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, June 05, 2010

I Did IT!

I DID IT! (And, we did it in less than one hour... 56 minutes to be exact.)

My sister Sheri, a survivor, came down to jog the race with me. Thank you Sheri.

I'll write more about the experience tonight, but I wanted to let everybody know that I jogged the entire distance! I had to stop to adjust the socket several times, but I never stopped because of fatigue.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Run Momom Run!

This has been a difficult week. Perhaps I am feeling the lingering affects of jet-lag, and I suppose I am still flustered by the events that transpired at the airport on my way home. I am feeling overwhelmed with piling housework and the never ending stream of laundry which accumulates everyday. Robby, who had been a well behaved little angel, has morphed into Robby Rotten and has been a demanding handful. I am disappointed that I am continuing to have socket issues, and devastated that it will impact me on Saturday. All of these factors have created the "perfect storm" dealing me an emotional blow.

I recognize that I have not been my usual optimistic self. The amputee blues, which typically waft in for an hour or so, have been lingering an uncomfortably long time. I don't like how I have been feeling, so I am going to change my perspective.

My laundry mountain is beginning to look like a hill, and my house is quasi-clean. It is by no means immaculate, but I am comfortable with "livable" for the time being. Robby is discovering that Mommy will not tolerate back talk or being hit. He kicked me today and his little world came crashing down. I think it will not take long to find my sweet little boy again.

I have been feeling like a failure because of the pain I continue to experience when I am running. I have been under the misconception that, as I became adjusted to the new activity, my stump would become less sensitive and would no longer hurt. I assumed that I just needed to "toughen up."

I have come to the conclusion that my prosthetic has failed, but I have not. We simply ran out of time to make all of the necessary adjustments to create a comfortable running leg. The pain has nothing to do with my desire, my training or my motivation. The discomfort is because I continue to experience rubbing on a sensitive area and my stump is becoming angry.

I began this running adventure to prove that, with dedication and enough motivation, the amputee can overcome whatever obstacle is blocking their way. I now believe that I discovered a different, but just as important reality. Sometimes situations are simply more difficult because I am an amputee. Residual limb pain and prosthetic issues are now a part of my life. I don't like it, but it is not going to change.

For most runners tomorrow, success will be measured in minutes and seconds. They will compare their results to their running peers as they strive to increase their speed. When I signed on for this race several weeks ago, I was planning on using the same markers. I now realize that I was wrong.

It would be irresponsible of me to injure myself to prove a point that I now realize is faulty. Robby deserves a healthy Mommy. He would rather I was able to play with him at the park than watch me sprint across a finish line with an injury. I am not going to stress my limb to the point of exacerbating my injury.

For me, as a middle aged amputee Mommy, success will be defined using a different criteria.

Each step will be awkward and painful. I am going to have to contend not only with the weather, the distance and the hoards of people, but also I will also be facing prosthetic challenges. I may have to stop and adjust my socket. I may have to reduce my speed to a fast walk or a jog. All of this is okay, because this is all reflective of the life of an amputee. It may take me longer and I may not be as graceful, but I will be out there, trying. A willingness to try, I have learned, is the hallmark of the well-adjusted and happy amputee.

I am changing my status from runner to walker. My residual limb is simply not able to run at this time, and to pretend that it is would be foolish and irresponsible. Joggers are welcome in the "walking" category. I feel that I am safer jogging and I am not risking my limb health.

I remain excited about the race, and I am embracing the category change. I am no longer seeing it as a racer's demotion. After all, a few weeks ago I wouldn't have been able to jog at all. And tomorrow morning, we will get up early and I will jog a 5k. For me, that is success!

I will post pictures on Saturday. Wish me luck!

Thursday, June 03, 2010


I remain undecided about my run on Saturday. Whether I run, jog, walk, or perhaps a combination, I know that I will complete the full 3.2 miles Saturday morning! I am hoping and planning for a full running experience, but I am not sure if my leg will cooperate with my plans.

Physically following through with running the race is perhaps not the most prudent choice. I may be exacerbating the bursa/ bone spur. I worry that I will be causing more damage by continuing to run.

Strange as it sounds, I think that it would be more detrimental for me to abandon my 5k dreams. I have made a commitment, and I am determined to follow through. Emotionally, the blow that would be dealt by quitting would be significant. Quitting would mean that I failed myself, my friends and my family. I worry that Robby would view his Mommy as a quitter, somebody who gives up whenever the situation becomes difficult. I do not want to be that kind of role model.

