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, February 06, 2010

"Super Super Super big snow!"


Robby was so excited for more snow. I think I'm going to have to tie an orange bow to the top of his hat so I don't lose him this afternoon. I'll post more pictures later.
This is the scene from my Mom's sunroom. The snow comes up nearly to the railing on the porch.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Midnight Mayhem

I used to be a sound sleeper. When I was younger, a car literally ran into the side of our house and apparently it caused a lot of commotion. I found out about the incident after I woke up a few hours later.

Since Robby was born I have developed "Mommy ears." I can hear him stirring through two closed doors and over the sounds of the radio and sound machine playing. I am often sitting up in bed and already putting on my leg by the time Scott hears Robby's calls.

Of all of the obstacles presented by my amputation, the increased response time needed to respond to a midnight emergency is the most frustrating. As a Mommy, I want to go running whenever I hear Robby crying for help after a nightmare or when he suddenly becomes sick. Before coming to his aid, I must first put on my liner and leg. I know that it only takes a few moments, but I resent the delay.

Few situations make me feel as "disabled" as when I must first put on my leg before responding to a cry for help. Every time it happens, I wish that I could just pop up and go running, like a "normal" limbed parent. This is not my reality, and I know that it is fact of life that will not change. I hate it!

I have become adept at putting on my leg in the dark. I am sure that, if I were timed, I have my prosthetic on within 10 seconds. I know that, in the scheme of things, 10 seconds is not a lot of time. After all, because of my "Mommy ears" I am often halfway to Robby's room before Scott's sleep is even disturbed by the cries. However, when you're a Mommy and your child is hurting or scared, seconds seems like an eternity.

Monsters have apparently taken up residence in Robby's room. We have employed various monster repellents with minimal success. Despite our efforts, the monsters return and I am forced to fight them off in the wee hours of the morning.

I keep my liner inside out and on top of my prosthetic. I am ready to battle the fierce intruders at a moment's notice. Last night, at about 3 am, I heard the cry for help.

I immediately sat up and slid my liner over my stump. With one swift movement my leg was unplugged and I was stepping into the socket. New liners typically require more time and more downward deliberate pressure within my socket to create an adequate seal. I knew that I had not achieved suction, but there were monsters to fight and the walk was short.

Bam! I walked directly into Robby's ride-on firetruck. The "I Hear a Firetruck" song started blaring. My prosthetic got hung up on the truck and popped off. Unfortunately , I didn't realize it until I tried to take a step. Down I went.

Robby, upon hearing the commotion, came running into the bedroom. Scott woke up to find me on the floor with a concerned toddler towering over me. I was frustrated but unharmed. I immediately instituted a new family rule: All toys must be removed from the pathway between Robby's room and our bed!

A cup of milk and a few sprays of the monster repellent seemed to get rid of the unwanted intruders. I am a little bruised and annoyed. I know that it is a reality that I must put on my leg before going to help Robby. Obviously I need to put a little more time into the process to avoid injury. This being said, I don't have to be happy about it!

Thursday, February 04, 2010

I Hate Saying Good-Bye

I have always been more comfortable expressing myself in writing. For some reason I become self-conscious during face to face discussions, and I tend to hold back on my true feelings. I suppose I am always trying to put up a brave face, a pillar-of-strength facade.

I am frustrated with my feelings and emotions right now. I am 35 years old. I am married and I have a child. Logically, I know that my Dad moving back to Texas should not affect me. He needs to return to his wife. The commute between Austin and Virginia has taken its toll on him during the past 9 years. I know that it is time for him to move on, professionally and personally.

I am an independent woman with a family of my own. I love my parents but I am no longer dependent upon them. This being said, I can't help but feel like a little girl who is losing her Daddy.

My parents began living separately when I was eight. They have always maintained a comfortable relationship. My childhood was void of the stereotypical divorced parent conflicts. My father was often present at birthday parties and other celebrations. If there was friction between my mom and dad, I never knew it.

My life has drastically changed during his residence in our basement. I bought my first house, Scott and I began dating and we were married. I struggled through numerous surgeries and agonized with the decision to amputate. I learned to walk again. He witnessed my journey from a patient with a bandaged and blood stump to a happy and active amputee.

I was diagnosed with cancer and survived the treatments. Scott and I bought a house together and my dad moved right along with us. I gave birth to Robby, quit my job and became a stay at home Mommy. I started to write my blog and my book.

