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, March 12, 2010

One Angry Leg

Well, it looks like March is presenting me with a Lion day tomorrow. The forecast is calling for torrential rains with a total of two to three inches. I think my special animal park day will be postponed.

I certainly didn't need to watch the 6:00 news to know that it was going to rain. My stump has been aching all day. I started the day with my leg being sore, but my ability to get around wasn't affected. Robby and I even went to House of Bounce for the afternoon.

Ninety minutes of running around inside a MoonBounce, combined with the approaching storm, has caused the initial discomfort from this morning to morph into full blown pain. Scott noted my significant limp this evening and I kept my movements to a minimum. The nerves in my leg are angry!

I hate being an amputee on nights like this. The simple task of walking to the bathroom is painful. I actually find myself debating about whether or not walking somewhere is worth it. I even let Robby take a 45 minute bath tonight just so I didn't have to chase him around the house. My poor little prune skinned boy!

I am hoping that resting tonight will help alleviate the pain in my leg. My leg is off and I have no plans of putting it back on. Unfortunately, I suspect that the pain will continue to linger until the weather changes completely.

Robby will still have a special day tomorrow. Only instead of running around the animal park chasing his beloved goat friends, we will be curled up in bed watching "The Rescuers" while eating popcorn all day. Right now, that seems like the perfect alternative on a rainy Saturday.

Hoping for a Lamb

Every March when I was in elementary school our desks had either a lion or a lamb picture on front. Although we were allowed to choose our animal, it typically broke down among gender lines with lambs on the girls' desks and lions for the boys. The saying that March comes "in like a lion and out like a lamb" could not be a more apt description. The middle of the month, however, is typically wrought with wild weather fluctuations.

I know it may not last more than a day or two, but spring definitely feels as if it has arrived. The tulips are beginning to poke through the dirt. The squirrels are bouncing around the yard, seemingly doing surveillance work so that they will be able to quickly bite the blooms off the tulips as soon as they open.

Robby and I have been counting down to March 13th since the end of September. This Saturday, barring torrential rain or snow, Robby and I will bundle up and head to one of his favorite places. Tomorrow, the local animal park petting zoo opens. To be honest, I am almost as excited as I was on Christmas Eve!

We have been taking Robby to the zoo since he was born. We have season passes, and we often go a few times a week. During the winter when the zoo is closed, I typically fill the extra time by baking cookies. Unfortunately, the cookies have caught up with both of us, especially my thighs. I am thrilled that we will be outside again!

Robby has been chattering about returning to the park all winter. He has finally stopped crying every time I drive past the closed gates. I felt helpless as the tears streamed down his little cheeks. He was just too young to understand that the park closes during the winter.

After he wakes up tomorrow and finishes his milk and breakfast, I am going to tell him the good news. We are going to the animal park. It's time for him to go and visit his goat friends.

I predict that he will wave to his Daddy as he vaults down the stairs and frantically tries to step into his beloved froggy boots. I'm sure that we will go through several verses of "Old MacRobby Had a Farm" during the short drive to the animal park.

I am just hoping that the weather is leaning more towards the "lamb" side, so that he can play with a real one again! But since it's March, and the weather is unpredictable, I have stocked up on butter and sugar in case my plans fall through and we are forced to occupy our day baking cookies.

This is a picture taken last year at the animal park.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

12 Years

Do you know where you were 12 years ago today? I do. It's a day that I'll never forget. While some anniversaries are happy and are anticipated throughout the year, others are more difficult to bear. As the day approaches I know that I have no choice but to try to stay busy and keep the events of the past at bay.

On March 11, 1998, I woke up early in my apartment in Baltimore, MD and drove to Ocean City, MD. I was eager to attend my first professional conference. I felt invincible and excited both about my developing career and my seemingly limitless future. I saw nothing but possibilities and adventure in the world. I never envisioned that an amputation would be in my future.

I was standing in the exhibition hall looking at the rows of vendors eager to talk with me about their products and services. I saw a computer salesman pushing a large monitor on a cart, and I stepped out of his way. In that instant, my life changed.

The monitor was not strapped down on the cart, and the cart became stuck on a transition strip on the floor. He jerked the cart forward, dislodging the monitor. The large computer monitor flew off the cart and the edge landed squarely on the top of my left foot.

To be honest, initially the injury seemed to be relatively minor. I didn't feel any pain at first. I even lifted the monitor off my foot by myself. It wasn't until I lifted up the monitor that I felt pain.

I was taken to an Urgent Care clinic along the boardwalk, commonly referred to as a "doc in a box." X-Rays were taken, and I was put in a cast and given crutches. I was told to rest, to keep the weight off my foot, and that I would be fine in six weeks.

