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, January 08, 2010

Skechers--$100. Walking "normal" --Priceless

I am now the proud owner of $100 shoes. Yes, I bought a pair of Skechers Shape Ups. Okay, actually my Dad bought them for me. Thank you, Dad!

For the first time since March 11, 1997, (the date of the accident which eventually resulted in my amputation) I feel as if I am walking like a "normal" limbed individual. I don't feel the the prosthetic jarring that was accepted as one of those amputee things. My limp has been eliminated and I am walking with equal weight between my prosthetic and sound sides.

After some research I learned that the earliest prosthetics were designed to utilize a rocker principle. Amputees were given a rod and a rocker style foot to compensate for the lack of ankle motility. It is interesting that advances in technology have caused this simple idea to virtually fall away, replaced by gyros, springs and computerized parts.

I never imagined that a shoe could make such a difference! I know that this foot wear was designed to promote weight loss. I hope that the company will consider testing these shoes with other amputees. I think a lot of lives will be enriched. For me, the combination of computerized technology and old school ideas have yielded results which are priceless.

I am going to put the shoes through their paces over the weekend. I also plan on trying them out with my Veriflex to compare the results. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Skechers Shape Ups...

This time of year I feel inundated with commercials touting the latest and greatest diets and tools to lose weight. You're fat, lose weight. Just buy fill in the blank, and your waist line will shrink (as well your checking account balance). These messages must bring in revenue because they are being played on every channel, including the Food Network, an irony that does not escape me.

I try to ignore commercials especially during this time of year. I have battled enough body image issues; I certainly don't need them compounded by a skinny model telling me that I am not good enough. Having lost over 100 pounds and having kept the weight off, I can attest that these quick fixes do not work.

Nevertheless, I have been intrigued by one new product. Skechers has been heavily advertising their new shoe. The "Shape Up" shoe claims weight loss and toning by simply wearing this specialized footwear.

Despite my skepticism, I was curious. Could an amputee wear this product and achieve results? How would this newly designed shoe affect my ability to utilize my prosthetic? Basically, would the Shape Up shoe work for an amputee? I decided to find out.

I noticed that the Shape Up shoe was displayed prominently in the store window, but the price tag was not as obvious. The footwear costs $100 and is excluded from all sales. I have never paid that price for a pair of shoes and doubted that any footwear would cause me to shell out that much money.

After locating my size I proceeded to the back of the store for some privacy. I am comfortable being an amputee, but I am sensitive that other customers are not accustomed to a person taking off a leg to change shoes. As a courtesy. I try to be inconspicuous.

The shoe was easy to get onto my foot shell. I did have some trouble setting my heel height on my Proprio because of the shoe design. The bottom of the foot is curved, not flat. When I put the shoe on the prosthetic, the leg started rocking back and forth. It reminded me of a rocking horse! I had to hold the socket on either side and estimate a midpoint for the heel height adjustment to work.

With the height adjusted and with the other shoe on my foot, it was time for the moment of truth. I held onto the wall as I slowly stood up. "Hooray," Robby shouted. So much for being inconspicuous.

I immediately noticed that I was a good inch taller. The shoes were surprisingly comfortable despite their awkward appearance. Pockets of air were built into the rocker heel to absorb impact. It was time for me to take a step. For just a moment I remembered my cousin's advice to wear a helmet and protective gear to try these shoes and I smiled and hoped she was wrong.

I was relieved that my ability to balance was not impacted by the shoe. I feared that I would feel unstable, but this was not the case. I felt that I had control over my prosthetic.

The shoes work on a rocker principle. The initial contact between the shoe and the floor is designed to occur at the heel. The individual is then propelled forward through the rocking motion. This motion, repeated throughout the day, is touted to tone your thighs and bum.

I could not obtain a heel strike on my prosthetic side. I was able to make contact in the middle of the shoe and rock forward. I did not have any difficulties establishing the heel strike on my sound side.

After adjusting to the new shoes, I began to notice a change. My limb, subtle as it is, was all but eliminated. The rocker heel helped to propel me forward and actually normalized my posture and gait. I was no longer limping. If I had been wearing long pants and my prosthetic was concealed, I doubt that it would have been known that I had an orthopedic issue.

I don't know if the shoes do anything to promote weight loss other than increase the motivation for the wearer to walk more. That being said, they were the most comfortable shoes I have worn since my amputation. My limp was eliminated and my gait was normalized through the rocking action of the sole.

I walked around the store for about 10 minutes, trying to find a flaw in the product. For me, the shoe exceeded my expectations. My gait was normal. From a physical perspective, the feeling was reminiscent to walking pre-amputation. I felt like a "normal" limbed woman.

I fully expected to write a blog explaining all of the reasons that these shoes are not appropriate for an amputee. I was so cynical that I was formulating my blog on the drive to the store. I am pleasantly surprised and actually shocked that I am writing the opposite. For me, the rocking heel actually benefits the amputee. Some of the responsibility for foot movement is shifted from the ankle to the shoe, allowing the rocker heel to compensate for the limb loss.