I received my jerry-rigged prosthetic this afternoon. Elliot and his staff invested a lot of time and resources into creating a more comfortable running experience. He put a series of wedges behind the components so that I am no longer rubbing in the front of the socket. After I slipped on the leg, I was optimistic about the prospects of running.

After dinner, I went for my evening run. I started out slowly, unsure of how my stump was going to react to the impact. It was sore, and I could feel the knot rubbing and start to throb. Thankfully, my pain level never increased to an intolerable level. I only had to stop to readjust the socket 3 times!

I jogged the entire 3.2 miles, and I was elated. Scott and Robby came to pick me up from the 7-11 and they found me jogging home. Shamelessly seeking a compliment, I asked Scott how I looked running. His response was short, "Miserable." Gee honey, thanks.

My time is nothing to brag about, but for a novice one-legged runner I think that it is acceptable. I ran the entire 5k in 51 minutes. No, that is not going to break any records, but I am proud of that time. I worked and pushed through every stride. I bragged about my speed to Scott, who responded "When I was 18 I ran the 5k in 21 minutes. You're in your 30's. What do you expect, you're not 18." Again, thanks sweetheart.

So I look miserable when I run, which I am. I run slow, and I am certainly not 18. I am a 36 year old amputee who is trying something new. I've discovered that sometimes, when I am seeking a compliment, they are nearly impossible to elicit. Perhaps I should give one to myself instead.

I'm trying, and that counts for a lot. I am discouraged by the pain in my socket, but I am not letting it hold me back. I am going to finish the 5k. If I'm not able to run the whole time, I will be disappointed.

Right now I am feeling the affects of my efforts. My stump is sore and the bursa/ bone spur is swollen and painful. I have a few more days to adjust my running style and to continue to tweak the prosthetic. Hopefully we'll find the magic combination that allows me to run without pain.

I hope that Robby sees that I'm not giving up. I want him to know that you don't have to be the first person across the line to be a true winner. I am becoming depressed because the pain and difficulty persists. Instead of dwelling on the negative, I think I'll celebrate how far my running skills have come. Perhaps I'll have some cake, but I think I'll walk to the kitchen instead of sprinting.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Bummed Out

As I am writing this blog I find myself both frustrated and deflated. I have been diligently training, despite a painful stump, for the past six weeks. I am on track not only to complete but also to finish strong. That was my plan, until this afternoon.

I went to go see Elliot to tweak my socket. It is still painful when I am running, forcing me to constantly stop both to readjust the socket and to release the suction. I have tried to push myself through the pain, trying the "mind over matter" approach. Despite my attempts, I am constantly succumbing to the pain and pausing to adjust my prosthetic.

I keep repeating "Pain is temporary, quitting is forever" as I try to move beyond the socket pain. Each time I stop to adjust my leg, I feel as if I'm failing. After all, amputees run everyday. Why must I stop when they do not have to? I assumed that I have been weak somehow, unable to manage the typical running aches that others seem to handle with ease.

The last thing I want is to have to stop my momentum on race day. I don't want to be on the side of the road adjusting my leg as everybody else is comfortably jogging by. Getting passed would be the antithesis of what I was trying to achieve! I was hopeful that we would be able to fix the problem today, and that I would be running without discomfort this evening.

Elliot dealt me some devastating news. He urged me to see my doctor as soon as possible and to refrain from running until after I have been cleared by my surgeon. He cautioned me against high impact activities, such as running, until the knot on my residual limb is diagnosed and treated. He warned me that there is a possibility that my running may make the situation worse.

Although he is not a doctor, my prosthetist has certainly seen scores of limbs. In his professional opinion, he believes that the knot on my stump is either a bursa (best case scenario) or a bone spur. Apparently it is firmer than the typical bursa and a tad softer than the average bone spur. In either case, a trip to my doctor is necessary.

My disappointment must have been visible because he agreed to work on my leg to try to alleviate the pressure and rubbing. I was not able to go for my evening jog. Elliot has my leg and is trying one "last ditch attempt" to adjust the socket. I pick up my socket tomorrow afternoon; until then my race is in limbo.

Physically, completing the race may not be the best choice. I am going to cross the finish line on Saturday, but I may be utilizing a walk/ jog combination. It is my hope to be able to run the entire course, but I also do not want to further damage my limb.

I have worked so hard to get ready for this venture. I have been regimented with my training and I have done everything "right." I know that it is worthless to say, but this really is not fair!

