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 25, 2009

The Future is Now.

All good things must come to an end, and this is the case for my Seattle adventure. I enjoyed working at the AOPA conference, meeting new people and reconnecting with friends. AOPA is the national organization for prosthetists and orthotists. After a long day (and night) of traveling, I am home at last.

I remain in awe and excited about the advances that are being made in the field of prosthetics. From knees to ankles to liners and socks, improvements to existing products and brand new innovations are being created at a furious pace. I once read that the majority of advances in the field of prosthetics have come during periods of conflict and war. After being at the conference and seeing the advances first hand, I would have to agree.

There is no better time in history to be an amputee. Although technology will never replace the lost limb, the advances made will continue to improve the quality of all of our lives. Computers are getting faster, are more compact and are more powerful. This is a powerful triad for amputees. If you haven't discussed new technology with your prosthetist, I urge you to do so.

I was hesitant to start using a computerized ankle. After all, I was getting around fine on my prosthetic. At the time I was using a low profile veri-flex, a good multi-purpose foot. It wasn't until I experienced computerized prosthetics that I realized that I had been settling for less.

Before I started to use the Proprio foot, I was a cautious walker. Because my ankle did not have motion or kinesthetic feedback, I was constantly analyzing my walking path to identify all possible obstacles. I accepted this new walking style as necessary because of my amputation, and I never really thought about it. After all, I was walking. I assumed that this would be my new reality.

The Proprio foot has increased my confidence and has virtually eliminated the need to analyze and plan when walking. In layman's terms, the ankle lifts up the toe of the prosthetic, virtually eliminating the risk of stumbling and falling. It also adjusts when I am walking up and down stairs and ramps. No more "Hulk Hogan toe walking" for me up ramps. I can walk flat footed, just like everybody else!

I agreed to travel to the conference to discuss my experience with the Proprio foot because it has absolutely changed my life as an amputee. I never realized how much energy and time I spent looking down, planning my next step when walking. As I learned to trust the computer in the ankle, I began to interact and socialize when walking with my friends, husband or child.

I am lucky that I am a below knee amputee. I cannot even fathom the difficulties and obstacles faced by the above knee or hand/arm amputee. The technology being developed and implemented for knee and arm prosthetics was fascinating. There are currently a myriad of companies developing and refining technology to assist the above knee and arm amputee.

Being able to hold a conversation, look around and walk is a skill set many non-amputees take for granted. Because of the Proprio foot and the technology it utilizes, I have been able to regain this lost "luxury." I am excited about the advances in prosthetics. I am certain that future advances will continue to improve the quality of the lives of all amputees.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Traveling Momma...

This week I am doing something extremely rare. I am traveling without my husband and child. Scott is staying at home in Virginia, and Robby is going to his Nana's house. I've been asked by Ossur Prosthetics to travel to Seattle to talk about my Proprio ankle at a national conference. I am excited.

I am thrilled that the company has asked me to discuss my experiences with my Proprio ankle. I have been given similar opportunities in the past. I enjoy meeting amputees and professionals within the field. I love hearing other people's stories and sharing my own experiences.

It is always strange for me to be away from my family, albeit for only a few days. I miss Robby but I know that he is being spoiled and that he is happy. I know that I will return to a messier house and a hungry husband.

I look forward to writing about all my adventures in Seattle.

Welcome Baby Keaton.

This past weekend Robby and I had the opportunity to attend an adoption party. I was thrilled when my college friend Travis and his beautiful wife Felicia adopted a little boy. I now that they have been waiting for a child for what I'm sure seems like an eternity. They are going to be wonderful parents.

Driving to the party allowed me the opportunity to reflect upon motherhood. In particular, I started to remember how I felt when I learned that we were expecting him. After all, Robby is truly a little miracle.

I was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2001. The doctors initially told me that I wasn't going to be able to conceive. Later, I learned that conception might be possible, but that my cervix and uterus would be too weak to carry a child. I went through the treatments to eradicate the cancer, and I put my childbearing dreams out of mind.

Time passed, and Scott and I married. My desire to have a child grew. We considered adoption. Scott and I both knew that we wanted to be parents. We expected the journey to parenthood to be long.

Much to our surprise, I found out that I was pregnant. We were hesitant to spread our good news for fear of miscarrying. I was thrilled, but we were also terrified.

My pregnancy was not easy. My body had trouble supporting the growing baby, and my cervix had to be tied shut to support the weight. I was put on bed rest for the last trimester due to a fetal infection. The baby was in distress and his heart rate was dangerously high. I was miserable on bed rest. I was uncomfortable and I was nervous about the baby's health.

We are grateful that Robby was born healthy. My body eventually recovered from the stress of the pregnancy, although it took my kidneys several years to return to normal. I would love to have another child, but I am not sure that I would be able to care for Robby while on bed rest for such a long time again.

Family's come in all shapes and sizes. Scott and I do not love Robby more or less because he is biologically connected to us. My brother is adopted but I rarely think of this. He is merely my brother, not my "adopted brother." This is the way it has always been.

To celebrate this special occasion, I made Keaton a quilt. I rarely give away quilts that I make because of the time investment that they require. Perhaps because my brother is adopted, or perhaps it was because I knew how anticipated Keaton's arrival had been for my friend. Whatever the reason, I knew that a purchased gift just wouldn't do.

Robby was excited about going to the "welcome baby party." He watched me work on the quilt and we talked about the baby. Unfortunately, Robby continued to refer to the quilt as the "ouch shit blanket." Apparently I need to watch my tongue when I am quilting without my thimble.

