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, February 12, 2010

Valentine's Day...

Valentine's Day. Ah... love is in the air. All weekend, couples will be exchanging romantic cards and gifts. They will shower each other with candy, cards and jewelry. Expensive meals and sexy lingerie will be enjoyed. At least, that is what we are led to believe by Hallmark.

I am 35 years old, and I have yet to experience a Valentine's Day that in anyway resembles those depicted by Hollywood in romantic movies and television shows. This is my 10th Valentine's Day with Scott. I have all but abandoned my romantic aspirations revolving around February 14th.

I vividly remember our first Valentine's Day together. I blew up a picture of the two of us and walked several laps through the mall until I found the "perfect" picture frame. I read hundreds of cards until I found just the right sentiment. I spent the afternoon making a romantic meal for two. I baked a chocolate heart shaped cake. I set the table with candles and dimmed the lights. Soft music was playing in the background when he came home.

Scott came home, frustrated and grumpy because his bowling team performed poorly. He had the look of deer in the headlights when he saw the candlelit table and saw the heart shaped cake. Just as I was about to put dinner on the table, he grabbed his coat and told me that he needed to "get gas" because he was worried he wasn't going to have enough to get to work the next day. He ran out the door.

Frustrated, I put the prime rib back into the oven and waited. Scott returned about 15 minutes later. He handed me a plastic bag, and said "I hate Valentine's Day. Here you go." Inside the bag was a pack of Cadbury Easter Eggs and a bag of jelly beans. Apparently they ran out of Valentine's candy at 7-11.

He slept on the couch that night. Actually, waking up on the couch on February 15th has become a tradition. For whatever reason, he is just lousy at Valentine's Day.

Scott and I have come to an agreement. I no longer expect flowers, candy or cards. I make pink mashed potatoes with dinner and he doesn't complain. He refrains from performing the "burp dance" and the "name that fart" game for the seven days preceding the holiday.

Scott has been looking forward to this weekend for the last month. I assure you, it isn't because of Valentine's Day. The Daytona 500 is this weekend. This is the inaugural race of the 2010 NASCAR season. (Insert a sarcastic "woot woot" here.)

Although we have agreed to forgo gifts for Valentine's Day, I am considering breaking our pact. I know how much he loves the Daytona 500. It is something that he looks forward to every year, and I know of one thing that Scott would enjoy. I may give him a "flatulence pass" for Valentine's Day, to be redeemed during the race only. And if I'm feeling especially loving, I'll even overlook him burping "Boogity Boogity Boogity" along with Dale Waltrip at the start of the race. After all, that would be truly make the holiday special.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Yet Another Lesson Learned

Sometimes, to my detriment, I have always tried to prove that my amputation does not limit me. I want to be a role model to Robby, showing him through my example that sometimes situations arise that change the course of your life, but that it is important to persevere and never to give up. I want him to think that his Mommy is Superwoman!

I think, in my normal overzealous way, I have made a mistake. I have become so self-sufficient and independent that I have eliminated the "amputation excuse" altogether. Yes, I can do almost anything with my prosthetic. However, sometimes the activity is more cumbersome, painful and dangerous because I do have only one leg. I am learning that there is the difference between whether I can complete a task and whether or not I should.

We have just dug out of a 35 inch snowfall. On top of the snow we've already had, the ground cover is now deeper than Robby. Much to everybody's chagrin in this area, we knew that another blizzard was on its way.

After securing more provisions from the store, Scott and I set about making the house "blizzard ready." Since we live in the woods, we have access to oodles of firewood from trees that have been cut down. Although the wood was never split, the trees have been cut into sections.

I don't want to cast blame, but I did mention numerous times that it might be a good idea to move the logs closer to the house before it started to snow. My requests fell upon deaf ears, and the logs were never moved. We lost electricity in the last storm, and we are expecting to be in the dark during the encroaching storm as well. The wood had to be retrieved so that we could stay warm!

Yes, I bundled up and schlepped through the woods on a quest for fire logs. I knew the approximate location of the wood, but everything has been blanketed with several feet of heavy white snow that was waist high and made it difficult to maneuver. I was happily relieved that my leg stayed on during the walk. I was worried that the pressure of the snow against my prosthetic would cause it to come unhitched.

Finally, I found the logs. After digging them out, I realized that they were also frozen together. Shoot! I was forced to trudge back up the hill to retrieve something to pry them apart. After searching through our cluttered tool bench, I found my small trowel. Perfect!

With the trowel in hand and pulling Robby's sled, I slowly worked my way back to the wood. Scott owes me a new trowel. The prongs bent and one came off completely, but I managed to free 10 logs.

