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, August 06, 2010


I enjoy these "Ossur trips" for a multitude of reasons. Although I miss my boys, I welcome the opportunity to stretch my professional wings. I occasionally need to be reminded that I am more than a caretaker, and that my opinion is valuable. For a few days I am afforded the ability to relax and indulge without guilt. Of course, the extra income is welcome.

I suppose the main reason I enjoy these seminars is because I learn volumes of information pertinent to being an amputee. I don't know all of the muscles that are being discussed, and much of the jargon goes over my head. However, I am able to glean some tidbits that I am excited to share.

Did you know that there is a 10-25% increase in energy expenditures for amputees completing everyday activities? No wonder I'm so tired by the end of the day. My body is working harder just walking around the house and taking care of Robby. The amputees' muscles must compensate for the lost limb, causing them to work harder and longer.

I never went through formal physical therapy after my amputation. My lack of formal gait training is perhaps my biggest amputee-related regret. I've tried requesting therapy only to be told that it is too late. Apparently my insurance adjuster doesn't see the value since I am fully ambulatory.

I learned that 41% of all below knee amputees, and 63% of all above knee amputees will develop arthritis in their sound side knee within their lifetime. This is significantly higher than the 22% of the general public who will be affected. The single factor to reduce the probability that arthritis will develop is gait training. Normalizing the way that the amputee walks by teaching the individual to put equal weight on the amputated side is the only way to reduce the chances of being afflicted.

All people who have been amputees for at least two years have experienced reductions in bone density. Wow. The fact that 100% of all amputees lose density after two years just astounds me! 80% of all amputees had at least a 28% reduction in their bone density. Just for comparison, a 28% loss brings a diagnosis of osteoporosis. Just another reason to take your calcium supplement or to drink your milk.

Not all of the information I learned was disheartening. I learned that the Knights of Columbus has just pledged to provide 600 Haitian children (that is the estimated number of amputee children now in Haiti) with three prosthetics each for the next two years. Because of their generosity and through the compassion of the prosthetists and physical therapists volunteering their time and talents, no Haitian amputee child will be left without the tools necessary to walk or to play.

My head is spinning with all of the information that I tried to absorb yesterday. Today I'll be participating in more classes. I can hardly wait to discover and share more.

Thursday, August 05, 2010


Well, I have finally arrived in Missouri, albeit nearly four hours past my anticipated arrival time. Regardless, the flight was relatively non-eventful (with the exception of delays) and my fears about getting cleared through security did not materialize. I dub my first travel experience post "humiliation" successful.

Yesterday was tiring despite the fact that all I did was sit and wait. I arrived at the airport 90 minutes before my departure time only to learn that my flight was delayed by 30 minutes. That time quickly increased until I was two hours delayed.

Most of the passengers were irritable and vocal about the delay. To be honest, I didn't really mind waiting. I am so rarely afforded the opportunity just to sit and read that, for me, being delayed was a bit of a luxury. Sure, I would have preferred to be sitting in my comfy hotel room, but since that was not an option, I certainly wasn't going to ruin my "me time" by complaining and lamenting something which was out of my control.

I took full advantage of my time alone in the airport. I found the Ben and Jerry's ice cream stand on the terminal map and set out on a quest. I was in desperate need for some Super New York Fudge Brownie ice cream, and several long corridors were not going to get in my way. After all, calories on a business trip don't count, right?

I settled into a corner near my gate so that I could listen for announcements about my flight. I began to happily eat my gi-normous ice cream cone loaded with chocolate-y goodness while reading a quasi-trashy novel on my Nook reader. I didn't have to share my treat with an ice cream hogging pre-schooler. Nor did I have to read The Crack in the Track for the 200th time. I carved out my own piece of Mommy utopia in the middle of a crowded airport.

Last night I enjoyed the luxury of room service as I relished the fact that I didn't have to wash the dishes. The meal was good, but just about anything is good as long as I'm not the one cooking it. The dessert however, my "treat," may have been the best thing I've ever eaten. I never thought that I could like something more than chocolate cake but then I tried "Gooey Butter Shortcake." It was topped with fresh berries so I am hoping that increases the nutritional value somewhat. Again, calories don't count when they are eaten on a business trip, at least that is what I kept telling myself as I practically licked the delicious crumbs from the plate.

I took a long bubble bath and nobody was knocking on the door pleading for me to come out. I was able to watch Big Brother and the Food Network without my shows being interrupted so that a score or the weather could be checked. I slept in a huge bed and I didn't have to fight for the covers.