I use a Proprio ankle. This computerized prosthetic has active dorsal and plantar flexion. It simulates the movements of my sound side ankle. I am going to return to the store tomorrow with my low profile Veriflex, my no frills prosthetic, to test the results with the shoe. I will keep you posted. I might have to buy my first pair of $100 shoes!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Elsie. Yes, Again.

I consider myself to be a patient person. When I am wronged, I try to view the offender with the benefit of doubt. I would like to believe that the perpetrator does not know of the damage being inflicted or the pain being caused. I have been a much happier person since I have begun to tolerate basic ignorance.

I have been able to work through many tense situations by remaining calm and professional. Typically I am able to maintain my composure. Unless, of course, the individual has consistently been detrimental towards myself or my family, or they have been untruthful. This has become the case with "Elsie."

Elsie, the pseudonym for my Workman's Compensation Insurance adjustor, has tried my patience. I have tried to remain calm and professional. I have tried every approach ranging from being courteous to curt. At this point, she has begun to jitterbug over my last nerve.

I realize that this is not my first blog concerning Elsie. She certainly does not deserve this much attention and thought, but unfortunately she continues to wield a considerable amount of power of my prosthetic care and is, therefore, still impacting my life.

Being an amputee herself, Elsie should realize basic prosthetic needs. I requested new liners in October. To date, they have yet to be authorized. My current liner is riddled with tears and holes. It is stretched out of shape and is no longer comfortable. According to my husband, it is becoming quite odoriferous.

After numerous phone calls, Elsie finally answered her phone. When I inquired about the status of my liner request, she retorted by questioning the need for a new liner. She justified her concerns for my liner request by explaining that she is also an amputee, and she requires a new liner only every six months.

I should have heeded my Mom's advice and just listened politely and proceeded with my request. This was not the case. Instinctively, I interrupted Elsie and posed my concern.

"I am sorry that you are settling for poor prosthetic care. I am opting for good prosthetic care, and liners are an integral part of that protocol." I went on to explain that Medicare permits a new liner every six weeks, and that six months is both unrealistic and unhealthy.

Elsie seemed shocked that I was able to maintain my composure while providing a thoughtful and accurate retort. She stated that her prosthetic care was none of my concern. I reminded her that she is the one who brought her care into the conversation, so it was fair game.

Immediately Elsie became automated and official. She stated flatly that the liners will be approved. I continued to press her for a time line, explaining that I have been waiting since October.

I can only assume that Elsie feeling defensive about her poor work habits. She proceeded to provide a lengthy explanation as to why the liner request has been delayed. Elsie lied. When backed in a corner, Elsie comes out with dishonest statements slandering my prosthetist.

Elsie apparently does not have a close working relationship with her prosthetist. If she did. she would know that my prosthetist Elliot and I remain in close contact when insurance requests are made. I am kept informed about the attempted contacts and the red tape and stonewalling that ensue by her ineffective actions. I knew instantly that she was lying when she stated that the submission for liners was only received two weeks ago.

This is not the first time Elsie has lied to me. She actually recycled this excuse because it was the same lie she told in July when I spoke with her concerning a new liner. I am becoming increasingly frustrated that this dishonest, ineffective, and downright lazy woman can exert such control over my prosthetic care. I am sure I am not the only individual on her caseload whose care is suffering from her actions or, in my case, her inaction.

I am pleased that my liner request has finally been approved. I am irritated and angry that I had to confront her in order to receive the necessary medical devices. For now, I will be happy that my liners will be ordered in the next few days.

I know that this will not be my last dealing with Elsie. I fear that my professional demeanor will continue to decay as my dealings with her increase. Maybe she will automatically authorize my devices in order to avoid talking to me! In the meantime, Robby and I need to go to the grocery store to get cookie ingredients. I think we owe Elliot and his staff a big batch of cookies to thank them for dealing with this despicable woman.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

My Decade... In One Short Blog.

I have already addressed my dislike for New Year's Day in an earlier blog. After thinking about the holiday, I realized that there is one aspect that I enjoy. Yes, I am indeed a sucker for the retrospective specials.

I become a captive audience when the "Year in Review" segments come on the television news programs. I have been avidly reading all of the "Decade in Review" and "Who we lost this year" articles. I am not sure why I have to read them all, but I feel compelled.

All of the news compilations have spurred me to reflect upon the drastic life changes that have occurred during my past decade. I have come up with Peggy's top 5 "Changes within the Decade."

1. My established family.

I met Scott in 2000. We were married in 2004. Robby was born in 2006. I started the decade single and happily "playing the field." I am ending the decade as a happily married stay-at-home Mommy. What a difference 10 short years can make!

2. My amputation.

I began the decade on crutches, reliant upon pain medication and in constant pain. I was unable to walk without assistance. I was adamant that I keep my foot at all costs. I was terrified of becoming an amputee and of being permanently disabled.