I made a commitment to run this 5k to prove to myself, to my family and friends and to my readers that a "normal" amputee can not only run, but can keep up with the bi-legged. I am afraid that I may have proved the opposite. I have discovered that in spite of hard work and perseverance, sometimes the consequences of the amputation still affect my ability to succeed.

Tomorrow's visit with Elliot will determine the approach I will take on Saturday. I am going to cross the finish line. To quit now would break my heart. Hopefully the socket adjustments will afford me the relief I need to achieve this hard fought for goal.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Resuming Training...

I was hoping that we would be able to relax over the weekend, but the past few days have proven to be hectic. Saturday was spent shopping for Robby's birthday presents and party supplies. His fourth birthday was Sunday, and we were having a small family picnic. Luckily his expectations for parties at this age are limited to the presence of balloons and a cake, so I feel like we got off easy.

Sunday was filled with birthday doting and celebration. By Sunday night my living room was covered with wrapping paper, my dining room table was painted with cake icing and my kitchen was littered with train paper plates and napkins. I gave up and went to bed.

Monday morning I woke up and tackled the kitchen. Robby helped pick up the torn wrapping paper in the living room until he became side tracked with his new bug box. Scott then asked Robby if he wanted to go strawberry picking. All toys and chores were immediately abandoned in lieu of searching for shoes and finding a bucket.

Just as we were getting ready to leave, Scott smelled smoke. It did not take us long to find the source. The magnifying glass in Robby's new bug house focused the light coming through the window onto a sofa cushion. Our cushion was smoking and we were minutes away from a flame. It is terrifying to think of what could have happened; we were so lucky!

Monday was spent berry picking and playing in the sprinkler. I did manage to fit in a run. I wasn't able to run in California, a fact which has haunted me. The race is on Saturday, so I am now training with a sense of urgency. I don't want to fail.

I still hate to run, but my aversion is not nearly as strong as it was initially. I don't enjoy being out of breathe, nor do I particularly relish sweating. I am a nervous runner, worried about what I look like to onlookers but more importantly, I am fearful of falling.

Much to my surprise, I am beginning to look forward to my evening jaunts through the neighborhood. Yes, I find that I am enjoying pushing myself physically to achieve new goals. I am excited when I am able to run my route faster, or when I am less winded when I reach landmarks. I am improving and that excites me.

I suspect that, if I were completely honest, I should admit that I also enjoy the alone time running affords me. Robby and I were joined for a week in California with him being never more than 15 feet away from me. When I am running in the evening, sometimes I feel like I may be faster not because of my training but because I am running away from him and my responsibilities, albeit temporarily.

I carried my running leg to California, optimistic that I would be able to fit in a quick run. This was not the case, but I did wear it when we went to the aquarium. To my delight, the socket was comfortable and natural feeling. I did not have to stop to release the suction or to readjust the alignment. I was optimistic that my stump issues had resolved and that I would be able to continue my training without the complications of an uncomfortable prosthetic.

I was wrong. Almost immediately as I began my run, my stump began to hurt, and the knot on the front of my limb began to burn and sting. Again, I was forced to constantly stop and adjust my leg. I am again frustrated that my training is compromised because of this stupid prosthetic! I wish I could just put on a pair of shoes and run.

Unfortunately as much as it frustrates me, the reality remains that I will always have to contend with prosthetic issues. Whining does nothing to remedy the situation, although if it did I am confident everything would be resolved. I am tired of complaining about my socket, but I am also tired of having my leg hurt when I run.

I am going to make an appointment with Elliot (my prosthetist) tomorrow to see if he can help. I am feeling a lot of pressure and I am beginning to panic. I am determined not to let a socket issue keep me from finishing this race. I want not only to finish but also to finish strong!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Humiliation... And Now I'm Angry

After a fun filled week in California, it was finally time to pack up and go home. Robby was tired and homesick. He cried himself to sleep on our last night in California because he missed his daddy and Charlie Kitty. It was easy to convince him to help pack up, and we happily sang songs on the way to the airport.

I was nervous maneuvering the airport with Robby in tow. Scott was able to secure a security pass to help me tame Robby when we departed last week. I was thankful for his help because, being an amputee, getting cleared through airport security can be a lengthy process. I have never gone through security with Robby by myself, so I was apprehensive. Little did I know that my fears were founded.

