About Me

My photo
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, September 04, 2009

Facebook Frenzy!

Several months ago a friend persuaded me to join Facebook. After a few minutes, I was able to locate lost friends and old boyfriends. I hate to admit this, but I am now hooked.

I became competitive with a friend concerning how many people were on our respective "friends list." Okay, I'll be completely honest. She is unaware that we even had a competition. For no particular reason, I actively sought to obtain 100 friends before she did.

She had been on Facebook for several months and already had 37 friends when the competition began. I was behind the eight ball from the start. Undeterred and determined to win my non-existent competition, I set about my friend -finding mission.

In my zeal to "win," I began joining amputee groups. I became inundated with the coveted "friend request." I finished the week with 118 friends. She finished with 74. I relished in my victory although I wasn't really sure the competition was fair since she didn't know about it.

Within hours of reaching my coveted 100 friend goal, my inbox started to become swamped. Identifying myself as an amputee certainly increased my numbers. Unfortunately, it also left me vulnerable to a plethora of devotees.

I became hassled for photos. Others quickly revealed themselves to be a "wannabe." I am revolted by the desires of four-limbed people who want to remove a healthy appendage. I received several emails which started by saying, "Although I am not blessed to be an amputee, I've always dreamed of become one."

The wannabes and perverted devotees are easy to recognize. I instantly delete any emails from anybody who makes reference to "licking my stump," or to rubbing my "beautiful shortened limb with slippery lotion."

I knew about devotees and wannabes. Until Facebook, I was naive about posers. Posers are individuals who pretend to be an amputee in an effort to gain trust so the true amputee will reveal personal details about his/her residual limb.

Due to my ignorance, I fell for the poser's tactics on more than one occasion. I was sympathetic and eager to relay my experiences in an effort to help. I finally caught on to the poser's tactics when the questions morphed from informational to vulgar and repugnant. I have discovered that many of these individuals are actually male, but they have created a female persona in an attempt to solicit personal information and pictures for sexual purposes.

In an attempt to avoid contact with devotees, wannabes and posers, I have taken several steps. Much to my chagrin, I have removed myself from all Facebook Amputee groups. This step has saddened me because I have met some wonderful people through these groups. It has become a case of a few bad apples ruining the bunch.

I have removed all unknown or suspect amputees from my friend list with the exception of three relatively "benign" devotees. Keeping these individuals on my friends list allows me an easy comparison for any unknown friend request. If the request comes from somebody who is friends with one of my "decoy" friends, I know that the intentions are not true and perverted. Only having female amputee women among their friends list is another red flag and cause for immediately denial.

I still receive perverted messages, but they have drastically decreased. If you are a Facebook user, please feel free to drop me an email. If you leave your user name, I'll send you a friend request. It is a shame that these predators are harassing the amputee in the cyber world. It seems that there is no escape from the derelicts of society.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Nana's Scooter

Nana bought Robby a scooter. I made a comment that he likes watching the kids on their scooters at the "big kid park" and she immediately ran out to ToysRUs and bought one for him. I must remember to send her a thank you note.

Robby is a visual learner. I suppose this is due more to his age than to a preferred learning style. In any case, whenever he gets a new toy, either Scott or I have to play with it first to show him what to do. This is especially the case for any toys involving coordination of large muscle groups.

Scott has been at work all week leaving the bulk of the scooter training to me. I never used a scooter when I was able-bodied, so trying to teach my little guy how to use one properly has been difficult. Nevertheless, I mustered up a happy can-do attitude and gave it a try.

As I was standing in front of the scooter wearing my helmet (safety first), I realized that I was in a quandary. As an amputee, which foot should I put flat on the scooter? I tried using the scooter with my feet in various positions until I settled on my prosthetic remaining on the scooter why I pushed with my sound side.

The stickers all over the scooter all refer to the maximum weight limit. This scooter is not made for adults or obese children. Robby was well under the weight restrictions, but I was way over them. When I put my full weight on the scooter, the plastic began to bow. I knew I was going to have to keep most of my weight off the plastic toy. After all, imagine if Mommy broke the scooter before Robby even had a chance to ride it!

