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, October 23, 2009

My Midnight Visitor

I feel guilty. I absolutely adore Robby, and I am so thankful to be his Mommy. We have a lot of fun playing and learning during the day, but there are some days I don't get to go to the bathroom by myself. I know that this stage will pass, but by the end of the day, I'm exhausted. I am often asleep shortly after he does!

Some days, sleep is the only time I get to be alone. I like my sleep. I need my sleep. When I hear the bell that we installed over Robby's bedroom door ring, and the pitter-patter of his little feet in the middle of the night, my heart drops.

Robby has been having trouble sleeping through the night. His midnight jaunts into our room have been increasing in frequency as he crawls into our bed, between Scott and me, and falls asleep.

If he slept in the middle of the bed, perhaps I would not have such an issue. However, he prefers to sleep on top of me. If not on me, he settles for snuggling so close to me that I am trapped. If I move, he wakes up and I miss my sleep. If I stay still, he sleeps but my body begins to cramp and overheat.

Scott has been looking forward to the middle of the night visits since Robby was conceived. He often spoke about the time when the little one would tip toe over and crawl into bed. Scott doesn't mind our nocturnal visits. Perhaps this is because Robby does not intrude into his sleeping space.

Last night, at 2 am, I heard the foreboding sound of the little bell. Before I could open my eyes, Robby was standing in front of me, Binky in mouth and Black Bear in his arms. I asked him what was wrong, hoping his visit was prompted by the invasion of monsters. (The monsters are quickly eradicated by the "monster spray.")

He muttered something about being cold, and assumed his position. I tried placing the body pillow between us, hoping that he would snuggle the fabric and let me breathe. No such luck. The pillow was quickly tossed and before I knew it, he was cuddled close.

He quickly fell asleep. As I tried to manipulate his body so that I could breathe, I made a discovery. I realized that he was cold because he experienced a catastrophic failure of his nighttime diaper.

The poor little guy was wet and that is what prompted his visit. He was lying next to me and apparently warmed up. He was sound asleep and comfortable. I tried to find a comfortable position, allowing him to stay close but to keep me somewhat removed from the urine.

I know that this phase will pass. If he is still sneaking into our bed when he is in his teens or twenties I promise to seek family therapy. In the meantime, I will continue to try to make the best of this phase.

My mind becomes quirky in the middle of the night, as I am struggling for sleep and a comfortable position. My mind drifts to possible revenge scenarios. Last night I woke Scott up with my chuckling. I imagined Robby bringing home his first girlfriend. I greeted her, and then Robby left to use the bathroom. When he returned, Scott and I, in unison, began to sing the "Pee Pee in the Potty Song." Ideas such as these keep me entertained in the wee hours of the morning, when Robby is stealing my sleep. It would behoove Robby to allow me to sleep before I envision even more creative humiliation scenarios for my vault.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Ertle

I am still sore from my tumble the other day. How I managed to "forget" to put my leg on still astounds me. I am lucky that, aside from hurting my pride, I only sustained multiple bruises. I know that it could have been much worse.

When I had my amputation, my surgeon proposed doing an "ertle" procedure, also known as a bone bridge. Not knowing surgical procedures, I trusted in the expert. He seemed confident that this type of amputation was both proactive and necessary, so I consented.

I am by no means a surgeon, but this is my understanding of the Ertle procedure. With most bk amputations, the tibia and the fibula bones are severed. A skin flat is brought over the bones, creating a stump. Although certainly not impossible, it is difficult and painful for individuals with this type of amputation to bear weight directly on the bottom of their stump.

With an amputation done using the Ertle procedure, the tibia and fibula are joined by a piece of bone screwed into place. The bones eventually fuse giving the resulting stump a wider base. The wider stump makes it easier for me to bear weight on the bottom of my limb and it also makes my stump less sensitive, thus it is easier to fit me with a prosthetic.

The bone bridge procedure has some initial drawbacks. Firstly, it requires more surgical skill to perform than the basic amputation. Not all surgeons are competent in this procedure. I am lucky that mine is proficient. Since the procedure is more complex it requires the patient to be in the operating room for a longer period of time.

