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 20, 2010

Strange Week In Review

This past week has been busy. My trip to the doctor, and my subsequent diagnosis of Osteoporosis threw me for a loop. We sprung yet another leak in our roof, forcing us to spend nearly a day moving and emptying drip buckets. I had planned on spending a day cooking food for the boys to eat during my trip (although I am fully aware that it will be passed over in lieu of fast food treats) and doing the laundry. Perhaps I'll get those chores accomplished this weekend.

I am now in the process of receiving treatment for the Osteoporosis. We spent nearly 30 minutes in the cereal aisle of the grocery store reading the labels until we found one with 1000 mg of calcium. I bought a calcium supplement and I am currently awaiting my doctor to call to let me know what prescription he is recommending. I am disappointed in the diagnosis but eager to begin treatment to halt any further damage.

I have been in the hunt for an affordable yet trendy evening dress. Lacking a shopping partner, I convinced Scott and Robby to accompany me for moral support. Apparently I should begin taking the Boys on all of my challenging shopping adventures- they bring good luck.

We entered the first store and I walked to the dress section. Immediately I noticed a beautiful and flirty pink dress in the corner. I tried it on, and it is an absolutely perfect fit. I feel sassy, pretty and just a tad sexy. To make it even better, it was on a super sale and only cost (drum roll, please) $28. Yippee for me!

After the first application of roof caulk washed away, Scott spent yesterday again on the roof. This time we used a garden hose to find the precise location of the leak. Once the hole was discovered, he was able to make the necessary repairs. At least, we hope so. We won't really know if we were successful until it rains again. We're keeping our fingers crossed that it will no longer rain in the bedroom.

Although most items on my "to do" list from this week were not even attempted, I feel like we have actually accomplished quite a bit. I'm going to have to double my efforts during the next few days to get the house in order for my trip. Trying to get as much accomplished as I can without stressing myself out is my goal for the weekend. Wish me luck!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Rain Rain Go Away

It's raining, its pouring. While Scott was snoring... The troubles begin when the rain falls in... and the ceiling came down in the morning.

Last week it was raining inside my living room around the fireplace. My roofing cousin came down and fixed the flashings, recaulked, and deemed the roof weather ready. Unfortunately we failed to have him look around the skylights in our bedroom. As we learned at about 4:30 yesterday morning, at least that part of our roof was not rain ready.

The storm that we had was strong. It actually woke Robby up, causing him to come sprinting into our room and dive bomb under the covers. Just as the little Wiggle Worm next to me began to settle down, I heard it.

Drip. Drip. Drip. My heart sank as I heard each falling water droplet. I tried to localize the sound when I felt a little tap on my shoulder. "Momom. Do you hear that? It's raining inside the house."

Robby's statement made Scott jump out of bed and scurry around the bedroom. It didn't take long to locate the problem. The ceiling in the bedroom was leaking around the skylight.

Before I had time to protest, Scott was on top of my pink stepper with his beloved drywall saw in hand. Piece by piece chunks of my ceiling were being cut away. We now have a large hole in the middle of room, drywall pieces and chunks everywhere (because he never thought to put down a tarp before he started hacking away) and every towel being used to sop up the water.

I moved the soggy drywall pieces that were littering the counter so that I could grab a cup of coffee. I slurped it down, trying not to watch the zealous ceiling destruction in front of me. I was relieved to have to leave the house for my Dexa scan.

By the time I returned home, the hole in the ceiling had grown, but the location of the leak was located. We went to Lowes for the recommended caulk. I wanted to read the instructions, but was quickly overruled. After 45 minutes he climbed off the roof with tar covered hands and an empty caulk tube. We were optimistic about his efforts.

I was on the phone with my doctor learning that I have been definitively diagnosed with osteoporosis (on the mild side of moderate) when I felt a drop of water hit my nose. The troublesome leak was back, and I have osteoporosis. I am not a happy camper!

After reading the back of the empty caulk tube, I noticed that it needed at least 3 hours to set before it could get wet. It was only on the roof for 90 minutes before the rain returned. We don't know if we were unsuccessful treating the leak, or if the caulk had been applied in the correct location but didn't work because it hadn't properly set. Home repairs are not our strong suit.

We are going back to Lowes today to get yet another tube of roof caulk. Then we are swinging by the pharmacy to pick up my bone building medication and calcium supplements. I think a trip to the bakery might also be in my future. I have a gaping hole in my bedroom ceiling and osteoporosis. My chocolate cake is now medicinal. After all, doesn't chocolate contain calcium?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

WARNING! And Please Share With Your Amputee Friends

When I came home from Missouri, I immediately phoned my primary care physician to schedule an appointment. The statistics that were discussed at the seminar concerning osteoporosis scared me. Knowing that avoiding the issue would not make my situation better in the future, I resolved to become proactive.