After six weeks, my cast was removed. My foot was distorted and purple. I was told that this was "normal" and that the bruise would dissipate. The discoloration and swelling never faded. Neither did the pain.

The injury on March 11 set me on a path filled with riddled with pain and surgeries. I endured over 20 surgeries in five years in an attempt to ease the pain and to regain my mobility. I was reliant upon crutches to get around, and my life was ruled by my disability. Amputating the limb was the only option left that would alleviate the pain and provide me with the hope of resuming a normal life.

My life was changed simply by standing in the wrong place at the wrong time. I did nothing wrong to cause the injury, yet I have been dealing with the effects of that day for 12 years now. Life can change in an instant.

This anniversary used to fill me with anger. Actually, anger is probably not an apt description. Rage is probably more accurate. I spent a lot of energy thinking about that salesman. I knew that he did not injure me on purpose, yet I was was mad that he was able to walk away from the conference and I continued to suffer. Did he even think about me after that conference? Did he know how severely he injured me? Did he lose sleep because of his mistake? These thoughts used to haunt me.

Over time, my anger has faded into sadness. Every year on the anniversary of my injury I feel sad thinking about everything that I lost. My 20's were filled with nothing but a cycle of surgery and recovery. I was robbed of this carefree age.

Today I can't help but reflect upon the injury and everything that it cost me. I cannot change the events of the past, but I can impact that way that the injury affects my future. I have a better appreciation for my health and for days without pain. I am a stronger person who is no longer afraid to put a voice to my thoughts.

When I woke up 12 years ago I never envisioned that I would be living my life as an amputee. Fate set my life on a new course that I never imagined. The journey, although painful, has been both enlightening and empowering.

I find it ironic that 12 years later, I am again in another hotel room. This time I am not merely attending a conference, but I have been invited to speak. I am now helping others learn about living with an amputation and getting the most out of life despite a limb loss. In a way I have come full circle; it is just a completely different circle.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Which is Harder?

I love receiving emails and comments on my blog. I invest a lot of myself into each post, never knowing who my audience is going to be on any given day. I have learned early in this endeavor that I never know who I am going to reach or what information they are seeking.

Last week I received an interesting email. I was contacted by an author who is in the process of doing research for an upcoming book. This author is well-established and has published numerous action/adventure books. The fact that a "real author" was reading my words in an attempt to gain insight into the life of an amputee not only thrilled me, but validated my efforts.

This author's research was apparent when he started asking me questions. He posed an interesting question. He wanted to know which was harder: the adjustment to the physical limitations and changes caused by the amputation or the grief over the limb loss.

Obviously, the physical impact of the amputation is the most obvious adjustment. After my amputation I had to walk on a prosthetic, shower with one leg as well as a multitude of other basic daily living activities. For months it seemed that daily I encountered a new physical obstacle that I needed to conquer in order to complete seemingly mundane activities. Learning to live my life as an amputee was both laborious and exhausting.

In many ways, the psychological impact of my limb loss didn't present itself during the initial adjustment period. I think I was so focused on learning how to live as an amputee that I didn't have time to really think about my new situation. I had a lengthy list of skills that I needed to learn in order to regain function. I was focused on each goal. When a new skill was mastered, I knew that I was moving towards independence and I was able to take pride in my accomplishment.

It wasn't until after I learned how to live as an amputee that the reality of my loss became apparent. When I was no longer focused on achieving independence I let my guard down, and the grief set in. I needed to mourn the loss of my leg. It was a process that was lengthier and more painful than I anticipated.

I was walking and appeared "normal" to those around me. Only a few friends and family, in whom I confided, knew the depths of my grief. I was distraught. I felt lost and inept. Grieving my leg threw me into a full blown identity crisis.

I was feigning happiness for so long that I began to wonder if I would ever feel true joy again. Slowly I began opening up and giving my feelings a voice. I realized that the more I acknowledged the pain, the more it seemed to dissipate. It was a long process, but eventually I realized my laughter and smiles were genuine.

Grieving any loss takes time. It is imperative that both the amputee and those supporting him or her realize that adjustment does not happen overnight. My family and friends circled around me, allowing me to talk and cry whenever I needed to. They reinforced that I had a lot to offer the world, and that I could continue to help others despite wearing a prosthetic leg. They told me that I was beautiful when I felt freakishly ugly.

I learned through this process that I am not the same person that I was before I lost my foot. I am stronger than I realized. I am a more secure, confident woman. I have more respect for health and for completing seemingly mundane activities. In many ways, my amputation has made me a better person.

I enjoyed speaking with the author and telling him my experiences. In my opinion, and through my experiences, the psychological adjustment was much harder than the physical. What do you think?

