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 22, 2010

Jargon Should Not Divide Us...

Almost immediately after my amputation I struggled to find the correct "term" for my residual limb. I read online to see what other terms amputees use to describe the newly formed limb. Some individuals recommend giving the limb a "pet name" such as Lilly or Julie. I quickly concluded that the advice had to come from a man. Men tend to name appendages whereas women do not.

No, Little Peggy just didn't seem like an appropriate term for my limb. Residual limb is the commonly utilized term among amputees. For whatever reason, residual limb just doesn't roll off my tongue naturally.

I don't particularly like the word "stump" although I don't find it offensive. There is just something ugly about the word. Initially I repelled the term. Time has eased my feelings and I no longer cringe at the term.

I refer to my amputated limb as my stump simply due to the lack of a better term. It took awhile before I was able to casually refer to the limb as my stump. I think that my use of the word forced me to accept that I was, indeed, an amputee. I can remember looking down at my leg and saying, out loud, "I have a stump."

We live in such a judgmental world. Judgment persists within the amputee community. Some above knee amputees resent below knee amputees, deeming us to be somehow "unworthy" of the amputee label. Hip disarticulation amputees think that above knee amputees have it easy. The cycle continues and stops with the quad-amputee (the individual missing both arms and both legs), whom everybody seems to agree lives the most difficult life.

Let us not continue to divide our already small brotherhood between those who do and do not use the term stump. I respect those who are uncomfortable with the term. They have every right to utilize whatever terminology that makes them feel comfortable.

I tend to intermix stump and residual limb in my blog. It has come to my attention that some amputees are offended by my use of the word "stump." Please know, when you are reading my blog, that I mean no disrespect by using the word stump. I figure that, since I have one, I am entitled to use the term.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Robby a.k.a The Enforcer

I have been nervously awaiting the results from my latest MRI. If the pituitary tumors have remained stable, I am a candidate for a relatively "simple" laser surgery. If they have grown, the surgery will be more invasive with a significant recovery period.

I have been irritable as I anxiously wait to hear. I jump every time I hear the phone ring. I decided that Robby needed to have fun, and I needed an outlet for my growing anxiety. I packed him up and we went to House of Bounce.

House of Bounce is a toddler's version of utopia. It is a warehouse filled with giant inflatable structures, ready for climbing, bouncing, and sliding. The imposing size of the bouncers does not seem to faze my little daredevil.

We kicked off our shoes and started jumping. There were several other children running and playing with us. I have become accustomed to being the only parent actually playing with the kids. The majority of the time the parents are sitting in the lounge area, sipping coffee, and talking on their cell phones.

A little girl happened to be in the moon bounce when Robby and I were playing another rousing version of "Chase Momom." It was obvious that the girl had Cerebral Palsy and was having a difficult time with balance. Her Mom was in the lounge.

I quietly told Robby that we needed to jump softly because the little girl was having trouble walking. Being no stranger to orthopedic limitations, Robby immediately began to comply with my request. All three of us started "baby bunny" jumping, and we were having a good time. That is, we were having a good time until Nicholas climbed into the jumper.

Nicholas is one of those little boys who just looks like destruction in motion. He climbed into the bouncer and started rough housing with Robby. He tried to push me out of the way and seemed unaware or unconcerned about the little girl's limitations.

Talking to another child about his/her behavior is always an awkward situation, especially when the parents are close. Nicholas's mother was sitting in the lounge, but was within earshot. I tried to encourage him to play our soft jumping game, explaining that the little kids were having trouble with balance.

Nicholas smiled and ran over to the little girl. He started violently jumping, causing her to lose her balance and fall. As she was on the bouncer floor, he began jumping over top of her, threatening to stomp on her. She began to cry as her attempts to stand were thwarted.

I looked to the parents, who remained unaware of the situation. Robby decided to intervene before I had the opportunity. He walked up to Nicholas, held out his hand and said, "Red Stop. Be nice." He then reached down to try to help up the little girl.

