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 23, 2010

Yes Mom, I've Abandoned

I think I have been pushing myself too hard during the past few weeks. As much as I promise myself and everybody else (especially my Mom) that I'm not going to do it, I always end up hurting myself during my Tour de France rides. This year is not proving the exception.

I rode over 50 miles each of the past few days. In fact I have ridden in excess of 300 miles during the past week. Between the hours pedaling and running everywhere with Robby, my bone spur/bursa has seen happier days. The bump is angry and is now making all of my steps painful.

Scott has noticed the increasing problems with my stump. He has remarked on numerous occasions that my limp is more pronounced. I'm not sure why, but I always become defensive when my gait is discussed. I know when I'm limping. I certainly don't need to be told that I am walking poorly, even when it is a well-meaning observation.

The bone spur/ bursa is largest in the evening, making it difficult to sleep. The area feels as if it is being burned and is sore to touch. The humidity in our area has been high, exacerbating the problem. I tend to have fewer issues with my stump when it doesn't feel like a humid swamp outside! Needless to say, my leg has been jitterbugging throughout the night, leaving me sleep deprived and not terribly jovial.

I know that a trip to my surgeon is inevitable. I have had a bone spur in the same location several years ago and the symptoms are identical. While I am not a physician, I am fairly confident that I have another spur.

Since the only remedy for the bone spur is a surgical removal, I am not anxious to make the call. Having been through the procedure, I know that it is relatively minor. Although compared my amputation, most surgeries are minor!

While I am not afraid of the surgery, I am anxious when I think about the recovery. Living without my prosthetic is miserable. I hate not being able to walk around and take care of Robby. I hate feeling dependent upon my husband and my family. I look at the calendar and try to come up with a solid month where I won't need to walk or be highly mobile. I'm still searching.

I will eventually be forced to call my surgeon, but I am not yet there. I will call when I am having more "bad" days than "good" leg days. When simply changing my activities and resting my limb no longer helps, I know it is time to proceed.

In the meantime, I regret to report that I am going to be forced to abandon the Tour three days early. I caught a glimpse of myself walking down the grocery store aisle this evening. Scott is right. My limp is pronounced.

My stump needs time to recover so that the bone spur/ bursa can calm down. I am irritable and fatigued from lack of sleep. Basically, I'm miserable and I have nobody to blame but myself. Although I hate quitting, I've concluded that my fantasy Tour ride is no longer worth the very real pain it is causing.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Quack Quack Quack

Yesterday we received a brief reprieve from the heat. I never imagined that 94 degrees would be considered a "break," but after the relentless heat, it was a veritable cold wave. Scott and I, both feeling antsy from being housebound for so many days, were anxious to get outside with Robby while the weather was bearable.

After a lot of him-hawing, I made the executive decision to go to the animal park. Scott has not been to the animal park in several years and after receiving numerous cell phone photos of animal park fun, he was eager to see his little boy with his animal friends. Robby, upon hearing that his Daddy would be coming to the park with us, began hopping up and down with uncontrolled excitement. A few bottles of water were thrown in my purse and we set out.

Robby loved showing his daddy around the animal park. He introduced Scott to his favorite little goats, and even scared his daddy when he fearlessly approached the large camel. Robby was in his element!

When the announcement came that the tractor was loading for the wagon ride, Robby took off running. The wagon ride is one of his favorite activities at the park. Since they offer rides every hour, we often take several rides during our visit. It was a short but extremely bumpy trip down to the pond in order to feed the fish and ducks.

As we were arriving at the pond I was hoping that we wouldn't see the duck with the leg injury. Several visits ago Robby spotted a duck that was having trouble walking. His left leg was hurt, and Robby was extremely worried. He spoke to every zoo worker about the duck, concerned that the duck was hurting and worried that he couldn't run and play. I heard about the duck for weeks after that visit.

Robby is sensitive to people and animals in distress. In that way, I think that Scott and I have been doing something right in the way that we are raising him. He thinks about others, and for that I am proud!

