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, September 11, 2009

These Legs Are Made for Walking...

During the past several days, I have been driven to eliminate my limp as much as possible. I've bought a treadmill through Craigslist, and, although the belt continues to slip, it seems to be working well enough for my purpose. I have marked intervals of precisely 11 inches along the side of the treadmill. When walking, I am constantly gazing down to make sure that my stride length remains equal. Hopefully, with time, I'll be able to look up when I walk.

I am consciously aware as I am walking around the house and through the neighborhood, trying to maintain equal stride length and to "fire" my muscles in my rear evenly. This is not an easy task. I am trying to undo six years of poor amputee habits. I was also on crutches for several years before the amputation which resulted in, to say the very least, a strange gait.

Scott has taken videos of my walking which confirm that my dedication has been paying off. My limp, although still visible, does not seem to be as prominent. I know I need to continue to work on this skill because I find myself slipping into old habits when I am not concentrating. I have taken to eradicating my gimpy limp as my "mission" for the year.

I am hopeful that these skills will become second nature. Robby has begun to notice Mommy's new walking style. Actually, he has noticed Mommy muttering "even step, squeeze... even step, squeeze" as I walk through the house.

He is in the "mimicking" phase. He wants to do everything just like Mommy and Daddy. That is, everything except use the toilet correctly. He continues to enjoy drawing inside the bowl with with his soap crayons and watching his masterpiece flush away, but that is a topic for another day!

We went to the craft store the other day, which is always a crap shoot with my little cherub. (Yes, we steered clear of the bead section. I don't want another emergency room visit!) He promised that he would "walk like a good boy." Feeling generous, I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. I allowed him to walk next to me, warning him that one false would end his free mobility for the afternoon. Alas, he was good.

He was happily walking through the store when I heard him softly begin to sing a song. At first I couldn't understand the words. When I asked him to sing a little louder so that Mommy could here, he obliged. Loudly he began to sing "squeeze, steppy, squeeze, steppy" as proud as a little peacock.

He smiled at me, and said that he was walking like Mommy. I was taken aback, but it was hard not to find his song endearing. Robby then pointed to his little diapered butt, and told the employee arranging the scrapbook paper that he was "squeezing Robby butt like Mommy."

I tried to laugh it off, and the teenager was at a loss for a response. Robby and I continued, squeezing and stepping as we walked. He continued to sing, and eventually asked me to sing as well. We were quite the pair, walking through the aisles softly singing "squeeze... steppy... squeeze... steppy."

Unfortunately he paired this song with a catchy tune. I haven't been able to get the song out of my head all day! I found myself walking through the house singing the "squeeze... steppy" song karaoke style. Unfortunately, I continue to have no singing talent but I do possess a plethora of enthusiasm. I am afraid that Robby has inherited my singing talents...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

House of Bounce... Ouch!

Every year, when Scott returns to work after summer vacation, I find myself having a difficult time staying home. It is probably the solitude of the house that compels me to seek adult conversation. This phase is as predictable as the seasons, but I know that soon I will fall into a comfortable routine with Robby. Eventually, my need to flee will subside.

This morning, after the laundry was hung to dry and the dishes were clean, I set out with Robby to have a fun adventure. We were originally going to the animal park, but, unfortunately, when we arrived it was closed due to inclement weather. This surprised me because it was 75 degrees and sunny. Robby became nearly inconsolable over not being able to feed the baby goat. I quickly diverted and drove to the reliable "House of Bounce" for a special afternoon.

In case you are unfamiliar with the wonderful play place that is the "House of Bounce," perhaps I should provide a brief description. Basically, it is a large warehouse filled with huge inflatable toys. The traditional Moonbounce, along with an extremely tall and steep inflatable slide and an obstacle course all grace this kiddy Utopia.

After we showed our "frequent bounce" card, Robby took off into the room. He had his shoes off before I caught up with him. Unfortunately, no other children were there. Robby had the place to himself, but it also meant that he didn't have a chance to play with other kids. The absence of a peer playmate meant that Mommy had to go into full swing fun kid mode. So much for enjoying a leisurely cup of coffee while Robby runs around.