Nicholas pushed Robby, causing him to fall into the little girl who was still stuck on the bouncer floor, crying. Before I could reach Robby, he stood up. He then hit Nicholas on the side of the head. Nicholas went flying backwards and landed against the back wall of the bouncer. I know that I shouldn't be impressed, but Robby whaled him good!

I don't condone violence. Nicholas began to cry, which finally caused his mother to pay attention. Both parents retrieved their crying children from the bouncer. I packed up Robby and told him that we were leaving.

We don't want Robby to settle his problems through violence. On the other hand, we are proud of him for both defending himself and another child. He recognized that another child needed assistance, and Robby was not afraid to help. He showed himself to be both sensitive and brave. I could not be prouder. We left House of Bounce early because of his actions. I drove directly to the ice cream parlor for a special treat.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Farm Show Bound...

Robby loves animals. We have been taking him to the local petting zoo since he was just a few months old. Unfortunately, the park is closed during the winter months, a fact that causes Robby to voice his displeasure every time we drive past the closed zoo gates. I think he has been going through animal withdrawal.

When I heard that the Pennsylvania Farm Show was running, I knew I would have to take Robby on a road trip. For those of you who are not from Pennsylvania, the Farm Show is similar to a State Fair, only without the rides. Farmers from around the state converge at the Farm Show Arena in Harrisburg, in the middle of January, to show their animals. Pennsylvania agriculture is celebrated during the one-week show, which starts one Saturday and closes the next.

Although I grew up close to the Farm Show Arena, I haven't been to the show in nearly 15 years. It has always been a heavily advertised and successful event. I thought that the Farm Show might provide Robby with the critter fix he needed.

I arrived within 3 miles of the Farm Show Complex and immediately remembered why I am not a frequent visitor. I planned our visit for mid-afternoon, hoping to miss most of the crowds. As I learned, there is never a time to miss the crowds at the Farm Show!

Luckily, Robby is a good traveler and didn't seem to be agitated by the traffic jam. After several verses of "Old MacRobby Has a Farm" we finally entered the satellite parking area. My annoyance at having to be herded onto a crowded school bus in order to be shuttled to the arena was quickly overshadowed by my little boy. He was over-the-moon excited about riding a real school bus. At this point I made the decision to put my nerves on the back burner and follow Robby's lead. We were going to have fun!

Robby immediately entered the Show and took two maps. After looking at the maps and discussing the animals, we devised a plan. There was no discussion. He wanted to see the goats.

The crowds eased up as we walked through the cow show area. Robby was laughing at the smell when I promptly stepped into a large steaming pile of manure with my brand new $100 prized Shape-Up Sneakers. I spent the rest of the day trying to keep Robby from playing the "jump in the poop puddle" game that he invented.

Finally, we maneuvered the manure minefield and arrived in the goat show area. For whatever reason, Robby has always loved goats. He spent nearly two hours walking through the goat area, introducing himself to every goat that looked awake or somewhat interested.

"Hello, Goat. Robby be good friend. Have a good day. Bye bye."

My leg was starting to become sore from standing around while my little goat lover made introductions. I instinctively decided to release some of the pressure in my socket through the suction valve. As I reached for the valve, I was reminded of the steaming cow poop I had walked through earlier. Apparently, the splatter was greater than I had realized. My socket was covered with poo, which I had just transferred onto my hand.

I wiped the hay-filled manure chunks onto the back of an unsuspecting goat and tried to herd Robby away from his little friends. I tried to keep my manure-covered hand from touching anybody else as we wound our way through the crowd to the bathroom. I do have to admit to purposefully touching the back of one rude lady who pushed Robby from in front of the famous Butter Sculpture. There was a satisfaction seeing her walk away with cow poop on her sweater!

In spite of the manure, Robby and I had a fantastic time at the Farm Show. Overlooking poop seems to be a recurring theme during the past few months, considering our recent issues. After another exciting bus ride back to our car, Robby promptly fell asleep. I have no doubt he was dreaming of goats.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

They Got This One Wrong...