Unfortunately, sometimes his concern morphs into fretting and obsession. This was the case with the hurt duck. He has looked for the duck on each subsequent visit, verifying that he was indeed getting better. He even offered the services of my prosthetist to the zoo keepers, assuring them that "Mr. Elliot can make the duckie a brand new leg so he doesn't hurt and he can walk."

The trip to Ohio and the subsequent heat has kept us from our animal park for several weeks. Enough time passed and the topic of the hurt duck has finally been put to rest. That is, until the wagon pulled up and the gimpy little duck waddled right in front of Robby.

The tractor driver, who has been a sounding board for Robby's duck concerns on more than one occasion, immediately noticed. She tried to redirect his attention, but it was too late. My little duck lover began to barrage her, and anybody else who would listen, with questions about the water fowl's welfare.

It was explained, again, that the duck is not in pain. He walks with a limp but he is steadily putting more weight on the leg and is getting better. I had a "serious" conversation with Robby, telling him that Mommy walks with a limp sometimes but that Mommy is okay, and that the duckie is okay. Robby countered by reminding me that Mr. Elliot had to fix my leg, and that he needs to fix the duckie's leg.

So, I did what any good Mommy would do in my situation. I lied. I feigned a phone call to "Mr. Elliot" asking him to fix the duckie's leg. The weight of the world evaporated from Robby's face when I told him the good news- Elliot said that he would fix the duckie's leg and to stop worrying.

I am pleased that Robby has developed a strong sense of empathy. He is growing into a smart and sensitive little boy, and I could not be more proud to call him my son. Of course, I realize I could be writing an entirely different kind of blog after our next trip to the animal park, especially if the duck hasn't completely healed. For now, he is satisfied that the duck will be okay, and I am happy that I don't have to face the constant questions. I'll worry about the rest later.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Riding with Lance

Yesterday I rode 60 miles on my bike, setting a new personal record. It took nearly three hours and I was drenched with sweat when I dismounted from my bike. Robby and Scott were watching the Tour with me, cheering me on when I became fatigued or discouraged. Nothing keeps me as motivated as hearing Robby cheer, "Pedal Momom pedal... hooray!"

I didn't start the ride expecting to break my personal best. However, Lance Armstrong went with the early morning break and was with the leaders for the entire Tour. His performance proved that, although he is not as fast as he was in his prime, he can still hold his own with the best cyclists in the world. His performance was amazing.

Robby cheered, Scott brought me drinks and ducked to avoid the flying bottles and banana peels as I pedaled my way through the hours. In spite of my efforts, Lance failed to finish the stage in first. I was initially heartbroken by his sixth place finish and, yes, I admit that I cried.

My sadness quickly lifted as I realized that he did not fail. He finished with the breakaway minutes ahead of the other hundred riders. He flew through the mountains and held his own against attacks. Finishing with the breakaway was, in actuality, a victory in itself.

It took me awhile to muster enough energy to pull myself up the stairs to take a shower. My stump was angry and the bursa/bone spur was inflamed and swollen. My legs felt like they were tethered to cement blocks. It was only 11, but I knew I was in for a tiring day. My exhaustion and pain were inconsequential: I had broken a personal record and Lance proved that he can still compete with the best.

For the past two years, Nike has deployed a special machine to the Tour to write inspirational or motivating messages along the route. The public submits messages or comments and each day several are chosen to be painted on the roads of France. Talking with my mom at the end of the stage, I lamented the fact that my message was probably never going to be printed.

After a quick shower and sandwich, I logged onto my computer. I checked my email, and, for the second time that day, I started to cry.

My message was chosen and painted on the road for yesterday's stage--a ride when Lance was battling for honor and pride through arduous mountain terrain. For me, it couldn't have been more perfect! Despite hobbling around on an angry stump, it was a fantastic day all around. Oh, and to make the day perfect, Scott surprised me with a huge chocolate pie. Yum!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

ACA Conference Bound!

My foot was initially injured due to a freak accident when I was attending a conference. I suppose that this is the reason I tried to gracefully bow out professional conferences when I was working as a teacher. When my attendance was mandatory, I muddled through, but I was never particularly happy to be there.

