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 16, 2009

Forever... It is a REALLY long time...

I received an email this morning from a friend of mine who had his leg amputated, below knee, due to an accident. His amputation is still fresh, and he has not yet been fitted with a prosthetic. My heart breaks for him as I listen to him share his feelings and fears about living as an amputee.

Although the situations behind everybody's amputation vary, I suppose that the grief and fears that are experienced are universal. I will never forget the first time I tried to balance on my IPOP (Immediate Post-Operative Prosthetic) after my surgery. I melted to the ground as I started to cry, convinced that I would never be able to balance and walk on a prosthetic. Of course, I did learn to balance, but nobody would have been able to convince me of that at the time.

I remember feeling overwhelmed after my amputation--overwhelmed not only by the pain, but also by fear and confusion. I had lived my 29 years with two legs. I was faced with the unchanging reality that I was now to live the rest of my life with only one leg.

Very few things in life are as permanent as an amputation. Marriage can be undone by divorce; children eventually grow up and start their own families; tattoos can be removed. Nothing can undo an amputation. This prospect is daunting, especially in the early days of recovery.

I still face moments of feeling completely overwhelmed by my future. It has been six years, but I continue to have days when I put my prosthetic on and I feel sad because I lament having to put on an artificial device in order to walk. My mind wanders to my future and how I am going to be repeating this same task when I am in my 80's and 90's.

How will I feel about being an amputee when I am that old? How am I going to use a prosthetic when I am elderly? Am I always going to have moments when I grieve my leg even when I am in a nursing home playing Canasta and sipping on Milk of Magnesia?

I don't know how I am going to feel about the amputation in the future. I know that it is my reality and that I will somehow continue to cope. During the moments when I find my mind contemplating the "what ifs," I try to refocus and continue forward. I'll often take a deep breathe, try to ignore the fears, and keep about the business of the day.

I am sure that my pushing the feelings out of my mind would be admonished by psychiatrists as an avoidance technique. Trying to stay in the present versus fearing the future seems to be working for me. I wish I had better advice for my friend when he is facing these emotions, but I don't. I do know that he is not alone, and perhaps we can find solace in the knowledge that our fears are universal.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Just a Quick Thought...

I just watched the weather. We are going to have a steady, cold rain until at least Monday. I am trying to look on the bright side...

Oh, and I'm still waiting on a compliment for painting...

Ready for Winter?? Get Your Stump Warmers Out...

It is starting to get cold. I've changed the comforter on the bed, put on the electric mattress pad and pulled the extra blankets out of the closet. I absolutely hate being cold especially when I'm trying to sleep.

Our electric mattress pad has a "zone" feature. More coils are concentrated towards the bottom of the bed, providing increased heat to the feat. Unfortunately, I have only one foot to benefit from his feature. My stump falls smack dab in the center of the pad, which provides minimal warming.

I have a problem keeping my stump warm at night. It doesn't become cool; it becomes downright icy cold to touch and becomes painful. When my residual limb is cold, I am absolutely miserable.

I have tried everything to keep my stump warm at night. I have even wrapped my limb in an electric heating pad. I would not recommend this course of action. In addition to becoming wrapped in the cord when I move, the circulation in my limb has been negatively impacted. I don't have the same temperature receptors, and I worry about burning my limb.

So, always searching for a solution, I kept trying various "warming" methods. A dear friend of mine knitted me socks for my limb. The "stump socks" were soft and warm and slightly over-sized. The sock worked well if I were watching television or on the computer, but immediately rolled off my limb when I began to move in my sleep.

I discovered that my husband's tube socks were the perfect fit for my residual limb. The socks are slightly smaller in size and provide some soothing compression in addition to warmth. Because the socks are longer in length, I can pull them over my knee if necessary and they stay in place during the night.

On extremely cold nights, or when my stump is particularly cold, I resort to hand warmers. One word of caution: It is imperative that a physical barrier exist between the warmer and the residual limb. The hand warmers can get hot, and burns can occur before the amputee can sense the extreme heat.

I pull on one of Scott's tube socks, put the hand warmer in the bottom of a second sock, and pull it over my stump. The hand warmer heats quickly, and provides a large area of warmth. Hand warmers can be expensive (upwards of $1 each) but I found that you can purchase them in bulk for a reduced price. I am still working through the two cases I bought off of Ebay a few years ago.

