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, September 03, 2010

Star Wars

I recently read an article pertaining to the development of fake nerves to help amputees "feel" within their prosthetics. According to the article, the first human trial is only three years away. Imagine, within a decade amputees may be able to experience at least some restored feeling through their prosthetic arms and legs. This afternoon I read an article about a successful double hand transplant. There has never been a better time in history to be an amputee!

Technology is progressing at a furious rate. We are just scratching the surface of implementing bionic technology into prosthetic devices. In the seven years since I've lost my leg, I have seen the advent of a computerized ankle and the seal-in liner. The PowerKnee and the new C-Leg both allow above knee amputee ambulate up stairs leg over leg. These seemingly small improvements have a monumental impact on the quality of life for the amputee.

Out of everything, I miss feeling the warm grass under my foot. I try to remember the sensation, but as time is passing, it is becoming more difficult. It makes me sad to think that I will never feel that feeling, that symbol of carefree summer freedom, again. There was a time I would have undergone any surgery to restore that sensation.

As I have become more comfortable as an amputee, I am no longer eager to be the test subject. I am happy with my life and, as I have learned, surgeries can go wrong and make a situation worse. I am not willing to risk my mobility on the chance of restoring a sensation.

Surgical innovations are going to eventually reshape the possibilities for amputees. I suspect that the nerve technology will be most practical when it is implemented at the same time as the amputation. Imagine waking up from an amputation and still having a nervous system connection to the missing limb!

I am reminded of a scene in The Empire Strikes Back. Luke Skywalker lost his hand in an epic battle with Darth Vador. His hand was completely severed from his body. The final scene of the movie showed Luke receiving a fully functional artificial hand with an intact nervous system. This concept was science fiction in the 1980's. Now, 30 years later the Skywalker hand could be a reality in my lifetime.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

D'Oh. I Hate it When That Happens

Robby has been clingy since I have come home. I can't go to the bathroom without his talking to me through the door. I love him, but his neediness is driving me batty! Last night I reached my breaking point. In fact, I was so desperate for some alone time that I did something I haven't done in months: I laced up my shoes and went for a jog.

Only I couldn't find my running shoes. I vaguely remembering throwing the worn out shoes away in a moment of zealous cleaning earlier this summer. Undeterred, I put my Shape-Ups on, grabbed my cell phone and took off out the door. I figured that if the shoes were good for walking, they should be great for running.

Almost immediately I realized I had made a mistake. Somehow the alignment on my running leg was altered by the Shape-Up shoe. With each stride forward my prosthetic foot turned inward, making it difficult to maintain my balance.

I stopped to adjust the socket, hoping to rectify the alignment issue. I thought about abandoning my jog and returning home. I then remembered that a needy, clingy and whiny preschooler was waiting for me. I decided to try to make the best of my misaligned leg and to keep jogging.

After struggling initially with the alignment, I was able to compensate enough to jog. I covered one mile without difficulty. I was impressed with the distance and the ease at which I was jogging. Feeling confident (or cocky) I began to think about jogging on a regular basis, and even toyed with the notion of competing in another race.

I have always felt self-consciounse about the aesthetics of my running style. I am the antithesis of smooth and graceful. Instead of looking like a gazelle or a cheetah, I am fully aware that I resemble an injured cow trotting through a muddy field. Nevertheless, I decided to feign confidence and began to nod and wave to the cars that passed me.

A red sports car convertible, driven by a strikingly handsome man, passed me. I nodded as he drove by, and he waved. I then waved, and ran a little faster because he was watching in the rear view mirror. Increasing my speed was a mistake.

Before I could react, I was face first in a pile of dirt on the side of the road. My running leg had turned inward again, tripping me up. Stunned, I sat on the ground for a moment, hoping that nobody noticed. I don't like it when I fall, but I really hate it when it happens in front of people!

I looked up to see the handsome driver stop his car, get out and run towards me. So did the driver of the car behind me and the man who was mowing his lawn. Within seconds of my fall. I had three concerned witnesses offering assistance. I regained my composure and immediately stood up. I wasn't hurt, except of course, for my ego.

