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, July 16, 2010

Tying up Loose Ends...

It has occurred to me that I have left a lot of loose ends in some of my blog posts. I am frequently asked questions relating to some of my past entries. I am going to try to answer many of the frequently asked questions.

By far, I am most asked about my nephew Jacob. Jake was struck by a car on November 12, 2009. I wrote about the accident and was overwhelmed by the support we received. Ironically, this was the first time I experienced the true cruelty of message boards which I wrote about a few days later.

I am happy to report that Jake has made a complete recovery. He is a strong and healthy little boy. He loves playing with his trains and his puppy. As I predicted, my sister's emotional scars are far deeper than anything Jacob endured. She is doing well but is still haunted by the incident.

Since my 5K debute I have been asked if I am still running. Yes, I am still running. I have to admit that my training schedule is not nearly as strict, and the imposing heat kept me indoors as well. I am planning another 5K in the fall, and I will keep everybody posted.

I would also love to field a team for next year's Susan G. Komen Race. I think team Amputee Mommy has a nice ring to it. Anybody interested in participating is more than welcome. Please contact me if you're interested and we'll try to get it together.

I wrote about wanting to take self-defense classes. While I would still like to learn to defend myself and gain confidence, I have not been able to move forward towards achieving this goal. I researched the classes and, at this time, they are beyond our budget. I am hoping to sign up for classes this fall, but this will have to be determined.

This winter I wrote numerous posts concerning Robby's poop phobia. I wish I could report that he is now completely potty trained. I dream of being done with diapers, but I wake up to a stack next to my bed. We are making progress but he remains terrified of poop in general. He still tries to withhold and we frequently find him hiding in the corner trying to "keep the poopy in my bum." It is a work in progress. I am still holding out hope that we will be out of diapers by the time he graduates from college, but some days I'm not sure!

Do I still love my Skechers Shape Ups? Yes, and I heartily recommend them to all of my amputee friends. I am not sure if they make my bum smaller, but the rocker heel certainly aids the fluidity of my walking. I walk taller and more comfortably because of the heel and I have no plans on reverting to a traditional walking shoe.

During the past few weeks my blog has received a lot of attention because of the issues I encountered with TSA. I have been in touch with TSA officials about the incident and I am satisfied with the result. I am also pleased to report that ACA will be meeting with officials from TSA to work towards achieving a stardardized approach to amputee screening protocols. I am hopeful that an improved screening system will be implemented and I remain proud to have been a part of this movement.

You may have noticed that I am now censoring comments on my blog. I felt it necessary to begin moderating comments to combat the mean-spirited slurs which were posted against me and my family. I was brought to tears too many times over the hateful messages which were posted on my blog, and I decided to be proactive.

I have concluded that my blog is a dictatorship, not a democracy. I get final say over what is posted because it is, after all, my blog. Rest assured that the majority of comments are put through and I apologize for the extra step. I do love receiving the comments, so please don't be disswayed. As always, thank you for taking time out of your day to read my blog!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

More Than Everybody!

I have been waiting for Robby to "notice" that his Mommy has only one leg. He is four, but he has never questioned why I need to use a prosthetic, nor has he demonstrated any inkling that his Mommy is unusual. He seems oblivious to the fact that using a prosthetic is not the norm and phrases like "I want to get your leg" or "Do you have your running leg on" roll off his tongue naturally.

I have a variety of legs lined up against the wall, and he knows the specialized use of each device. Robby will retrieve my running leg, my biking leg or my Proprio without hesitation. He accepts that sometimes "Mommy's leg hurts" and I can't run with him. He also discovered that my prosthetic makes a great cave for his dinosaurs to attack from. For him, living with an amputee Mommy is normal.

I love that Robby does not consider my limb loss to be anything unusual. To him, I am simply Mommy. However, I know that this naivete will be short lived. Soon, he will realize that I am different. I have been contemplating how I am going to respond to his questions since he was born.

Most of my friends don't know that Scott is, technically, an amputee himself. He had an accident while working a construction job and suffered the loss of his big toe. Yes, in a strange twist of irony, Robby is the only one in the family who can count to 20 using all of his digits.

Scott is sensitive about the loss of his toe. He infrequently goes barefoot. Even in the hottest temperatures of summer he will wear socks and sneakers. He typically walks around barefoot only around the house.

Yesterday Robby and Scott were walking back from the kitchen when they stopped in the hallway. Robby was chatting up a storm and Scott's voice became serious. When they didn't immediately return to the bedroom I began to eavesdropping on their conversation.

Robby noticed Scott's missing toe before he noticed my missing leg! He asked his Daddy what happened to his toe, where it was now and if it hurt. He then sat in the middle of the hallway and showed his Daddy that he had all of his toes, pointing out again that Scott did not. Poor Scott was put through a full cross examination by our little inquisitor.

Deciding to give Scott a reprieve, I called Robby. He came running towards me to tell me about his discovery. He told me that Daddy didn't have a toe. He then counted his toes and showed me that he had 10. He proceeded to whip off my sock and counted my toes, proving that Mommy had five. He then looked at my stump. I readied myself for the questioning to resume.