In 2002 I began to consider an amputation. I was tired of the pain and the dependence upon crutches. Pain is exhausting, and I needed to move beyond the injury. I began to realize that I was already disabled because of the nature of the injury. It became clear that the extent of my handicap would actually be diminished by having the limb amputated.

Exactly one year to the date that I first uttered "maybe I should just amputate," I was in the hospital for the procedure. What a scary day. I look back on that event and I can remember the terror that I felt.

I also feel a sense of pride. I am proud that I was able to make the difficult decision. I am proud that I rebounded and recovered. I am proud that I am realizing dreams that I couldn't even fathom 10 short years ago.

3. Professional changes.

At the onset of the millennium I was a young teacher. Since I was in the third grade I was set on my profession. I always wanted to be a teacher for blind and visually impaired children.

I was a dedicated educator who loved her students and her work. I was passionate about my job. I even received statewide recognition as "Special Educator of the Year" for 2004.

When Robby was born I knew that I wanted to stay home with him during the early years. He is now three, and people are beginning to inquire about my returning to my profession. I no longer know if I want to return to teaching.

I loved teaching, but I have lost my passion. A teacher without passion is mediocre, and I know that my students would deserve better. For the first time in my life, I have been lacking a professional goal. After a lot of soul searching, I think I found my new passion.

What would I love to do in upcoming decade?

Should I dare to dream of writing professionally? I would love to author a book or perhaps contribute to a column. The notion that other people would be interested in my viewpoint or entertained by my words is exhilarating.

4. Personal Growth.

I feel as if I am the same person that rang in the Millennium in Holland. I hold the same basic beliefs and values. This is not to say that I haven't grown personally.

I am 35 years old now. I feel that I am beginning to find my voice. I am no longer timid about relaying my thoughts and feelings (although my friends would say that this has never been an issue). I know that my ideas have value and I am worth being heard.

I am not as fearful as I was 10 years ago. In the past decade I have survived cancer and the devastating treatments required to eradicate the disease. I have experienced limb loss and have developed into an amputee woman who is both happy and capable. I am now confident that I have the personal fortitude to navigate through the obstacles presented in life and to come through as not only happier, but enlightened. Knowing this is empowering.

5. Friends and Family.

I have discovered how much I cherish my family and friends. I have been able to rely upon them for strength when my reserves were low. Because of their love and support, I know that I never have to be alone.

10 years ago my friends list was exhaustive. Anybody who was available to go out to eat, go shopping or was ready for fun I considered a friend. When life becomes difficult, I learned that many of those individuals slowly drop away, revealing a smaller yet more loyal group.

I find that now, a decade later, my definition of a "friend" has narrowed. I am lucky to have survived through the last ten years with a handful of individuals whom I can call my friends. I am better a better person because they are in my life.

This has been a decade full of changes that I could not have imagined. I am entering the new decade with a sense of optimism and a mind and heart open to all the changes which will come my way. I am excited to experience my evolution during the next 10 years.

Monday, January 04, 2010

My New Design

If you have been reading my blog for any length of time, you would already know that Scott is a bit of a computer nerd. In many ways he is the classic geek. He loves tinkering on his keyboard and can spend hours in his computer room, a.k.a. the pit, playing games and exploring the Internet.

He has been supportive of my blog endeavors. He even purchased my domain name and helped me set up an accompanying website (www.amputeemommy.com) for Mother's Day. Although he doesn't read my blog on a regular basis, he certainly is eager to voice his opinions concerning its design.

Scott has been hounding me over the past several months to add more pizazz to my blog. Did you notice the snowflakes flying in the background last month? That was Scott. He thinks that, from a visual standpoint, my blog is boring. He keeps finding various widgets (small programs that run on the blog, like the snowflakes) and has been trying to convince me to use them.

To date I have resisted his pleas. I don't want the content of my posts to be overrun by tacky clutter running in the background or in the sidebars. Nobody goes to my blog to find out the weather in Egypt so installing that widget, regardless of its perceived "cool factor" is unnecessary.

I have finally conceded on one issue. You may have noticed the new design of my blog. Yes, that was at Scott's urging. He felt, and I agree, that the bright pink design was fun but perhaps led potential readers to assume that the content was cotton candy fluff. I have kept some pink because it's my favorite color, but it has been muted.

I am not a graphic designer so I am limited in templates to those we can find for free on the Internet. I wanted something that was visually appealing yet unassuming. I also wanted a design that was a reflection of who I am. This was not an easy task. After searching for nearly three hours for a template that I liked, I called in my loving nerd husband who helped me download and upload it to my blog.

The moment of truth. I hit the save button. Finally the big reveal of the newly designed Tales of an Amputee Mommy blog.

Ta Da!

Uh Oh. Everything was in Spanish. I couldn't read my own blog! I wanted to cry.

After several phone calls to computer "experts," a few messages on forums, two Tylenol and three wine coolers, we were able to undo most of the translation. It took another two hours, but I am finally happy with the layout and look of the blog. I hope that you like the new look of my blog because, after that hassle, I am not eager to jump back into the world of graphic design any time soon.