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, February 11, 2011

Form or Function?

I recently found an article which featured a prototype arm prosthesis. The photo of the prosthesis intrigued me immediately because instead of attempting to mimic the form and shape of the limb, the designer took a new approach: the prosthesis did not resemble an arm but a tentacle from an octopus.

From the photo featured in the article, I immediately became fascinated. The tentacle arm designer apparently made no attempts to tweak her design to resemble a human shape. From her perspective, function was more important than form.

I began to think, would people really use a tentacle shaped arm if it restored function? Would I be willing to walk around with a fin or corkscrew shaped prostheses if it worked better than a foot/leg shaped prostheses?

When I first became an amputee, I was adamant about wearing a cosmetic cover. I remember being self-conscience about my prostheses, and I didn't want anybody to notice. At that point, looking like a "real leg" was paramount.

Had the Proprio Foot been available at the time, I suspect I would have dismissed the technology. After all, one of the drawbacks of this ankle remains its incompatibility with a cosmetic cover. In fact, not only must the ankle be exposed and uninhibited in order to work properly, a relatively large battery must be adhered to the socket.

As I became more comfortable in my new body, my concern about how others perceived me faded. After 18 months I ripped off the cosmetic cover. I no longer cared what other people thought. I was an amputee, but I was not ashamed. Function became more important.

I have learned to view my prosthetic legs as "tools" rather than a limb "replacement." I will wear any prosthetic that feels comfortable and restores function lost by my amputation. Of course, legs and feet are easy to disguise when I don't want to be obvious.

I would like to think that I would proudly embrace a tentacle arm if I was an upper extremity amputee. I wear my various legs with pride. (Of course, I know that I always have the option of wearing pants to avoid stares.) It would take a lot of courage to choose form over function when the prostheses is so visually different than the norm. I am not sure I'm that brave.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


I was diagnosed with moderate osteoporosis in September. At that time, I was told that I needed "swift" treatment to thwart further damage. Apparently "swift" has a different definition among medical professionals. I finally received my first treatment yesterday, a mere 5 months after the diagnosis.

Yesterday I packed up Robby and we headed for my first infusion treatment. Armed with a fully charged Leapster, a book of mazes and a bag full of Goldfish crackers, I was hoping that Robby would be both amused and occupied.

With a bag full of distractions, Robby and I went to the hospital. I registered and was sent into a dressing area to change my clothes. Yes, I had to strip down and put on a gown (I was permitted to keep my socks and underwear on) to receive osteoporosis medicine!

Since I had nobody to watch Robby, he came to the changing area with me. I tried to undress quickly so that Robby wouldn't notice. He noticed. He began chanting "you look naked" and bombarding me with questions about why my legs were "jiggly." I finally relinquished the Goldfish to occupy his mouth.

After slipping into the ultra-breezy gown, Robby and I were directed to an infusion chair. The nurse began asking me the questions on her form. When she asked, "How did you lose your leg?" Robby looked at her and responded, "Momom didn't lose her leg. See, Momom's leg is right here, on her stump."

The IV treatment was easy and, with the exception of the needle, was pain free. Robby was well-behaved and actively engaged with his maze book. I was relieved that I didn't have to contend with Robby Rotten while tethered to an IV pole!

If you are a lower extremity amputee, please be aware of the risks of developing osteoporosis. 100% of all lower extremity amputees develop a loss of bone density. Uneven weight distribution is the culprit and, despite gait training, the effects cannot be completely avoided. Being a woman increases the risks of developing full blown osteoporosis.

One IV treatment once a year will halt the advancement of my bone loss. In fact, since I am still relatively young, I can regain some of the bone which has been lost. When caught early, the loss of bone density can be easily treated. In this case, ignorance is not bliss. Please talk to your doctor and get tested.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011


I have been writing a blog for my prosthetist for the past several months. He and I typically speak a few times a month to develop ideas for posts, and a few weeks ago he asked me to research and write about acupuncture for phantom nerve pain.

During my research I uncovered a lot of information that I want to share. I know through email and other cyber conversations that many of my readers have considered the treatment, but everyone expressed the same concern and hesitancy about having needles placed into their residual limb.

To be honest, I have toyed with the idea of going for acupuncture treatments. Although I don't have a severe pain problem, I do have occasional flare ups that drive me crazy and make me feel miserable. The prospect of having a non-narcotic yet effective remedy is enticing. Alas, I am not keen on needles so I never pursued the treatment.

Researching for the other blog, I was surprised to learn that the needles are NEVER to be placed into the residual limb. In fact, I called several local acupuncturists in my area who cautioned that the amputee should leave the office if the residual limb is suggested as the treatment site.

For acupuncture to be most effective to treat phantom nerve pain, the scalp and the ear lopes are the optimum treatment site. I never would have guessed this, which is why I am sharing the information. Needles are subcutaneously placed strategically on the scalp or earlobes of the amputee. The needles are turned periodically throughout the session and are in place from 10 to 30 minutes.

