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, December 11, 2009

Phantom Pain

I am having a bad morning. Actually, my bad morning is merely a carry-over from my bad night. I am miserable today and, unfortunately, I don't see the situation changing anytime soon.

Last night I had a difficult time falling asleep because of phantom pain in my limb. I hate the term "phantom pains" because I don't feel that it is an apt description for what I feel. The pain I was experiencing is anything but phantom!

I know that every amputee experiences phantom pains differently. For some, they actually feel pain in the limb that has been amputated. This has happened to me on a few occasions, but the occurrences are rare. I consider myself lucky that I don't suffer from this type of pain.

My phantom pains are strictly nerve based. My residual limb feels as if it is being stung by hornets. I feel extremely sharp small pains all over my stump, causing my leg to involuntarily kick. On nights when the stinging is severe, I feel as if I should have been a Rockette.

The stinging and kicking combine to make me miserable. Pain medications are ineffective and merely leave me groggy the next day. I am forced to try to find a comfortable position in bed and hope that it goes away.

When the stinging is only moderate, sometimes massage and compression prove to be a useful treatment. I tried my massage pillow last night but it was not effective. In fact, it made the stinging worse. I was in misery.

I struggled to find a position that would quiet the stinging. Finally, I settled on lying on my stomach with my knee bent and pulled up towards my chest. I put a long pillow underneath my knee to provide more support and a little elevation. Relief! The stinging lessened and the kicking subsided.

If I moved from this awkward position the stinging immediately resumed, waking me from my sleep. I was forced by my residual limb to stay in this contorted position. I was able to get a few hours sleep, but my body is paying the price this morning.

Apparently I threw my lower back out by sleeping is such an extreme position. I am having a difficult time walking and slight movements cause shooting pain down both legs. And I'm not sure how I managed to hurt my left shoulder, but I did that, too! I can barely move my left arm without pain radiating down the arm.

I struggled to put my leg on this morning and limped to the coffee pot. It took me a few minutes, but I managed to get to the kitchen to retrieve Robby's milk. I stopped by the hallway closet and pulled out two heating pads.

It took me about 15 minutes to carefully arrange all of our pillows to support my aching body. I finally managed to find a semi-upright position which was quasi-comfortable. I arranged the heating pads under my back and shoulder. I also put my massage pillow under my stump, hopeful that massaging now would thwart similar pains tonight.

I put Blue's Clues on the television for Robby and prepared to have my pain soothed away by the heating pads. I turned on both heating pads and was pleased with their placement. I then turned on my massage pillow.

Poof! Everything turned off. Robby started crying because the television was off and he was helping Steve find the next clue. I wanted to cry, because I knew that I had blown a fuse. This is not going to be a good day.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

All Aboard the Cookie Train

It's the most wonderful time of the year. Yes, cookie baking season has begun. We went to Costco for our annual "baking trip." My pantry is overflowing with 50 pounds of flour, 20 pounds of sugar, 6 dozen eggs and 10 pounds of butter. I was a bit overzealous last year, and I am still working my way through the 7 pounds of baking powder we bought last Christmas.

Robby and I have been looking through many of the cookie magazines that pop up in the grocery store this time of year. In addition to our traditional staples, we are going to be experimenting with some new recipes this year. And, of course our holiday baking wouldn't be complete without Robby's gingerbread train.

Anybody who knows me knows that I love to bake. When Robby was born, I was devastated because I was certain I was having a baby girl. I feared that a little boy wouldn't enjoy baking with his Mom. Scott promised that, in the unlikely event that our new baby wouldn't enjoy making cookies, he would bribe Robby. I stopped crying in the delivery room and began to make plans for "boy themed" cookies.

I have been baking with Robby since he was born. I used to wear him on my chest as I whipped up batches of cookies and cakes. He has grown into quite a talented baker. He can now crack an egg better than his Daddy. Okay, that comparison really doesn't give Robby's talents a lot of credence, but trust me, he does a great job!

I have a five gallon plastic tub overflowing with colored sugars, sprinkles and small candy shapes. Robby's face lights up when I bring out the "sugar tub." He scrambles to retrieve his learning tower and begins his chattering of "Opey up Opey up" (open up, open up.)

