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 29, 2010

What Do You Expect?

Recently I read a forum discussion about the expectations placed on amputees. I thought it was an interesting topic worthy of exploration. As always, I have an opinion.

When I was teaching, I learned quickly that students will strive to reach the expectations of the instructor. Being blind, my students were used to having the bar set low. Merely walking down the hallway often afforded them accolades from well-meaning teachers and students alike.

I expected success from my students. Obviously limited by their disabilities, I refused to let them settle for trite accomplishments. I pushed them to try new things and to expand their horizons. Although they were not always successful in the traditional sense, the experiences taught them that it was okay to try, and that perfection is not always necessary for learning to occur. At the end of the year I wanted them to remember only one thing: it is okay to fail at a task, but that it is never acceptable to settle for giving less than one's potential.

I have held the same philosophy for myself when I became an amputee. After losing my limb, I learned how little the general public expected from me. Again, well-meaning individuals showered me with praise for completing mundane, simple tasks.

People seem amazed when they see a lower extremity amputee walking. They are in awe when individuals without an arm can cut their food or dress themselves. I am certain that the public does not realize that, by setting their expectations so low, it is hampering the recovery of the new amputee.

After I lost my leg I was showered with praise from well-meaning individuals. I have been told that I am a "hero" and a "role model," but I had done nothing remarkable to receive such praise. I had chosen to get out of bed and move forward with my life. Given the choices (the other option being lying in bed and becoming a recluse), I think I chose the logical path.

This does not mean that learning to walk with a prosthetic is an easy feat, nor is it easy for the upper extremity amputee to learn the fine control required to cut food or to operate a zipper. Mastering these skills deserves celebration. After all, they are the first steps towards regaining independence.

I am proud of many of my accomplishments since becoming an amputee. I have cared for my child in spite of my limb loss. If I had merely met the expectations set forth by some individuals, I would not be living to my fullest capacity, but please don't shower me with accolades merely because I walked through the grocery store!

I was sent this video by a reader of my blog (thank you Mary). I decided to post it with this blog because I feel that it illustrates my point. It also brought a smile to my face.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Once Upon a Dream

I have been experiencing vivid dreams during the past few nights. I typically don't remember my dreams, and it is rare that I remember them with such details. I shudder to think of a dream analysis being conducted!

A few nights ago, I had a wonderful dream. I was back in college, just goofing around with my friends. I wasn't married and I didn't have a child. In my dream I had a strong sense of no responsibilities or stress. I was carefree.

I love my family and being a Mommy, but the dream was a fantastic escape from my life. I have to admit that I was a tad annoyed when I was awoken from my stress-free slumber by a three year old, pulling at my eyelid telling me that "Mr. Sun came up and said good morning Momom." I tried to convince Robby that we should go back to sleep, but he was not compliant.

Last night I had a dream which has left me feeling sad. I keep trying to put the dream out of my mind, but I am having a difficult time. I'm not sure why it has affected me so profoundly. In my dream, I was an amputee.

I have been an amputee since 2003. I have been able to accommodate for the loss of my limb in every aspect of my life. I consider myself to be well-adjusted; however, this was the first time that my amputation has made a presence in my dream. In a strange way, the amputation is an unwelcome intruder!

I deal with my amputation every day. I resent having to now contend with my disability in my own dreams! I have always had an escape from my limb-loss through my dreams. My subconscious has never imposed a pinched socket, an uncomfortable prosthetic or a pinch cut. I have always been a four- limbed person. Okay, sometimes I'm a cat, but that is a topic for a different blog (and perhaps some therapy.)

Last night in my dream, I was at the beach with Robby. Before we could go into the ocean, I had to switch legs. I even adjusted my liner in my dream! To add additional insult, I was walking with an obvious limb and was having a difficult time ambulating in the sand. In previous dreams, I simply would have been a mommy. In this dream, I was an amputee mommy.

I suppose that it was inevitable that my amputation would make an appearance in my dreams. It has become a natural part of my life. The presence of my amputation in my dream is probably a sign that my subconscious has accepted my disability. I hope that it is a sign of acceptance and growth.

I have decided that I don't like acceptance and growth! I don't want to be an amputee in my dreams. I want to be a sexy and beautiful superhero who saves the world, wins the Pillsbury Bake-Off and writes a book which is #1 on the New York Times Best Sellers list for 3 years! I will continue to dream big. I guess now I'll just be a one-legged sexy superhero.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Good Day!

I don't even need to get out of bed to know that today is going to be a good day. I have been lobbying for this day for months. After months of fighting with Elsie (my insurance adjuster), I have finally been deemed victorious. Today is new liner day!

