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, January 07, 2011

Fickle Fours

When Robby was born I began to envision what raising him would be like. I imagined a little boy on his best behavior,singing songs and learning his letters and numbers. I pictured us snuggling up to watch cartoons in the evening while wearing our matching pajamas. I always assumed that Robby would be a pleasant little boy.

Having survived the "terrible twos" and the "threatening to my sanity threes" I was looking forward to the "fantastic fours." His being a preschooler, I assumed that I would be able to employ logic with Robby about appropriate and inappropriate behavior. I was wrong!

Robby Rotten has been throwing temper tantrums that are worthy of an Oscar. He is defiant and is seemingly waking up in the morning with the sole purpose of making me miserable. He has begun to hit, push and, for some odd reason, lick me.

He has learned to scream into the intersecting walls of the time-out corner so that the noise echos. He seems oblivious to the "naughty" plaque that has been placed on the wall to reflect his behavior. Toys have been confiscated, privileges have been revoked and punishments have been enforced. I am beginning to feel more like a warden than a Mommy.

My anxiety increases when I have to take Robby Rotten into public places. The other day he began to hit me in the store. I reprimanded him and placed him in a make-shift time out corner. Every time a shopper walked by he began to sob loudly while frantically begging me to "not throw him into the trash again."

I am not sure where he came up with that plea, but it certainly was effective! He received sympathetic and loving glances while I was the recipient of scornful and judgmental glares. It is only January but I am assuming that I am no longer in the running for "Mother of the Year."

I have tried to talk with Robby about his behavior, explaining that he is hurting my feelings. I have tried to provide him with options for letting me know of his displeasure rather than his resorting to screaming and throwing items. My crying seemed to have success, but the results were short lived. We even resorted to popping balloons every time he misbehaved. We quickly ran out of balloons. I am feeling like a parental failure.

Despite the screaming and the tantrums, I have held my ground. I am hoping that Robby soon learns that life is more fun when he is behaving. Robby Rotten, please go away. I miss my sweet little boy.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Skin Tired...

Saturday my cousin is getting married, and I am making her wedding cake. I used to do wedding cakes more frequently, but now I reserve the "skill" for family and close friends. The cakes are a labor of love- I doubt many people realize how much time it takes to bake, ice and decorate the confectionery monstrosities.

Yesterday morning I woke up knowing that, in addition to everything else on my bulging to do list, I needed to bake a total of six cakes (three 2-layer cakes). My little baker would love the activity, but I was also fairly confident that his assistance would result in a messier kitchen. It is always more time consuming when I have a pint sized helper. I was correct on all counts!

While the cakes were baking we entertained ourselves by playing several rounds of balloon volleyball. After 20 minutes of running around to keep a balloon in the air, I realized that Robby had changed the rules. He was standing in the center of his Thomas the Train rug and only attempted to hit the balloon when it was within reach. I was the one running around the living room in circles. Smart boy, not so bright Momom!

Needing a break, I told Robby that we were going to change places. I was immediately informed that I should be chasing the balloon because I was wearing my running leg. I told Robby that he has two running legs and that he should be chasing as well. "No Momom, I don't have a running leg. I just have legs with skin. My skin legs are tired but you can use your running leg because it doesn't have skin and it won't get tired."

I was going to argue with his logic, but the timer went off and it was time to get another cake out of the oven. I was thankful that he became preoccupied by playing with the cat. I deflated the balloon and mixed the batter for another cake.

I began to think about how his little mind must be processing my "disability." Obviously he does not see me as handicapped or limited in any way. He knows that I have different legs for different purposes, but seems oblivious to the fact that this is unusual.

Robby prefers my running leg because he believes it endows me with superpowers. He has even, on occasion, hidden my Proprio foot so I was forced to wear my Mod III. With full confidence in my abilities while wearing the running leg, he expects me to run, jump and kick without tiring.