As predicted, and as is typical, I was directed to the Plexiglas waiting area after I triggered the metal detector. Robby proudly walked through the sensors, running into my arms. Apparently that was a mistake, because he was taken back through the sensors again because he had been "compromised" by touching me. He was not pleased.

I am used to the screening process. I have also learned that, although the system is supposed to be standardized, no two airports approach the amputee in the same way. I never know exactly what to expect, but I have learned that being gracious and smiling goes a long way to shorten the process for all involved.

In all of the years since I have become an amputee, I can honestly say that I have can't think of a more upsetting and humiliating experience than what I endured at the hands of TSA at the Orange County, California airport. Robby and I both left the screening station flustered, in tears and late for our plane. It didn't take long for my humiliation to morph into anger.

After Robby's second screening, he was directed by an imposing figure to sit in a chair and not to communicate with me. He was scared and asked me if everything was okay. He broke the "rule" and the consequence was a full body pat down. I was forced to sit in a chair and helplessly watch my scared little boy get patted down for explosives. I was angry and perplexed when they pulled back his hands and peeked into his diaper. When his ordeal was over, Robby sat quietly shaking in a chair staring at me.

When they were done clearing a four year old for explosive materials, they turned their attention to me. I was taken through the normal pat down procedure to which I am accustomed. I was then informed, in a matter of fact tone, that the rules have changed as of today (Friday, May 28, 2010) and that further screening was necessary.

I was instructed to remove my leg. I refused, stating that it was against procedure to insist that I remove my prosthetic. Another man was brought over, who lectured me about the increased security risk and the need to keep screening procedures current. He reiterated that the rules have changed, and that he needed my prosthetic. Looking at my frightened little boy and knowing that we were becoming pressed for time, I begrudgingly removed my leg and handed it to the rude agent.

"What's that?" the man asked while pointing to my liner. I explained that it was my prosthetic liner, and that I wore it to keep my prosthetic attached. He insisted that he needed to run my liner through the machine as well.

I don't think that the general public understands how personal a residual limb is to the amputee. It is on par with one's genitals. I simply don't remove my liner in public exposing my limb, and I was humiliated by the request.

At this point, our plane was boarding. I had amassed a group of four TSA officers around me, and Robby was scared and in tears. I knew that what they were asking me to do was wrong, but I also knew that fighting at that moment would caused us to miss our plane. I just wanted to get home.

I took off my liner. I sat quietly in a chair as onlookers and gawking passengers watched me expose one of my most personal features. I felt defeated and humiliated.

My liner, which is supposed to be maintained in a hygienic manner, was thrown into a screening bin inside out and run through the machine. No care was given to sanitizing the container which I am sure is riddled with fecal matter and bacteria. I was given no opportunity or materials to clean the liner after it was contaminated. It was half-hazardly thrown into my lap as I was told that I could leave.

I put my leg on and gave Robby a huge hug. We gathered our carry-on items which had been removed from our bags and strewn on a metal table. Tears were rolling down my face as I called my family for support.

My tears quickly turned to outrage as I recounted my experience. No person should be subjected to this level of humiliation. If Robby had not been with me, I have little doubt that I would have stood my ground. I am not one to back down from an injustice, and I regret submitting so quickly. The removal of my liner, without so much as providing a towel for cover, placed me in a submissive and vulnerable position.

If there had been a devotee nearby, pictures easily could have been taken and my limb would now be plastered across pornography sights. I hope that no pictures were taken, but I will never know for sure. My liner's cleanliness was compromised opening the possibility for infection and, worst case scenario, leading to a higher level amputation. I was put at undo risk because of my TSA screening.

As an amputee, I accept that more screening is necessary. I understand the necessity of keeping the skies safe, and I have little doubt that terrorists have considered utilizing amputees and prosthetics for carrying explosives. This being said, what happened to me and my son is unconscionable.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Happy Birthday to My Big Four Year Old

Happy Birthday to my favorite little man. It is hard to believe that Robby is now four years old!

When he was a newborn, everybody told me to cherish every moment because they grow up so quickly. I listened politely and nodded in agreement, but it isn't until today that I think I fully understood. It seems like just yesterday that I was bringing him home from the hospital, scared because he seemed so fragile and I was such an inexperienced Mommy.

Today he is not nearly as fragile, but I still want to protect him. He wears scrapes and bug bites like badges of honor. He is sturdier, but I continue to worry about my parenting abilities. I suppose that will never change.

Happy Birthday Robby. You are growing up. I beg you to stay little, but you aren't listening.