I checked with the attendant who assured me that I was permitted to climb on the apparatus with a prosthetic. I reasoned that it should be okay because there aren't too many sharp edges on my leg and besides, Robby needed a play buddy. Yes, I have to admit that my quest to become the "Fun Mommy" reared its head again. I really should learn...

Although I didn't actually jump in the Moonbounce, Robby thoroughly enjoyed my playing a dinosaur stomping after him. I had a slight issue getting in and out of the bouncer, but the difficulty stemmed more from the size of the opening rather than the prosthetic. I did discover that the netting along the side of the Moonbounce does not support an adult weight. Luckily nobody except for Robby saw me fall head-over-rear out of the enclosure.

The Moonbounce was fun, but Robby couldn't get enough of the large slide. He could be coaxed into going down by himself, but that apparently wasn't nearly as much fun as having Mommy go down the slide first. The narrow and steep stairs were not designed for adult feet. Trying to maneuver up the bouncy staircase with a prosthetic merely added to the difficulty.

My first impression when I reached the top of the slide for the first time? "Dang, this is really high!" I was stuck because I knew that I would never be able to walk down the stairs. I had no choice but to slide. How bad could it be? After all, my three year old loves it.

I took a deep breath, shouted out "Cowabunga" and took a hopping leap. I bounced on my butt for the first 15 feet but then my bottom managed to adhere to the very fast, and very bouncy slide. I stopped sliding just in time to see my little daredevil following me down the slide, giggling and laughing.

So, for the next 90 minutes, Robby and I climbed the inflatable staircase and slid down the slide. I thought that he would tire of the game, but I was mistaken. By the time the "open bounce" came to an end, I was plain tuckered out.

I managed to lose the skin on both elbows going down the slide. I am also amazingly sore considering that the equipment was soft and inflatable. How can a slide filled with blowing air cause so many bruises? And why am I now having trouble moving my head to the right?

I keep trying to prove to Robby, or perhaps to myself, that my amputation will not hold me back. Perhaps I need to consider other factors in my zeal to becoming the "fun Mommy." I have come to the sad conclusion that my body is not nearly as agile as it was in my twenties. In addition to my amputation, maybe I need to consider my age before volunteering full participation.

Despite my battle wounds, Robby and I had a wonderful afternoon. He played through his nap-time, so I am hopeful that will translate into sleeping in beyond 6:15 tomorrow morning. After all, I am still looking forward to a leisurely cup of coffee at some point.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Blue Bead Up Nose...

Yesterday was Scott's first day with students. Although teachers returned to work over a week ago, in many Virginia schools students do not traditionally return to school until the Tuesday after Labor Day. I knew that he was going to be tired when he got home from work. Robby and I set out to make Daddy feel appreciated when his long day was over.

Robby was up bright and early. He was extremely helpful as we put the ribs into the crock pot to cook all day. He is an expert "seasoner," enthusiastically yelling "Bam" as he throws salt onto the food.

By 11:30, we had finished several loads of laundry and cleaned the house. The macaroni and cheese was ready to go into the oven when Scott got home from work. Robby was starting to get antsy because he wanted to play outside and it was raining. I packed him up and we headed to McDonald's.

Thankfully, many other parents had a similar notion because the play area was packed. Robby quickly lost interest in his chicken nuggets and began playing with the other children. He was having a great time. Finally, after two hours of running around and playing, I was able to cajole my sweaty and dirty little boy into going home.

I was confident that Robby would take a nap. After all, he was up at six and we have been busy all day. He ran around and played non-stop for two hours. Surely he would need to rest! If he didn't nap, he would certainly want to relax quietly and stay out of trouble for awhile, right?


We came home from playing and I put cartoons on the television. I returned to the kitchen to finish up the dishes before Scott got home from work. I briefly contemplated baking a cake but quickly concluded that I was just too tired. Robby came out to the kitchen, rubbing his nose and mumbling something.

At first I thought he was telling me that he had "boogies in nose." I tried to wipe his nose for him, but he continued rub his nose and he started to cry. I told him to try to blow his nose, which made him cry even more. Nothing I was doing was making him happy, and he was becoming increasingly upset. Tired and frustrated, I asked Robby to please tell me what he wanted.

He looked at me and very clearly said, "blue bead in Robby nose." I asked him if he put a bead up his nose, and he immediately said yes. He was adamant that it was a blue bead, a point I found irrelevant at the time but he obviously thought was important.