Using a scooter without any prior experience that is too small and too short is difficult. Add the extra "complication" of being an amputee increased the difficulty exponentially. Needless to say, I was anything but graceful. I managed to model how to use the toy. As a bonus to the demonstration, I taught Robby how to gracefully fall off the scooter, several times.

Robby was patient through my lesson. He was antsy to use his scooter and was excited when I handed it over. Despite my cajoling and encouragement, he refused to use the scooter correctly as he pushed it up the driveway hill.

Once at the top, he turned the scooter around, promptly sat on the foot ledge and lifted his feet off the ground. Wheeeee.... He sat on the scooter and rode all the way down the hill. Apparently he didn't need my well-intended demonstration!

At the bottom of the driveway, Robby indicated that he wanted to go again. I told him to take the scooter to the top of the hill. He remained seated. He then asked me to push him up the hill so "Robby can go wheeeeee."

I have made countless trips pushing 40 bounds of full-energy boy up the long, steep driveway. He loves his scooter and wants to play with it for hours. This translates into a lot of walking and climbing for me. Yes, I really must send Nana a thank-you note. I am sure she will be happy to know that Robby is enjoying his new scooter. She will probably be tickled to learn how the scooter has left me hot, tired and sweaty. The sweet revenge of being a grandparent strikes again!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

My Very Very Bad Day...

Introducing (drum roll please) Peggy and The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Today has been beyond frustrating. If I didn't have an MRI tomorrow, I'm sure I'd be sipping on at least one glass of wine as I'm writing my blog. Instead, I am resigned to retell my tale with a cup of ice water on the bedside table and a wiggly over-tired little boy to my side.

I bought my dream KitchenAid convection oven, large enough to bake 60 cookies at a time several years ago. To my disappointment, my oven broke last spring. A few weeks ago the microwave went kaput, and the lower oven is smoking every time I turn the heat above 350 degrees. I knew we were going to have to go appliance shopping soon.

This morning while going through my inbox I came upon an email from the Sears Outlet. After some research I realized that the bargains were amazing. I called my husband, drove to his work, and picked up his credit card. Robby and I were off to tackle the wonderful world of appliance shopping.

I immediately started to browse when we arrived. I prefer to purchase appliances that are scratch and dent. I am happy for the discount, and partly relieved that somebody put the imperfection on the appliance before I do it. I really wouldn't know what to do if I had a brand new, out of the box, unblemished kitchen appliance. It would certainly go against our family motto of "nothing but used, scratch and dent, and refurbished for this family."

I waited for about 5 minutes for an employee to offer me assistance. I could see a group of approximately 6 employees standing in a circle, laughing and joking. I walked over and asked for assistance. I was curtly told that "somebody would be with me when they finished their conversation."

Okay, this got me mad. Normally I would have left, but I really wanted a cheap wall oven. I waited another 10 minutes. I approached the group again, politely requesting assistance. The twenty something employee, obviously annoyed, reminded me that they were having a conversation.

My anger turned to rage. In retrospect I may have overreacted, but I was furious and I wanted somebody to answer my questions. After visually scanning the store, I quickly devised a plan.

I walked to the back of the outlet store where the mattresses were stacked. I pulled down a twin mattress and dropped it in the middle of the aisle. I then walked past the talking, don't-want-to-be-bothered working employees, and took a blanket off of the display rack. I put the blanket on the bed, and told Robby (in a very loud voice of course) that "he should make himself comfortable because Mommy isn't leaving until somebody helps her, so he'll probably have to sleep at the store."

Another employee approached me and offered assistance. Finally, somebody to answer a simple questions. As it turns out, none of the oven units came in the size I needed. I complained about the treatment from the other employees, and he asked me to wait a moment. I saw him approach the brood and a brief yet animated discussion ensued. When the man returned he apologized profusely for the employees' behaviors. He explained that the worker's didn't think I would be able to pay for any appliances. I wonder though... Did my prosthetic have anything to do with their rash and incorrect conclusion?