While I'm still not crazy about the idea of needles (although I've been told numerous times that it does not hurt), knowing that my stump wouldn't be punctured during the treatment makes acupuncture a more desirable option. I've read glowing reviews from amputees who swear by acupuncture for treating their phantom pain. After reading the testimonials, and learning that the residual limb is not manipulated, I'm almost willing to submit to becoming a human pin cushion.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

My Two Cents

Last year in an attempt to financially contribute to my family, I tried to monetize my blog. I reasoned that actually making a small income from my writing would be a good thing! I tried various ad venues, each with poor results. I was not pleased with the quality of the ads being displayed (pet caskets come to mind) and I thought that the blog looked cluttered and tacky.

Finally, I settled on a small search link from amazon.com. When an individual clicks on the link and makes a purchase, I receive a small percentage of the price. My blog is also available for subscription through Amazon.com for the Kindle, and I receive a percentage of each subscription. I wrote a post introducing the Amazon.com link but I never heavily promoted its use. Since the earnings are deposited directly into our savings account, I never tracked the amounts.

Last week our mailbox overflowed with various tax documents. I was excited when I saw the form from Amazon.com, anxious to see what my profits for the year had been. After all, last year I wrote 292 posts. I was proud to see how much I contributed to the family income.

I opened the envelope. I wasn't sure if I wanted to laugh or cry. My blog truly is a labor of love--as demonstrated by my earnings. I earned a whopping $10.20 last year. This works out to be approximately 3.5 cents per blog.

Last year, I earned a pizza with my blogging income. Then I was reminded that I owed taxes on the earnings. So, in actuality I might have earned enough for a frozen pizza!

Be assured that I do not write the blog for compensation (obviously), but to reach out to everyone who may be looking for a mom's view of life as an amputee. I will continue to write, but I won't count on the income to pay my electric bill! You will, of course, be getting more than my two-cent's worth!

Monday, February 07, 2011

Happy Birthday Charlie!

It is hard to believe that it has been a year since we adopted a kitten for Robby. Charlie Cat, although Robby still calls him a "baby kitty," has grown into a large cat. Despite his imposing size, we could not have brought a better feline into our family.

Charlie has proven to be patient and loving. He simply goes limp as he allows Robby to pick him up and carry him through the house. I don't know of another cat that would tolerate being pulled in a wagon throughout the house. I could be wrong, but Charlie seems to enjoy being stuffed into a lidded box so that "Magician Robby" can pull him out.

The mere mention of Charlie's birthday excited Robby. Before I knew it, we were hosting a cat birthday party on Sunday. He invited Mr. Bill and his little friend from down the street. I was asked to bake a cake and a special treat for Charlie.

I told Robby that we would buy Charlie some cat treats at the store for his birthday, but my little party planner protested. "Momom, you make special treats for me because you love me. I love Charlie and I want to make him a special treat, not buy them at the store." It was impossible to argue with that logic.

After researching online, I found a recipe for cat treats, and we went to the store to secure the necessary ingredients (I don't keep sardines in my pantry) to make Charlie "super yummy fish treats." I guess I should mention that I detest most things fish related.

I immediately realized that we were going to have an issue when the dough was being mixed. The scents of tuna (with oil), sardines, anchovy paste and clam juice do not mingle well. Robby was eager to help, until he caught a sniff of the odor. He immediately pinched his nose and exclaimed "That smell is going to break my nose. I'm outta here!" I was left rolling and cutting the cat treats by myself.

I didn't think that anything could be worse than the smell of the fish cookie dough. And then we put the cookies into the oven, and I realized I was wrong. The odor of baking fish cookies could possibly be the most putrid smell ever. I was surprised that we didn't have every stray cat in a five mile vicinity scratching at our door.

I spent the time before Charlie's birthday party baking a loaf of bread and two cakes. I wasn't hungry, nor was I expected a crowd. I was simply trying to eliminate the horrid fish cookie odor. It didn't work. My house smelled like a rotting loaf of fish bread.

Our party guests did not stay long. Everybody claimed that they needed to get home before the Superbowl. I'm fairly confident that the smell of my house hastened their departure.

Robby had a wonderful day celebrating Charlie's birthday. Charlie, always a trooper, wore his party hat and played with the balloon strings and his new feather toy. He loves his kitty treats, but they are going to be rationed. I don't plan on making them again until I can open up the windows while they cook!


1 can of tuna with oil
8 anchovies mashed up (we used anchovy paste)
3 T clam juice
1/2 can of sardines, chopped with juice
1 cup of whole wheat flour
1 beaten egg
enough water to make a dough (it took me almost 1/2 cup)

Mix the fish dough together. Roll out and cut into bite sized pieces. (I would recommend rolling the dough on parchment paper because, as I discovered, the fish juice permeates into the counter top making the smell linger.) Bake at 325 until hard and dried (about 30 minutes). Hose your kitchen down with Febreze to try to eliminate the rank odor.