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, August 28, 2009

Schools Back in Session

Summer vacation has ended, and Scott has returned to work. Because he is a school teacher, he gets a lengthy 7 weeks off every summer. Robby and I have loved having him home, but I must admit that I am excited to return to my schedule with Robby. Besides, my house couldn't take much more of him home for vacation before dirt, dust and clutter would start falling on our heads during dinner!

At the beginning of the summer, I made a lengthy "to do" list. I do this every year. Most of the items on my list are merely carried over from the year before. I must be an eternal optimist because every summer I fully expect to accomplish many of the projects on my list.

As with summer's before, only two items have been checked off of my list this year. The first item, make a list, was checked off in June. The second item, organize the garage, was checked off in July. To be completely honest, the garage was only half organized, but I needed to cross something off to make myself feel better!

Many people in society undervalue and underestimate the work that dedicated educators loyally perform. When summer vacation arrives, Scott is exhausted both physically and emotionally. He usually spends the first week or two decompressing and lying around.

This year, he must have been debilitated by the closing school year. He spent the majority of the seven week break lying around watching TV or playing on the computer. His behavior has caused Robby to become somewhat of a couch potato because he wanted to be with his Daddy.

With Scott and Robby relaxing and lying around most of the time, I was left with the task of trying to clean around them both. I am typically adamant that we eat our meals at the kitchen table. This summer, Scott wanted to eat in bed. This meant that Robby also wanted to eat in bed. This behavior has resulted in constant changing of the bed sheets and an irrevocably stained comforter. I know I am going to have a battle with Robby when I insist on eating at the table.

Scott's mantra for the summer: "Why are you cleaning?" Apparently my cleaning made him uncomfortable. Perhaps because of minimal participation? I have never known anybody to vacuum only the dirtiest part of the room versus the entire carpet. Strange. Many parts of our bedroom and living room have not been cleaned since June.

Scott has been lamenting the return to work for several days. I know that he has enjoyed being with Robby in the mornings. He had a wonderful summer relaxing and lounging. In time, he will return to his routine and so will I. In the meantime, I have to address the laundry piled over all the furniture, the dirty floors, and the disgusting bathrooms. At some point I am going to have to crawl under his side of our bed to retrieve his underwear, socks and a plethora of dirty dishes.

I don't want to sound as if I haven't enjoyed having him home for the summer. It is always nice to have him around and to engage in conversation beyond that of a toddler during the day. I know he is sad to be starting another school year.

As for myself, I am going to put my list in the drawer and save it for next summer. How do I feel now that Scott has returned to work? I think most wives would agree.... Seven weeks can feel like a very long time!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Locked doors = Trouble

Robby is at the age where he doesn't always take a nap. This Mommy needs him to take a nap, but my desire doesn't always translate into his resting. Yesterday we engaged in one of our epic nap struggles.

Typically, our struggles follow a set pattern. I put Robby into bed for a nap, and he would lay quietly until I left the room. Then he pops up and begins to jump, run, spin and play. When he hears me coming towards his room, he runs and quickly jumps into the bed, pulling the covers over his head. Usually this pattern continues through several cycles until "Mean Mommy" emerges, with her forceful tone and stern body language, dictating that he lay quietly and rest.

Yesterday afternoon, after hearing him jump around his room for about 10 minutes, I decided it was time to bring out "Mean Mommy." I walked to his room and tried to open the door. It was locked.

I remember, when I was growing up, that my Mom would often insert a q-tip into the hole of the door knob to release the lock. I particularly remember us accidentally locking ourselves in the bathroom on more than one occasion. I guess I assumed that all doors had this safety mechanism.

I never really looked at our door knobs before yesterday. I knew that they locked, but what I didn't realize is that the knobs are missing the "access hole" in the front of the knob. In other words, there was no way to unlock the door from the hallway. This left me with a huge problem, because my precoscious three year old was locked in his room.

Robby heard me try to open his door, and was eager to leave his room. He became upset when the door didn't open, and started knocking loudly. I asked him to unlock the door, which was a useless request because he didn't understand. He kept knocking, and began to cry. Then he started to scream "Mama Mama help."

He was scared, and I needed to be calm. I went to the kitchen and retrieved a box of Lucky Charms. I then went and laid on the floor in front of his door. I put my fingers under his door. I knew that he saw my hand because he started to grab my fingers. My solution to his panic? I started to pass Lucky Charm marshmallows to him under the bedroom door.

With a constant supply of sugar, he began to relax. Actually, I think he thought of the situation as a fun game. With him calmed down, I was able to work on freeing him from the room.

I began to jiggle the door knob while singing a silly song. Then I stopped jiggling, and he began to jiggle his side of the knob in response. We continued this game for about 20 minutes, pausing only to pass through the marshmallows. Finally, he jiggled the knob in the correct direction and the door was unlocked.

With him freed from his room, I put him in the car and went directly to Lowes. I bought him a new doorknob that I can unlock from the hallway. He finally took his nap, in the car, when we were on our way home.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ahoy There!

