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, October 02, 2009

Drowning My Nerves In Cake...

So, I was on my way home from a CAT scan. Sounds like the opening to a bad joke, doesn't it? Unfortunately, it was the beginning of a very scary afternoon.

I was stopped at a red light and was getting ready to call Scott to let him know that I was doing okay after the test. I heard the horrible sound of clashing metal. I instantly knew that there had been an accident. Before I could fully process the situation, I saw an SUV go airborne, flip and land on its roof.

I am fairly certain I was dialing 911 before I was able to exhale. To my shock, I discovered that our 911 system is answered by, you guessed it, voicemail! "Hello. You have reached 911 emergency. If this is a real emergency, please press 1." (No kidding. Ironic after yesterday's blog.)

My mind was spinning as my shaky hands pressed 1. I was reporting the accident as I pulled my car to the side of the road. I knew that the driver must be in trouble because the car was upside down. I was also surprised that none of the other witnesses were coming to offer assistance. After the accident was reported, I threw the phone on my passenger seat and took off running to the scene.

I immediately got down on my stomach to speak to the driver. I was worried about what I was going to see, but I felt compelled to offer aid. Thankfully, she was responsive. She was wearing her seat belt, upside down in the car.

Then, I heard a baby crying. I looked into the back seat, and saw a baby suspended in the car seat. Thank God for car seats because I could have witnessed a child fatality! This is the point that my hands started to quake. What do I do?

I had been on my stomach to examine the scene. Instinctively, I turned onto my back. With my prosthetic leg, I cleared the edge of the smashed window frame to make sure it was clear of any sharp glass. To be honest, I wasn't concerned about my getting cut. I was more worried about hurting the baby.

Back onto my stomach, I reached in and grabbed the baby's clothes. I held on as tight as possible. With my other hand, I managed to unsnap the latches on the car seat, freeing the child. (Another blessing, the car seat was the same style my sister used for her three children, so I was familiar with how it works.)

I quickly pulled the baby through the window and carried her away from the car. By the time I had freed the child, the police and ambulance were arriving. I was able to tell the mother, still trapped, that her child was okay.

The scene smelled of gas, air bag powder and metal. I gave the police officer my information, and I was told I could leave. I drove home as if I were autopilot. It wasn't until I pulled into my driveway that I realized what had transpired.

I relayed the story to Scott and gave Robby a hug. I realized that I needed to take a shower because I had glass in the waistband of my jeans and on my shirt. I am going to have to take the foot shell off my prosthetic because shards of glass are embedded.

I think I am still processing the events of today. I am glad that I was able to help, but I am also disgusted that no other individuals offered assistance. I have been trying to cuddle Robby since I came home but it is a difficult task with a three year old.

Scott has been trying to soothe my frayed nerves. He went to the store for milk and came back with a chocolate cake and a cookie magazine. Tonight, as I eat cake, I will be counting my blessings.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Please hold...

I have had the unfortunate opportunity during the past few months to interact with a variety of physicians. This latest medical journey has been wrought with frustrations and road bumps. The pitfalls have not been due to a fluctuating medical condition, but have been brought about by the decline in "customer service" within the medical community.

I am not sure when the change occurred, but it seems to be global. When I call a physician's office, I no longer speak with a live person. The phone is immediately answered by voice mail. The calls usually progress something like this:

"No, I don't know my party's extension." Okay, press 0 for the operator. Holding... holding... boring music.. holding. Shoot. I've been disconnected. Try to redial, only to find out that the 0 I pressed messed up the redial option on my phone, so I have to look up the number, again, and start over.

I attempted to get in touch with my son's pediatrician the other morning. I waited until 9:30 to call, trying to avoid contributing to the onslaught of calls received by the office in the morning. I was shocked when I heard a recording that actually said, "You have reached our office during business hours. Unfortunately, we are running late and the office is not yet open. If this is an emergency, please dial 911. Please try again in a few minutes. Thank you."

Doctor's don't even bother to call with lab results anymore. I find myself spending my days navigating through voice mail and eventually talking with nurses or receptionists to try to discover my results. Apparently the results are mailed to my home or sometimes the doctor adopts the "if you don't hear from me, assume all is fine" attitude.

I have a strict policy. If someone takes any fluid or tissue from my body, I deserve the courtesy of a phone call to tell me the results. I understand that the doctor is busy, but certainly one of the nurses I frequently see huddled around the counter in the office could manage a phone call. After all, they are my results and these nurses are not answering the phone!

Yet another medical test is scheduled for tomorrow. I am not dreading the test as much as I am dreading the chore of getting the results read by my doctor and forwarded to me. It is becoming increasingly difficult to be an active participant in my own care, but I refuse to accept a passive role. After all, I am the person who will have to live with any and all treatment decisions.

My Mom recently went for her annual pap smear and was given a phone number and special "code" to retrieve her results. We laughed when we thought about the possibilities. Soon, doctors will no longer reveal diseases in person. Imagine, pressing a code and hearing the voice mail recording say, "We're sorry. You have cancer. Please get your affairs in order. To repeat this information, press one; to leave a message, press two; press star to disconnect or hang up now. Thank you."

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

My Child is on a Leash!

I was made aware of a controversy today and I feel compelled to chime in. Apparently a Mom in Georgia has been arrested and is being prosecuted for pulling her child, on the floor, through the aisles of a store on his "monkey leash." After I saw the video, I immediately knew that the charges were unfounded.