Robby is methodical when decorating his cookies and it takes him a very long time to complete a cookie sheet. I typically put on a Christmas DVD (lately he has been partial to Thomas the Train Christmas) and let him have fun. Although he is very particular when working with his cookie decorations, he is anything but neat. He doesn't mean to be messy, but he is three, and it goes with the territory.

Typically, I try not to stress about the mess that is being created with the sugar that is landing on the floor instead of on the cookies. Messes are par for the course when baking and can be easily cleaned. My kitchen floor tends to be a little crunchy during the holidays from the sugars and candies that are "decorating" the tiles.

Last holiday season I became stressed out. I often spent an hour cleaning up after baking with Robby. I was trying desperately to keep a "Martha Stewart" image of what a holiday kitchen should look like: a kitchen filled with baked goods and spotless countertops and floor. This year, I vow that things will be different for me. Our kitchen, especially during the holidays, is a place that fosters happiness and fun. Much of the joy comes from crystal sugar. The sugar, by design, tends to land on the counters and floors almost as much as the cookies and some of it may remain there longer than I would like, but so be it. It will be cleaned--eventually.

Robby and I have been making cookies, and we are having fun. So, if you happen to visit my house, please enjoy some cookies. They will be expertly decorated and are guaranteed to put you in the holiday spirit. Just please excuse the crunching sounds that you might encounter as you walk through my kitchen. If walking on sugar and candies offends you, try closing your eyes and imagining that you are walking through a field of freshly fallen snow. Only our "snow" is more colorful and slightly stickier.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Robby's Haircut.

I took Robby for a haircut. This is usually a mundane chore for many mommys, and would probably not be "blog worthy." I have learned, however, that Robby has the ability to turn the most boring and ordinary tasks into a drama of monumental proportions.

Robby has not earned a good reputation when it comes to getting his hair cut. In the past, he has been very loud and vocal about his "dislike" for the barber. I was hoping that this time would be different.

This time, instead of springing the hair cut on him, I decided to prep him. I reasoned that he would feel as if he was in more control if he knew that we were going to the barber. Perhaps his outbursts in the past stemmed from feeling l and scared. I set out to remedy the situation!

I started to prepare him for the trip to the barber several days ago. We talked about going to the barber. We watched Max on Max and Ruby (one of his favorite cartoons) go to the barber. We read books about going to the barber. And, what perhaps made the strongest impression, he learned that he would receive a lollipop from the barber.

I decided to up the ante a little. I promised him two lollipops if he didn't cry. Sure that my prep work would yield success or that the bribery would be effective, I set out for the barber.

Robby and I chatted about visiting the barber during the drive. I talked about being nice and saying hello. I talked about being a good boy and staying still. He talked about getting two lollipops.

I was optimistic when I parked the car. Robby unlatched his seat belt and did not put up a struggle entering the barber shop. Eureka, I had tackled the barber issue! I was a diligent Mommy, I had prepared my child, and he had now conquered his fear. I was feeling quite successful and proud as we entered the barber shop.

After Robby greeted the barber, he immediately asked for his lollipop. The barber informed him that he needed to get his hair cut first. At this moment I felt the blood begin to drain from my face. My pride vanished. I prepped Robby to visit the barber. I had failed to mention that, while he was at the barber, he would be getting his haircut.

Robby began to sob, pleading "No haircut Mr. Barber. No cut Robby hair Mr. Barber." I assumed my position on the barber chair, and held Robby on my lap. With him in a bear hug, the barber began to cut his hair.

To say that Robby screamed would be an understatement. I held him tightly, and he was still wiggling away from the scissors. Two other barbers came to assist in restraining Robby Rotten. He voiced his displeasure. He screamed with each snip and became louder with time.

To my horror, two police officers came running into the barber shop! They heard Robby screaming and they thought that something was wrong. I had to explain that he was fine, just angry about getting his haircut.

So there I sat on a barber chair, covered with black smock, holding a screaming toddler. I had a barber on each side of me, each trying to restrain my son. Two police officers were standing in front of me trying to console Robby. They were not successful.

