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 26, 2010


Through this blog I have tried to address issues which have impacted my life both as an amputee and as a mother. I have learned that many of my emotions and experiences are shared by others. This being said, I feel that there is a commonality among all amputees which is kept silent. I want to bring light to the issue. We should not hide or be ashamed of our feelings!

I have received emails and phone calls from many readers of this blog about how to deal with the reoccurring anger about the limb loss. From the victim of an accident to the injured soldier to the individual living with diabetes, every amputee experiences anger and rage. For whatever reason, we keep this feeling in the shadows, uncomfortable discussing this most personal emotion with our closest friends and fellow "limb loss champions." (I just coined that term, but I like it.)

I know that I have been shy about expressing my rage towards the individual who caused my injury. It was only after I started thinking about this topic that I realized my reasons: I did not want to be perceived as an ill-adjusted, angry person. I feared that, by merely acknowledging that I still felt angry, somehow all of the self-reflection and work I did to adjust to my loss would be devalued. I felt that anger equated weakness. I was wrong.

In addition to wanting to avoid being viewed as weak, I was trying to spare my loved ones. Dealing with an amputation is a stressful adjustment for everybody, not just the amputee. Verbalizing feelings of anger often makes others feel uncomfortable and helpless. I suppose that I have kept my anger under wraps in an attempt to make others more at ease around me.

I am making a full confession. I am still angry. No, it doesn't consume my daily thoughts. I am still a strong and well-adjusted woman, but it has been twelve years, and I continue to feel a twinge of rage when I think of what was taken from me.

My life plan did not include limb loss. I never envisioned that I would be living with a disability, especially at such a relatively young age. I did nothing wrong, and yet I am dealing with the results because of the lapse of judgment by somebody else.

I have tried ignoring the anger but learned that suppressing an emotion is never a healthy option. Feelings have a way of showing themselves regardless of our efforts to ignore them. Scott has been the unwitting recipient of more than his share of misplaced anger! It wasn't fair to him, and it certainly wasn't healthy for me.

Giving my anger a voice has helped me deal with the strong emotion. I've discovered that true strength results from being honest with yourself and with others. Talking about anger is not a sign of weakness, but it is a sign of personal acceptance and adjustment.

I have never had the opportunity to confront the individual who caused my injury. I doubt that I could ever find the words to fully relate the pain and grief that his mistake caused. This journey is only understood by those who have experienced the loss first hand. It is not something that I can be verbalize.

Several years ago, in an attempt to put the anger to rest, I wrote a letter to the individual who injured me. I expressed all of the pain, grief and anguish that I could muster. It was a cathartic experience, and I believe it helped me heal.

I have seen what can happen to an individual when they become obsessed with the "what ifs" and the "whys" in life. What if I hadn't gone to the conference that March day? What if I had been talking with another vendor? What if the monitor had been strapped down? Why did this have to happen to me? Anger, although natural, can also become a destructive force if it is not kept in check.

In an attempt to make sense of this accident, I started reversing my train of questions. If my foot were never injured, I never would have moved to Virginia. I never would have met Scott, and Robby wouldn't be in my life. I honestly cannot imagine a life without my family. My injury set my life on a path that ultimately led me to them.

If I hadn't lost my leg, I would never have discovered my passion for writing. I am still discovering where that path leads, but the journey is exciting. I have met so many wonderful people because of our common experiences.

Perhaps the best way to deal with the anger and the loss is to build a fulfilling life in spite of the amputation. Yes, I still feel anger when I reflect upon my accident. I make a conscious decision to live in the present, and to dream for the future instead of lamenting the past. I don't mean to simplify this choice or to insinuate that I don't still grieve. Part of me will always miss my leg, and my previous life.

It is my hope that other amputees will no longer be shy about opening up about their pain with their loved ones. It is something which is felt by everybody in this community as we all experience anger from time to time. Let's just call it out, talk about it when necessary, and move forward. It is good to acknowledge the rage.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Easter Bunny Through the Years...

