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 18, 2009

Moving Men Not Needed...

I suppose when aspects of my life become beyond my control, I attempt to regain my sanity by becoming ultra-organized. I went to the doctor the other day and found out that I not only have one tumor, but "cluster tumors" on my pituitary gland. The good news is that these growths are rarely malignant. I am holding onto that blessing as I prepare for yet another surgery.

There is little I can do about the growths except to wait for the surgery and to comply with my physician's orders. Because I feel as if I am not doing anything proactive at the moment, I have been experiencing a compulsion to clean and to organize. We've lived in this house for nearly five years, and we still have yet to unpack all of boxes from our move.

Yesterday I decided to clean Robby's bedroom. I went through his clothes, organizing them into categories to donate and to throw away. I was saddened when I was holding the small little outfits, knowing that he was now too big and that he would never again be a little baby. After I was done with the clothes, I opted to continue by moving his furniture.

Robby's room had become a bit of a "catch all." Furniture was against every available wall, and he had no room to play. I wanted to create a space for him to play as well as to sleep. (To be honest, I also wanted to get some of the larger toys out of my bedroom.)

I worked for hours, cleaning and moving furniture. I pushed with my sound side, using my prosthetic foot as a brace. To my delight, I was able to move all of the furniture before Scott came home from work. I only sustained one small injury when the excess skin above my socket became pinched between the changing table and my prosthetic. Ouch!

Inspired by my work yesterday, I woke up this morning energized and excited about reorganizing our bedroom. Despite being married for five years, Scott and I still use our childhood dressers. We've been lamenting the lack of storage space for our clothing during the past few months. Shopping for a new dresser has been frustrating because it is difficult to find a piece of furniture low enough to fit under the huge television.

Remembering that the previous owners of this house left a dresser in the laundry room, I set out to find a tape measure and to get to work. I was delighted to discover that the "junk dresser" was the perfect height for the bedroom. All I had to do was carry it up to the bedroom.

I could have waited for Scott to come home from work. In retrospect, I should have waited for Scott to come home to help move the dresser. It was not the safest choice for me to move the large piece of furniture up two flights of stairs alone, with only a toddler to help should I become injured. Hind sight is 20/20 because I opted to do it alone.

Robby cheered me on and made constant "muscle" gestures to me as I was huffing and puffing while pushing the large dresser up the stairs. He even sang the theme song to "Bob the Builder" as I was humming "I Am Woman" while shifting precariously on a step with a large dresser bearing down on me.

I didn't have any problems until the very last step. I went to step up with my prosthetic, and my leg didn't budge. Because my vision was obstructed by the dresser, I tried to move my leg a little and yanked hard. I pulled my limb right out of my leg! Apparently the dresser was resting on my foot which would have been quite painful had it not been a prosthetic. I suppose I should add this experience to my "benefits of being an amputee" list.

I shifted the dresser slightly, freeing my prosthetic. I put my leg back on and continued to pull the dresser up the final stair. After the dresser was safely on flat ground, I examined my prosthetic. The weight of the dresser put a large dent in the foot shell. If I weren't an amputee, I am sure that I would be suffering with a broken foot tonight. Instead, I am looking for chalk to fill in the hole on my foot.

After 70 minutes, I managed to push the dresser up the stairs and safely into the bedroom. I opted to keep my activities secret during the day. I wanted Scott to be surprised when he came home and saw the bedroom. He came home from work, went into the bedroom and changed his clothes. He turned on the television and started to watch ESPN. Only after Robby pointed to the dresser did he notice. A little anti-climatic, but a satisfying day none the less.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

One Proud Mommy!

This past Friday was the anniversary of the September 11th attacks. As is true with most Americans, I remember everything about the moment I heard about the attacks. Eight years later and my heart rate goes up and I begin to quake when I remember that day.

Robby is only three. He wasn't born when the attacks occurred. I don't want to scare him, but I think it is important for him to understand the significance of that day. Those events changed the country that he has been born into. I struggled to find a way to commemorate the somber day with a toddler, without evoking fear.

That morning, I sat Robby down and explained that it was a sad day. That a long time ago, a very bad thing happened and people are sad today. I told him that a lot of people got hurt, including firefighters.

To be honest, he wasn't interested in my talk until I mentioned the firefighters. Typical little boy I suppose! In any case, he said, "Firefighters sad." I said that yes, they were sad today. To my delight, Robby came up with his own idea. He asked, "Robby make cookie. Make firefighters happy."