I looked up his nose and quickly realized that the bead was not only in his nose, but stuffed far up the nostril. I knew I wasn't going to be able to get it out. I packed him up and we headed to the doctor's office.

Robby chatted about the blue bead up his nose during the drive to the doctor. Unfortunately, after a brief examination it was determined that we needed to go to the emergency room. By this time, Scott had received my messages and was going to meet us at the hospital.

Thankfully the bead was removed without too much trauma. We were assured that removing objects from the nostrils and/or ears of toddlers is a common occurrence. That being said, it is not a common occurrence for us! All in all, I think we handled it well. The nurse held Robby's head and arms still. I held onto Robby's feet. Scott held onto the examination table to keep from fainting.

I have been warned that children often stick objects in orifices. Hopefully, Robby has learned his lesson and will no longer put anything up his nose. This was Robby's first trip to the emergency room. He came through the experience relatively unscathed and overall had a positive experience. After all, he left the hospital minus one blue bead but with both arms full of gifts provided by the volunteer auxiliary group. Scott and I are a little worried that he may enjoy going to the hospital because of the toys, stickers, lollipops and attention that he received.

So we survived our first emergency room visit. Dinner was a little late tonight, and the evening wasn't nearly as relaxing as we had hoped. Despite the trauma of the day, Robby is still full of energy. So much for tuckering out the toddler! I can hardly wait to see what adventures await me tomorrow...

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

I Still Miss You Both.

I don't like Labor Day. My dislike has nothing to do with the unofficial ending of summer. By the time September rolls around, my sandals are worn out and ugly, and my shorts are stained and tattered. I'm ready for the cooler weather of autumn and the cold of winter. Despite the revelry of family picnics and fun, Labor Day marks two sad anniversaries for our family.

My Pop died near the Labor Day holiday. I remember the last time I spoke to him as if it were yesterday. He was in the hospital, and I was returning to college. He promised me that he would be okay. This was the only promise I can remember him breaking. He died later that night.

I clearly remember the phone call announcing his death. It still seems surreal that he is no longer with us. I still feel his presence in my life. I suppose that this is the mark of a truly great individual.

Labor Day also marks the death of my step-brother Christopher. Chris was born with Cystic Fibrosis, and he was not expected to live into his teen years. My step-mother Jeanette was told that Chris would never live to drive a car, have a girlfriend, or graduate from high school. Basically, she was instructed to take her little baby boy home, to love him and to wait for him to die.

Chris was born to defy the odds. He outlived the doctors expectations, partly due to the medical advances during his lifetime, and partly due to the perseverance of his Mom. Jeanette believed in Chris, and this allowed him to believe in himself. Despite everything, Chris managed to maintain a sense of humor and a warm smile.

Chris was the recipient of a lung transplant when he was in his early twenties. We all celebrated when the surgery was a success. We cried when he was able to breathe without pain and thought it was truly a miracle. He was stoic and brave throughout the recovery. I remain inspired by his strength and resolve to not only survive, but to thrive.

I used to jokingly refer to Chris as the "Little Shit." This was not meant to be derogatory. He had a mischievous smile and a jokers wit. I never knew what he was doing, but he was always scheming his next prank or joke. Somehow, the nickname just fit.

To this day, Chris remains the only person who has been able to tease my father about his receding hairline. If I dared to joke with my Dad about being bald, my universe would have collapsed upon me. Somehow, Chris managed without raising an eyebrow. His giggle and smile made it impossible to be angry.

Despite the success of his transplant, a myriad of events occurred which conspired to cut his young life tragically short. His death rocked the foundation of our family. Chris was the ultimate survivor. He had defied the odds throughout his life. We were shocked when he passed away.

Looking into Jeanette's eyes at Christopher's funeral, I could see her heart break. She was strong, but the despair that she felt permeated the church. There remain no words to soothe that kind of anguish. Now that I am a Mom, I cannot even imagine facing such a loss.

I try to remember my Pop and Chris on Labor Day not by the voids that their losses have created, but by their lives. I have heard it said that the grief one feels after a death is equal only to the love and joy that the deceased brought into your life. I believe this to be true. I am blessed to have wonderful memories of my Pop and of Christopher. I miss them both.