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, October 15, 2010


I'm still sore from my tumble down the pumpkin hill on Wednesday. I know that nothing is broken because I'm not feeling a lot of pain, just soreness. It feels as if I have been in a car accident, and I'm miserable.

It is moments like this, when it hurts to walk, that I feel disabled. I must say, I despise feeling disabled! Now not only am I sore, I'm sad as well.

I know that I shouldn't be this hard on myself. The entrance to the slide was steep and difficult for able bodied parents to mount. I realize that I didn't fall because I am an amputee or because of any balance issues. Still, logic isn't helping me navigate through this emotional quagmire. I'm sore, sad and frustrated.

Several months ago I heard it said that 50% of all amputees live in fear of falling. When asked about the last time that they fell, these amputees were not able to pinpoint the date or the situation. The other 50% of amputees, those who were not fearful of falling, all admitted that they had fallen within the past two months.

The fear of falling can be a powerful force for the amputee. The fear of falling can keep us from engaging in life and trying new activities. In many ways, the fear itself becomes more debilitating than the limb loss.

I hate falling, but I am not fearful of it. Heaven knows I certainly have enough experience! In the past 18 months I have broken my wrist, twisted my back and sustained multiple road rashes from falls. I have also learned to run and to compete in a race, started to play on the equipment at the park with Robby and gone down some really fast hay slides.

I am currently paying the physical price of falling. Despite being sore, Robby and I have wonderful memories from Pumpkinville. He has come to expect that I will be there, by his side, as he plays and explores. The fear of falling is not going to keep me from engaging in what I consider to be safe activities.

This morning, after my ibuprofen kicks in, I am going to try to shake off my "disability blues." I slid and I fell, but I'm not hurt. I think I need to give myself a break and props for trying!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Pumpkinville Pain

Yesterday the weather was absolutely beautiful. It was one of those days that only occurs four or five times a year when the air is crisp and cool yet you don't need a jacket to keep warm. I knew that Robby and I were going to be spending the entire day outside, and I had the perfect surprise for him.

Robby has been going to our local animal park since he was born. He loves it and seems to know his favorite animals, the goats, by name. We have season passes for the Animal Park, and Robby always mourns when the season is over for the year.

Unfortunately the passes are only valid until the end of September, but the Animal Park stays open until November. During this time the Animal Park transforms into "Pumpkinville." The staff sets up hay slides, mazes and moon bounces for the event. We have never been to Pumpkinville because it is expensive and I have always been a tad bitter that our passes are no longer valid.

Yesterday, still feeling a high from the success of our pumpkin patch excursion combined with the beautiful weather, I decided to break down and take Robby to Pumpkinville. He was over the moon excited when I told him where we were going. He practically jumped into the car and frantically chatted as I drove.

After paying the high admission (I suppose I am still a little resentful) and greeting Robby's goat friends, we proceeded to the coveted festival area. Without hesitation Robby went running, full speed, up to the first slide. He stopped about 2/3 from the top and waited for me.

At first I thought that he was waiting because we were "best buddies" and that he wanted to go down the slide with me. My heart warmed as I approached thinking that he wanted to share the experience with me instead of going down the slide solo. As it turns out, he was waiting because the hill was too steep for him to climb unassisted. Unlike the Pumpkin Patch visited last weekend, Pumpkinville slides were not fitted with steps, handrails or ropes.

The climb to the top of the slide was steep. To make matters more difficult, the ground consisted of dry dirt loosely covered by straw. Yes, the steep incline was covered with dry straw. Straw, as it turns out, does not possess any traction qualities. In fact, it made the steep climb treacherous as my feet kept slipping out from under me.

I almost immediately slipped and fell. I wasn't prepared for the straw to slide as much as it did. Thankfully, I was not injured but I was embarrassed because I hate falling, especially in public. I felt less self-conscious when I saw adults and children slipping and falling all around me.

After I regained my composure, Robby and I resumed our sliding. We developed a system for climbing the impossible incline. We resembled goats as we utilized both our hands and feet for leverage, but it was effective and I thought it was safer. I felt both foolish and frustrated that I had to climb up a straw incline on all fours, but I knew that Robby was having a blast and I didn't want my complaining to take away from the special day. I kept smiling and climbing.