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

I'm Fine... But Angry

The past few days have been torturous. I have been living with a high level of anxiety as I was eagerly waiting for the results of my biopsy. I tried to put the test out of my mind knowing that worrying was not going to impact the results. I was not successful.

At the risk of seeming dramatic, it felt like the future course of my life, at least immediately, was going to be dependent upon the telephone call that I was waiting to receive. In an attempt to gain control, I began making "worst case scenario" contingency plans. What would I do if I needed treatment? Who would take care of Robby? The horrible possibility of dying and leaving Robby haunted me day and night.

Unfortunately, I have learned that hospitals and doctors are adept at prescribing tests, but are lacking an adequate result delivery protocol. I was worked into the schedule for my biopsy within 24 hours. I was forced to wait for the results for nearly four days.

Four days, which were spent worrying, fretting and crying whenever I was alone. Four long days of jumping with each ring of the telephone only to have my heart sink when the caller ID revealed that the number was not originating from my doctor's office. Four days of trying to keep busy, and feigning happiness so that Robby would not become upset.

I have finally received the sought after results. My worrying was unfounded. My worst case scenario plans are not necessary. My biopsy was negative. I am fine.

My emotions at the moment feel odd. While I am ecstatic that I am healthy and that my biopsy was negative, my joy is mixed with anger. The turmoil I have been forced to endure the past four days has been the unnecessary because my results simply were not being communicated to my doctor.

Communication among medical personnel needs to be facilitated so that the patient does not become lost. I should not have been forced to live in a bubble of uncertainty for the entire weekend. I have learned that the lab knew my results Friday afternoon.

Both my physician and I should have received the verdict immediately. Instead, my results and, in a very real way, my future, were sitting in a stack on somebody's desk awaiting an open fax machine. The patient's feelings, my feelings, were probably never considered as a reason to expedite the delivery of the results.

With the news that I am cancer-free, I feel as if I can resume living my life. I am thankful that I am healthy, and I plan on staying proactive concerning my health. I understand that the lab technicians and doctors are busy. There are many unsung heroes within the health profession who never forget that they are dealing with a real person, not just with a cluster of cells. I regret that my biopsy did not land under the microscope of one of these individuals.

I am happy that I am cancer free. I have never taken good health for granted and this experience has caused me to value it even more. I am angry that I was forced to live in an unnecessary state of fear. I plan on communicating my experience with the hospital in the hopes that another individual never has to live with such fear and uncertainty awaiting results that have already been read. Delivering results needs to be as much of a priority as obtaining the sample!

Monday, March 08, 2010


I finally received the biopsy results. I am fine, the biopsy was benign. Now I can exhale.

The Return of Robby Rotten

I was in the grocery store the other day armed with my list and a stack of coupons. I left Scott and Robby in the chip aisle where they were happily shopping for salty snacks. I was a few aisles away, enjoying a few fleeting moments of shopping solitude.

As I was rummaging through my envelope trying to retrieve a coupon for Ziploc bags, I heard a horrible screeching sound. At first it sounded like a pig being slaughtered. Then I realized that it was a child screaming. Actually, screaming is an understatement. This child was in full blown tantrum and was wailing. I felt horrible for the parents.

Having a child throw a tantrum in the middle of a store can be a frustrating and humiliating experience for the parents. I always worry that others are judging my parenting abilities as Robby throws himself on the floor, typically close to the bakery, and screams. Other than removing ourselves from the store, there is no delicate way to deal with this uncomfortable situation.

After hearing the screaming for almost a minute, I became concerned. This decibel of screeching just didn't seem natural. It sounded unlike any tantrum I've ever heard. I began to worry that the child was in pain or was scared. I went to investigate.

I walked towards the screaming and discovered that I wasn't alone with my concerns. I was following along with at least 10 other shoppers who were investigating the commotion. As I turned the corner I felt a sense of impending doom.

Imagine my horror when I discovered that the screaming child was mine. Robby was in the middle of a full blown tantrum in the center of the chip aisle. Scott was standing next to our screaming toddler, unsure of what to do with such an ill-behaved little hellion.

I worked my way through the crowd and claimed Robby Rotten. I carried him, kicking and screaming to the front of the grocery store. Scott then carried him to the car while I checked out. I would have left the groceries in the cart, but that would have necessitated a return trip to the store later that evening. This was not a place I wanted to return to in the near future.

We are still unsure what prompted Robby's tantrum. Lately my sweet little boy morphs into Robby Rotten for no known reason. I attribute this to his age, although part of me worries. After all, he was supposed to be born on 6/6/06!

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Happy Birthday Scott

Happy Birthday Scott. You are a wonderful husband and fantastic Daddy. Robby and I love you very much.

Sleep in and relax today. We won't even bug you when you are watching your race. In honor of your birthday, you can eat potato chips in bed and I won't complain about the crumbs!

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