I discovered that my sense of pride was premature. I had underestimated the weight of each section. I weighed one of the logs a few hours ago, and it registered 68 pounds. There is a reason I could only pull two at a time on the sled.

I tried to channel Rocky Balboa as I was heaving the wood onto the sled. Robby was standing on the driveway, and heard the song. "No Momom. No sing Rocky. Momom sing I am Woman go Roar." At least Robby still thinks I'm Superwoman!

Five trips, pulling at least 120 pounds through 45 inches of snow. I impressed even myself with that feat. Despite being proud of my determination and strength, I was exhausted.

I also wish that I had foreseen how difficult the task was going to be because I am an amputee. My stump was sore when I was finished. I have been having a difficult time walking around the house. Physically, I am paying a high price for the "free wood."

The fire is roaring and the house is warm. The snow is falling outside at a steady, magical rate. We have not yet lost electricity. Robby told me that I am his hero but not because of my herculean task to retrieve the firewood. I am Robby's hero because we made "yummy yummy whoopie pies."

From now on, I am going to leave the manual labor tasks to Scott. I don't need to prove Superhero status to Robby through physical labor. After all, apparently my whoopie pies are "yummy in tummy" and the "best in the whole world." Praise doesn't come any higher than that!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


I had the opportunity to meet with a new friend over the weekend. She is readying herself for an amputation and is scared. Her feelings are raw. I remember being in her situation.

I have learned that I belong to a small subgroup within the amputee community. My amputation was not the result of a traumatic accident or from the ravages of a disease. I had an injury to my foot and endured years of "limb saving" surgeries. After five years and nearly 20 surgeries, I came to the conclusion that I would live a more fulfilling life without my limb.

Yes, in one sense I "chose" to amputate. Although technically accurate, I shudder when I speak those words. I worry about being confused with the "wannabe" group of devotees who actively seek to amputate a limb because they believe they were born with one foot too many. This was not my situation!

I feel my defenses rising when I am questioned about my surgery. When acquaintances learn that my amputation was the result of an injury that occurred years earlier, many people immediately begin to inquire about the medical treatment I sought and received as if to determine if I truly had exhausted all avenues. I am often told that they "never would have amputated," and seem to be condemning my decision without knowledge of the constant pain I endured. I feel judged.

My surgeons abilities are often called into question. "You should have gone to Dr. Whoever. He is the best and would have helped." I assure you, I sought the best medical opinions available. I did not come to the decision to amputate lightly. I also should not be called upon to defend my decision.

My new friend is confronting the same issues from well meaning co-workers, friends and family. She has struggled with the prospect of an amputation for many months. She has done the research, and spoken with doctors as well as other amputees. Both she and her surgeon agree that it is an appropriate time to amputate.

In addition to dealing with the personal anguish the accompanies the decision to amputate, she is now forced to contend with naysayers. I suppose that it is human nature to cast judgment upon others. In an ideal world, my friend would receive only support and love. We do not live in an ideal world.

I suspect that others question the validity of the decision to amputate out of their own personal fear. After all, the prospect of an amputation is terrifying for the majority of people. Most cannot contemplate sacrificing a damaged limb in order to resume a life void of the pain and frustrations brought about by the injury. For most, the prospect of amputation is just too overwhelming, so they immediately question the decisions made by the person actually living with the limb.

I know that my friend is at peace with her decision. Her immediate family is supportive, and she is in the midst of all of the heart-wrenching preparations. Sadly, few will ever know the fear that she is feeling, and, because of well-meaning naysayers, she does not feel free to express those emotions.

It is a shame that we live in a society that immediately casts judgment and blame. She should be showered with love and support during this difficult time. She should not be forced to constantly defend her medical decisions nor should she be forced to console those who are frightened by her amputation.

I wish that I had the words to help, but I know that there are none. The days before my amputation were, without a doubt, the most terrifying of my life. I feel her anxiety and anguish because I truly have been there.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Snow Walk

I have learned that I am no longer afforded the luxury of staying inside after a large snowfall. The past few days, while I was wishing I was curled in my comfy rocker and covered with a warm quilt, I was outside playing. I was envious of my Mom who was watching and laughing from her window.

I have learned how to "dress" my prosthetic for snow fun. I discovered that placing an activated hand warmer in the socket helps to keep my stump from becoming too cold. (Cold stumps are prone to cramping which is never a good thing.) With the addition of a boot, my swim leg is transformed into my snow leg. I don't have to worry about the ankle rusting or freezing up, so I no longer have to wrap the prosthetic to protect the components. Sometimes small improvements can be liberating!