After waiting at the Sears Outlet store for nearly 35 minutes, Robby was impatient and wanted to move around. Against my better judgement I opted to walk through the mall with him. I wanted him to release some energy so that I had a chance of his going into bed at a reasonable hour.

Robby was absolutely charming as we walked to the other side of the mall. I should probably mention that this mall is one of the largest in the country and walking to the other side is no easy feat. Because he was being a good boy, we bought ice cream at the cookie store which he thought was an absolute hoot. I actually got compliments concerning my little boy's behavior.

And then, in the blink of an eye, Robby the Good morphed into Robby Rotten in front of my eyes. He wanted to ride the little train, but it cost $1.25. I only too 3 quarters out of the car because I never imagined that the little rides would cost more. He started to scream, and he was loud.

I had to carry him, kicking and screaming, to the other end of the mall. He squirmed, he smacked and he cried the entire way. In the spirit of full disclosure, he did stop screaming on a few occasions. The trip back to the car went something like this, in a loud volume:

"ARGHHHHHH ARGGHHHHHHHH Look Momom, free food (he saw samples being offered). ARRGGHHHHH ARRGHHHHH Look Momom, free food... ARRGHHHH ARRGGHHHHh Look Momom, big nipples. (pointing to the well-endowed but scantily clad woman in the kiosk) Look Momom, more big nipples.... ARGGHHHHH.... ARGGHHHHHH... Look Momom, Robby eat a boogie ARGGHHH Yummy more boogie"

This continued until he was put in his car seat. I drove home frustrated, tired and with a killer headache. My arms hurt from lugging 40 pounds of kicking fury through the mall. I was angry with the employees of the Sears Outlet. I was disappointed that I will have no cooking appliances unless we find something soon. I was embarrassed by my son's behavior. Robby was thirsty and crying because he wanted water. Apparently the boogie he ate must have been salty.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Always Learning...

I have learned several interesting facts concerning amputees during the past few weeks, and I want to share my new discoveries. Perhaps I am not the only amputee who was unaware of this information.

I suppose I always assumed that my bone in my residual limb would weaken over time due to muscle loss. To be honest, I never really gave it much thought. I considered bone loss to be an issue for the elderly, a result of the naivete of youth.

Recently, I have learned that an estimated 40% of bone density is lost in a residual limb within 10 years of the amputation. I was 29 when I had my amputation. According to this study, my bone density in my left leg would lose 40% bone strength by the time I am 39. I was shocked to realize that I may face a problem as I enter middle age that I had assigned to the elderly.

In an attempt to strengthen my bones in my residual limb, I have embarked on a regimen of calcium and magnesium. I have also started strengthening exercises to rebuild the muscles surrounding my stump. Hopefully. I haven't started too late to rebuild my bone mass.

In spite of all of my efforts, I have not been able to fully eliminate my limp. I have been told that I walk well and that I have a comfortable and natural gait. I think that people are merely being nice. Perhaps I am being unrealistic, but I want my gimpy limp to be non-existent.

A brief interaction with a physical therapist revealed that I have been committing two common mistakes. Firstly, my stride length has been uneven. It was determined that my stride length should be approximately 11 inches long. My stride with my prosthetic leg was 13 while my stride with my "real" leg was only 9.5 inches.

The disparity in stride lengths is a common occurrence with amputees. Although the reason for the difference is not absolutely known, there are several possible explanations ranging from balance issues to insecurity. Although I can never know definitively, I believe my uneven stride length stems from the nearly 5 years I spent on crutches and in a walking boot. Due to the pain during this time, I consciously sought to keep pressure off the injured limb.

Regardless of the reason, I need to focus my efforts on the result. I bought a treadmill off of Craigslist for $20. I was looking for a treadmill back in January, and the prices ranged between $200 to $400, so I was thrilled to find a cheap, electric, fold up model that was so inexpensive. If you are looking for a bargain, apparently this is a good time to get exercise equipment!

