Being a huge Lance Armstrong fan, I immediately set out to find "flattering" Livestrong clothes for the running clinic. I am already worried that I'll be the only slightly pudgy non-athlete in the group. I figured a new Livestrong ensemble would bolster my confidence regardless of the abilities of my fellow participants. It never hurts to look cute.

Because I don't own a pair of running shorts, I was unsure of the sizes. I searched through the store until I found a pair of running shorts that were not too short. This was not an easy task, and Robby was becoming restless. I grabbed the shorts and a shirt and Robby, who was antsy and loud, and went to the dressing room.

I tried on the shorts, and was happy that they fit. Robby was busying himself playing with tags on the floor. I tried on the shirt. Robby was talking to himself in the mirror. I knew that my "happy toddler" time was coming to an end. I took off the shirt and put it on the bench.

I took one last look at the shorts in the mirror, to make sure that my backside didn't look too "lumpy." During this time, Robby managed to grab my shirt and shorts, along with the shirt I tried on, and was commando crawling under the dressing room door.

He slipped out of the grasp I had on his ankle, and I heard him giggling as he took off through the busy store. I quickly looked in the dressing room for a shirt, but I was out of luck. Realizing I had no choice, I grabbed my purse and opened the door.

It must have been quite a sight for the other customers. A happy toddler was running through the store, laughing and carrying clothes. A one-legged woman in a bra and not so short running shorts, carrying a bright pink purse, in pursuit.

Robby is fast. In addition to having speed, he has the advantage of ducking around racks and fitting through small openings. He made it through the kids' section and halfway into the men's department before I caught him. I put on my shirt in the middle of the store, apologized for my child, bought the clothes and headed home. I am sure that the customers and clerks went home with great fodder for conversation.

Today I am going to a running clinic. I have no illusions that I will emerge from the clinic today as a "runner." I am hoping to increase my confidence and, hopefully, my speed. I am going to leave what is left of my pride at home, and try to learn a new skill. I am hoping that I will be able to keep up with my mischievious sprinter. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


I have noticed a disturbing trend. Basic manners seem to be declining in our society. The demise of courtesies was highlighted during a recent visit to a local restaurant.

Our little family rarely eats out anymore. In addition to being expensive, it is also quite an undertaking with a toddler. When we do eat out, leisurely meals with relaxing conversation have been replaced by the "eat quick and try to keep him quiet" approach. When I don't cook, we usually opt for take-out.

The other day it was really hot. I didn't want to heat up my kitchen, and we were out of gas for our grill. Robby was behaving well, so we thought it would be a good time to eat out. Unfortunately, we were not alone with this thought. The restaurant was packed when we arrived.

We gave our name to the hostess, and began the "wait and hope our name is called" game. Scanning the lobby revealed that no seats were available. The seats were filled with children and their parents. I am not referring to infants and toddlers, but to elementary through middle school aged kids--kids who were old enough to be standing.

I was disappointed, but not surprised, that none of the kids stood up to offer me his seat. This courtesy seems to be lost in today's world. I was more surprised that none of the parents who were accompanying the children stood up, or instructed their kids to stand. I was wearing shorts. My prosthetic was obvious.

It is not that I am unable to stand. However, these people didn't know that I was not uncomfortable. All they knew was that I was a woman with an amputation and a small child. There was a time when common courtesy would have prevailed.

I would like to think that I would have given up my seat when I was a child. More likely, I wouldn't have been allowed to take the seat in the first place. If, for some reason, I was aloof and didn't stand in a timely fashion, my parents definitely would have not so subtly instructed me. I would have then received a lengthy and pointed lecture on manners and respect. I would have only made that mistake once.

Perhaps children today are not displaying basic signs of respect and courtesy because these attributes are not being modeled by their parents. During a wagon ride at a recent visit to the animal park, an elderly man was looking for a seat. Again, nobody offered to slide closer to another rider in order to make room for this man.

I was astonished that nobody modeled the appropriate social behavior for their children. Instead, all of the passengers stayed seated. Many parents began to fidget and act busy. Others simply ignored the man. I was saddened.

I immediately slid over, put Robby closer to me, and invited him to sit. The grateful man took the seat. He was very nice, and chatted with Robby during the ride. I am glad that he sat next to us. Why was I the only person to make this accommodation?

Scott and I were finally able to enjoy a meal out. Although not as leisurely as pre-Robby, it was enjoyable and relaxing. Our conversation consisted of the lack of manners in people today and how we plan on instilling those values in our son.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Special Day...

Every few months, I like to declare an "Official Day of Robby." I'm not really sure how or why the tradition started. The only rules to the day are that Robby gets to pick activities that he enjoys, and no toys are bought. He never knows when a Special Day is going to occur, so it is always a surprise.