As an amputee I have been exposed to many "inappropriate" or "thoughtless" comments by others. I understand that my amputation could make others uncomfortable, especially if I am their first exposure. I try to remember that the individuals are probably not trying to be rude, rather they are merely awkward.

However, I am tired of so many people referencing pirates. "Are you going to be a pirate for Halloween?" seems to be a common icebreaker. Robby has also been told, on more than one occasion, that he needs to be careful lest his Mommy "make him walk the plank." My all time favorite pirate reference came from an elderly man at the grocery store. Every time he saw me he displayed a huge toothless grin and said, "Argghhhh. Ahoy there matey."

Our culture certainly perpetuates the Pirate-Amputee link. Actually, amputees are often depicted as either helpless or evil in movies and on television. As a confident, active amputee, I find this frustrating.

The other evening I was watching cartoons with Robby and The Backyardigans came on. To be honest, this is not a favorite show of mine, but for some reason Robby likes it. I was doing what all good Mommy's do: I sucked it up and watched.

On the episode, the Backyardigans were pretending to be pirates. You guessed it-- the main pirate was depicted as a clumsy, intellectually-challenged amputee. My ire immediately increased as I thought about passing on this stereotype through a cartoon developed for toddler.

Up until this time, the only pirate that Robby has been exposed to has been Captain Feathersword from The Wiggles. I like Captain Feathersword because, although he does wear an eye patch, he is not an amputee. I suspect that individuals who have experienced an eye enucleation dislike the pirate reference as well.

As the blue penguin was hobbling around the pirate ship, Robby was laughing and enjoying the show. All of a sudden, he paused. It was as if he had made a connection. He crawled down and patted my prosthetic. He then smiled as he looked at me and said, "Mommy pirate leg. ARRGGHHH!"

I never imagined that I would ever need to explain that Mommy is not a pirate. Despite my efforts, Robby refuses to accept that his Mommy is not a pirate. Robby is insistent that my "special leg" is really a sign that I was a buccaneer. He asked to go on the big pirate boat, and now he wants a sword. I miss the sweet, "Hi Mommy" that used to greet me whenever Robby saw me. Now I am greeted with an enthusiastic "ARGGGHHHHH!"

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Elsie strikes again!

I feel compelled to revisit the topic of a previous blog. I apologize if I am redundant, but I continue to be frustrated by my insurance adjuster. I know that I am not alone in my struggles with dealing with a insurance companies. Talking with other amputees, I know that this is a common complaint and, unfortunately, a struggle which binds many of us together.

I have tolerated delays in treatment due to indecision, shifted through reams of red tape and had to resort to court to receive prosthetic devices. My experiences affirm my believe that there must be a special ring in hell reserved for these paper pushing, heartless, incompetent individuals who have been given the authority to oversee my medical care.

Elsie (I changed the name to protect her anonymity, although I'm not sure she deserves the courtesy) has been my assigned workers compensation insurance adjuster for nearly 3 years. I was optimistic when she was assigned to oversee my claim. She is also an amputee and I assumed that she would understand the needs for a below knee amputee.

I am ashamed that Elsie is a part of the amputee community. Claims for liners, a standard prosthetic accessory, continue to be delayed. She was initially contacted in February concerning my request for new liners. Although the claim was approved, payment has yet to be rendered. It is now July. If I received a bill in February and had yet to pay it in August, I am sure that bill collectors would be calling throughout the day. Ignoring bills through inaction are tolerated because Elsie works for the insurance company. This is unacceptable!

I have called Elsie numerous times concerning my claim. My calls have been ignored. Every time I call I receive her voice mail. She does not even answer her phone during office hours! Finally, only when I questioned the legality of her denying my liner claim, she responded to my request for a return phone call.

I was shocked when Elsie called me. She was polite and efficient, but her demeanor was lacking warmth and compassion. What transpired during my first voice conversation with Elsie? She lied! I was informed, in a very matter of fact manner, that the liners were not requested until May.

I knew immediately that Elsie was being dishonest, but I allowed her to speak. I was with my Prosthetist on more than one occasion when he faxed and phoned her concerning the liners. I knew that I had called at least twice in March to check on the progress of the request.

I am disturbed on several levels. First, she has demonstrated incompetence by not processing claims. Second, and perhaps the biggest cause of concern, is that she has proven to be dishonest. I want to know, does she tolerate such inaction, incompetence and dishonesty from her insurance adjuster?

Dealing with Elsie has become an exercise in patience. I would love to have a dedicated leg for running. I was training for a triathalon in the fall before I was sidelined by illness. Running on my flex-foot has started to cause back pain and sore hips. I hesitate to voice my request because I know that the request will lead to a battle with Elsie.

I am lucky because I have a prosthetist who is willing to fight on my behalf. Despite his efforts, Elsie's stonewalling becomes draining. My prosthetist should not have to battle the insurance adjuster to secure my devices. I am embarrassed that he has yet to be paid. I wonder if Elsie's prosthetist has to fight for her? Wouldn't it be ironic if she denied one of his patient's claims?