What a wonderful idea! We made a huge batch of chocolate chip cookies to take to the fire station. Robby chattered about the fire fighters and the "big woo woo truck" as we mixed, spooned and baked the cookies. He dug through his clothes bins and found his favorite fire fighter "woo woo" shirt to wear when we delivered the cookies.

Robby and I talked about the fire fighters on the drive to the fire house. I explained that they are very brave. I explained that they keep people safe. I explained that they are heroes. He broke into the "Higgley Town Hero" song.

I know I am biased, but he looked so cute as he handed the cookies to the firemen. I explained that we wanted to do something to commemorate 9/11, but that it was hard to find an appropriate activity for a toddler. The firemen seemed thrilled with the cookies. Robby gave them each a big hug and said, "Thank you" as he left the station.

I was hoping that the activity made an impact on Robby, but one can never be sure what a toddler will take from an experience. He made cookies which was fun. He got to deliver the cookies and meet the firemen which was a thrill. Otherwise, I didn't think that he took anything significant out of the project.

Today we had to go to the pharmacy. As we were walking through the aisles waiting for the prescription to be filled, Robby spotted a fireman. He got a huge smile, and went running straight towards him. Unprompted and before I could catch him, Robby threw his arms around the unsuspecting man's legs and said, "Thank you, hero." That's good enough for me.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Needed: Role Model

I feel like a young child, giddy on Christmas Eve. I've been anticipating this event for several months. Now that it has arrived I keep looking at the clock which seems to be ticking slower. Finally, the fall TV shows have started, in particular, the newest season of The Biggest Loser.

It may seem strange to many people, but I love watching The Biggest Loser. I find it not only inspirational but also educational. In every episode I find another tidbit of information to help me on my journey to a healthy lifestyle.

I used to record the show on the DVR so that I could watch it while I'm riding the bicycle. I found that I rode harder and for longer periods when I was suffering with the contestants. Scott liked this schedule because it left the television free in the evening, convenient for assorted sporting events or for watching an odd man complete disgusting jobs (a show called "Dirty Jobs," something he can watch for endless hours).

Unfortunately, the cable has been disconnected downstairs in an effort to reduce our expenditures. Now instead of riding my bike while watching the show, I can walk on the treadmill. It may seem strange, but I always feel the compulsion to exercise when this show is on. It just feels wrong to chow down on ice cream and cake while watching morbidly obese individuals struggle to regain control of their lives.

The Biggest Loser helped to inspire my weight loss. To date, I have lost over 100 pounds. I continue to struggle to maintain my weight, but I remain vigilant about watching my caloric intake and exercising. It sounds cliche, but my weight loss has sparked a complete change in lifestyle.

Diets have a conclusion, a point at which one decides to resume "normal" eating. If I ate "normally" I wouldn't need to lose weight to begin with! Obviously I needed to redefine "normal" for myself and for my family.

The Biggest Loser and other diet related shows, including Ruby, feature individuals who are disabled by their own obesity. I certainly relate to many of the issues presented, including fatigue, depression and pain. To my dismay, there hasn't been anybody featured who lost weight despite a non-obesity related disability.

When I started my diet, I felt alone. I could relate to the contestants, but I continued to feel as if I had additional issues that were not addressed. In addition to my weight, I was limited by my amputation. Seeing another amputee, or anybody else with a non-obesity related disability, struggle with weight loss certainly would have helped me. I am confident that I am not alone with this complaint.

Being an amputee, I face a lot of hurdles. As an overweight woman, I faced a different set of hurdles. Combine the amputation with the obesity and I felt hopeless and lost. I resigned myself to the fact that I was going to be overweight because I was disabled. After all, I only had one leg. I had the perfect excuse!

When I started my exercise program I was unsure how to proceed. I didn't know how to adapt the exercises, and I was without a role model to whom I could relate. I had to figure out issues along the way.

For example, my stump becomes sweaty inside my liner when I ride the bicycle. Sometimes, after a long ride, my stump will slide right out of the liner, leaving my limb exposed. After trial and error, I discovered that spraying my residual limb with anti-perspirant before exercising eliminated this issue. I also discovered that a deodorant/anti-perspirant spray should NEVER be used as this resulted in painful red bumps that lasted for days. Read the labels diligently when choosing an anti-perspirant spray because the deodorant combination will be a painful mistake.

I am glad that the newest season of The Biggest Loser has started. I am looking forward to watching the contestants transform their lives and rediscover their true selves. I continue to wait for a disabled person to be included. I wish that other amputees could be inspired to regain their independence and a healthy life in spite of their limb loss. Unfortunately, I am without clout so all I can do is hope and wait.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Dirty Clothes Blues

Scott has returned to work, which means that I have been able to catch up on some much overdue housework. As I was cleaning, I started thinking about the small changes in my life since I've become an amputee. Without really thinking about it, my amputation has influenced most of the decisions I've made since my surgery. I suppose that it has become natural for me to consider my limb loss when I am making "normal" household decisions.