Instead, Robby reached down and grabbed my prosthetic. He was frantically trying to remove the shoe from my Proprio. He pulled the sock off and counted the toes on my foot shell. Yes, there were five. He then removed the shoe from my running leg and counted. Then went down the line, counting the toes on my swim leg and my "beater" leg.

"Cool" he said. "Robby has 10 toes, Daddy only has 9. But Mommy has 25 toes. That's a whole lot of toes. Wow!"

I know that someday Robby will realize that "Mommy's 25 toes" are not all attached. But for now, I am happy to be deemed cool. After all, I have the "mostest toes of all!"

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Hot Hot Hot

Jeepers, it has been hot! The thermometer has been reaching past 100 and the humidity is thick. Everything, including our house, is beginning to reek of stale hot air. To join the chorus of everybody else, it has been miserable.

It has been too hot to use our stove or oven, so I have resorted to the grill for meal preparation. Tired of the hamburgers and hot dogs which have become our summer staples, I searched for more creative recipes. I quickly decided on "beer-in-the-butt chicken."

Scott likes beer, but he only drinks Corona. I was doubtful that the glass bottle would work, so I knew I was going to have to become creative. After some quick Google searches, I learned that any beverage in a can will work. I opted to make a more family-friendly version, which I dubbed "Ginger ale in the butt chicken."

With the bird fully prepped and the grill hot, I was ready to get started. I carefully placed the chicken, with the can strategically inserted for balance, on the hot grill. Satisfied with my placement, I was getting ready to close the lid. This is the moment when I learned that chickens are flammable. Actually, to be more precise, the skin is flammable. My poor little chicken had turned into a charred fireball, still balancing on a soda can despite his wings fully aflame.

I managed to put out the poultry fire and I evaluated the damage. The skin was ruined, but we don't typically eat that anyway. I was hoping that the meat could be salvaged, so I turned down the heat and proceeded with the grilling. It turned out delicious, albeit with an especially strong charbroiled flavor. I need to Google why it went ablaze before I attempt the recipe again.

We have been trying to stay cool inside, occupying our time with movies and games. I am so glad that I took the time to clean the downstairs family room. This area of the house is naturally cool and has been the most comfortable place to congregate. We have even begun "family picnics" downstairs so that we can stay cooler.

Unfortunately, a week of living downstairs has taken its toll on my neat and tidy room. The floor is now littered with assorted little cars, trains and dinosaurs and the coffee table is covered with cans and glasses. It won't take long to clean up the mess and as soon as the heat breaks and it is easier for me to walk. But for now, Scott and I just step over and around the toy piles.

Like so many others, I swell when the air is humid. To Scott's chagrin, I frequently take off my wedding ring in the summer months because my finger becomes so puffy the ring is uncomfortable. During the past few days I have noticed that my prosthetic is becoming tighter. I now have to lubricate the rings on my seal-in liner before donning my leg. Even with the added slickness, my stump is bulging over the top of my prosthetic and it feels extremely compressed inside my socket.

I have begun taking a mild diuretic in the morning in order to keep my residual limb from swelling. I hate resorting to pills, but I also know that it helps. I'm uncomfortable when it's hot, but it is absolutely miserable when I'm hot and my leg doesn't fit!

I have resorted to bringing out Robby's Christmas DVDs, partially to keep him entertained but also because it reminds me that cooler temperatures will eventually prevail. Unfortunately those songs quickly become stuck in my head. I am sure I was quite a sight at the grocery store, limping around in a sun dress singing "Let it Snow" with Robby. Oh well, at least I was feeling cooler!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

New Rule

I have noticed a disturbing trend during the past few weeks. I am at a loss as to how to stop it, nor do I know how to accept the inevitable with grace. It seems like just a few months ago I was respectfully referred to as "Miss" by store clerks and salespeople. During the past three weeks, the cordial "Miss" has been replaced by "Ma'am."

The first time it happened I didn't realize that the clerk was talking to me. I looked around trying to identify whom was being addressed. Then I was called Ma'am again, only louder, and I realized that he was talking to me. Apparently he thought that I was not only old but hard of hearing.

I am not a "Ma'am" yet, am I? I don't feel like a "Ma'am." That salutation is reserved for middle aged and elderly women. I don't feel middle age despite the fact that my driver's license taunts me by revealing that I am 36. I don't want to be a "Ma'am!"

The strange thing is that I have been feeling rather positive about my appearance. I've lost weight, I have a glowing tan and healthy pink looking cheeks. I've ridden over 200 miles in the past week, I've continued with my jogging and I am constantly in motion playing with Robby. I have been feeling more like a "MILF" than a "Ma'am." Yet I keep being referred to by the dreaded M word.

I am not sure what to do to combat the M word, but I'm going to keep trying. I've taken a fresh look at my hair and realized that my roots are visible. When did my hair start turning so grey? Now I have to search for hair color that covers grey hair.

