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 10, 2010

Just Noticing

This past weekend my sister brought her children up to my mom's house for an impromptu picnic. My niece is 6, and my nephews are 4 and 3. The kids were happy to be playing with each other, but thrilled because they were going to get to eat cake. Yes, apparently the love of all things cake must be genetic!

I don't wear a cosmetic cover on my prosthetic, and I have never tried to disguise my amputation. I wear shorts and skirts without giving my leg a second thought. I often slip my leg off when I am playing on the floor with the kids. They have only known me as an amputee, and for them it is natural. Or, at least that is what I thought.

Walking down the hallway, I found my youngest nephew Jared standing in the doorway. As I walked towards him he quickly slammed the door shut. I've learned through experience that slamming doors by a young child is never a good sign and is often an attempt to cover a mess or mischief. Not knowing what I would expect, I opened the door.

I found Jared standing in the corner of the bedroom, cowering behind the play kitchen. Scanning the room I didn't see anything amiss, but he was obviously scared. I knelt down and asked him what was wrong.

Timidly, Jared approached me and pointed to my prosthetic. He asked me why I had it, and what happened. The poor little guy just realized that his Aunt Peggy has a prosthetic leg, and it scared him.

I reminded him that I have had the special leg for a long time, and that I was okay. He then timidly asked me if "Nana got mad at me one day and cut my other leg off with a knife." I'm not sure where he came up with that theory because my Mom, his Nana, is one of the kindest hearts around. I reassured him that Nana did not chop off my leg, that my prosthetic helped me walk and that I was not in pain. Satisfied, he accepted the giant marshmallow I offered and happily went to play with his siblings and cousin.

After speaking with my sister, we realized that Jared's attention was drawn to my prosthetic because I was wearing my running leg. He was accustomed to seeing me in my Proprio, so the fact that the leg was different spurred his "discovery." We can't figure out why he thought that his Nana was responsible, except that perhaps he was worried that he would reap a similar fate if he misbehaved.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

The Hardest Job EVER

I learned several years ago that the start of a new school year never goes smoothly. As Scott's schedule is being constantly manipulated, students are being added to his already burgeoning roster and his classroom is being moved, my best course of action is to offer support with no demands. He gets a "get out of chores free" pass for the week, and I try to lay low. Robby has apparently not learned this important lesson.

Robby Rotten has made an unwelcome return. He has been obstinate, defiant and needy. His Daddy returning to work after a long summer break has affected his behavior and his mood. When he isn't demanding something, he is right next to me to "help." Yesterday I insisted on privacy in the bathroom. He stood on the other side of the door, crying that he just "wanted to help and hand me the toilet paper." Needless to say, the past few days have been putting my mommy patience to the test, and I'm not sure I'm passing!

Yesterday morning I woke up to find Robby crawling into my bed. It was early, but not so early that I could get him back to sleep. I turned on a cartoon and got up to get some coffee to jump-start my day.

Problem: I couldn't find my leg. Robby's giggles revealed that he had been awake a few minutes longer than I realized. Asking, "Where did you put Mommy's leg" always seems odd.

My stern tone must have been an indication that I was not in the mood to play. He finally relented and retrieved my leg which was hidden the closet. When I asked him why he took my leg, he explained that he "does not like that leg because Mommy can't run." Having to lecture my four year old as to why he must never move Mommy's leg is not a great way to start the morning especially before my coffee!

Through the course of the day Robby threw multiple temper tantrums, the largest (and most embarrassing) being at the Animal Park. He became angry because I refused to buy him a bottle of water. Not that I need to justify my decision, but the Animal Park charges $2 for a bottle of water, and we had a case in the car. He screamed so loudly that the animals began to squeal. By the time I got him out of the gates, there was a chorus of snorts, moos and squawks bellowing behind us.

He screamed about my refusing to purchase water for the entire drive home. I simply turned up the Dixie Chicks CD and sang along. He then began to holler that my singing "hurt his heart" and that I needed to be quiet. I sang so loud that my throat now hurts.

We came home and I went about making dinner. I checked in on Robby and he was busy dancing to his Christmas music box. Finally, I thought, the house is quiet and I am actually getting something done.

I was premature in my optimism. I heard a crashing sound and went running into the bedroom. My beautiful Galilean Thermometer was smashed all over the bedroom floor. The glass was nearly impossible to get out of our lightly colored carpets, and the liquid inside the thermometer was greasy and smelly. I spent the next 45 minutes cleaning up the remnants of my prized thermometer.

Robby did not mean to break the thermometer. From what I gather, he was dancing and bumped into the dresser. The thermometer somehow got jostled and fell to the ground. It was not malicious, but it certainly didn't make my day any easier.

Scott came home from work ready to vent and complain about his day. He took one look at me and gave me a hug. He knew, just by looking at me, that a day of caring for Robby Rotten had taken its toll. It was obvious that a day caring for Robby Rotten was more labor intensive and frustrating than a school full of hormonal teenagers.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Foot Races

The weather yesterday was absolutely beautiful. Robby was chomping at the bit to go outside to play, and I was eager to let him run and get rid of some energy. After completing our morning "to do" list which included riding nearly 20 miles on my bike, we packed a picnic and headed outside.