Armed with the staggering statistics concerning bone density in lower extremity amputees, I prepared myself for my appointment. For this visit, on this issue, I wanted to be able to provide him with all of the necessary documentation to justify a bone density scan (Dexa scan). Yesterday morning I grabbed a cup of coffee, kissed Robby and Scott goodbye and headed to my appointment.

My doctor listened attentively as I presented my case for a scan. He recently read an article addressing osteoporosis in amputees so it didn't take a lot of convincing. He ordered a bone density screening which, to my surprise, was conducted in his office.

The bone density in my heel was measured, and the results shocked both my doctor and me. He immediately scheduled a Dexa scan. Apparently my T score (the result of the screening which indicates osteoporosis) was "off the charts." The screening, in addition with the blood work which was conducted, indicates that I do, indeed, have osteoporosis.

I was devastated when I heard this news from my doctor. Thankfully I learned that this diagnosis is actually a blessing. No, I am not happy that I have now developed osteoporosis, but I am grateful that it is being detected and treated early. My doctor suggested that I "find and hug whoever recommended that I talk to him about bone density. Coming into the office and getting started on treatment probably saved me from a hip replacement in the future."

Wow, I my head is spinning from the events that transpired. I remain upset and saddened about my bone density issues. However, I am so incredibly grateful to Bob Gailey, the physical therapist who first educated me about the connection between lower extremity amputations and osteoporosis. Because I became informed, I was able to become proactive and possibly thwart some debilitating issues.

I was dependent on crutches for several years before my amputation. During those years I was relying heavily upon my right (sound) side. Although I am becoming more cognizant about putting weight through my socket, especially when I am standing, I know that I am not bearing weight equally at all times. Not equally sharing the weight load between both legs puts undo strain on the bones and muscles on the sound side, resulting in arthritis and decreased bone density.

True to the statistics which indicate that 100% of all lower extremity amputees experience loss of bone density, I find myself facing issues of osteoporosis at 36. It turns out that I may not have inherited my mother's bad back. We now suspect that the pain I occasionally feel may be resonating from my hip.

There are medications which can prevent further loss and I have been told that, since I am still in my child bearing years, it is possible to rebuild the density which has been lost. Dietary changes, along with medication, will be utilized to treat the condition. We are optimistic and remain grateful that I learned about the risk and acted.

It was a fluke that I was at the seminar where the risk of osteoporosis was discussed. The possibility of losing bone density was never discussed by my surgeon, prosthetist or family doctor until I brought up the issue. I am glad that I stumbled upon the information, but this type of knowledge should not be left to chance!

This is another example of why it is important to remain educated. Prosthetic changes and medical implications are often overlooked by medical providers. Ultimately it is up to us to become and to remain informed.

Please learn from my experience and talk with your doctor about bone density. The screening and the Dexa scan are painless and quick. If you have a lower extremity amputation, the studies indicate that you have some degree of bone density loss. It can be treated and the progression can be halted before osteoporosis develops.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Dress Quest

After nearly a week of feeling crummy, I am thrilled to finally feel well again. The pain in my back, which was actually my kidneys, has gone away. I feel energetic, happy and, according to Robby, not grumpy.

With the conference date approaching, I am beginning to pull everything together for the trip to California. My booth attire, along with my toiletries and makeup, are already packed. Typically I stress out trying to remember everything. For this trip, so far, everything seems to be under control. Except, of course, for one nagging detail.

I have been invited, and am expected to attend, a relatively fancy dinner on the Saturday after the conference. Although not uncultured, I am relatively green when it comes to expensive corporate dinner parties. Googling the restaurant increased my anxiety. Yikes! I doubt I'll see our family coveted "kids eat free" sign in their window.

My wardrobe now consists of jeans, sweat pants and the occasional unstained shirt. My closet is bursting with my "teacher clothes" that were worn before Robby was born, but most of the styles are now outdated. I have a black dress for funerals and a pretty gray dress for weddings. My "business dress," which is reserved for court hearings and meetings, is too stiff for this event. The bridesmaid dress which I wore in my cousin's wedding, although she swore it could be worn again, is probably not my best option. As it turns out, there is nothing suitable in my closet for a restaurant of this caliber.

Most women jump at the opportunity to go shopping for a new dress. I found myself frustrated and worried. "Fancy" dresses are costly. Honestly, we just don't have hundreds of dollars to spend on a dress that will, in all likelihood, be worn only once. I am going to have to find a classy, versatile, yet budget friendly party dress. This was not going to be easy!