For example, I used to have a problem carrying the laundry basket downstairs to the washer and dryer. Holding a heavy basket in front of me with two hands, and then maneuvering down two flights of steps, made me nervous. I was worried about falling. My fears were not unfounded, I lost my balance several times trying to carry the laundry.

Initially Scott carried the laundry to and from the laundry area for me. I am a proponent of teamwork, but I do not like being dependent. I quickly realized that relying upon Scott to carry the laundry was going to lead to frustration. After all, I didn't want to have to wait for him to return from work just so that I could throw a load of laundry in the washer.

Laundry baskets tend to be disposable in our house. Robby loves sitting in the basket and sliding down the stairs. He also loves to be pushed and carried through the house sitting in the basket. Obviously the flimsy plastic is not meant to withstand the "torment of the toddler."

When we were shopping for yet another laundry basket, I discovered an easy solution to my laundry carrying quandary. Instead of using a traditional basket, we switched to the pop-up hamper with the zip cover. Now, when I want to do the laundry, I close the lid to the fabric hamper and toss it down the stairs. I no longer have to maneuver down the stairs carrying an unwieldy basket, and the laundry doesn't scatter all over the floor.

In order to carry the laundry hamper up the stairs, I simply zip the cover and drag it behind me. Since it is a soft fabric, I don't worry about the floors being scuffed or damaged. Problem easily solved, and my laundry independence was regained! Alas, if I could only find an easier way to fold and put the clothes away...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Oh No... IHOP!

According to a recent survey by a parenting magazine, IHOP was ranked as one of the top 10 restaurants for families. The kid friendly atmosphere and "fun food" were touted among the listed attributes. I find this survey disconcerting. What does it say about my parenting skills or my son if we were banned from one of the top 10 family friendly restaurants?

Yes, I was asked to leave IHOP. They actually brought me my food, in a to go box, and the check at the same time. The manager kindly suggested that I would be more comfortable eating my pancakes at home.

I woke up early with Robby. We decided it would be a nice treat to let Daddy sleep in so I decided to take Robby out to breakfast. I feel that I should mention that this is the first time I have ever taken him to a restaurant without another adult for "back up."

I got dressed, but I let Robby stay in his Thomas the Train pajamas. He looked charming in his snug fit jammies and his dinosaur sneakers. He was excited about going out for pancakes and was a chatterbox on the entire car ride.

When we got to IHOP, I made the quick decision to let him sit in the booth with me. This is the first time he wasn't contained in a high chair at a restaurant, but I was convinced that he would be good. I believe I was deceived by his cuteness!

He happily slid into the booth, and I took the opposite bench. We ordered, and I began sipping on my coffee. I was feeling quite proud that he was behaving so well. I thought I had this "parenting thing" in the bag! I took out my cell phone and took a picture.

After I went through the contact list on my phone and sent the picture, I put my phone away. My eyes were only diverted from Robby for a moment or two, but when I looked up he was gone. I immediately began scanning and saw him to me at the end of the section, wearing a huge smile.

I called him back to me. He waved. Then he pointed to the kitchen, and took off. I tried to get out of the booth to chase after him. My prosthetic got stuck on the table leg. In my rush, I couldn't get free. I kept kicking the table leg, but I was stuck.

It is not unusual for me to have difficulty exiting from booths at restaurants. It is easy for my prosthetic to become wedged between the table leg and the seat. I usually have to look under the table to visually locate the obstacle so that I can maneuver around it. I had to slowly and deliberately guide my prosthetic around the table leg so I could chase after my toddler. This cost me several valuable seconds in the chase!

Even though he is little, Robby can still be fast. By the time I caught him, he was running around the kitchen area. He had grabbed two eggs and was circling the line chefs, chanting "egg egg egg." All work in the kitchen stopped while I chased my little urchin.

I caught him and took the eggs. I put them on the counter, and apologized to everybody who was looking in my general direction. I picked him up, and he began screaming. Actually, screaming is a bit of an understatement. Wailing might be a more apt description.

We returned to our booth in time to see the manager approaching us, with our food in Styrofoam boxes. Humiliated, I left a large tip, paid for our meal and went home. We woke Daddy up whenCheck Spelling we returned, and Mommy took Tylenol. We will try to go out to eat again, perhaps when he is 18.