I guess it was because he slept in until almost 8:00, but Saturday morning I woke up and decided that it would be a good day for a Special Day. Because it was his Special Day, I let Robby pick out our outfits for the day. He chose his orange shirt with Cookie Monster and he put me in a bright yellow babydoll style shirt. All dressed and fed, we were ready for our adventure to begin.

I packed him up to go to his favorite place, the local petting zoo. He absolutely loves going to the animal park. We've been season pass holders since he was born, and it is the best investment we make every summer.

When we entered the park, Robby ran to the platform stage in the center of the park. He threw his hands into the air and yelled, "Hello Amanils." Usual to his routine, he then walked over and gave his cone of food to the baby goat. He gets upset and shoos the other goats away when they approach the food. He will only give his cone to the baby goat.

After bidding hello to all of the animals individually, we proceeded to the Moon Bounce. The Bouncer is a new addition to the park this year. Until today Robby has been hesitant to enter. Feeling brave, he asked me to take off his shoes and cautiously crawled in.

He got about halfway into the Bouncer before fear set in. He pulled on my hand, wanting me to join him. Since it was his Special Day, I felt obligated.

I was in a quandary. I know that shoes need to be removed before entering the Bouncer. Did this also mean that I needed to remove my prosthetic? I reasoned that I should take off my leg. The reason shoes need to be removed is to prevent a puncture. Surely, I figured, the prosthetic would pose more of a puncture risk than shoes. Since we were the only two in the vicinity I didn't really think twice. Unfortunately, I failed to think of balance as an issue in a Bouncer. Big mistake!

I popped my leg off, and crawled into the bouncer. I stood up (on my one foot) and Robby stared at me. I told him to jump. He jumped. And jumped. And jumped. I jumped. And fell. And rolled. I landed in the crevice between the Bouncer and the netting wall.

I tried to crawl, but the bouncing kept pushing me back against the wall. I was being pushed further into the nook between the netting and the bouncer. I was stuck. Robby was laughing, and suddenly three other kids were in the Bouncer. All bouncing in different sections and at varying intervals and speeds. I had no choice but to cover my face and hope that the bouncing wouldn't last long.

Taking pity on me, the other parents summoned their children out of the bouncer after what had to be at least 5 minutes. I managed to convince Robby that it might be fun to lie down in the Bouncer. This bought me much needed time for me to crawl out of my bouncer prison.

I slipped my prosthetic on and assumed the position of dutiful parent as spectator. Discouraged because my attempt at being the "fun Mom" was yet again thwarted, I wasn't willing to give up. Lucky for me, the intercom came on to inform us that the wagon ride was ready.

Robby practically flew out of the bouncer when I asked him if he wanted a wagon ride. We hurriedly put on his shoes and he skipped over to the wagon. After all of the passengers were loaded; we were off.

Robby sat next to me, but he kept grabbing my prosthetic. At first I couldn't figure out why. When the wagon stopped to look at the zebras, he smiled and told me that he was helping. He said "Robby hold Momma leg. Momma leg fall off on wagon."

I felt a tinge of sadness mixed with pride when I realized what Robby was doing. He remembered my leg falling off on the family hayride. He didn't want my leg to fall off again, so he was trying to hold it on for me!

I felt bad that he was worried about me losing my prosthetic. I wanted him to relax and enjoy the wagon ride, but he seemed fixated on holding onto my leg. I also felt proud that he wanted to help me and that he was thinking beyond his own needs. It was an odd mixture of emotions.

After the ride, Robby ran over for the bunny "meet and greet." A man was there with his little girl who was almost as excited to see the bunny as was Robby. Deciding that it would be appropriate to start a conversation, I simply smiled and said hello. He then looked at me and said, "So, when is your little one due?"

My mind immediately went into overdrive. He thought I was pregnant. I have just lost over 100 pounds, and a stranger thinks I'm pregnant. Quick, I was searching my mind for a response.

I tend to be "witty" when faced with uncomfortable situations. I simply smiled and said, "June 6, 2006" which was Robby's due date. The man nodded, and then looked perplexed. Suddenly his face turned to a vivid crimson as he realized his mistake.

He stammered out an explanation that my shirt resembles a maternity shirt. I smiled, and was thankful when Robby became distracted by the turtle. I said goodbye and went with my little guy.

After nearly four hours of action packed animal park fun, we returned home. Daddy bought Chinese food for dinner, which is Robby's favorite. We made a cake. He then blew out candles and took a bubble bath. I filled Scott in with the details of our day, minus the Moon Bounce incident. My pride was too bruised to admit failure. I wanted to avoid the normal and, perhaps justified, "What were you thinking?" I did, however, put my bright yellow baby doll shirt in the pile for donation.