Some events, however, are etched in my memory. Neither Scott nor I will ever forget that cold night when my dad received the phone call that a lung was available for Christopher. (Christopher was my stepbrother who was dealing with Cystic Fibrosis.) My Dad began frantically pacing, wringing his hands and unsure of what to do next. In that moment I assumed the care-taking role, making his plane reservations and helping him pack. What a terrifying and wonderful night.

I became the conduit between my dad and the rest of the family during this time. He called me with updates on the transplant surgery as well as information concerning Christopher's recovery. I passed the information to concerned friends and family.

I saw my Dad age greatly during this time as he struggled to stay strong for his wife and son. (Yes, Christopher was technically his stepson, but that was simply a label. For all intent and purposes, Chris was my dad's child.) I witnessed his true heartbreak and pain when Christopher passed away. I was angry when he received criticism the weeks following the funeral. I learned that a daughter never forgets!

During this sad time, I tried to help my Dad. Nothing can ever ease the pain of losing a child, and I can only hope that a supportive ear and an off color joke every once in awhile provided a brief respite from his grief.

I have written about how Robby is going to miss having his Candy Pap-Paw around. I failed to acknowledge how much I am going to miss my dad. He has now lived with me as an adult longer than he did when I was a child.

I am grateful for the time I have spent with him, and I know that our relationship is a gift. Not many parents and children get the opportunity to forge adult relationships with each other. I am proud of my dad's professional and personal accomplishments, but there will be a void in our basement and my heart. I miss him already.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Shape Up Update

I have been trying to figure out why my prosthetic has been so uncomfortable lately. For the past week or so, my stump has been feeling like a sausage stuffed into a casing ready to burst. It is becoming increasingly difficult to put my leg on, and I have had to resort to lubricating the liner.

I am constantly releasing pressure in the socket. Many times throughout the day I have been forced to take off the prosthetic completely, which is always risky with Robby around. When Robby Rotten sees that my leg is off, he often seizes the opportunity of having a head start as he dashes to get into mischief.

Typically a tight socket is my first indication that I have gained a few pounds. After taking a deep breathe and repeating the "Peggy is okay" mantra, I stepped onto the scale. My apprehension was unfounded because I have actually lost four pounds! This is a good thing, but I was still perplexed about the ill-fitting socket.

I was riding the bike this morning while watching Good Morning America when I saw a commercial for Skecher's Shape-Ups. Ah Ha! I figured out why my socket has been feeling so tight.

Skechers designed the shoe to tone not only the buttocks, but also the calf and thigh muscles. I bought the shoe because of the "limp reducing" qualities that I discovered. It never occurred to me that the shoes would actually work to tone my muscles. But my tight socket indicates that the shoes might be beneficial on more than one front for the amputee.

My socket is tighter because my stump is bigger. Because my weight has not increased, I can only assume that the Shape Up shoes have been toning my horribly atrophied calf muscle on my residual limb. The calf muscle is becoming stronger and, consequently, it is becoming larger.

I took off my liner and examined my limb. Yes, it does seem to be a little larger. More impressive, I am able to see some definition within the muscle. I am also able to maintain the muscle contraction beyond the 5 or 6 seconds that has been my norm since my amputation. I can now contract the muscle within my residual limb for 45 seconds before I begin to cramp!

I had given up on strengthening this muscle because it seemed all but impossible. I know the importance of utilizing the muscles in my residual limb in order to equalize my weight bearing between my two legs. Equal weight bearing will help thwart arthritis and knee and hip problems on my sound side. Anything that I can do to avoid further orthopedic problems is a good thing!

Curious, I decided to investigate the effects of my Shape Up shoes on my bum. After digging through our junk drawer, I finally found the tape measure. Optimistic after I discovered my weight loss and my stronger stump, I stripped down and took a measurement. There is now an inch and a quarter less of my rear to love!

I bought the Shape Up shoes because the rocker sole practically eliminates my limp. I discovered that they have been doing more. For me, the shoes are magical. My residual limb muscle is stronger. I have been trying for years to obtain the results that I achieved without even trying, merely by wearing these shoes. And, as a bonus, my bum is smaller.

I know that I sound like a walking advertisement, but I assure you that Skechers doesn't even know that I have blogged about them. I just want to share anything I find that can help an amputee, and these do work for me! I am nothing if not enthusiastic when I find something that makes my life easier.

Elsie, my insurance adjuster, will probably not be singing the praises of these shoes. Because my residual limb is larger and more defined, I am going to need a new socket. The battle continues...

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

My Winter Obsession

I don't have to look at the calendar to know that February is upon us. The holidays are over, and people have put the Christmas decorations away. (Okay, mine are still lying in the middle of my front yard, but I have every intention of putting them away soon.) It looks desolate and dead outside. This time of year always depresses me.

