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.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!!!

We just got in from Trick or Treating. From the smile of a tired, wet but happy little dinosaur, I think it was a success. His Daddy seemed to have fun as well. Stay tuned for the full run down, via blog on Monday. In the meantime, I wanted to post their costumes.

I couldn't help but get into the spirit myself.... Robby went as a Dinosaur and Daddy was a Caveman.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Trick or Treat!!

I am excited about Halloween. Robby has been watching Charlie Brown's Great Pumpkin for weeks now and is eager to go trick-or-treating, hoping to get candy and rocks. (Charlie Brown wasn't thrilled getting only rocks in his trick or treat bag, but my little guy thinks it would be great fun.) I am excited for Robby. I must admit, I am also eagerly anticipating putting The Great Pumpkin away for another year.

Halloween is truly an event in our family. We start planning our costumes months ahead of the holiday. Scott certainly has a lot of "quirks," but he is a wonderful sport when it comes to my desire for matching family clothes and costumes.

To his credit, he put his stamp on Halloween before Robby was born. He began dreaming of taking his new baby Trick or Treating, in coordinating costumes, the Halloween I was pregnant with Robby. It was at this time that I learned that Scott considered Trick or Treating to be a strictly Daddy activity. Mommy's were to stay at home and hand out candy.

Robby's first Halloween I struggled to find an appropriate father/ son costume. After all, Robby was only 5 months old and wasn't interested in anything beyond his bottle and Binkie. After much consideration, I came up with the perfect costume!

Scott was a large hot dog, and Robby was a little hot dog. They looked so adorable all dressed in their costumes. Robby was too young to know what was occurring, but Scott and I fully involved him in the holiday. After all, traditions start early!

Scott left, waddling in his hot dog costume, holding our little hot dog and plastic pumpkin. I watched from the porch as he went to our neighbor's house. Unfortunately the neighbors were not home. Their dogs were, and met Scott at the edge of the driveway. The next thing I knew, I saw a giant hot dog waddling away as quickly as possible being chased by two angry and hungry looking dogs.

The unveiling of the father/son costumes has become a much anticipated event in our small neighborhood. In addition to the hot dogs, Scott and Robby have dressed as Curious George and the Man in the Yellow Hat as well as a Gingerbread Cookie (Robby) running away from the cookie sheet (Scott).

This has been the first Halloween Robby has indicated a costume preference. My creativity has been somewhat strained by his costume request. After careful planning, I am pleased with the resulting costumes. It will be quite a surprise to our friends.

This Saturday I will make our traditional Halloween dinner: roasted raven (turkey), mutilated potatoes (purple mashed potatoes) and ghost teeth (corn). Then Robby and Scott will get dressed in their costumes. Pictures will be taken, and they will go Trick-or-Treating. I usually don't blog on Saturday, but I will post pictures of"my boys" in their costumes.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Moms Say The Strangest Things...

Since I've become a Mom, I've caught myself saying some phrases I never thought I would mutter. In my glossy, glamorous and apparently unrealistic visions of motherhood, these cliches were not going to be needed. After all, my child certainly wouldn't necessitate them. Wrong!

The most commonly said on my "I never thought I would actually use these phrases" would be: because I'm the Mom; was it a big poop or a little poop; and no, boogies do not taste yummy in tummy. Other sayings I've resorted to on occasion include: Mommy doesn't know how to fix that; we'll have to wait for Daddy; you will never be President with that behavior and don't make me tell Santa.

I have heard a lot of phrases come across my lips during the past few years. This morning, I found myself telling Robby something I never imagined. It caught me off guard, and I couldn't help but laugh as soon as the words were said.

I was on the phone with my Mom, and Robby was on the floor playing quietly. At least, that is what he was doing when I dialed the phone. Lately he begins a circus act as soon as I start talking on the phone!

I was chatting with both my Mom and Robby, as I have mastered the art of maintaining a conversation with an adult and amusing a toddler simultaneously. Robby began to tug at my leg. When asked about his intentions, he told me that he wanted to "try on Mommy's leg."

That's when I said it. "Robby, you can't try Mommy's leg on right now because I need it to walk. You can play with my leg later." I had to laugh thinking how funny those words sounded. To him, these statements are the norm.

I suppose that all parents find themselves muttering unusual phrases to their children. Having a disability merely amplifies the opportunities for the utterances.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Not a Shot!

Scott has been in the doghouse for the past few days, but he is finally working his way back into the good graces of the family.

After more than a week, Scott noticed that the downstairs was painted blue. Even I was surprised by how many times he could walk through the room without noting the new hue. It took Robby, taking his Daddy by the hand downstairs, standing in front of the wall and saying "Ta da" for Scott to notice the paint. Yes, I was ratted out by my three year old.

After he realized how long ago the painting was completed, I think Scott struggled for an excuse. After stammering out a few sentences, he managed to explain that, when he comes home, he is so excited to be with his family that he zones out everything else. I've decided not to press him on the issue as I don't want to torture him any more than necessary.

We have been extremely concerned about the H1N1 (Swine) flu. With Scott working in the public schools he is, in a sense, on one of the battlegrounds against this virus. Robby is young and at risk. I have an impending surgery and cannot afford to get sick. We decided that we needed to become immunized as soon as possible. Or, at least, that was my understanding.

I found out that Scott actually turned down the H1N1 vaccination. Why would he make such a decision especially after our family discussion and mutual concerns? Turns out that his decision was based on fear and not logic. Yes, it turns out that my wonderful husband is afraid of needles.