The biggest negative to the procedure is a follow-up surgery to remove the screw approximately six months after the amputation. I can tell you, six months after my amputation the last thing I wanted to do was to see my surgeon in the operating room again! I was just starting to ambulate and was less than thrilled about a follow-up procedure, albeit "simple."

I am thankful that my surgeon insisted on the Ertle procedure for my amputation. I do not have the prosthetic stress experienced by many amputees. In fact, I am quite easy to fit with a prosthetic. I have yet to have an issue with the bottom of my limb.

The base of my stump can withstand both weight and impact. I fell onto the base of my stump and sustained only bruising. My stump is sore, but I am still able to wear my prosthetic. Life as an amputee is not easy, but the Ertle procedure has made it easier. For this, I am thankful.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Clarification: Dedicated to My Mom

I have received some complaints concerning yesterday's blog. I feel it necessary to clarify a few points, primarily because these complaints were lodged by my mother, my biggest fan and supporter. She is also one of the last people I would want to upset. She feels that her "puppies" were displayed in a negative light and that their "quirks" were depicted as in an unflattering manner.

First of all, she asked me to explain that she has never chosen any of her dogs. They were all given to her, mostly by her children. Take Lizzy Puppy, her short haired schizo dog in need of Xanax. Lizzy started out being my brother's dog. After having her for a week, Jae changed his mind and decided that he no longer wanted to be a puppy parent. He asked my mom to "watch" Lizzy until he could find a suitable home. Lizzy moved in, peed on the couch to mark her territory, and isn't going anywhere!

Yes, she claims that I am the culprit behind her raising Tigger, the large, loud dog in need of Prozac. My mom contends that I was planning on taking Tigger with me as soon as I found a suitable apartment for myself. She and I have different recollections of this conversation, so I will address it no further.

As for the dog door situation, miraculously both dogs have started using this access point. I received an ecstatic phone call. Lizzy had finally used the dog door, without being baited through with the lure of a raw hot dog. Truth be told, she was more excited about Lizzy using the dog door than she was when I graduated from college.

Apparently a disagreement also exists concerning her training methods. Her dogs have each been through obedience training, one "graduated" from the same class four times. Her dogs are "free spirits" and their behavior is merely an effort to express their canine canine creativity.

Another disagreement stems from the barking deterrent collars. Okay, my Mom claims that she attempted to use the collar. The only dog that was affected by the tone emitted was the canine who was quiet. The other dogs were able to bark and create a painful tone for the "good" dog. She has now proved that her dogs can not only be unruly, but that they have the propensity for sadism.

With all of the quirks of her dogs, they are wonderful companions. Every member of the family has a special relationship with Nana's puppies. Robby cannot wait to give the dogs treats when he arrives at her house. There is also an element of safety when dogs are in the house, especially hers. I rest comfortably knowing that, should there be an intruder, my Mom would know immediately. After the barking and howling subsided, both dogs would dash quickly under the covers to protect themselves from danger. If the noise didn't wake my Mom, surely she would notice the covers being stolen!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Puppy Love

I am a stay at home Mom, but that does not mean that I do not work. I am busier throughout the day now than I was when I worked full time. I have learned that there is no such thing as a lunch break when you have a toddler in the house. When the sun goes down, I am ready for sleep!

My heart goes out to my Mom. She is as busy as I during the day. Unfortunately, circumstances prevent her from benefiting from a full night sleep at night. In reality, she probably hasn't slept a solid six hours in 38 years.

No, young children don't prevent my mom from sleeping. We are grown and out of the house, with the exception of my brother, who has recently taken residence in the basement. As soon as we were relatively self-sufficient, she made a classic mistake: she got a dog.

I am not sure how it happens, but somehow every single dog my Mom adopts ends up with issues. In addition to a plethora of health issues, from diabetes to seizure disorders, her pets always demonstrate social issues. I'm not talking normal anxieties. Her animals all develop full neurosis.

My mom installed a dog door in her house, hopeful that this would enable canine independence allowing her to sleep through the night. The problem? Her dogs are afraid of the door, especially at night. Yes, her dogs are afraid of the dark.