After baking all day, the cakes are on my counters waiting to be iced and decorated. My floor is covered with sugar, flour and spilled beaten eggs, waiting to be cleaned. I was exhausted. I guess Robby was right. While my skin covered body was tired, my running leg seemed unaffected by the bustling activities.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

What I've Learned...

Monday morning I woke up with unbridled enthusiasm to scrub and clean my house. Unfortunately, it is now Wednesday and most of the dirt from 2010 is still in residence. It feels as if my house has conspired against me.

Although I haven't been successful cleaning, I have gained a lot of important information. I learned how to remove a pea trap from under the bathroom sink. This trial and error plumbing exercise became necessary when Robby launched a small plastic sword down the drain.

I spent nearly two hours cramped under the bathroom cabinet with a wrench. After the first hour I began to feel dizzy and nauseated. Moving the bottle of bleach, which was situated under my nose, seemed to cure my symptoms.

After 110 long minutes, I realized that I should have been pushing the wrench in the opposite direction. I spent a long time tightening the very bolt that I was trying to remove. Two strong pushes on the wrench, in the correct direction, and the trap was removed. The sword has been rescued from the drain and banned from the bathroom! Incidentally, I also learned that a towel should be placed under the pipe before it is removed or you will be covered with dirty, slimy odoriferous water.

I learned that the electricity should always be turned off when working with outlets and switches. After my shower, which was necessitated by the unplanned dirty water bath I experienced from removing the pea trap, I tried to plug in my hairdryer. I noticed that the faceplate on the outlet was loose.

Not wanting to put off quick repairs, I grabbed my screwdriver. "Boom!" The outlet exploded. The faceplate flew through the room and the plastic blew off of the outlet. I couldn't feel my thumb and pointer finger for nearly three hours.

The exploding outlet necessitated that I learn how to replace an electric outlet. After all of the electricity was shut off, and once the feeling returned to my fingers, I meticulously wrapped the appropriate wires around the designated screws. After about 20 minutes and with my fingertips becoming sore from pushing on the hard wires, I learned that needle nose pliers really do work! The electric was turned back on and my success was revealed. The outlet is functional, hasn't exploded (yet) and is currently being used to power my coffee pot.

I also discovered that the gasket seal inside a front loading washer is important. Should any folds or kinks develop, water comes pouring through the door onto the laundry room floor. It is more difficult to mop up the water when a delighted four year old is happily stomping in the make-shift swimming pool on my floor.

I learned that Crayola lies. The paints cannot be easily removed from fabrics and fibers. I spent a long time scrubbing the red happy faces that were painted on Robby's bedroom carpet. To the disappointment of my little Rembrandt, the smiles are now a light pink and failed to make Momom "super happy."

Yesterday's work issues kept me on the phone for more time than I would like to admit. Robby was becoming demanding and loud. I learned that tossing him a can of icing and a spoon will keep him occupied and quiet for about 15 minutes. After that time, the sugar begins to kick in, hence the painting on his bedroom floor.

Someday my cleaning will be done. For now, I'll be happy if I can take a day or two off from learning new things. The impromptu lessons have been exhausting and frustrating!

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Dude, What Happened to Your Leg?

Before the holidays I received emails from two new amputees posing similar questions. With their amputations being so new (each under a year), both ladies were anticipating visiting with distant relatives and spouse co-workers who were unaware of the limb loss. Wanting to avoid lengthy accident stories, both new amputees wanted advice on how to answer the unavoidable questions without dwelling or providing too many details. I have found that my answers to the "What happened to your leg?" question often are dependent upon a number of variables. When my amputation was new, my relationship to the person posing the question, the social situation and my mood all impacted my answers.

Typically, I simply explain that I had an accident and, despite the doctor's efforts, we had to amputate. I have mastered the art of changing the topic after my responses leaving little time for follow up questions. After eight years, my answers have become somewhat rote.