Other than the conference which crushed my foot, I had never been to an event which changed my views or made much of an impact. The speakers have always been dry and uninspired. I quickly learned that the attendees were there to collect professional development points, as was I, rather than to learn new techniques.

When I was asked to work in the Ossur booth at the Amputee Coalition of America (ACA) conference several years ago, I was expecting a similar experience. I did not expect to learn anything new or even to enjoy myself. I didn't realize that those few days would change my entire outlook on my life as an amputee.

I learned volumes during my time at the conference despite the fact that I never left the booth to attend any sessions! Seeing and meeting hundreds of amputees of different levels and abilities was inspiring. My job was to invite the attendees into the booth, answer their questions and make them feel comfortable. I didn't expect the memories of some of those individuals to be with me years later, yet I now know that I will never forget some of them.

I don't wear a cosmetic cover on my prosthetic. I did wear a cover for about a year until one morning I woke up and realized that I didn't have anything to hide. I wasn't walking on my real leg. I was tired of pretending that I had two legs simply to make the general public more comfortable: I was using a prosthetic which was beautiful in its own right. I peeled the cover off, and I haven't worn one since.

Because I don't wear a cover, I am more apt to receive stares and gawking glances whenever I am out. I have learned to continue with my activities and, most of the time, I don't notice. I was shocked at how liberated I felt being amongst hundreds of amputees at the ACA conference. For the first time since I lost my leg, I was not "the only one" but one of many.

There is a freedom to blending into a crowd that isn't missed until it is gone. I never realized how comfortable it is not to be deemed "different" in a crowd. At the ACA conference the tables were turned, and those with all their limbs stuck out and drew attention. Conversations about components, liners and "bad leg days" abounded, and nobody gave it a second thought. For us, it is just a part of daily life. For a few days within the confines of the hotel, being an amputee was the norm.

I spent a few days at the conference and I had the time of my life. I gained a lot of confidence and resolved to start writing about my experiences. I made friendships which I cherish. Although I missed my husband and my little boy, I didn't want to leave.

I am excited to write that I have been asked back to the ACA conference this year, and I will be working the Ossur booth again. If you are attending the conference this year, please stop by the booth and say hello. I would love to meet you, and I'll even give you a t-shirt! It would be great if we could arrange for all of my readers in attendance to meet up one evening. I'm not big into the bar scene though, so instead of meeting for a drink maybe we could all meet up for cake?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Why Did I Start?

While I have enjoyed having my running/activity leg, I venture to say that Robby likes it more. He loves that Mommy can now run, jump and skip with him. After years of hearing that "Mommy can't run" he ecstatically cheers, "Mommy can run" every chance he gets.

While I still wear my Proprio most of the day, the time spent in my Mod III activity leg has been increasing. Robby encourages me to wear the leg, even carrying it to me while pleading, "Please Momom my Queen. Put on your running leg." (I'm not sure why he has started calling me "Momom my Queen" but I'm not trying to stop it.) Even at four, he knows that I need a separate prosthetic to run with him.

Since I've started jogging, Robby has been eager to join me. From running to the mailbox to short sprints around the house, everything has become a race. I am now hearing, "On your mark, get set, Run Momom Run" in my dreams.

To make matters worse, Robby cheats during our races. His legs may be smaller but he ducks and weaves around me like a scared chicken. He has even tossed toys and black bear behind him to create obstacles in my path. On the rare occasion that I actually win the race, he insists on a rematch. His energy seems boundless whereas mine is in limited supply.

I thought that the novelty of running with me would have worn off, but it has seemed to increase over time. Today, as we were doing yet another round of sprints through the Buzz Lightyear sprinkler in the driveway, I found myself missing the times when Robby and I could just walk. I try to get him to slow down, but he merely takes it as opportunity to reset his position for another race.

I haven't had a chance to go for my evening jog for the past several weeks. It has just been too hot to do much outside. I don't feel guilty though because I know I've been running just as much around our house, through the aisles of the grocery store, and up and down our stairs. I am now trying to remember why I wanted to start jogging in the first place.