Every year at this time I can be found perusing the cosmetic aisle at our local Target. I typically don't spend a lot of time primping and I would generally consider myself to be a low maintenance woman. However, every January/February I am drawn to cosmetics, lotions and various "miracle" potions.

One look under my bathroom sink would reveal the depth of my winter obsession. Little bottles, tubes and assorted facial scrubs fall out whenever the cabinet doors are opened. The child lock not only serves to keep Robby out, but it helps to keep the "miracle breakthrough" products in.

I don't always concentrate on my face. Last year I became quasi-obsessed with cellulite on my thighs and bum. I managed to convince myself that my "lumpy bum" was the cause of a lot of problems and needed to be fixed. I bought a tube of Nivea's Good-Bye Cellulite (at $22) and set about "smoothing" the bumps.

I diligently applied the cream twice a day, as directed. I even used a hairdryer on my rear to dry the cream before getting dressed. I was absolutely convinced that I was going to have a bum like Jennifer Lopez.

The bottle was supposed to have enough applications for six weeks. I used the entire contents in 18 days. Apparently they don't expect users to have such an "ample" area. I realized that it was going to cost me several hundred dollars to smooth the bumps. I admitted defeat against cellulite.

This year I find myself worrying about my "fine lines and wrinkles." Okay, I admit that I don't have fine lines and wrinkles... yet. I know that there is nothing wrong with the generic "Oil of Beauty" lotion that I have been using. Sometimes though, and ladies back me up, it is nice to use something name brand. I find myself wanting to use Oil of Olay Total Effects, at $20 a bottle.

I have been able to resist my impulses. Logically, I know that the wrinkle obsession is my pattern. Given enough time, the weather will warm and my focus will again shift. After all, I know that I don't need another little bottle under my sink.

Despite the cold, I took Robby to the park today. He met a little boy and the two of them were playing with Robby's treasured Bob the Builder ball. Out of the blue, the little boy looked at me and told me that I "looked just like his grandma." I am going to Target to buy the wrinkle cream, and now I think I may need the accompanying scrubs.

Monday, February 01, 2010

I Know I'm Whining...

I have not been having the best few days. I don't think that there is anything worse for a Mommy than seeing her child in pain and being relatively helpless to ease their distress. To make matters worse, I am also having prosthetic and stump challenges.

Robby is continuing to have "withholding" issues. We took him to a new pediatrician who discovered that he was so backed up with poop that she could feel it by pressing on his tummy. I learned that his issues don't stem from his simply being fearful of having a bowel movement. Because he has been engaging in this behavior for so long, the nerves have been damaged and the signal to push is no longer reaching his brain.

The pediatrician informed me that I will be dealing with this issue for the next 6 to 8 months. That is nearly 25% of his life! All we talk about is poop. The color, the consistency, the refusal/ inability to push. I hate poop.

We have been given (many times unsolicited) oodles of advice from well-meaning individuals. We have been told to sit him on the potty for as long as it takes for him to "learn." We have been told to ignore the behavior entirely. We have been told to bribe him. Thank goodness bribery didn't work because I promised him a convertible, a kitten and a goat.

To date, we have spent nearly an unconscionable amount of money on Robby's bum. We have bought gallons of Vaseline and Desitin to treat the chronic rash that is the result his "anti-poopy dance." We have tried assorted laxatives and fiber additives. A complete about face has occurred in regards to potty training. I fear I'll still be smearing his bum with cream and cramming him into an Elmo diaper when he is a teenager!

We have begun a regimen of enemas and laxatives. We are hoping to clear him out and then "keep the pipes clean" so that he doesn't have to exert any effort when having a bowel movement. After 3-4 months of induced diarrhea, we can begin to cut back on the laxatives. Three to four months of changing soggy, smelly diarrhea diapers. Where is my Hallmark card for this? And there is more.

For whatever reason, my socket just hasn't been comfortable the last few days. I am constantly releasing pressure in the socket to alleviate the stinging and cramping that accompanies a tight prosthetic. My stump is sore after a few hours and I am forced to remove my leg.

Unfortunately I cannot keep my leg off for any extended period. It seems that the minute I take off my leg, Robby begins his "poop dance." I am forced to put the leg back on to engage in a full body contact diaper change.

I am tired of poop and all things poop related. I am tired of my leg not fitting correctly. I am tired because Robby is having trouble sleeping, and when I am finally able to sleep, I have difficulty because my limb hurts. I am tired of searching for the more glamorous side of motherhood!