I use a seal-in liner. Because of the socket design, there is a small air space between my liner covered stump and the prosthetic. When it is cold outside, or I know that I am going to be involved in a cold weather activity (I have a little guy who loves playing in the snow and sledding) I will put a hand warmer in the bottom of my socket. My stump stays nice and warm while outside, and I am able to avoid that horrible cold cramping which results from a cold residual limb.

I feel the effects of my amputation more during the winter. Limiting my activities is not a viable option. After all, I have a little boy who is eagerly anticipating his first snowball fight of the season. The hand warmers and a pair of Scott's tube socks are already on my night stand. I know I'll be warm and comfy as I sip my hot cocoa, watching the snow fall. Bring on the cold!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Mr. Observant? Maybe not.

I have been trying to get Robby to eat Golden Grahams for several months because I bought a dozen boxes when I hit a super sale at the grocery store this past summer. I was sure that he would love them. I could not have been more wrong.

Robby has absolutely refused to eat the cereal. That is, he has refused until I took a new approach. Instead of calling it cereal, I asked him if he wanted to eat some "cookie crackers." Well, Robby certainly couldn't say no to a cookie. Voila! He now loves his "cookie crackers" and eats them for breakfast and for snacks.

Scott is very much the same way. He told me that he hates Alfredo sauce. I made it for dinner one night, but I called it a "Creamy Parmesan" sauce. He loved it. He also told me that he hates sour cream. He is wrong; he actually likes it. However, he is indeed allergic to rosemary. In retrospect I should have taken this assertion at face value!

I am able to sneak a lot of ingredients into Scott's food because he is not the most observant of individuals. Don't get me wrong, I love him. I'm just saying that his powers of observation are not the most astute.

Case in point: I painted the downstairs today. It used to be an ugly, dirty cream color. It is now a crisp light blue. I worked all day in order to surprise Scott with the painted room when he came home from work. I figured that he would be immediately surprised when he came in from the garage and walked into a beautiful blue room.

Scott came home from work and came up the stairs as usual. Robby was very happy to see his Daddy and greeted him with a big hug. After exchanging pleasantries, I waited for him to comment on the painted room.

Nothing. He didn't say a word. I decided to push the subject a little. Yes, I posed the question that must be universally dreaded by all husbands. "Do you notice anything different?"

Almost instinctively, Scott told me that he liked my hair color. I thanked him before informing him that the color was unchanged. He asked me if I got a haircut. I had not. He told me he liked my nail polish. Just FYI, my nails were covered with little splatters of light blue paint.

It has been several hours, and he has been up and down the stairs many times since returning from work. He has yet to notice the room has been painted, nor has he seemed to note the smell of paint in the air. I am not going to tell him that the room has been painted. I plan on waiting to see how many days it takes him to notice. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Yummy Candy Corn

Robby is learning to do something new everyday and speech is improving. He is now able to maintain understandable conversations. I love talking to him, gaining a glimpse into how his little mind works. His new independence has come at a cost. Much to my chagrin, he no longer takes a daily nap.

The loss of nap time has been difficult for me to accept. I had come to rely upon the 90 minutes as a respite, a time for me to exercise and attend to my own needs. I worried about how I would complete my work-out while Robby was awake.

Initially Robby was following me downstairs. He played on the pool table or with the cat while I rode the bicycle. Occasionally he would watch a cartoon or look at a book. He would become antsy to return upstairs after thirty minutes causing me to cut my work-outs short.

Slowly, I began to trust him upstairs while I rode the bike downstairs. I put on his favorite cartoons, make sure that he has a full cup of milk and a yummy snack. I tell him that I am going to ride the bike downstairs. Now he eagerly smiles and says, "I stay here and watch cartoons. Bye Mommy."

The first few times I left him upstairs, I was worried. I constantly ran upstairs to check on him only to find that he hadn't move from in front of the television. With time, I have begun to trust him. He enjoys the "alone" time, and I am able to complete my full work out. Until recently, we haven't had a problem with our new situation.

Yesterday I put a roast in the crock pot and changed into my riding clothes. As per our routine, I topped off his sippy cup, gave him some cheese cubes, and put Max and Ruby on the television. He promised to be a good boy while I rode.