Every night, she is awoken by one of her "puppies." She must walk downstairs with them, turn on the outdoor light, and open the door. Sometimes the dogs can be cajoled inside through the pet door. On most occasions, she must wait for them to finish and escort them back to bed.

We installed a motion light above the dog door, hoping that would resolve the issue. Her dogs are afraid of the light and the mysterious entity that turns it on. When the light turns on, the barking begins.

Her puppies must have super sonic hearing because they bark when a neighbor up the street closes his car door. They have been known to howl at birds. And don't get me started when there are nearby fireworks...

My mom purchased special dog collars to help subside their barking. The collar emits a tone which discourages the barking. The collars don't work. Perhaps this is because they remain in the original packaging, in the garage, awaiting batteries.

Despite the dogs' health issues and neurosis, they are loved. No matter what they do or destroy, my Mom never angers. I remember when my mom got a new couch delivered. We went to pick out throw pillows, only to return home to find the sofa shredded. My mom's reaction? She simply sighed and suggested that we return the pillows.

On the rare occasion that she feels that her puppies need correction, she resorts to the dreaded newspaper roll. She never uses the newspaper, or smacks it against a chair to make a noise. She simply shows them the paper, and continues with the typical "shhhh shhhh." Most times, the dogs continue barking, and her shushing becomes louder until she gives up.

I am not saying that she doesn't try to train her dogs. Every canine companion has completed and graduated from several dog obedience courses. Her current dogs have each been through the course at least twice. They now will complete their trick for a hot dog, but for nothing else.

I love visiting my Mom, and I love her dogs. Robby loves animals and tolerates his Nana's puppies. He learned quickly that they will steal the food right out of his hand and that Tigger has no qualms about swiping his toys.

I know that my mom must be tired. I know how I felt getting up every three hours when Robby needed a bottle. I cannot imagine maintaining that schedule for years. When she does get a chance to sleep, there is barely room. She must squeeze between the two dogs, and the fit only gets tighter as the weather chills.

Her dogs are very lucky to have my mom take care of them. At her house, the "dog days of summer" equates to ice cream in bed with the air conditioner on full blast! I just wish that her puppies would appreciate her and maybe let her sleep at least one night!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Have I Mentioned My Natural Grace?

Scott loves technology. More particularly, he loves getting other people involved with his newest gadget. His mother has been his biggest challenge to convert, so he felt a sense of victory when she finally agreed to use a web camera.

Scott and his mom now "web chat" several times a week. It has been nice because she is able to see Robby, and he is able to see his Grandma. We no longer have to try to explain Robby's latest trick or feat. She is able to see him and interact via webcam.

Per Sunday night tradition, Scott was chatting with his mom last night. Robby, not feeling particularly compelled to entertain, was sitting on the floor watching an enthralling episode of Thomas the Train. After exchanging hellos and a brief conversation, I was planning to gracefully take my leave and draw a bath.

Unfortunately there is nothing graceful about me. I tried to discretely slip off the bed and out of the room. To say I was unsuccessful in this attempt would be an understatement.

I must have been tired from the weekend, or perhaps I was looking forward to my bath, but I apparently forgot to put my leg on before I started to walk. I went down with the loudest of "thuds," hitting my thigh against the night table before I landed by slamming into the wall.

Mind numbing pain immediately followed my gravitational experiment. I feel comfortable stating that I have not experienced a more severe, debilitating pain than the sensation when I happen to fall onto my stump. It is a pain like no other that leaves me momentarily paralyzed and I can only wait for it to pass.

As I was on the floor, waiting for the wave of pain to crest, I heard Scott providing a play-by-play to his mom, who heard the entire event via the computer. Robby began to cry because I was hurt. After the pain eased, I performed a quick body check. No broken bones, no blood. I reasoned that, although embarrassed and bruised, I would be okay.

I can't recall the last time I fell because I "forgot" to put on my prosthetic. Albeit inevitable, it is still disconcerting. Did I forget my leg because I am so used to always wearing it? Or, did I forget that I was an amputee and that I needed a prosthetic?

I don't know the answer. I do know that I was tired, and my mind was occupied. I don't know an amputee who has not had a similar experience. I also know that I am already becoming sore, and that I am going to be hitting the ibuprofen bottle hard tomorrow!