I would say that he was excited to go to the party to meet the baby. Truth be told, he was chatting about having cake at the "big party." My friend and the baby were merely accessories to his cake eating venture. Robby was eager to give the new parents his "ouch shit blanket."

Congratulations to Travis and Felicia. They are truly an amazing couple. Little Keaton is lucky to have them for parents. He was born to be their little boy. I believe that this was destiny. You cannot mask a parent's love.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Walking in Mommy's steps.

I am amazed at how some childhood games seem to be universal. Given enough time, they all seem to discover the same joys. The company of other children may hasten the game being learned, but it is not necessary. I remember engaging in many of the activities when I was a child. I watch in wonderment, and sometimes a little pain, when I see Robby "discovering" new games.

We were walking to the mailbox, playing "step on your shadow." If Robby focuses on his shadow, I found that I can keep him moving forwards, in the direction of the mailbox. When the sun is not shining and we can't find out shadows, it often takes me at least 3x as long to retrieve the mail. Robby stops every few feet to examine bugs with his magnifying glass. Many times we have to put worms which are "asleep" (actually, they are shriveled and dead) into his bug box for further study.

Thankfully the sun was shining yesterday so we were able to make it to the mailbox in a reasonable amount of time. After we got the mail and sang the "Mailbox" song from Blue's Clues, we started home. All of a sudden Robby ran in front of me, faced me and stopped walking.

My husband and I have purposely withheld the "walking on mommy/daddy's feet" game. Scott had his big toe amputated due to an accident. Because of the amputation, his toe stump is sensitive to increased pressure and being kicked etc.. We decided that it would be best if Robby didn't get into the habit of walking on our toes.

As Robby stood before me in the middle of the street, I immediately realized what he wanted. His little hands grasped onto my shorts as he stepped onto my feet. He then looked up at me, smiled that adorable little smile that melts my heart, and said, "Momma, walk please." I should have said no. I should have stuck to the deal I made with my husband to not engage in this game. Instead, I told Robby to hang on, and started walking.

Slowly and with each deliberate step, we started back towards the house. I was able to maintain my balance, and the smile on Robby's face let me know that he thought he uncovered the best game ever! To minimize the number of steps I opted to cut through our yard.

I was walking up a small hill when Robby lost his balance. He grabbed onto my hips and was able to stop his fall. I encouraged him to walk next to me. He refused and remounted my feet. This brief stop broke my walking momentum and, apparently, the suction seal in my liner.

As I lifted up my prosthetic for the first step, I felt the seal break beneath Robby's weight. He is, after all, nearly 40 pounds. Because I was walking slowly, I was able to detect that my leg was not secure before I completely stepped out of the socket. Thankfully I was able to push my weight backwards so that I landed in a sit position. Robby landed on top of me.

I was worried that Robby would be upset because we fell. Instead, he smiled and said "wheee." Scott and I didn't want to play the "walk on your feet" game because we were worried about it causing pain for Scott. I found myself trying to explain to a toddler that Mommy's leg comes off when he walks on my feet. That's a conversation I never envisioned before! Instead, I luckily missed a possibly painful accident. We are now encouraging Robby to go Piggyback.

Monday, September 21, 2009


Before Robby was born I always found it odd when married couples referred to themselves as "Mommy" and "Daddy" in front of their children. My grandparents were in such a habit that they I never heard them refer their spouse by name. I never quite understood this practice until Robby started to speak. Scott still hasn't gotten over the fact that Robby was calling him "Scott" long before he muttered "Daddy."

Robby referring to his father as "Scott" was natural. After all, he heard it being called through the house since he was an infant. After the humor of the situation wore off, Scott and I made a resolution to call each other Mommy and Daddy until Robby figured the whole "name thing" out.

It took Robby nearly three years to say "Mommy." He could say "cookie," "cake," "ice cream" and "black bear" before he said the much anticipated "Mommy." When he first started calling me, I smiled every time I heard his sweet little voice. I thought I would never tire of hearing his call for me.

Somewhere along the line, the sweet calling of "Mommy" morphed into a demanding request. It seems that nowadays I cannot leave a room for five minutes before I hear the loud squawking of "Mommy" coming from one of my "boys." Between Scott and Robby, I am in high demand!

Robby has gotten into the habit of bellowing for me whenever he has a need. I hear the loud undulating call of "Mommy" when he wants to watch cartoons, when he wants more milk, or when he wants to show me something. He no longer feels it is necessary to get up and walk to find me. He, along with his Daddy, have learned that merely yelling for me is more convenient and yields quick results.

The calls have become so frequent that I have started to count the walks through the hallway as exercise. I should start wearing a pedometer during the day. I am sure that it would confirm the fact that I walk miles everyday responding to yelled requests.

Something has got to change. I know that this has become a bad habit for "the boys," but I also know that I have to assume some blame for allowing this to occur. Hopefully, by drawing attention to the issue, we can work towards minimizing the fishwife, bellowing calls permeating throughout the house

When I was growing up, my mom used to tell us that she was changing her name. She also warned that she wasn't going to tell any of us (me and my siblings) what the new name was. I remember thinking it was a funny game. Now that I am in her shoes, I understand that there is really nothing funny about what she was feeling.

In an effort to restore my sanity, I have come up with a stopgap solution. I am no longer going to respond to "Mommy." I am going to tell Robby that my name is "Sacajawea." I'm not going to come when he calls until he can pronounce it correctly. As for Scott, he'll need to learn how to spell it!