I have noticed that I am spending more time perusing the skin care aisle, searching for something to stop the small little lines I noticed around my eyes when I smile. I have even googled botox on two occasions. It would be a lot cheaper not to smile.

My cute and frilly bras have been replaced by utilitarian looking under garments. I have noted an unfortunate correlation between my increasing age the the amount of support I require from my underwear. I never appreciated my "perky" breasts while I was young. Now I need wires and Lycra in order keep everything in place.

Perhaps I am becoming middle aged. I am not nearly as spontaneous as I was just a few years ago. I decided to make an impromptu visit to my Mom's. It took me 20 minutes to pack for one night. I used to just toss clothes into a bag and go. My overnight bag now bulges with anti-wrinkle products, vitamins, cords for my prosthetic, lotions for my stump and medications.

Even if I accept the fact that I am middle aged, I think that referring to me by the M word is premature. The only time I feel old is when I reminded of my age by well meaning pubescent teenagers calling me Ma'am. As a general rule, I think that women should be referred to as "Miss" until they are in their mid 40's. Of course, I reserve the right to amend that rule in another 10 years.

Monday, July 12, 2010

LiveStrong Lives

During the past week I have put well over 200 miles on my bike, pedaling along with the Tour de France. Yesterday, as the Tour entered the mountains, I rode for 50 miles. My legs were quaking and my heart was broken by the end of the stage.

It is a horrible feeling when you realize that your "Superhero" is, indeed, only a human. I remember the first time I had this revelation. I was eight years old and waiting for the school bus. It was 28 years ago, but the memory is so vivid it might as well have been yesterday.

Some neighborhood kids started to pick on me, taunting me by chanting that "their Daddy could beat up my Daddy". As much as I loved and idolized my Dad, I suspected that the kids were probably right. My Dad was overweight and the only exercise I ever witnessed was when he would try to walk to McDonald's for a Big Mac. I'd seen their Dads and any one of them would pummel my Dad should it come to fist-to-cuffs. This was the first time I saw my Dad through somebody else's eyes and realized that he might not be as mighty as I thought.

Instead of trying to defend my Dad based on physical prowess, an argument I would most certainly lose, I took another approach. I simply smiled and said that yes, their Dad's could probably beat my Dad up. However, my Dad was friends with Larry Holmes (at the time he was the heavy weight boxing champion and my father's drinking buddy) and that Larry Holmes would beat up everybody else. The argument was over, and I felt vindicated. On the playground, I had redeemed my Dad's honor.

Disappointments were easier to deal with at that tender age. Yesterday, I wobbled off the bike and made my way up the stairs. I closed the bathroom door under the guise of taking a shower. Truth be told, I sat in the shower and cried.

Lance Armstrong had a difficult day in the Tour. Actually, that is perhaps an understatement. He wrecked several times, one time hitting the asphalt while riding in excess of 60 mph. He finished the stage, but he was over 10 minutes behind his main competitors. This time gap is impossible for him to make up. For all intents and purposes, the dream of Lance wearing the coveted Yellow Jersey ended.

In reality, the chances of Lance winning The Tour were dismal. Always the eternal optimist, I believe in miracles. I suppose I wanted the fairy tale ending where the "over the hill" cyclist came back for one final victory in an effort to increase global awareness to eradicate the disease that nearly killed him. I should know by now that fairy tales do not come true.

At first, I was devastated. I am not a hard core sports fan. I've even written about my not understanding such passionate responses concerning a team performance. But yet there I was, cowering on my shower chair, weeping because my favorite cyclist had "bonked." My reaction felt surreal.

With Scott and Robby knocking on the door, I knew that I had to compose myself. I dried off in time to watch his interview. In this age when sports figures provide excuses and throw accusations when they do not win, Lance's response was refreshing.

He simply explained that he fell several times causing him to continually fight his way back with the group. He did not cast blame on others, nor did he make apologies. He said that he was disappointed, but that he will come back and work for his teammates. End of story. No anger, no tears. Just the affirmation that he is still going to work for his team. Wow! That is certainly not something which is said often by professional athletes. I am proud that he is a role model.

I remain, and always will be, a die-hard Lance Armstrong fan. He has done more for cancer survivors than any other professional athlete or celebrity. I admire his spirit, his tenacity and his strength.

He could have given up. After all, so many people gave up on him when he was diagnosed with a terminal illness. He could have given up today; many cyclists abandoned the stage to be picked up and driven home instead of finishing the course. Yet Lance continued pedaling, with blood dripping from his arms and legs and his clothes in tatters.

Although he wasn't going to win, he knew that he might be able to help his team in the future. He knew that cancer survivors and those currently in treatment were glued to their televisions, as I was, to see a hero in action. Winning the Tour seven times is an impressive feat, but I was more impressed with the way Lance Armstrong handled his defeat.

I continue to be a proud Lance Armstrong fan. No, he won't be wearing Yellow when the Tour ends in two weeks. He started a movement which transcends his cycling career. He had the fortitude and determination to finish what he started even when a victory was obviously out of his reach. My hero was only redefined today.