Robby also has a monkey leash. I was hesitant to go the "child leash" route, but I found that I had no choice. Robby is fast and agile. I am slower and not nearly as swift. He can dart in and out of tight spots and can burst into a sprint on a dime. I cannot run in my "everyday" leg and I am limited by my prosthetic.

I was walking with Robby last summer when we were on vacation, and he dropped my hand and started to run. I ran after him, but he was quick. Before I knew it, he was headed straight into the middle of the road! Thankfully I managed to catch him before anything worse could happen, but I decided then and there that I needed to keep him on a leash.

I never thought I would be one of "those parents." Before I became a Mommy, I would see children wearing their little leash backpacks and shake my head. I am embarrassed to admit it now, but I was judgmental. I attributed the need for a leash to inattentiveness or poor parenting. Oh, how experience can change an outlook!

Robby is on a leash for his own safety. I simply cannot keep up with him. I suppose my prosthetic provides me with a more "valid" excuse, but I don't feel that I should require one. Perhaps we should not be as judgmental.

Back to the video of the child being pulled on the floor, which sparked the controversy. Robby loves his monkey leash. One of his favorite "games" is being pulled along the floor while wearing the backpack. We've been known to "sweep" the hallway playing this game. I have never played this game in public, but I can see how Robby might want to initiate it.

Being pulled is fun for kids. The child in the video was not being pulled maliciously and was carefully maneuvered around obstacles. I feel sympathy for this mother and her family.

Robby will continue to wear his backpack. He tells me that he is going to be a "good boy," but he is three and cannot be trusted yet. I would rather endure the looks from judgmental teenagers and 20 somethings and keep him safe. After all, loving and protecting your child is a parent's number one priority.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Fall Foliage...

I have been an amputee for over six years. During this time I have learned to trust my prosthetic which is not an easy feat. Basically, I have had to learn to rely upon a pole and some metal to keep me mobile.

Given time and experience, I have achieved complete prosthetic trust. I rarely think about my leg when I'm walking around the house or within the community. I have finally reached the liberating stage when I can put on my leg and just walk without purposefully thinking about the process. There are a few situations, however, when my trust begins to waiver.

I love autumn. We live in the woods, and the changing leaves are beautiful. I feel invigorated by the crisp air and cool breeze. For some reason, the season always makes me feel alive and rejuvenated.

Despite all of its benefits, autumn does pose one potential problem for the leg amputee. I have developed, through time and experience, a fear of slipping on leaves especially when the leaves are wet.

When wet leaves are in my path, I purposely walk slower and with more diligence. I am careful with each step as I slowly walk to my destination. It takes me longer to walk through parking lots and throughout our neighborhood.

My fear of slipping on leaves is not unfounded. I have tumbled on wet leaves on several occasions. Each time I have taken a spill, I experienced pain and embarrassment. I don't know any amputee who hasn't fallen; it is something which we all dread, but is inevitable.

I wish I had a solution to the wet leaf problem. We try to keep our driveway clear of the falling foliage, but this is an uphill battle because of our location. I utilize the handicapped parking more during this season to minimize the risk of slipping on the wet leaves. I walk with caution as I analyze the route that I need to maneuver.

I love the autumn, but I hate the leaves. I hate that I have increased anxiety when walking. I hate that my fear of slipping increases. Time will pass, and the seasons will change. Soon I won't be worried about the leaves anymore. Unfortunately, this is because all of the leaves will be covered with ice.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Nana's Job Well Done.

I was in Seattle last week for a conference. While I was away, my mom (Nana) took care of Robby. I knew that he was safe, happy and being spoiled. I also have to admit that I was nervous. Every time Nana watches Robby for an extended amount of time, he returns home with new expectations and, many times, large toys.

The last time my Mom watched Robby he came home with a scooter and a trampoline. Yes, she bought him a trampoline. Apparently worrying about broken arms only extends to the first generation! Nana just smiled and said, "He likes to jump."

On this trip she kept talking about baby goats. Robby loves going to the petting zoo and has been taken with the baby goats. He loves to feed them and talks about his little goat friends constantly. Apparently he must have chatted the goats up to his Nana.

All of a sudden I started getting Facebook messages and cryptic phone calls about how to care for baby goats. Apparently they are social animals, so I would need to get two. I was trying to prepare myself in the event that two goats were delivered, along with my son, when I returned home.

Thankfully Robby returned home without any critter friends. I was informed that a fence needs to be built, and a proper home, i.e. barn, needs to be erected. She is planning on a Christmas arrival for the goats. I am hoping that Robby develops a new interest in the upcoming weeks so that Nana's attentions can be diverted from farm animals.

As with most grandparents, my mom relishes in spoiling Robby. She doesn't have to say "No." She gets to be the fun adult while avoiding the unpleasantness often associated with child rearing. Ice cream for breakfast? No problem. Breakfast in bed? Not a problem at Nana's house. All of your meals in bed? Why not! After all, you're at Nana's!

After a long trip, whether for work or for pleasure, it is always nice to relax for a day or two until the routine of life re-establishes itself. I was not afforded this luxury. My days have been spent repeating a constant stream of "No," and "You're not at Nana's anymore." I guess I can't really blame the little guy. Eating ice cream in bed, for breakfast, sounds like fun (especially if you're three.)

I am glad that Robby and his Nana have a special relationship. He deserves to be spoiled, and there is nobody more ready for the task. If we could only have a meal at the table without him screaming for Nana, I would be one happy Mommy!