Occasionally, after I provide my standard response, I am bombarded with more invasive and, quite frankly inappropriate, questions. Some people want to know every detail and seem oblivious to my body language. I have had more than one encounter where I have been told that I should have sought a different doctor and that "they never would have amputated." I hate judgmental people!

When my inquisitor is especially pushy and I am in a "witty" mood, I have been known to spin elaborate stories. I remember telling one salesclerk that my foot was crushed by the Pope Mobile when the Pontiff was visiting Baltimore. I have claimed that I lost my leg due to a snake bite in the Amazon and during the Iditarod race in Alaska. (I would not recommend this method if the individual is within your or your spouse's social circle, but it certainly is fun to do every once in awhile!)

While explaining my injury to adults is easy, I struggled with finding the right words when dealing with children. Inquisitive by nature, I am often approached by children asking me about my foot. They ask numerous questions and, unlike their mature counterparts, actually seem interested in the answers!

I want to provide a truthful answer in terms that would not frighten a child. I worry that simply saying, "I was in an accident" might cause a particularly sensitive child to become fearful of suffering a similar fate. It took a long time for me to hone my response.

Whenever a child asks about my limb loss, I always give the same explanation. "I was in an accident. The doctors tried to fix my foot but they couldn't so they gave me a new one. Isn't it cool? I can do everything that you can do, but I get to take it off."

Sometimes the subject of my limb loss becomes awkwardly avoided, especially in a new social situation. I typically diffuse the tension by bringing attention to the "elephant in the room." I found that making a small joke, or an off-hand reference to my prosthesis can make the uneasiness evaporate. Sometimes other people just need to know that I am okay and that I'm not going to break down if the topic is brought up.

I'm not offended when I am asked about my amputation. I have become accustomed to the questions and, in a way, I have come to expect them. Having my responses both rehearsed and ready has helped me navigate the social minefield relatively unscathed.

Monday, January 03, 2011

New Year Clean

For whatever reason I didn't fully embrace the Christmas spirit this year. I tried to feel festive. I baked cookies, we made ornaments and we decorated the tree. I played carols and watched Christmas movies with Robby. I even wore reindeer antlers in public on a regular basis!

I had numerous plans for this holiday that never materialized. Somehow time just got away from me, and Christmas came too quickly. I hate to admit this, but I'm glad that the season is over. Faking the Christmas spirit has been too much pressure!

Scott has been home for the entire week for Christmas break. While it has been nice having him home, and he certainly needed a break from work, his presence has disrupted my routine. Laundry is piled up and my house is filthy. Every time I start to clean I am asked, "Why are you doing that?" Apparently he operates under the perception that the cleaning fairy visits in his absence!

Typically I wait until after New Year's to remove the holiday decorations. This year, I took everything down on the 29th. I was excited to take down the tree, put away the linens and get my house back in order. I put my collection of Christmas DVD's away and brought back Dr. Quinn and the Waltons (don't judge me).

After working for seven hours, my house has been purged of all things Christmas. My third hour into cleaning I realized that we, as a family, have become lazy about putting things away. I worked all day and never made it to the "dirt removal" portion of cleaning. Scott, lacking a resolution of his own, has been assigned one. Whenever possible, items must be put away after they are used. Robby has been given the same resolution, although I am doubtful that it will be kept by a four year old!

Scott lamented returning to work this morning. I had to try to refrain from being too gleeful as I kissed him goodbye. I made sure he had driven away before commencing my dance of joy!

I plan on spending the entire day cleaning and scrubbing my house. l am feeling an uncharacteristic sense of excitement about getting out my cleaners and scrubbing all day. There is something oddly liberating knowing that I am removing last year's dirt and creating a fresh start. I suppose I am desperate to regain a sense of control and order in my life. I have resolved that, once my home is clean, I plan on keeping it that way- with the help of my boys!

I'm putting on my tiara (a must have accessory when heavy cleaning is involved) and I'm getting to work. It's me vs. the dirt. Wish me luck!