When I confronted him with his decision to turn down the sought after and much needed vaccination, he knew that he was in trouble. He tried to explain that he didn't know that the vaccination could be given by nasal mist, an excuse which I quickly shot down. Finally, in a final grasp for sympathy, he rolled up his sleeve and showed me his arm. He explained that his arms are "too bony" and that the needle would go right through his flesh and penetrate into his bone. He continued to explain the vast medical complications from having a needle stuck in a bone including, but not limited to, sepsis and amputation.

I didn't need to discuss the issue with Scott because he knew that he made a mistake. Without my asking, he researched the H1N1 vaccine. He discovered that the Department of Health was administering the flu mist H1N1 vaccine from 3-7pm at our local mall.

I was relieved that he located the vaccine for the family. We met at the mall at 2:30. We were not the only family with this idea, and we stood in line with 1500 other people to be inoculated. I couldn't help but think that we were in prime breeding grounds for the virus that we were trying to avoid. The irony was not lost on me.

Scott held our place in line as I tried to entertain Robby. He had french fries, ice cream and a milkshake. We looked at the Christmas lights in every store. He announced to the clerks at Sears that he just had a "big big big big poop."

After waiting for over 3 hours, we finally received our flu mist. Scott and I are now immune. Unfortunately I learned that Robby will require another dose in one month. Hopefully his pediatrician will have the vaccine or I imagine we'll be back in line at the mall again.

We were lucky to receive our doses. They cut the line off about 50 people behind us leaving at least 800 people without their immunization. I was frustrated that Scott turned down the shot and that we were forced to stand in line for hours. I also understand how fear can cause us to make irrational choices, and my hat goes off to him for stepping up and finding a compromise. Perhaps this is another reason I love him.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What Does It Feel Like?

People often ask me, "What does it feel like to walk with a prosthetic?" It is a normal curiosity, and a question I myself posed before I became an amputee. It was only after I started to walk on my prosthetic leg did I realize that it is nearly impossible to describe.

How do you describe sensations that have never been felt by the listener? In many ways, it is akin to trying to describe colors to a blind man, or Chopin to the deaf individual. Because this is a common question by both the new amputee and their loved ones, I always do my best to provide an accurate description.

When I first put on my IPOP (Immediate Post Operative Device) after my amputation and tried to stand, I vividly remember crying. I was terrified that I was never going to learn to balance on a prosthetic leg. I was convinced that I was going to be resigned to a wheelchair or to crutches for life.

During that first experience, it felt as if I was trying to balance on a tennis ball. I could not find my center and struggled to stay erect. The more I tried to balance, the more difficult it became. In many ways, my anxiety resulted in tension and failure.

Learning to relax is easier said than done. Between the surgical pain and the physical and psychological effects of limb loss, stress and tension are commonplace. Eventually, I removed the pressure I was placing upon myself. I decided that I would try a little every day, and eventually I would succeed.

My going slow, easy-does-it plan worked. By the time I was able to be fit with my first prosthetic, I had developed a relatively strong sense of balance. So, what was my first impression when I put on my prosthetic?

I was shocked with how heavy the leg felt. As the suction sock was rolled up, it felt as if a log was being strapped to my newly formed residual limb. I wasn't expecting the leg to feel so heavy after it was "strapped on." Luckily, my prosthetist was correct, and the weight wasn't an issue once I became mobile.

I imagined that walking on a prosthetic would feel similar to walking with a plaster cast. I was wrong. Although I am sure that every amputee perceives the sensations in a different manner, my first experience with a prosthetic leg felt more like I was walking with a heavy ice skate.

When your foot is in an ice skate, your ankle has little if any mobility. I had to rely upon my other leg muscles to balance because my ankle was unresponsive (due to it being amputated) just as it would have been unresponsive when confined in a skate. In addition to being difficult to balance, skates can feel both foreign and heavy. All of these sensation were prevalent during my first experiences with my prosthetic.

With practice I have learned how to walk with my prosthetic. I am sure that every amputee has a different answer to the "what does it feel like" question. In any case, I hope that my description is helpful to those who are curious.

Monday, October 26, 2009

My Great Idea...

I was at the House of Bounce the other day with Robby when I had a revelation. While I was inside the giant birthday cake, jumping and running after my little guy, I realized that my residual limb was feeling no pain. I was bouncing and sprinting around, and I wasn't feeling any of the normal jostling or impact sensations that have become my norm.

As an amputee, I think I have resigned myself to certain issues. I realize that, while walking in a prosthetic, I may not always be as comfortable as I would be with a natural leg. I have accepted that high impact activities, such as running and jumping, come with a price, mainly discomfort or pain. The majority of the time, the pain felt isn't severe enough for me to halt the activity, but the discomfort builds in intensity with extended impact. Because of this, I generally limit my chasing or jumping games to short spurts.

I was in the bouncer, jumping and running with Robby, when I realized that I felt "normal." This is not to say that I feel abnormal most of the time. It has been a decade since I've been able to participate in an impact activity without some discomfort, so to say that the absence of pain was liberating would be an understatement.

I knew that I enjoyed playing with Robby at the House of Bounce. To be honest, I revert to a toddler and become giddy when we approach the building housing the inflatable utopia. I think that I was lured to the activity because I am able to participate fully without pain, discomfort or the other issues related to being an amputee. Of course, I have to cover my prosthetic with a leg warmer to make sure I don't poke a hole in inflatable, but that is a benign compromise.

My experience when bouncing prompted me to start thinking: could an insert be placed into my socket that would simulate the House of Bounce? Maybe some sort of small air bladder, strategically placed at the bottom of my socket, could absorb the impact in the same way that the inflatable absorbed the impact when I was bouncing. Wouldn't it be wonderful to eliminate the jostling and the impact pain associated with everyday walking in a prosthetic?

I am going to call my prosthetists and discuss my idea. I have a socket that is slightly larger than I need at the present time, so maybe I'll start experimenting. Does anybody have any ideas?