Today will be a busy day. I will be helping a group of Prosthetists and Physical Therapists learn about bionic devices for amputees. I will be on my feet a lot as I continually demonstrate how my Proprio ankle works, and I will answer a lot of questions. It's going to be a long day, but that is okay because this Mommy feels energized and refreshed from her day of traveling!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Ready for Missouri

I am leaving today for Missouri and, although I'm excited, I'm exhausted. Looking at my seemingly insurmountable "To Do" list, someone might assume that I am planning on being away for several weeks. In reality, I'm only going to be gone until Friday evening.

"To Do"

* three loads of laundry
* gather up the trash
* clean the kitchen
* cook and store 3 dinners
* prepare and freeze pancakes
* re-clean the kitchen
* print out bowling coupons
* write out House of Bounce schedule
* locate Robby's Nano bugs and various missing train pieces
* lay out 3 outfits for Robby
* find pajamas for Robby
* label and relocate fish and froggy food
* dye my roots to cover the gray hair
* pack for my trip

Typically my trips occur during the school year when Scott is working, leaving my Mom with the responsibility of caring for Robby. This is only the second time that Scott has been home and available to watch him while I'm away working, and I've discovered that it takes a lot more work from me.

I am confident of Scott's parenting abilities. He, however, remains nervous about caring for our precocious four year old without "mommy back-up." He is fretting over every detail from what to feed Robby to how to entertain him throughout the day. In retrospect, we probably did not choose the optimum week to begin potty training!

I spent yesterday trying to make Scott's stint as a single parent as easy as possible. Meals have been cooked, labeled and stowed in the refrigerator. I am fully aware that in spite of my efforts Robby's meals will be delivered through a car window in a box or bag with a toy.

We have been diligent about our potty training efforts during the past week. Robby seems to have mastered peeing, but the poop phobia is persisting. Partly out of a mixture of convenience and comfort, Robby has taken to running around the house in only his Thomas the Train underwear and a shirt. With Mommy being gone I suspect that Scott also may stop wearing pants, opting to lounge in his boxer shorts.

I expected Robby to become upset when I told him that I am going on a business trip. Instead, when he found out that he was staying with Daddy, he became excited. He told me that "Robby and Daddy will eat ice cream for breakfast, watch cartoons and pee pee in the woods on a tree." I don't doubt that Robby provided an apt description for their activities.

In spite of the imposing list of chores, I am excited about the trip. I know that I won't have an opportunity to sight-see or to enjoy St. Louis because I will be working long hours. It is draining and exhilarating at the same time. I relish these opportunities where I am viewed as something other than a wife and mother. Some days it feels as if my skill repertoire is limited to reading the Big Blue Bill book, changing diapers and cooking. I am a better person when I am afforded the opportunity to utilize other talents, to remind myself that I am more than just a caretaker.

My brand new Nook is loaded with trashy novels. I am looking forward to having a King size bed to myself and to maintaining complete control over the television remote. I also won't have to constantly check to make sure that the toilet seat is down, and the only snoring would be my own (although, for the record I do not snore). Those simple amenities transform this run of the mill business trip into a luxury vacation for this stay at home Mom!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Tips for the Pregnant Amputee

In the past few weeks I have received numerous requests soliciting advice and information concerning being a pregnant amputee. This topic was the impetus for the creation of this blog. When I learned that I was pregnant, I frantically scoured the Internet for any information concerning the pregnant amputee. I came up with no substantial information or help.

I felt as if I were the only pregnant amputee in the universe, and I felt alone. I vowed to share my experiences with others so that they wouldn't have to feel so isolated. Pregnancy is both an exciting and frightening time for any woman. When that woman is an amputee, the fears are compounded and intensified.

I never realized how weight fluctuations would affect the fit of my prosthetic. In many ways, this has become my motivation to maintain my weight. A mere ten pound gain, seen as an inconvenient nuisance for most, can make the socket feel tight as the limb is squeezed inside. Pinch cuts, sores and rubbing can all develop from an ill-fitting socket.

Weight gain during pregnancy is inevitable for most women. As my pregnancy progressed, I remember feeling as if my stump were a sausage stuffed into a small casing when I tried to put my prosthetic. I visited my prosthetist and a new (bigger) socket was made. He made the socket a tad larger than necessary to allow for increased weight gain. Initially I had to wear socks with my "pregnancy leg," but as my size increased, the socks decreased. At the end of my pregnancy I was wearing a leg which fit perfectly.

I remember waking up one morning and realizing that I could no longer bend over to pick up my liner. I started keeping my liners on a post next to the bed, within arms reach. I was careful to make sure that my prosthetic didn't fall over during the night. If it did I was forced to perform acrobatic feats in order to upright it.