Despite my weight loss, I continue to struggle with body image issues. Although I have not been obese for several years, I still view myself through "fat glasses." I am becoming more comfortable with my body, but I do not particularly feel very pretty, especially when I am out of my comfort zone. I want to find a dress to boost my confidence. I don't want to feel like the frumpy stay at home Mommy. I want to feel like I belong at the ritzy restaurant. For one night, wouldn't it be fun to be a knock out!

So, the hunt begins for a dress that is both inexpensive and ravishing. The hem line needs to be just below my knee so that the muffin top thigh that forms above my socket is masked. Flirty cleavage would be welcome, but I am too old to be trashy.

I am on a budget, but I don't want to look like it. I am going to have to be both creative and lucky if I am going to make this work. Let the great dress search begin!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Breaking Secrets.

Last week a former student of my Mom passed away. Although not completely unusual-- after all she taught for over 30 years-- the circumstances surrounding this death left her profoundly saddened. He was beaten and left for dead. His body was discovered, but he later succumbed to his injuries and passed away. He was in his early 40's.

My Mom taught at my high school. The area is boringly middle class. My graduating class, like those before me and those after mine, were filled with optimism about the world. Our school corridors lacked the violence and gangs which plague so many of the inner city schools. Metal detectors have not been installed and are still unnecessary. It was a safe place to learn, void of many of the dangers affecting student's today.

Unfortunately, addiction, like so many other diseases, transcends social barriers. This man graduated with the optimism and excitement for the world like all of his fellow graduates. Alcohol addiction interrupted his dreams and, ultimately, took his life.

Like so many families, ours struggles with issues around addiction. We still love our family members, but I have to admit that I don't necessarily like them when they are engaging in addictive behaviors. It becomes difficult to separate the addict from the essence of the person. Perhaps only a family member can remember the person behind the addict, and maybe that is why friends eventually drop away but the family always remains.

I have been inundated with advice from well-meaning friends concerning the addicts in my family. I have been told to turn a blind eye, essentially removing the person from my life. I have been encouraged to confront, to yell and to scream. I have been told that I need to host an intervention similar to the television show "Intervention." All of the solutions seem so simple--until you actually know an addict.

It has been 20 years. I can assure you that there is not a strategy that I haven't tried. If yelling and screaming or tears and love could fix the problem, it would have been rectified a long time ago. It simply isn't that simple.

Ultimately, the solution for overcoming addiction lies within the addict. Nobody aspires to grow up and become addicted to drugs or alcohol. For some people, life is interrupted by the chemicals.

I am writing about this for two specific reasons. I want to honor the life of my mom's student. Ty was not simply another drunk on the side of the street. He had a family, friends, a job and a promising future. His family, as a last resort, attempted to jump start his sobriety and preserve their sanity by implementing tough love. Sometimes, self-preservation is the only option.

I cannot imagine the guilt that Ty's parents must be feeling at this time. It is little solace to offer my condolences and assurances that they did not cause his death. As somebody who loves an addict, I have lived the pain of watching the addictive behavior eat away at the soul of the person. There are no words for that pain. I can only offer my prayers and sympathy.

I want to honor Ty's life by breaking a "dirty little secret" that is lived by too many amputees. I received little advice before my amputation, but one warning from an amputee resonated with me. She warned about the dangers of becoming addicted to the pain medication prescribed after the surgery. She explained that the new amputee is in a vulnerable state which is a breeding ground for chemical dependency and addiction.

Because of her warning I was careful about the amount of medication I used after the surgery. After surviving the surgery and its aftermath, I agree with her warning. An amputation is a body altering and life changing surgery. Many times the patient feels lost and hopeless. I have seen many new amputees turn towards their pain medication not only to numb the surgical pains but also to dull their emotions.

Addiction to pain medication following an amputation is often swept under the rug. It is not unusual for the amputee to utilize pain medication for years following the surgery, despite the physical ailments having long healed. Phantom and nerve pain are often treated with prescription narcotics. For many doctors, it's an "easy fix" making the drugs easy to obtain and perpetuating the dependency.

I am writing about this not to cast accusations but to bring awareness. I stopped taking my pain medication several weeks after my amputation because I didn't want to risk addiction. Nerve issues and phantom pain can be treated with non-narcotic methods. Masking or numbing emotions never solves the problem, it only makes them more difficult to address. Ignoring the risks of becoming addicted after limb loss only perpetuates the problem and its stigma.

If you find yourself reaching for a chemical substance in an effort to escape, please seek help. Don't be afraid to discuss your suspected dependency with your doctor. Many of these drugs pose dangers if quit cold turkey. Seek help, ask questions and know that you will be surprised by your own strength. Nobody deserves to die like Ty- violently beaten by those who believed themselves to be superior. RIP Ty.