All of the hair that was cut was stuck to his face and arms. He looked like a hairy red werewolf.
When the haircut was finished, Robby hopped out of my arms. He asked for his lollipop, gave the Police Officers each a fist bump, and said "Bye-bye Mr. Barber."

I gave the barber a $20 bill for a $12 haircut. I took my now happy little boy, sucking on his lollipop, out to the car and strapped him into his car seat. I reached into the glove compartment and found my Tylenol bottle. I made a mental note that we needed to find a new Barber Shop. My only solace was that his hair was short, and I knew that we wouldn't have to repeat this spectacle for another 5 or 6 months.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009


We had our first official snow of the year. Robby woke up and the neighborhood was covered with white. He was thrilled. He reaction this year was so different than how he reacted last year. Last year when he saw snow for the first time, he began to sob uncontrollably because everything turned white. This year, he knows that the white is snow, and that snow equates fun.

He didn't afford me the courtesy of slurping down my first (and only) cup of coffee before he began to plead his case to play outside. He ran through his repertoire of "please" and "Robby good boy" and finally beat me down with the "I love you Momom." Yes, that one gets me every time.

After 20 minutes of dressing him for his wonderland adventure, we were finally able to go outside. I pulled a pair of Scott's sweatpants over top of my comfy pink pajama bottoms, put my coat on, grabbed my hat and gloves and was ready to go. Winter, here we come!

Robby was delighted with the snow falling. He ran around the yard trying to eat the snowflakes. Whenever he caught one on his tongue he told me that it "needed sugar." It wasn't until that afternoon, when we were watching Charlie Brown Christmas for probably the 200th time, that I realized he was copying the cartoon.

Robby and I made a snowman. Actually, Robby pushed the snowball down the hill. I had to carry them back up the hill so that he could push them down again, making them bigger. Snowballs get heavy, either that or I'm getting old. I'd like to think that the snow is just weighing more because of global warming. I managed to convince Robby that the snowman should be short
because Frosty is afraid of heights.

I loved watching him run around and play. That is where my enjoyment of the snow ended. I was struggling to stay erect because I couldn't find my ice walker attachments for my shoes. Balancing on snow and ice when on a prosthetic is difficult.

If I have a complaint about my prosthetic, it would be that I can't wear a snow boot. Actually, I probably could wear a boot if I bought the left one several sizes larger. I would have to be willing to invest the time to put the boot onto the prosthetic before going outside and removing it when I came back into the house. Because it is difficult to put on a boot when you are lacking ankle movements, it would be an investment of at least 30 minutes. 30 minutes when you have a toddler eager to go outside is an eternity!

After my amputation I bought a pair of "ice walkers" on the Internet. They are metal treads that slip on your shoes with plastic bands. Simple and effective. Effective, that is, when you remember where they are and have them attached to your shoes. Mine are stashed away in a box somewhere, probably in the back of a closet behind all my leg lamp paraphernalia. They aren't nearly as effective when you can't find them!

After several hours of snow play, Robby was finally convinced to come inside. To be honest, it took the promise of cookies and hot chocolate to lure him away from the snow. I made "my boys" hot chocolate and put our wet clothes in the dryer. While Robby was busy with his snack, I took the opportunity to look for my ice walkers.

They weren't in the closet. I looked in all of the "logical" locations. They were no where to find. In retrospect, I would have to agree with Scott. I was getting frustrated and grumpy. I was just about to give up, and then I had an idea. I found them where I find everything that seems to disappear. They were in the drawer of Robby's train table.

I realized I was tired and cold. My back was also hurting, probably from pulling the sled with a 40 pound toddler weight in the back, up our hill at least 20 times. I took ibuprofen. I made myself another cup of coffee.

I sat down in front of our Christmas tree to enjoy my coffee. What a beautiful scene, the twinkling tree with the falling snow in the background. Three sips into my steaming hot cup of wonderful caffeine, Robby found me. He immediately began asking to go back outside. "Please Momom.... Puullllllleease.... "

Monday, December 07, 2009

My Morning Conversation...