Because of my pregnant belly, it took me upwards of 5 minutes to don my leg in the morning. I stopped drinking at about 6 every evening because I knew that once I took my leg off, I wouldn't want to put it back on to use the bathroom. When I did have to get up in the middle of the night, I typically crawled.

During labor, it is typically left to the amputee as to whether or not she wants to wear the prosthetic. I chose not to wear my leg during delivery. I knew that childbirth was going to be messy with amniotic fluid and blood spewing everywhere. I didn't want to risk getting those secretions on my prosthetic or my liner. I took off my leg when I received my epidural and I did not put it back on until Robby was born. I have never regretted taking my leg off.

Scott stayed with me throughout the delivery. At my request, he stayed on my prosthetic side and held my "little leg." Like most amputees, I have sensitive spots on my limb where the nerves were buried during my amputation. Scott knows how to avoid the sensitive and painful areas. I simply didn't trust the Labor and Delivery nurse with my stump for fear that she would grab on a "nervy" area.

For a few days after Robby was born, I experienced an influx of phantom and nerve pain. Apparently this is a normal reaction for an amputee. It would have helped me if I had known to expect the pain in my limb which is why I mention it now. I was told that it would fade within a few days. At the time I didn't believe my doctor, but he was correct. Eventually the pain subsided and my leg felt normal again.

I also wish that I had known that the pregnant amputee is prone to developing bone spurs on the residual limb. The hormonal changes and increased calcium, combined with extra weight demands within the socket create a perfect ground for the spurs to grow. Six weeks after Robby was born I was in the operating room to get the bone spur removed. A bit of a bummer having surgery so soon after childbirth, but the recovery was quick and I was happy to release the responsibility for midnight feedings to others for a few days.

I learned that, despite my fears, there were few unique characteristics to my pregnancy because of my limb loss. I had to work closely with my prosthetist to develop a socket which could accommodate my increased size, and I had make my own adjustments so that I could put on my prosthetic. I spent so much time during my pregnancy fretting about how to manage all of the changes as an amputee, I wish I had enjoyed the experience more instead of worrying about everything that could go wrong. Then again, I suppose that all women spend most of the 9 months worrying their way through their first pregnancy. My fears might have been unique, but the worrying is universal.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Cave Explorers

Although I have now been living in Virginia for eleven years, I have been lax in visiting area landmarks. I go into DC, but for some reason I haven't gotten around to "playing tourist" in my own backyard. I have decided that this needs to change.

Like so many families, we are having a "staycation" this year instead of traveling. We were disappointed that we won't be traveling to the beach but have decided to make the best of our situation. We are turning the time at home into an opportunity to explore all of the local landmarks and tourist traps that we have been driving past for years.

A few days ago we packed up and headed to Luray Caverns. This famous natural landmark draws visitors from all over the country, so we figured it was a good place to start our summer of exploration. (I also found a coupon on the internet, making a visit even more enticing!)

The walkway in the caverns is comprised of bricks which have been laid down between and among the rock formations. As I started our self-guided tour, I became concerned about my ability to walk through the caverns. I am sure that many leg amputees will agree that ramps are more difficult than stairs to maneuver. I discovered that Luray Caverns is nothing but a series of ascending and descending steep ramps.

As if the steep ramps weren't enough to make me fret, the ground is wet in many areas. Walking on wet bricks on a steep decline is not fun for anybody. Add trying to walk through that environment on a prosthetic and the anxiety skyrockets! I prepared myself for a nightmare experience.

I was fully in the throes of an "I hate being an amputee" moment when I realized that I had a very excited little boy anxious to look at the rocks. I knew that I had to put my personal pity party on hold and muddle through. I was preparing myself for a difficult day exploring the caverns but put on a smile for Robby.

I could never have predicted how much fun we would have walking through Luray Caverns. Slowly I became more comfortable with the slopes and wet floor. It wasn't until we were half way through our self-guided tour that I realized my comfort and my ability to walk through the caverns safely was due to my Proprio ankle.

My Proprio ankle is designed to automatically adjust to variations in slope. It was working perfectly, and I, despite my fears, had no trouble maneuvering through the steep terrain. I became just another parent experiencing the caverns with her son instead of the amputee struggling to walk and anxious to reach the end. I felt safe and confident that I could easily conquer the ramps. I was able to concentrate on the formations of this natural wonder and share this experience with my little family.

At the risk of sounding like a salesperson or a commercial, I want to reiterate that I am neither. I am occasionally called by Ossur (the manufacturer of the Proprio ankle) to speak about my experiences, but the company has no affiliation with my blog. I am writing about my success with the Proprio because this device has improved my life drastically, and I want other amputees to achieve similar successes.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Facebook Reminder

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