"Here comes Peter Cottontail, Hopping Down the Bunny Trail." Go ahead, sing along. You know the tune is now stuck in your head!

I have been throwing myself, full force, into our Easter preparations. Plastic eggs have been hung outside, and my Easter plates have been brought out of storage. Robby and I have been busying ourselves with a variety of Easter crafts. As I have stated before, I love holidays!

I have been trying to teach Robby about the wonders of the Easter Bunny. I explained that the Easter Bunny will hop into our house on Easter Eve. The Easter Bunny is so smart. He knows that Robby doesn't eat a lot of candy but that he does love to play outside, so every Easter he leaves a treat basket filled with sidewalk chalk, bubbles and books.

The Easter Bunny has apparently left his workshop and has taken up residence at the mall. I packed up Robby and we headed off to meet the jovial rabbit. I was wary about his reaction since the Easter Bunny is more intimidating than Santa Claus. After all, it is a lot easier for a child to accept speaking to a man versus sitting next to a giant bunny! Nevertheless, I didn't want to deprive him of this childhood joy.

On the way to the mall I found myself thinking about our past encounters with the Easter Bunny. Robby absolutely adored the Easter Bunny in 2007. Of course, he wasn't even one yet and didn't quite know what was going on. I dressed him in an adorable bunny outfit and, truth be hold, he really liked being in costume.

Unfortunately, we didn't make it to visit the Easter Bunny in 2008. I was recovering from a revision surgery and traveling was difficult. Robby did enjoy dyeing Easter eggs. It is impossible for me to forget that Easter because the blue and purple baby hand print, the result of our Easter egg dyeing fun, is still on my sofa.

Last year we tried to take Robby to meet the Easter Bunny. He was excited until he actually saw him. That is when he threw himself on the floor and clutched onto his Nana's leg, crying "No bunny.. no bunny for Robby." I accepted my defeat and settled for a friendly wave from the rabbit. I did, of course, take a picture before comforting my scared little man.

This year I was optimistic that we would have a successful meet and greet with the Bunny. Robby was excited in the car. He was not nearly as enthusiastic when we entered the mall and he actually saw the Easter Bunny.

Immediately upon setting eyes on the overgrown rabbit, Robby started pleading for lunch. "I'm hungreeee Momom." I knew that he was not, and told him that we would get a treat after he says hello. Unconvinced, he hid behind a post and started to cry.

After a few minutes, we were able to pry his little fingers off the post and managed to stop the tears. Luckily a little girl was waiting to see the Bunny. Robby saw her approach, sit and chat, and retreat without incurring any injury. He was more willing to try.

I had to hold Robby as we walked up to the Bunny. I was hoping that Robby would warm up, especially when he saw the basket of lollipops. He was not impressed and continued to cling to me. We managed to convince him to lean towards the Bunny, but only when we promised him a total of six lollipops and Play Dough ice cream.

After the picture was taken, Robby seemed happy as could be. He took his candy and skipped down the mall to get his ice cream. When he was eating his treat he chatted about how the Easter Bunny was his friend. He told me that the Easter Bunny promised to bring him a fishing pole. This was an important piece of information to learn!

Apparently I misunderstood Robby's crying and holding onto me with white fists. According to his chattering, he had a great time. He was eager to tell everybody about his Easter Bunny encounter, including the man sitting next to us at the ice cream store. Now Robby can hardly wait until Easter Eve to leave carrots and a beer for the Bunny! Ah, family traditions.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Learning to Defend Myself

When I was in Chicago last month, I discovered that I was living with a troubling fear. Being an amputee woman has made me more fearful, causing me to miss out on opportunities. I have been thinking about the impact of the fear on my life. I am not happy with what I have realized.