After several hours of Pumpkinville fun, I knew that the day was winding down. I agreed to let Robby go down the slide a few more times before we went home. I dreaded the climb, but I also knew how happy it was making Robby and I reasoned it was a good work-out and a good calorie burn.

As I was climbing, my prosthetic slipped on the straw. I tried to recover, but my attempts only seemed to contort my body as I fell. I learned that gravity can be a powerful force! I fell fast, and I came down hard. I slid, belly first, down the straw covered dirt hill before coming to a stop with the assistance of a rogue trash can.

I have a brush burn on my stomach, and I am still finding straw in personal places. My hip is sore and it is difficult to move my neck. My stump muscle is sore from my frantic attempts to regain my balance.

With that being my last slide of the day, we packed up and headed home. My body began to hurt more as the evening wore on. I ended up going to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription refill of muscle relaxers and pain medication. My body feels as if I have been through an auto accident.

I realize that Pumpkinville is a seasonal event and I never expected it to be completely handicapped accessible. It is, however, an annual event and the slide positions have never changed. Throwing straw down on top of a steep incline does not create a safe foot path, regardless of who is walking. There were no ropes or handrails, albeit temporary, to increase the safety of sliders.

Robby and I will return to the Animal Park in the spring, but we will not be returning to Pumpkinville. The slides are simply too dangerous and are not worth the risk. We will go to the Pumpkin Patch instead because, although I landed in a ditch at the end of the slide, I never got hurt or felt unsafe.

On a completely unrelated note, I came home from the pharmacy to discover that a circuit had blown downstairs. Both freezers were without power for an undetermined amount of time. I am not a happy AmputeeMommy at the moment!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Itchy Toe-itis

Yesterday it was if the stars had aligned to create the perfect opportunity for me to deep clean my painfully stained carpets. I was motivated to work on the carpets, partly because they were filthy but my main motivation was calorie expenditure. It is amazing how motivating house work can be when I view it as an extra work-out instead of a chore.

I also wanted to keep busy as a distraction technique. My little toe, which is no longer there, was so itchy that it bordered on painful. I tried all of my normal phantom sensation elimination techniques to no avail. I knew that keeping busy was my only option.

I have no idea why my absent little digit was so itchy yesterday. In the seven years that I have been an amputee I have never had a phantom experience for this duration. I woke up early with the itching and it only intensified throughout the day. Although annoying, I am grateful that it was itching and not pain!

Despite my efforts, pushing the carpet cleaner did not miraculously "scratch" the phantom itch. My cleaning project did keep me busy, which helped me deal with the annoyance. As a bonus, my bedroom carpets are clean!

Robby, who typically slows me down by his constant "helping," was occupied all day. I knew that he was going to be content all day and would rarely seek me out. A&E was showing a marathon of "Billy the Exterminator" which is his new favorite show. He can, and yesterday did, sit and watch it for hours without moving.

I realize that allowing Robby watch television for several hours so that I could clean my carpets will not nominate me for Mother of the Year. I swore that I should never let the television be my babysitter. I also promised myself that my child would never eat ice cream for breakfast and would never use a pacifier. Broken promises have become par for the course when it comes to my motherhood experience.

My toe itching faded as the evening progressed, and I am hopeful that it will be gone by morning. I still don't know why the itching occurred and that bothers me to some degree. I suppose I need to accept that sometimes weird things and feelings occur within the residual limb. In any case, thanks to the Billy the Exterminator marathon and my phantom sensations, I have clean carpets.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Personal Trainer

I've taken my "Biggest Loser-Amputee Mommy" commitment seriously. Despite the presence of chocolate cake and Cool Whip in my kitchen, I have remained strong. It hasn't been easy. I love cake!

I have been vigilant about my diet, eating whole grains and foregoing snacks at night. My meals are balanced and, if not filling, have been quasi-satisfying. For snacks I have been munching on enough carrot sticks to make a small community of bunnies happy.

In addition to playing with Robby outside for hours a day, I have continued my bike riding. Yesterday I rode 25 miles with relative ease. Although my calorie burn was high, it occurred to me that my body might need a "jolt" in order to jump start my weight loss. I have been riding the bike now for nearly four years and, although my legs are strong, my torso and arms are rather weak. Yesterday I decided to shake things up a bit-- literally if you consider the jiggling that accompanied my exercise efforts.