Why, oh why, did I trust a three year old?

My mother instincts must have been triggered because I finished riding early. Thank goodness for that! I came upstairs and found Robby stirring the roast in the crock pot. He smiled, and told me that he "Helped Mommy cook." I looked into the pot to find that he had added a pound of candy corn to the cooking roast.

I heard him chanting "Candy corn makes Robby all better" as I frantically tried rinsing the sticky melted goo from our dinner. The sugary mess had embedded within the meat. I scraped away whatever was visible. I cleaned the crockpot, added new broth and hoped for the best.

As I walked past the hallway bathroom, I noticed that the floor was wet. The bathroom sink was running. The water was overflowing from the sink because a towel was covering the drain. I quickly slopped up as much water as possible while listening to my little chatterbox talk about how he went "potty like a big boy." Apparently, he even washed his hands!

After the bathroom was cleaned up, I escorted Robby to our bedroom. I turned on Dora the Explorer and walked into the closet to change my clothes. I was washing my face when I heard him yelling at the television.

I came out of the bathroom, face still dripping and covered with suds, to find Robby face to face with Dora on the television. Dora was talking about how she had the best mommy in the world. What was my little troublemaker doing? Robby was screaming back, "No Dora. Robby Mommy the best. My Mommy the best not Dora mommy."

What can I say? We ate very sweet, slightly sticky roast beef for dinner. Our bathroom carpet is still a little soggy. I gave him a big hug and told him that he is right. That his Mommy is the best Mommy in the world. I also told him that he is no longer allowed upstairs while I ride the bike downstairs.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Broken? Are you Serious?

Robby is an only child. We live in the woods which offers a wonderful play area for him but no playmates. Our neighbors are all retired, and Robby is the only little one. Because of the natural isolation, I have been making an effort to socialize him with other children as much as possible.

We take him to the park on a regular basis. As the weather is turning cooler, I have become more creative about devising social opportunities. We have become regulars at the "House of Bounce" where Robby can play and bounce with other children his age. I have also started taking him to various fast food restaurants that offer play areas. For the price of a cup of coffee for me, I found that he can play for hours!

I took him to McDonald's Playland tonight. He had been good all day, but I also knew that he had a lot of pent up energy, and the prospect of chasing a scooter and bicycle up and down the driveway for two hours just didn't appeal to me.

I am amazed at how easily Robby incorporates himself into a playgroup. He doesn't care about the child's age, sex or the language that they speak. Robby eagerly engages in whatever activity the child is doing and includes himself in the activity.

It is so sad when I see Robby trying to include himself in an activity with another child and to see that child reject his efforts. As a Mommy, I just want to hug him and start playing with him myself. Unfortunately, I know that it is best to just sit back and let Robby figure it out for himself. I am not good at sitting back!

Tonight Robby was trying to play with a little boy. He was following him around the slide and was eagerly mimicking everything the child was doing. It was obvious to me that the boy didn't want to play with Robby. Being only three, Robby was oblivious to the social cues.

After a few minutes of trying to unhitch Robby, the little boy went running to his Daddy, complaining about Robby. I heard his father tell the little boy that he needed to be nice because the little boy's mommy (that would be me) is "broken." The man then not so discretely pointed to my prosthetic leg.

The boy begrudgingly returned to playing, Robby in tow. Our casual playdate had become awkward so I packed up my tiring toddler and headed home. I am hopeful that Robby released some energy, but the whole event made me sad.

Obviously, people are going to notice that I am an amputee. Why then, am I bothered by the event that transpired? I suppose it has more to do with the term that the man chose. Yes, I resent being referred to as "broken."

The little boy, although a few years older than Robby, may become a friend of my son as the children progress through school. Although I doubt that the little boy will remember the event, he may remember that disabled people are "broken" and are, therefore, worthy of pity. I am anything but pitiful!

I wish that the father would have told his boy to be nice to Robby because he is younger, and that Robby just wants to play. Or perhaps the father should have explained that Robby simply doesn't understand and wants to be his friend. My disability should not have been part of the equation.

I am still a capable and loving mother despite the limb loss. I suppose I need to build up a thicker skin. Robby is only three, and I am sure that I am destined to experience a myriad of similar situations. Has anybody else had this experience?