Although I would not classify myself as a sports fan, I would consider myself knowledgeable. I suppose the endless stream of ESPN playing within my home has educated me about several sports, particularly hockey, football, racing and baseball. Although I can't quote statistics or specific strategies, I am able to maintain a conversation and understand the game/match/race when it is on the television.

I heard that Tiger Woods has been named Athlete of the Decade. Although I am not a golf fan, I recognize the contribution he has made both to his sport and to pop culture. He has brought legions of new fans and has energized the base. For this he deserves respect.

I disagree with honoring him as Athlete of the Decade. My dissent has nothing to do with his extra-marital activities. He is not married to me, so I don't believe that his actions affect me in any way.

I understand that golf is considered more mainstream than cycling. This is perhaps the reasoning for naming Tiger Woods, not Lance Armstrong, as Athlete of the Decade. After all, Lance Armstrong has obviously been the most successful athlete within the past 10 years. Cycling is not respected, and Lance came in second place in Athlete of the Decade poll.

Those naysayers who mock cycling are ignorant about the physical components of this sport. These athletes ride their bikes over 100 miles every day for three weeks, with only two or three days off. The grueling course takes them up some of the highest mountain ranges in the world. After they struggled to ascend they must immediately descend, driving their machine at speeds in excess of 60 mph around hairpin turns and around schloogs (the term for drunk fans on the side of the course).

Lance Armstrong won the race 7 times. This is more than any other cyclist in history. If any one athlete demonstrated superior physical prowess, personal determination and a drive to succeed, it would have to be Lance Armstrong.

The fact that Lance dominated cycling after a devastating bout of cancer merely adds to his mystique. He became an inspiration to millions of cancer survivors. After all, his Tour victories came after he had his testicle amputated due to cancer.

None of the pollsters asked my opinion when determining the Athlete of the Decade. I disagree with their decision, but in the spirit of good sportsmanship I congratulate Tiger Woods. I just think that Lance should have won!

Monday, January 18, 2010

What Can I Do?

During the past few years we have been encouraged to honor the work of Martin Luther King, Jr., through a day of service. Instead of simply enjoying a day off work and giving the stores another excuse for a sale, we are encouraged to volunteer or to work on civic-minded projects. I think that the request would have honored and humbled this brave man.

The expectation of service was instilled in me throughout my childhood. Although they worked in two different fields, both of my parents dedicated their professional endeavors to helping others. I saw the intrinsic rewards that they received when they came home after a long day, knowing that a life was improved because they went to work that morning. That type of dedication is not compensated monetarily.

Scott is a special education teacher in the local public high school. Because of his efforts through pioneering a school internship program, he has provided numerous otherwise "unemployable" students with the work skills necessary to obtain and maintain fulfilling employment upon graduation. I have seen the sacrifice and the long hours that he devotes to his program. Robby and I are both very proud of him.

Before Robby was born, I was a teacher for the blind, specializing in babies. I loved my work. There was a satisfaction that came from knowing that somebody's day was improved because I was there to help. In a small way, I was making a difference.

Since Robby was born, I have opted to stay home with him. I love being his Mommy and watching him grown and learn. This being said, I miss the feeling which came from making a positive impact.

With the coverage of the recent tragedy, though, I find myself wanting to do more. My talents seem insufficient to help. Our monetary contributions seem meager compared to the scope of the tragedy. I suddenly feel inadequate.

I am certain that I am not the only person overwhelmed by the troubles in the world. When the needs are so great, making an impact seems impossible. I suspect that acquaintances of Martin Luther King, Jr., told him that racism and bigotry were too big to be overcome. Undeterred, he was able to assemble the masses and force change.

I am trying to remind myself that sometimes the biggest impact can be made through the smallest gesture. I may not be able to grab a shovel and dig through the rubble in Haiti, but I can help a lonely neighbor or a scared new amputee. A kind word or an attentive ear may be lifeline for a friend in need. No, I won't be able to change the world, but maybe I can help improve the world for just one person. Today, that is my goal.