In spite of my tumble, I have decided that I am going to continue jogging. I need an outlet for my stress and I know that I benefit from the time alone. Of course, I'm not jogging anywhere until I visit the shoe store to buy a new pair of sneakers. Shape-Ups are good for walking, but jogging in them is hazardous to my health and my self-esteem!

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Stress Relief?

In many ways I feel as if this year is the last of Robby's innocence. School changes everything. I doubt that he will continue to view me as his "best buddy" when he starts school. Will he still like baking cookies when he is in school? I am dreading the first time I pick up the phone and hear a high pitch little girl asking "Is Robby there?" It will take all my strength not to hang up on her.

Robby starting school next year marks the end of my tenure as a stay at home Mommy. As Scott has repeatedly pointed out, I am going to need to return to the workforce. I have twelve months to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. Time is ticking, and I'm feeling the pressure.

I am experiencing a lot of stress over letting Robby grow up and my returning to work. What do I want to do, and am I qualified? Twelve months doesn't seem like enough time to figure this out!

In an effort to try to squelch my stress, and partly in the hopes that I would experience an epiphany, last night I tried meditation. I suppose I should disclose that I have no idea how to meditate. I was inspired by the book Eat, Pray, Love. It worked for the main character, so I thought it was worth a try.

I secluded myself in the only quiet location in our house, my bedroom closet. I tried to sit cross-legged, only to develop cramps. After some experimentation, I removed my prosthetic because it was in the way. Sitting one-legged on the back of my closet with Scott's pants and shirts hanging over my head, I tried to channel my inner peace.

My inner dialog meditation went something like this:
"Hum... hum... hum.... this is nice. I'm relaxing. Hum... hum.... I've got this meditation thing down! I am the Queen Meditator. Look how Zen I am. What exactly does Zen mean?

Focus. Hum... hum...what's that smell? Wow, that's a lot of laundry. I thought Scott said he did laundry while I was in California. Figures! Oh, I'm meditating.

Hum... hum.... I mean really, how hard is it to throw laundry into the washer? It's not like he has to rub it against a rock. Focus Peggy.

Relax... deep breath. You are at peace... hum... hum... This would be a lot easier if I wasn't trying to channel my inner me next to a pile of his smelly drawers. Focus... focus... Hey, I've been looking for that sandal all summer.

Deep breathe. Ouch! Stump cramp. Why did that sweater just fall on my head? Ouch. Cramp again. Screw it, I stink at this. I'm getting too stressed out. I'm eating cake instead."

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Just a Picture

Proof that I gave my speech...


I had a great time at the ACA Conference last week. Although attendance was obviously down, probably due to the economy and the late announcement of the location, the exhibition hall was bustling with excitement and activity. Unfortunately I was not able to attend any seminars because of my booth schedule, but I did discover that I have a talent for passing out free t-shirts!

Sleeping in a large bed, by myself, was a true luxury. The hotel was nice, but I I am not discriminating. Snagging little soaps and shampoo bottles, having control over the television remote and being able to sleep unhindered are my hallmarks of "living it up."

I have concluded that most hotels are not equipped with enough electrical outlets for the modern traveler. I need to plug in my phone, computer and my leg. I was forced to unplug lamps in order to free up the necessary outlets. I am going to start traveling with my own power strip in the future.

Half-way through the second day of the conference, my Proprio signaled that the battery was low. I found this odd because I plug it in nightly. During my break I ran up to my room to get a quick charge.

After my leg was plugged in I noticed that the indicator lights were not illuminated. I checked the plug only to discover that the plastic was stripped away from the wires and that the connection was broken. The only explanation I can come up with is that the housekeeper accidentally sucked the cord into the vacuum cleaner, stripping the plastic and breaking the wires. Thankfully I was at the perfect location for a prosthetic malfunction, and it was quickly repaired.