It seems strange how a small change can make such a positive difference. I doubt a four-limbed individual could truly comprehend the importance of a new liner. I liken a new liner to the comfort of a pair of sweat pants just out of the dryer combined with support received from the "perfect" fitting jeans.

A new liner provides more compression on my residual limb, minimizing the pesky "stinging" of angry nerve endings. It is without the odor and holes that I have been pulling onto my limb for the past several months. It is wonderful to pull on a liner that isn't torn, stretched and pitted.

I hesitate to admit this, but a new liner provides me with more confidence. It is not unlike the feeling of wearing a sexy new bra for the first time. I know that there is something different, but it is not visible to anybody else. Simply knowing that I'm wearing a new liner is enough to boost my mood.

Soon Robby will be up, and I will get ready for our day. I'm looking forward to pulling on a firm new liner and feeling the cool embedded lotion against my stump. I know that I'm not going to have to worry about the liner falling down or losing suction, at least for a few months. I love new liner day!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Another Haircut

I looked at Robby the other day and realized that he needed another haircut. He looked a bit like a ragamuffin with his shaggy, overgrown do. Much to my chagrin, I knew that a trip to the barber was inevitable.

I try to rotate our patronage between two barbers--in different states. The last time he had a haircut, he screamed so loudly that the police officers, working at the nearby substation, came running when they heard his wails. He left the barber shop with a crooked haircut, a reddened and hair covered face and with a Mommy with a pounding headache.

I started to prep him for our trip to the barber over breakfast. Initially Robby seemed eager. He talked about sitting in the special "up-down" chair and getting a lollipop. He said that, if he was good, he would get two lollipops. I reminded him that, while he was sitting in the chair, the barber would be cutting his hair.

After his initial protests, Robby seemed to accept his fate. "I know Momom. Robby get one haircut." Although I found his request odd, I agreed and told him that he would only get one haircut today. He happily sang about getting one haircut and getting a lollipop.

Robby repeated his assertion that he was going to get "one haircut" as we walked into the barber shop. He cautiously climbed onto the barber chair. I was thrilled. Finally, my little boy seemed to accept his haircut without causing a scene. I sighed a deep sigh, confident that the haircut antics of the past were now a memory.

I was wrong.

As soon as I began to relax, I realized that Robby and I had (another) catastrophic misunderstanding. This became clear when he picked up one hair off his head and showed it to the barber. He then told the barber that he was just getting "one hair cut."

When asked how I wanted his hair to be cut, I responded by saying "quickly and short." The barber went to work as Robby voiced his "displeasure." (I apologize for the video. Scott and I collectively worked for several hours to rotate the video without success. I opted to use it because the audio was the most important aspect.)

Thankfully the barber was able to cut Robby's hair short. I am hoping that he matures before his next haircut and that his behavior is more acceptable. Actually, it really doesn't matter to me how he behaves the next time he goes to the barber. I have decided that Scott can take him, and I'll go for a much overdue massage.

Monday, January 25, 2010

We'll Miss You Candy Pap-Paw

Although my Dad technically lives in Austin, Texas, he has been residing in my basement for the past nine years. In 2001 he accepted a position with an agency based in Washington, DC. He phoned and asked if he could stay with me until he could find a place. He has since claimed squatters rights.

Robby adores his "Candy Pap-Paw." Although he lives in the basement, we don't see him a lot. He travels for his work and returns to Texas every weekend. When he is in town, he works long hours. We are all asleep by the time he comes home, and he leaves for work before we wake up. Nevertheless, Robby is thrilled when his Candy Pap-Paw walks up the stairs.

After 9 years, my Dad has recently accepted a new job which will necessitate his return to Texas full-time. I am going to miss him. I have become accustomed to preparing him a plate after dinner and tucking it in the refrigerator for him to eat when he came home late from work. We are going to have a lot more leftovers with him gone.

Robby is going to feel the absence of his Candy Pap-Paw. They have become buddies, playing games with rules only understood by the two of them. When my Dad comes home, Robby immediately ushers him into his bedroom and closes the door. I hear squeals of laughter coming from behind the door, but my entry is refused.

Candy Pap-Paw is special. He takes Robby out for ice cream and doesn't make him change out of his pajamas! He bought Robby a motorized car and a wagon. It is amazing how such a small boy can have such an imposing figure wrapped around his little finger. Their relationship is special.

A few days ago, Candy Pap-Paw did something for Robby that has elevated him to hero status in the eyes of a three year old. He took Robby to the pet store and bought him a fish. Not just any fish, but a blue fish! My little animal lover could not be happier. Meet the newest member of the family, Blue Fishy Chenoweth.

Although Candy Pap-Paw is moving back to Texas, we have been assured that he will continue to visit. He will be returning to the DC area for work frequently, and has requested the use of our pull-out couch. He is keeping his key because he can always "squat" at our house.