I tried to encourage Robby to play with his bubble machine and sidewalk chalk. My legs were tired and he had been rather high maintenance all morning. I was hoping that he would entertain himself for a few minutes so I could rest. He was more interested in constantly challenging me to a foot race. He is going through a running phase.

Robby began bombarding me with requests to race. I told him that I was tired. He responded that the sun came up and it was a beautiful sunny day. He then pointed to my leg and told me that I can run because I am wearing my running leg. Impressed that he knew the purposes of my various prosthetics and with my attempts to avoid running foiled by his logic, I acquiesced.

We proceeded to run up the driveway, which incidentally is uphill, for the next 30 minutes. We skipped down the hill back to the "starting blocks." He stopped only to challenge me to another race and to compliment my running leg.

Tiring quickly, I finally managed to convince Robby that it would be fun for him to ride his bicycle. I failed to remember that I was going to have to run along behind, pushing the bicycle up the same hilly driveway. He rode his bike, with me trotting along pushing it from behind, all around our neighborhood.

Convinced that he had figured out the bike, he asked me to stop pushing. I happily stopped running and let go. Apparently did not have the knack for riding his bicycle yet. In retrospect, I should not have let go near the thorny blackberry bushes.

Thankfully Robby sustained only a few scratches. After extracting my scraped up little cyclist from the prickly bushes, Robby announced that he is not riding his bicycle anymore. I tried to tell him that riding his bike is fun, and promised to hold onto the back. He was not persuaded.

"No Momom. I have feet on my legs, not wheels. Feet help me run. I don't have wheels for riding on my legs. I am going to run."

Robby ran back to the house. I followed behind, carrying his bike. We had one final race up the driveway where Robby was declared the winner. His prize? An ice cream cone and the cartoon of his choice. I finally got to rest!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

17 Years

I have survived cancer, chemotherapy and an amputation. I know the loneliness of packing up to move to a new area knowing nobody in an attempt to restart my life. None of these experiences can touch the heartache that I felt 17 years ago this morning, when I heard that my Grandfather died.

It is hard to fathom that my Pop has been gone that long. In many ways it seems like only yesterday I was giving him a hug as I was returning to college. It also feels like a lifetime since I've seen his smile.

When I received my cancer diagnosis I was devastated, but not blindsided. I had the biopsy and I knew the statistics. I used the time after my biopsy to thoroughly research my options should the "worst case scenerio" arise. When the "worst case" materialized, I had a plan.

My decision to amputate was agonizing. I underwent years of painful surgeries in order to save my leg. I was able to ask questions and research my options. Again, I was afforded the luxury of preparation.

My treatment for cancer (chemotherapy and radiation) as well as my decision to amputate were, for all intents and purposes, under my control. Although my doctors performed the procedures, it was ultimately my choice to comply. Being an active participant in the treatments helped me deal with the physical and emotional ramifications.

I had no control when my Pop died. I never got to say good-bye. I wish that I had known I would never feel his warm hug although, if I had known, I'm not sure I would have let go.

I remember when I was young I asked my Pop if he would ever stop loving me. He told me that he would always love me, regardless of what I did. I asked him if he would love me if I stole a car. He said that yes, he would, but that he hopes I won't. He then proceeded to explain how to correctly cross the wires for the ignition so that we would do it correctly.

I am lucky that I had Pop in my life. So many of my friends had "formal" relationships with their grandparents. Although they mourned the passing of their grandparents, they freely admit that they are not necessarily missed. Their grandparents were figureheads at holiday celebrations but were not actively engaged in the lives.

My wish for Robby is that he is able to forge a special and unique relationship with each of his grandparents. I hope that he has special secrets and games that are only shared between the two of them. I want him to experience the kind of love that I felt from my Pop.

That's what I remember most about my Pop--his absolutely unconditional love for his family. I knew that, even if I disappointed him, his love and support wouldn't waiver. This world would be a better place if more people were like my Pop.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Labor Day Blues

Growing up, I always despised Labor Day. While most of America celebrated the end of summer with cook-outs, pool parties and fireworks, I looked upon the holiday with dread. For me, Labor Day served no other purpose than to taunt me as I prepared to return to school the following day.

Last week Scott returned to work, and it was not an easy week. His class schedule was constantly manipulated, he does not have a classroom and his instructional assistant has been reassigned to a more "vocal" teacher. Although he remained relatively calm through the tumultuous week, I became angry on his behalf, even offering to buy him some Vaseline so that it wouldn't be quite as painful while he is constantly being screwed by his school.

Northern Virginia is one of the few regions of the country where students don't return to the classroom until the Tuesday after Labor day. Tomorrow marks the first official day of school for students. If last week is any indicator, it is going to be a long school year!

I am no longer teaching, but I continue to hate Labor Day. Marking the end of summer is difficult to celebrate. I always experience the "post-summer blues" as Scott returns to work and Robby and I struggle to develop a new schedule.

I know that in a few weeks our routine will be established and life will return to normal. If the past is any indication, I just have to muddle through the next few days and the sadness will evaporate. I know that I have a lot to look forward to in the coming months - after all Christmas is only 109 days away!