After his Nana was appropriately dug out, Robby and I set out up the street to "help" the neighbors. We ran into neighbors up and down the street, many of whom I remember from my childhood. Robby was eager to assist with their snow removal needs, throwing piles of snow over his shoulder as he was happily digging away. We usually ended our visit with more snow piles in the path that had just been cleared, but nobody begrudged the help from my eager little snow shoveler!

Although I was tired, I was pleased that my leg was holding up well under the snowy challenge. My limb wasn't cold, and my socket was instantly more comfortable after I removed the gloves that were hiding inside. My amputation was not impeding our snow fun. I was just another bundled up parent, playing with her child.

Robby stopped to help a neighbor that I vividly remember from my childhood. This family had three boys, all close in age to myself and my siblings. Their Mom used to call and "report" any issues that their child encountered when playing with the other neighborhood kids. My Mom used to get a LOT of phone calls from this lady. Apparently she didn't realize that the more she called and ratted us out, the more we wanted to torment her children!

After exchanging awkward pleasantries and catching up on the families jobs/families/locations, I was anxious to keep walking. Robby had a different idea. He had discovered a "super super super big pile of snow" that he was convinced needed to be moved. He set to work. I was left making more small talk with the chatty, tattling neighbor from my past.

I filled him in on where I live and my past profession as a teacher. We talked about Robby and Scott. We even talked about my Mom, her retirement and her return from a cruise. The conversation moved to my siblings.

He asked about my brother, and I told him that Jae was doing well. He then paused and asked me about my sister, the "really fat one with one leg." Stunned, I tried to think of a graceful way of exiting the conversation. I just looked at him, smiled and said that he was talking about me.

After an uncomfortable apology and some snow kicking on both sides, I gathered Robby to go home. I managed to convince him that Nana was calling for help because she needed more snow moved from in front of the mailbox. I couldn't help but shake my head on the walk back home. There is a reason that we used to throw corn at his son at the bus stop. There is also a reason that, when I was little, I let my new puppy pee on this neighbors leg. Apparently I was perceptive and good at reading people at a young age!

I enjoyed walking up the street with Robby. I want to foster his desire to help other people, even though the assistance of a three year old isn't always needed! It is important that he learn to reach out to other people and to offer to help. I also liked visiting with neighbors from my childhood. It is amazing how many people still reside on the street!

Monday, February 08, 2010


Snowapalooza is here. At least, that is what the February 2010 snowstorm has been named in the DC area. We were warned that we could receive as much as 30 inches of snow. I love the snow, but that sounded like a lot.

Scott went to the store for lunch meat, potato chips and beer: all of the provisions when you are going to be snowbound. He worked for three hours to put the plow on the front of our lawn mower. Firewood was brought inside. He was ready to ride out the storm.

I packed up Robby and headed for Pennsylvania where they were forecast to receive merely 20 inches. With a Pennsylvania grocery store run complete, we were completely stocked with milk, diapers, bread, pizza and chocolate cake. Bring on the snow!

We woke up to a world blanketed in fluffy white. Robby was excited and eager to go outside to play. With the help of my Mom, Robby and I dressed in our winter garb and headed outside. We couldn't find Robby's gloves, but luckily we had a spare pair. Much to his chagrin, he finally agreed to wear the mittens.

My snow leg (coincidentally the same prosthesis acts as my swim leg in the summer) was snug and uncomfortable, but I figured that there was nothing that could be done. I was going to have to live with it. After all, there was snow to be shoveled and snowballs to be thrown.

The snow was nearly as tall as Robby. He just kept saying, "Super super super big snow." He had a blast "helping" me shovel. He even joined me in singing "I am Woman" as I was heaving the heavy snow over my shoulder. I was proud of my strength, contemplating that this one-legged woman was shoveling through 23 inches.

After over an hour of shoveling and snow fun, Robby was ready to come inside. We wanted to warm up and eat cookie dough before going back outside. I was happy to grant this request as my leg was aching and becoming increasingly uncomfortable.

Ushered immediately into the laundry room by my mom, I began to strip the layers off Robby. Piles of snow were falling around him as his snowsuit, boots, gloves and coat were removed. I shoved his wet clothes into the dryer and began to take off my snow clothes.

I slipped off my snow leg in order to take off my snow pants. Finally I felt relief from my super tight and uncomfortable socket. I was amazed at how uncomfortable my leg had become in just a few short weeks since the last snow. I am not sure what prompted me, but I reached inside the socket.

I found Robby's lost gloves.

Apparently I had pushed them into my snow/swim leg when I was packing for our trip. I was in such a hurry to go outside that I didn't look inside my socket before putting on my snow leg. The moral to this story: look inside your socket if your leg is suddenly uncomfortable or if something is missing. You never know what you're might find inside!