Yes, he is still "withholding." Per doctor's instructions, I had to have this conversation. I found myself kneeling down to talk with Robby this morning. I never thought I would utter these words...

"Robby, Mommy knows that you are in charge of your own poopy. Mommy can poop whenever she wants. Mommy likes to poop in the potty because the potty makes the poopy happy. You can poop if you want to, or you can keep it in. I can see that keeping it in is hurting you. You might feel better if you poop, but it is up to you. Mommy can't make you poop because the poop belongs to you."

Ah... the glamorous side of motherhood. I wonder if Hallmark makes a "Gee Mom, thanks for helping me poop" card.

My only solace right now? The fact that Scott has to have the exact same conversation with him tonight, only he needs to take the "man to man" approach.

The Leg Lamp...

I absolutely love the Christmas season. As a matter of fact, frequent nightmares this time of year generally involve my somehow "sleeping through" or missing the holiday. I was disappointed when my surgery was postponed until after the holidays, but slightly gleeful because I would be healthy for the holidays.

This year I have decided to make Christmas as special as possible for Robby. He is at the age where he openly accepts and believes everything his Mommy tells him. For him the lights, sights, smells and wonders of the season are nothing short of magical. I love seeing him looking around and absorbing everything he sees.

I don't mind the crowded stores or the long lines. Truth be told, I completed the majority of my shopping in the fall when I thought I would be recovering from surgery during December. I take the increased road traffic in stride, and try to view it as an opportunity to sing more carols with Robby. Unfortunately Robby has begun to ask me to quit singing. This request makes me sad.

Yes, my kitchen is a mess from the seemingly endless supply of cookies coming from the ovens. I have colored sugar and sprinkles absolutely everywhere. Robby's new favorite "special treat" is cookie sprinkles in a small cup. Unfortunately, he is three and tends to spill things. There is not a room in my house that is devoid of cookie sprinkles at the moment. I was taking a shower yesterday and "found" three candy holly leaves stuck to my rear!

There remains, however, one aspect of the Christmas season that I dislike. It started out as a little joke in a delightful movie. Over the years it has grown in scope and is becoming a distorted symbol of the holiday season.

Yes, I'm talking about the leg lamp from The Christmas Story.

Every year I receive several cards which prominently feature the leg lamp along with a witty note about "making some extra money with extra legs" or "have you ever thought of doing this?" I know that my friends (and family) who send the cards mean well. They are trying to be funny.

I suppose I never found the lamp humorous before my amputation. I always took the lamp to be a minor subplot in the movie and never gave it much thought. Now this strange Christmas icon seems to remind everybody of me, or at least of my amputation.

Since my amputation the leg lamp has come to symbolize something which I feel is the antithesis of the Christmas season. For me, the lamp reminds me of devotees. For those of you who don't know, devotees are individuals who are sexually attracted to amputees, primarily the female amputee. Devotees have stalked, harassed and taken unsolicited pictures of me.

Every time I receive a leg lamp card or gift, I imagine a devotee sitting in a dark corner of his bedroom, looking at (and acting upon) the same image, experiencing a different type of Christmas cheer. The leg lamp now represents the sexual perversion of devotees. It certainly puts the image in a different perspective, doesn't it?

The leg lamp is a harmless and funny Christmas reference for most Americans. It is permeating popular Christmas culture. Leg lamp Christmas lights, night lights, cards, ornaments and assorted decorations are now becoming increasingly popular. I can't go to a drugstore without seeing a string of 18 legs hanging overhead! And yes, my mind immediately imagines the pervert in a sleeveless t-shirt sitting on a mattress in the corner of his mother's dank basement, staring lustfully at his set of twinkly leg lights strung among the rafters.

Over the years I have received sundry assorted leg lamp referenced Christmas decorations. Tucked away in the back of my closet I have at least 3 strands of lights, 2 night lights, several ornaments and one very odd leg themed shower curtain. I am certain that other amputees have similar collections.

Please, do not send me anything leg lamp related. For me, the iconic leg lamp does not evoke the spirit of Christmas. I would much rather receive a hearty "Merry Christmas" and avoid all references to what, to me, symbolizes true perversion. Ick.