Five days away from my Boys left me feeling homesick and anxious to return home. Scott had reached his limit of being "Mr. Mom" and was eager to return to work, if only to get a break from a needy little preschooler. I was bombarded with text messages and frantic phone calls, informing me that I "didn't understand" how tiring caring for Robby can be and expressing his need for a break. Travel weary, I finally crawled into my own bed after midnight on Monday and the parenting reigns were passed back to me.

As soon as I fell asleep, I heard the pitter-patter of little feet. Robby crawled into our bed and began to smother me with hugs. I knew that getting him back to his room by himself was a lost cause. We pulled out the sofa bed in his room and I slept with him.

Well, I didn't really sleep. Robby was wiggly and I was constantly being kicked or hit by flailing arms and legs. I was hoping to receive flowers upon my return home. Instead I was greeted with a gassy little bed hog. It's nice to be home!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Every Woman's Nightmare

The past few days have been a whirlwind of excitement. Being at the conference, surrounded by fellow amputees, was both comforting and empowering. I was fascinated by the various prosthetics that are being utilized, and I was amazed by the spirit of so many whom I met.

Friday morning I was approached and asked if I would be willing to introduce myself to the conference attendees on Saturday. I was apprehensive about speaking in front of the large crowd, but honored that I was asked. I accepted the invitation.

Friday afternoon I learned that my "introduction" was, in fact, a full blown 20 minute speech. My apprehension turned into fear. I am not a public speaker, and I don't feel comfortable in front of large crowds.

On my way out of the booth on Friday, I was reminded that Saturday was the Mobility Clinic, and that I should dress appropriately. I was given a Stay-Dri work-out shirt and told to wear athletic shorts. I took the shirt and headed up to my hotel room. Tired from a day of standing around in the booth, I was looking forward to relaxing and working on my speech.

Holding the shirt in the elevator, I began to think about what "work-out" type clothes I had packed. I realized I was going to need to walk to the shopping center and buy appropriate shorts. I was beginning to feel rushed for time because I still needed to write my speech, and I didn't want to devote a lot of time to trying to find a pair of spandex shorts that I will probably not wear much.

It was at that moment that I made the connection. I was expected to deliver a 20 minute speech, which had yet to be written, to several hundred people while I was wearing spandex shorts. My fear morphed into full blown terror.

Luckily my friend Leslie and I found a sporting goods store near the hotel and we set out on Mission Impossible. I needed to find a pair of spandex shorts that would flatter my plump bum and minimize my jiggly thighs. With limited options and a short time schedule, I had to settle for the least unflattering option- a pair of gray yoga pants.

My mom helped me gather my thoughts for the speech. We decided that, if the speech was taken from my own blog posts, it would be easier for me to remember. I began to feel more confident about the content of my speech, but nothing was going to make me feel secure in what I was going to be wearing!

I worked the registration desk Saturday morning which helped to keep my mind off the speech. My nerves were jumping in anticipation of my presentation, but I tried to remain calm. When it was my time to speak, I put on my best "I'm confident" game face, strutted up wearing my spandex and accepted the microphone.

Honestly, I can't tell you what I said, but I do know that it wasn't anything that I had prepared. I spoke from the heart, relaying my experiences as an amputee. (I do remember plugging amputeemommy.com once.) As I began to speak, my nerves melted away and I felt as if I were just speaking to a friend or two. I felt connected to the audience. I was no longer fearful, nor was I self-conscious in my less than flattering outfit. I even received four episodes of "spontaneous" applause during my speech!

I received numerous accolades at the conclusion of my speech. Attendees frequently approached me for the remainder of the conference, telling me that they related to my story and appreciated my sharing the experiences. I was encouraged by several people to continue speaking, stating that they felt that I had a talent for reaching people.

For me, the ACA Conference was a success. I thoroughly enjoyed working the booth and meeting amputees from all over the country. I not only delivered a speech to a large audience while wearing spandex, but my words were well received! I am returning home jet lagged and tired but excited to tackle the adventures that lie ahead.