In general, I think that women tend to be cognizant of the possible dangers lurking in their surroundings. A fear of being attacked has been ingrained in many of us since childhood. Analyzing the environment for potential dangers is second nature. In many ways, being proactive about safety is natural. Did you know that the leading cause of death for pregnant women is homicide? I find that a terrifying statistic!

Since my amputation, my awareness of environmental dangers has skyrocketed. I am a more desirable target for an assailant because of my disability. I am not able to run away as quickly because my sense of balance is compromised. Simply put, I am more vulnerable.

When I was in Chicago, I wanted to explore the city. I was looking forward to "playing tourist" and experiencing the culture. Unfortunately, the reality of not knowing the environment and my fear of being a target combined to keep me within the walls of the hotel.

Although I wish I had mustered the courage to explore, I don't doubt my judgment. The reality remains that the amputee woman is as a great risk for assault. According to some startling statistics, one in eleven amputee women will be the victim of a physical assault within their lifetime. The risk for a non-disabled woman is one in forty. Still too high!

Thinking about my situation I have come to a decision. Some variables are not going to change. I am always going to be an amputee, and I have no desire to stop being a woman. My risk of being attacked will always be greater. I can either spend the rest of my life living in fear and missing out on opportunities, or I can change.

I want to rediscover my sense of adventure. I want to be carefree in new environments. I want to feel safe, whether I am in a big city or walking through my neighborhood with Robby. The world is not going to change; dangers will always be present. I need to learn new skills.

I am signing up for a self-defense course. I have taken self-defense classes before, but the circumstances were different. For starters, I had two legs. I am sure that the maneuvers will be slightly different now that I am using a prosthetic.

In college, my roommate Tammy and I took a self-defense course for PE credit. We weren't necessarily interested in learning protection skills. We were drawn to the notion of taking our frustrations out by kicking men in the crotch. Neither of us took the class seriously.

After graduation, I convinced Tammy to take karate classes. We were both single, and I sure that the class would be a prime place to meet eligible men. I reasoned that they had to be employed in order to pay for the classes. I was hopeful that the men were probably single because of the time commitment required by the classes. I was correct on both assumptions.

Unfortunately most of the men didn't like working with either of us. We giggled too much. We were yelled at on more than one occasion for talking when the instructor was speaking. Our make-up rubbed off on the white uniforms of our classmates leaving them with foundation and lipstick stains. Eventually, I abandoned my hopes of finding love in Karate when my pants split, exposing my Donald Duck panties to the entire class. That was our last class.

This time my motivation for taking a self-defense course is genuine. I want, no, I need to learn to protect myself. I need to have the skills to save myself from injury should I be assaulted. I need to know that I can defend not only myself, but Robby as well.

I am hopeful that, as I master defense skills, my confidence will increase. I no longer want to be paralyzed by fear. I no longer want to hide because I'm too afraid to explore. I no longer want my fears to dictate my activities. I want my free spirited, confident and adventurous life back.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Spring Attire...

This past weekend we were provided with a preview of spring. I thought mounds of snow would be around until July, but to my delight all of the ugly snow has melted. The temperature was in the high 70's and the skies were a brilliant blue. It was beautiful.

I was excited to sift through my bottom dresser drawer to retrieve my Space Saver bag full of my summer clothes. After a long winter of heavy sweaters and still always being cold, I was looking forward to donning less fabric. I pulled out my favorite pair of capris that, in my opinion, have been hibernating for way too long. Yes, spring has indeed sprung!

I have gotten in the habit of purchasing Robby's clothes a year in advance. When Carter's and Osh Kosh B'Gosh are having the end-of-the-season sale, I typically swoop in and buy a size larger for the following year. I not only save a lot of money, but also I have found that the preparation is convenient. When warm or cold weather makes its mark, I don't have to run to the store to buy appropriate clothing. I only have to dig through his closet to find the shopping bag.