Despite his griping, Scott set-up the treadmill. We took tape and marked 11 inch intervals along both edges of the moving belt. Now I can practice walking with an even stride for short spurts throughout the day.

I also learned that I have not been utilizing my "rear" to its full potential. In other words, I've only been firing my right butt cheek when I step with my sound side. When I would step with my prosthetic side, the power from my swing was coming from my hip and thigh. I've started to deliberately squeeze my left butt cheek when I walk on my prosthetic, and my gait instantly becomes less noticeable.

So, let's review. I've started taking calcium to prevent further bone loss in my residual limb. I am also starting some limb strengthening exercises to work on increasing muscle mass. I am also concentrating on an even stride length as well as squeezing my butt appropriately when I walk. Who would have thought after 6 years of being an amputee, that I would have learned so much in a few short days! Off to go get coffee... even step, squeeze... even step, squeeze....

Monday, August 31, 2009

Time Flies By...

Time flies by. It seems like yesterday I was anxiously driving to the hospital to meet my little baby niece. I was hoping that my sister and her husband were going to name her after me, but apparently they didn't think the family was prepared for "Little Peggy." So, much to my dismay at the time, the sweet newborn little girl was named Tiffany. The name suits her perfectly!

Tiffany has the distinct honor of being the family Princess. She was the first grandchild on both sides. She was also my first opportunity to stretch my "Favorite Aunt" wings.

Tiffy-Lou was born during the year I had my amputation. Her birth was perhaps one of a few light spots within a very dark year. I was nervous that my limb loss would hamper my ability to become a Favorite Aunt.

To her parents' credit, I was allowed not only to hold but also permitted to carry Tiffy in my arms. My sister and her husband did not hesitate when I asked them if they were comfortable with me walking with their little girl in my arms while I was using a prosthetic. Ever since that discussion, my amputation has never been referenced concerning my caring for her.

In my normal zeal, I tried to desensitize Tiffy-Lou to my prosthetic and my amputation. I often took my leg off when playing with her. I taught her how to throw balls into the socket. My leg was often placed in her little shopping cart that she wheeled around the house.

I made my prosthetic fun for her. In retrospect, it was probably a little too entertaining. She often tugged on my prosthetic in an attempt to remove it from my stump. One day, I found her on the couch tugging hard at her own leg. She told me she wanted to take her leg off as well.

I found myself explaining to a little toddler that only certain legs come off, and that not everybody has a "special leg." She accepted this explanation and continued playing. The next day I received a phone call from my sister. Apparently Tiffy took it upon herself to discover just who else might have a special leg. She tugged at the minister's leg before church and had tried to remove a limb from both grandparents. For the next several weeks I was inundated with phone calls lamenting Tiffany's leg-seeking behaviors.

I absolutely adore being an aunt. As I see it, I am allowed to spoil her, make her giggle, teach her important lessons, and help her refine important skills. After all, I am in a position where I am allowed all of the fun, and then I get to send her home with her parents.

When she was only 6 months old, I taught her how to put yogurt on her head. She quickly learned that everything tastes better with cinnamon and sugar. When her little brother was born, I taught her that it is fun to eat mac-n-cheese in a fort, naked. I have taught her how to spit, and we are refining her aim. And tell me, why can't she have icing in bed for breakfast every once in awhile?

The sweet little newborn has grown into a beautiful, energetic and smart little girl. Tiffy-Lou entered Kindergarten last week. What a milestone. I am sad to see her so grown up.

I was happy when she called me the morning she started school. Although excited, I could tell that she was terrified. She began to struggle with her words, and started to cry. I reassured her that Aunt Peggy loved her beyond the stars. She told me that she was afraid the boys were going to be mean to her. I offered a solution to her fears. I told her that, if the little boys are being mean to her, she should kick them in the balls. She started to giggle, and then I was abruptly taken off speaker phone. Aunt Peggy strikes again.