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 25, 2011


The past 48 hours have been a whirlwind. Yesterday I packed up Robby and drove to Pennsylvania to be with my family. When I wasn't at the hospital, I was chasing around my sister's little cherubs (and Robby), trying to keep them from creating total destruction on my mom's house.

I've been in constant motion since my sister's stroke. I suppose that keeping busy is good- I certainly feel more useful when I am able to contribute. It has been two days, but I'm only now feeling the gravity of the situation.

My sister was sleeping when I arrived at the hospital. I was thankful for the quiet time in her room so that I could gather my thoughts before she woke. I was nervous about what to expect. I've known my sister to be a certain way for my entire life and, in an instant, she was different. I am embarrassed to admit it, but I was scared.

Although Sheri's speech has been affected, I was pleased with the clarity. I expected it to be much worse. She sounds like she is intoxicated as she tries to formulate her thoughts and her words.

Her right side has been greatly affected by the stroke, but her sense of humor remains intact. When I asked her if she could isolate her fingers on her right hand, she simply looked at me and smiled (with half her face). She slowly yet deliberately responded, "Like this?" She then flipped me the bird with her left hand. Although her body is impaired right now, she is clearly intact. I've never been so happy to be flipped off in my life!

The doctors suspect that the stoke is the result of a blood clot deep in her brain. We don't know the reason nor do we have a clear prognosis. It is clear that she is going to require a lot of rehabilitation and that a long path to recovery lies ahead.

We certainly never anticipated this journey, but I suspect that nobody ever has "survive a stroke" on their life to-do list. Sheri is strong and I know that she will do her best to regain her skills. Although I know that she will be okay, I would be lying if I didn't admit that I feel heartbroken and worried.

I typically don't post on the weekend, but I will provide updates in the coming days. Tiffany (my niece) will be coming home with me to Virginia for awhile, and the two younger boys will be staying with my Mom. I want to thank everybody for their prayers and support. It has helped me to know that so many people care about what my family is experiencing right now.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

My Sister

Yesterday I received news that was so scary that, upon hearing it, made me feel like I was suffocating. I learned that only an hour after speaking with her on the telephone, my sister Sheri suffered a stroke. She is 39 years and the mother to three small children.

True to our habit since we both became stay at home mom's, I spoke with Sheri on the phone yesterday before I went to exercise. She sounded chipper and happy and never complained about anything feeling amiss. I told her that we'd talk later and hung up the phone. I received a call from my Mom an hour later, telling me that my sister was en route to the hospital. It is amazing how life can change so drastically in an instant.

Apparently Sheri was driving and suffered a severe headache. She phoned her husband who urged her to pull over. She parked her van in the parking lot of the Home Depot where her husband rushed to her side. An ambulance was immediately called.

The hospital treated her with medication that, if administered within four hours of the event, is supposed to minimize the damage of the stroke. She was airlifted to a larger facility. Now, all we can do is wait. And pray.

Sheri can't move the right side of her body, and her speech is slurred and difficult to understand. We're told that the fact that she is trying to speak is a positive sign and I am holding on to that nugget of hope. We won't know anymore for a few days. I hate waiting. I've never been known for my patience!

My mom is watching my niece and nephews, working her "Nana magic" to keep them happy and occupied. (Jacob is sporting another leg cast which has greatly limited the options for entertainment.) I'm on phone tree duty, dispersing sparse information to family and friends. I wish that there was more that I can do. I feel so utterly helpless.

I've written about my sister and her family in the past, most recently in an essay I wrote for a radio dream giveaway. (I'm still a little disappointed that my essay was not chosen.) After a myriad of obstacles, her family was finally starting to rebound financially and emotionally. Sometimes life seems so unfair.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Elsie... Yes, Again.

In the past I've written about my frustrations with my Workman's Comp insurance adjuster. I've assigned her the name of "Elsie" to protect her identity, although I do not think that she is deserving of this courtesy. Elsie is also an amputee which makes her actions and treatment of me even more despicable.

I consider myself to be a relatively low-need amputee. I have my prosthetics, and my limb health has been stable. Yes, there is the nagging bone spur/ bursa that I need to address medically at some point, but because I haven't broached my doctor about it, the insurance company is unaware of this problem. As far as Elsie is concerned, my needs have been minimal.

My dealings with Elsie are limited to twice a year--when I need new liners. I delay the request because my interactions with her lead to frustrations, headaches and, inevitably tears. My commonplace request of a new prosthetic liner always involves mountains of paperwork, dozens of unreturned phone calls and a plethora of "misplaced" faxes. Historically, my requests are only approved when my lawyer has to intervene.