From the pile of new clothes, I picked out an adorable short sleeve shirt for Robby. Because the temperature was only in the 70's, I opted to keep him in long pants. We have several pairs of adorable jeans for him. Unfortunately he refuses to wear anything but his sweat pants. To be honest, the battle over pants is a fight I rarely take on. I figure that the time in life where one can get away with wearing nothing but sweat pants is limited, and I don't want to rob him of this opportunity. After all, I would stay in my comfy sweat pants all day, too, if I thought I could get away with it!

Happy that spring had arrived, I set about getting dressed. I pulled on my blue short sleeve shirt. My uncovered arms felt liberated from the layers of winter. Then, I tried to pull on my pants.

Now, I love my Space Saver bags. I am able to store a lot of clothes in a relatively small area. Despite all of the benefits, I have discovered one problem with the product. Apparently, given a few months within the plastic, an unreported chemical reaction must occur within the fabric of the clothes.

Yes, Space Saver bags apparently shrink clothes. My favorite capris emerged from the bag a tad snug, but they fit perfectly when they were packed away in October. Of course, there could be another explanation for the shrinking clothes. Perhaps the long winter spent baking cookies, cakes and cinnamon buns with Robby is the culprit. On second thought, I think I'm going to blame the bags.

Robby apparently experienced the polar opposite problem with his clothes. He has become accustomed to wearing long sleeves during the winter. When I slipped the short sleeve shirt over his head and had him poke his little arms through the holes, he became frantic.

He started pulling at the sleeves, trying to stretch them over his elbows and forearm. I tried to explain that it was warm outside, so he could wear shorter sleeves like Mommy. I showed him how the fabric on my shirt stopped above my elbow as well. He was not swayed.

Robby became convinced that his arms got bigger, causing him to outgrow his shirt. He went through his closet, insisting on trying on several shirts. Since I had gone through his clothes that morning, they were all short sleeve shirts. His theory was merely solidified. Apparently he drank a lot of milk the night before, and his arms grew "big like Daddy's."

After breaking down into an uncontrollable sob, I relented and found a long sleeve shirt for Robby. He was happy that I found a shirt that would cover his "super big" arms. He simply refused to accept the concept of a short sleeve shirt.

I am going to have to work on Robby's acceptance of short sleeve shirts in the next few weeks. This past weekend, while all of his little friends were running around in shorts, tee shirts and flip flops, Robby was wearing sweat pants and a layered long sleeve shirt. I am also hoping that, as my clothes air out, the fabric fibers will expand. I suppose it wouldn't hurt to increase my exercise routine a bit, and maybe stay away from the cookies, just in case! The great news? It is SPRING!

Notice Robby's little girlfriends are all in short sleeves and my little guy is still in his winter attire. I am a little worried. He is becoming quite the ladies man!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Not Mother of the Year, But Maybe Not Horrible

I was worried when Robby turned two. I had heard stories about the "Terrible Twos." I fully expected the year to be wrought with conflict, power struggles and a perpetual headache. Much to my delight, we breezed through his second year with few issues. My confidence as a mother soared. I thought that I had raised the "perfect little toddler" who was curious yet obedient. Yes, for a brief moment in time I was basking in the knowledge that I was Supermom.

Then, as if his behavior was synched to the calendar, Robby turned three. Almost immediately Robby Rotten reared his disobedient and stubborn head. After a year of living with the threat that, at a moments notice Robby Rotten will emerge, I have begun to question my parenting abilities.

I have abandoned my "Supermom" ideals. After all, Robby has been so obstinate about using the toilet that he actually tried to stop all of his bowel movements for six months! We fluctuate between my "good little eater" and the little hellion stomping through the house while screaming "I want ice cream with candy eyes for breakfast." He was delayed talking because we didn't realize he had a hearing issue. I no longer hold any "Mommy of the year" aspirations. Through the past year, my parenting confidence has evaporated, leaving me a mere puddle of my former self.

There is little wonder that we now purchase Tylenol at Costco. I used to think, "Who needs 500 tablets?" Since the advent of Robby Rotten, we are currently working our way through the second bottle.