I apologize for revisiting this topic. Unfortunately, the situation has yet to be rectified. I am discouraged that this is battle that I will need to fight for the rest of my life. Sometimes I feel that the most disabling force in my life is not my amputation but the fact that I have to deal with the insurance company!

Monday, August 24, 2009


I am used to experiencing the horror of humiliation. Although I don't enjoy the feeling, I have become desensitized through a lifetime of unfortunate mishaps. I have heard it said that humiliation is merely an opportunity for obtaining balance within your life. If this is the case, I must one of the most balanced individuals around.

Many of my humiliations were, unfortunately, self-inflicted. There was the time I talked my best friend and roommate Tammy into taking Karate with me. Since we were both single, I reasoned that it would be an ideal activity to meet eligible men. I figured that the male-to-female ratio would be high. I also assumed that the men were single because the commitment required for karate would not easily accommodate an active relationship or child rearing. Because the classes were expensive, the men had to be steadily employed with a reasonable paycheck. I was correct on all three counts.

Tammy and I began our karate experience with open hearts and eager minds. We quickly changed into our uniforms and admired how "cute we looked." We were, however, completely unprepared for the physical pain involved with karate training. Neither of us had anticipated the discipline aspect of the sport. It was difficult not to giggle when performing the exercises. We were really bad.

In our last class, Tammy broke her baby toe trying to do a roll. I was sparring with a cute man who I had been eying since the beginning of our endeavor. I was feeling cute, and was playing up the "helpless" girl act to the best of my ability. This has never been a role I have been comfortable playing, but I was young and it thought it might work. Half way through the class, the instructor asked me if I knew that my pants had split. My embarrassment morphed to humiliation when I realized that I had exposed my Donald Duck panties to the entire class of men. This was our last karate class. It was also the last time I took an idea off "Seinfeld."

When I first moved to Virginia, I set out to make both friends and to find a boyfriend. Friday nights I would get dressed up and go to Home Depot. I discovered that the store was swarming with eligible men on Friday evenings. Saturday and Sunday families or couples accounted for the majority of the customers. By the end of the year I had a huge plastic tote filled with sandpaper because this was the only product I felt competent using.

I changed strategies and started to go to Costco. I bought a brand new outfit and, again, I thought I looked really cute. As I was walking through the store holding my sandpaper (I figured that majority of the single men would be in the tool section and I needed an excuse to browse), I noticed that a plethora of customers were smiling at me and watching me walk.

My confidence increased as more people were watching me. I stood a little taller, smiled at everybody and strutted. It wasn't until I got back to my apartment that I realized that I had forgotten to take the sticker off the back of my skirt. I was walking around the entire store, proud as a peacock, wearing a skirt that said "extra large" in big black letters on my butt. I let my Costco membership expire.

After my amputation I was exposed to a whole new vehicle for humiliation. I am always mortified when I have a prosthetic malfunction in public. My leg has fallen or flown off during the most inopportune occasions. I have learned that the best response is merely to smile and try to laugh. This is not always easy, especially when your leg flies off when kicking a ball at the park and lands in the middle of a league soccer match. There is no graceful way to retrieve your limb discretely when referees are blowing their whistles and little kids are running for cover.

The addition of Robby to our lives has added another layer for potentially humiliating situations. Nothing gets by my inquisitive and friendly little boy. Sometimes when my leg doesn't fit correctly, a high pitch squeaking sound is audible when I am walking. Other than trying to readjust my limb position within the socket, there is little I can do when this happens. I have accepted the squeaking as "one of those things."

A few weeks ago I was shopping with Robby in our grocery store. He loves the meat section, and squeals when he sees the coveted "special" sticker denoting deep discounts. He took off in full sprint when he saw the sticker. While I was running after him, my leg began to squeak. It continued to squeak throughout our trek through the meat aisle. Robby took the squeaking as an opportunity to inform every individual he encountered that "Mommy fart... Mommy stinky fart.... " and tapping my bottom. I gave up trying to explain that the noise was my leg after he proudly and loudly told the 20th customer his observation. I simply started smiling and saying, "too many beans."

I have not been feeling well for over a week now. Scott said that, along with my illness, I have been hit with the "stupid stick." Perhaps he is correct. My thinking is not nearly as swift and I seem to be making more than my usual share of faux pas.

I went into McDonald's the other day because I needed to use the restroom. I walked straight to the back of the store, trying to act as if I had already ordered my meal so my true intent was not known. I went into the restroom, walked into the stall and proceeded to use the facilities. After I flushed, I went to the sink and proceeded to wash my hands. I looked at the gentleman standing in front of the wall and said hello and made a brief reference to the heat and humidity. After I got to my car, I realized that I had used the men's restroom. Mortified, I resolved to not return to that McDonald's. Luckily, it is not in my neighborhood and there are still many fast food restaurants to go through before I have to give up the beloved fries and burger completely. I don't think I will like tofu.