After my ride I headed upstairs and grabbed the television remote. Robby and I searched through the "exercise on-demand" offerings. Disregarding all titles that contained the words "boot camp, sexy or striptease" limited my options. I finally decided to give "Trim and Tone" a try.

Robby was excited to help me exercise and immediately took a position next to me. Upon seeing that the instructor was wearing a headband, he began pleading for me to pause the program. He went running back to the bedroom and proudly emerged wearing my Minnie Mouse ears and triumphantly waving a headband for me. I am sure that we were quite a sight for our neighbors.

I held two-pound weights and Robby finally agreed, despite his protests, to use soup cans in lieu of hand weights. Together we attempted to imitate the perky fitness instructor. Robby seemed oblivious to the fact that we were failing to keep up with her. He giggled non-stop as he found the expression "go for the burn" funny.

I was hoping that the focused exercise would tire Robby out a bit. Instead it served only to rev his little engine. My plan backfired. I was the one who was tired.

Robby has been begging to do the "tv exercises" again. I lied and told him that the show is on only once a day. I am not sure he totally believes me, but he finally accepted my explanation and it bought me time. I know that I'm going to be successful with my own version of "The Biggest Loser" because I have my own little personal trainer. Watch out Jillian and Bob. This kid can be relentless!

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Quest for the Perfect Pumpkin

Saturday morning Robby woke up, extremely early I might add, and immediately began to ask if we were going to the pumpkin patch. Scott and I mentioned that we might be going sometime over the weekend. Apparently the excitement of "maybe" going was enough to make Robby wake up early in anticipation!

Referring to the location as the "pumpkin patch" is deceiving and does an injustice to the size of this money-making operation. The patch is only a small part of an extremely large tourist oriented farm. In addition to animals, there were large slides, a corn digging station, several playgrounds and an elaborate corn maze. Robby was in farm heaven.

I have to admit that going down the slide tubes was fun! The steps were certainly a work-out, but the slide was fast and smooth. Unfortunately, the plastic landing area at the bottom of the slides was obviously designed to accommodate a child's rear, not mine. I consistently bypassed the plastic stopper, landing in a dusty ditch. It was easy to identify the adults who went down the slides throughout the day; we were the ones with the large dirt stains on the back of our pants.

Robby and Scott were both thrilled when we discovered the large corn maze. Personally, I never had a pressing desire to get lost in a field of corn, but I knew that I couldn't let my boys down. I put on a huge smile and asked the attendant for a map as we prepared to enter. The teenager laughed at me. Apparently maps are not used at corn mazes.

Undeterred, I followed my two eager explorers into the field. We let Robby be the "leader." It took all of three minutes for us to become hopelessly lost!

I had a realization when I was walking through the maze trying to locate the stupid red flag which marked the correct direction. Scott apparently was having the same thought because we both brought up the topic simultaneously. There was absolutely no way I would have been able to meander through the corn maze before my amputation.

I have had similar thoughts in the past, but I am always struck when they occur. I regret that I had an injury that necessitated the amputation, but I do not lament my choice. Before my amputation I was dependent upon crutches and in constant pain. The uneven terrain of the field would have made the the maze impossible.

On Saturday, walking through the field was effortless. Relying upon the unreliable navigational skills of our four year old "leader" extended our stay in the maze to well over 90 minutes. Robby assured me that we were not lost and that we were "right where we are supposed to be." My leg didn't hurt and I was having no problem walking. We had a blast and never questioned our pint-sized guide!

After emerging from the corn maze and refueling with some ice cream, we made our way to the pumpkin patch. Robby was in awe by the massive size of the field but quickly went to work on the task at hand. It turns out that he is discriminating when it comes to picking produce! After about 30 minutes he had located and Daddy had carried the three "most perfect pumpkins" from the field.

I tromped through two fields and a farm for over five hours on Saturday, but my leg never hurt. The fact that my amputation was the best option was reaffirmed by my ability to participate with my family. As we were tucking Robby into his race car bed, he complained that his face hurt. When asked why, he told us that his cheeks hurt because he was smiling all day.

We had the perfect day at the pumpkin patch! My leg was never an issue navigating through the various fields. I suppose I should admit that, at the end of the day, my cheeks were a little sore from smiling too!