I was at my mom's this past weekend. I thought that Robby was relatively well behaved. Apparently, my expectations have been distorted. This morning, my Mom surprised me with homemade blueberry muffins for breakfast. Then she broached the dreaded, "I think Robby may be on the verge of becoming a brat" conversation.

In retrospect, I should not have been surprised by this discussion. Robby Rotten was in the middle of a fit, demanding "chippies and dip" for breakfast. He was demanding, rude and just plain grumpy. I don't blame my Mom for voicing her concern. She also explained that this is a stage, but reinforced that I needed to remain strong. I know that she is right.

Because the weather was beautiful, I promised Robby that we would stop at the beloved Animal Park on the way home. Truth be told, I was looking forward to fresh air and letting him run around for an hour or so. I was hoping that the exercise would tucker him out so that he would sleep in past 6:00 AM.

The zoo workers all know Robby. He was a member of the "Junior Zoo Keepers" program last year, where he learned how to care for a variety of the animals. When he entered, he saw one of his favorite employees, Linda. He went over to Linda and gave her a hug, and she told him that she was glad to see him, because they had "Work to do."

"Hooray! Momom, bye bye. There is a lot of work to do." Robby tossed his cone of food over his shoulder into the goat pen, and he took off. I assumed my position of following behind at a distance, allowing him to be independent but close enough to reign in Robby Rotten should he appear.

Linda was providing orientation around the park to a little blind boy named Jamie. She introduced Robby and explained that Jamie could not see. Robby screamed to me, "Momom, little boys eye's don't work." I had hoped that he would have demonstrated more sensitivity towards the disability instead of screeching it across the park at the top of his lungs. I suppose decorum is not a skill known by toddlers.

Although I was embarrassed by Robby's introduction to Jamie, my mortification quickly morphed into pride. Robby could not have been a better instructor. Under Linda's guidance, Robby took Jamie's hand and walked him around the park. He talked about the animals and encouraged Jamie to touch them. Robby reassured him that everything was okay, and that the animals were nice.

Two two little boys went up and down the stalls, exploring each occupant's area. Robby even passed up the beloved wagon ride, opting to stay with Jamie. He was patient and understanding as he seemed to understand the limitations of his new friend's blindness. I overheard Robby warning Jamie to stay away from the emu, explaining that the emu steals Binkys. (The large bird pecked the Binkie out of Robby's mouth two summer's ago and Robby has hated him ever since!)

After the tour was concluded, Robby led Jamie to playground. The two little boys climbed and slid. They were giggling and having a blast. I encouraged Robby to take Jamie into the moon bounce. (Most blind children love bouncing and spinning. The movement stimulates the optic nerve, causing them to "see" stars.)

Robby led Jamie to the moon bounce and had him sit down. He directed his little friend to take off his shoes, and then the two entered the moon bounce hand in hand. It was such an endearing sight!

The two boys began to bounce. And bounce. And continued bouncing until Jamie's parents magically appeared and summoned him to leave. Robby gave his friend a hug and told him that it was a "beautiful sunny day" and that they will "play and bounce again my buddy."

It seems that, just when my confidence as a mother cannot get any lower, Robby does something to boost my belief in myself. He accepted Jamie's disability and tailored his activities to suit the needs of his new friend. Robby never asked to leave or to participate in a different activity. He didn't see Jamie as a blind boy who needed a caretaker. He simply saw Jamie as a little friend with whom he could play, laugh and bounce. I am so incredibly proud of my little boy!

I know that at any time Robby Rotten may rear his mischievous head. I have no doubt that my little toddler and I will continue to engage in a power struggle of epic proportions. Much to his chagrin, and despite what I'm sure will be a valiant effort on his part, I am confident that I will win.

For now, at this moment, I am allowing myself a brief reprieve from my "Mommy doubts." Robby showed himself to be a patient, loving and sensitive child. These are all attributes that I value, and I know that I must be doing at least some things right!