I resent having to get legal counsel involved for the acquisition of my liners. I am not asking for anything extravagant, nor am I requesting something that is unusual for an amputee. Because Elsie is also an amputee, I remain shocked that I am put through the paperwork ringer in order to obtain my liners. In my biased opinion, Elsie has become nothing more than a whore for the insurance company.

I was hoping that I would not have to write about this topic again. Unfortunately, I continue to encounter the same barriers to receiving approval for basic prosthetic care. I consider myself to be a well-adjusted amputee, but these insurance battles feel like salt being rubbed into a wound.

I requested my new liners in October. Yesterday I received a phone call that the liners have finally been approved and that I would be receiving them this week after a wait of 4.5 months. Of course, considering that their job seems to be delaying payment and making my life as an amputee difficult, I suppose that Elsie is probably employee of the month.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Spring Fever...

Last week we were basking in 75 degree temperatures. Robby was happily digging in the dirt, and I was able to work in the yard. Forgetting that it was still February and choosing to believe the spring-like feeling in the air, I gleefully packed up the winter clothes and put the sled away.

Obviously, Mother Nature is menopausal. These weather mood swings have been severe this year! Today I find myself digging through my garage in order to find the winter sundries that I stowed. Robby was over the moon excited to find snow blanketing our yard this morning.

I didn't believe the weather forecast, and I simply ignored the winter weather warnings that were issued. How could we have another snowstorm so quickly after the wonderful warm weather? I guess I was in denial.

Of course, yesterday there was no denying the nagging pain in my stump that typically signals a massive weather shift. I woke up with my leg in a cramp and the sensation persisted throughout much of the day. I have become a human barometer.

Yesterday morning, Robby woke up early and excitedly told me that he wanted to "watch cartoons and eat pancakes, bake yummy cookies, go to Jumping Jimmy's and then roast a chicken." I took one step in my prosthetic and knew that his expectations were not going to be met. I wasn't going to be able to comfortably walk or stay on my feet for any length of time.

Like all mom's, I adapted. Robby enjoyed Aunt Jemima microwave pancakes and watched cartoons. I told him that Jumping Jimmy's was closed (I lied) but I did help him make an Easy Bake Oven cake. I was told that the chicken nuggets made (reheated) for dinner were delicious!

Today my leg is feeling better, and my recovery is just in time. We have driveways to clear and sidewalks to shovel, hills that need to be sledded down, and snowballs to be thrown. This could be our last snowfall of the season so we are going to make the best of it. Of course, I am sure that my residual limb will let me know when the weather will shift again!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Resolution Reaffirmed

If I remember correctly, my New Year's resolution was to take better care of myself. I vowed to give myself time to relax and simply enjoy life with my family. I recognized that in order to be happier and healthier, taking an occasional "Peggy break" was not selfish and promised to renew myself with a break on a regular basis.

Unfortunately stress and anxiety have reared their destructive heads during the weeks since my well-meaning commitment. I've been busy every moment in hopes that I would become so tired that I would be able to sleep. Exhausted, I fall into bed to find myself unable to drift off. I've been running on fumes and caffeine. Like 90% of the population, I've failed to keep my New Year's resolution.

This past weekend, Robby and I visited my mom in Pennsylvania. This was my first visit in months that I didn't have a lengthy "to do" list. With no places to visit and with it too windy to work outside, I was left in an unusual situation. I had nothing to do on Saturday.

My mom urged me to go downstairs to relax and to watch a movie. I protested because I did not want to leave her with the responsibility for watching Robby. I was then issued a stern yet loving motherly directive. I begrudgingly went downstairs, leaving Robby and his Nana to their own devices.

With the exception of being sick or recovering from a surgery, it has been years since I've taken the opportunity to simply sit and watch a movie. I was able to watch what I chose without making apologies. I chose "About a Boy" because it stars Hugh Grant and, well, he's cute.

After about 15 minutes of fretting, I began to lose myself in the movie. I wasn't thinking about my typical stress triggers. In fact, I wasn't thinking at all, and it felt wonderful!

Robby and my mom were having such a good time that I was informed that my matinee had turned into a double feature. I was handed a glass of water and told to return to watch another movie. I didn't hesitate to accept the reprieve.

I immediately fell into the storyline of Billy Elliot. At times I wanted to stand up and dance, but I knew that I would probably get hurt. (I really wish I could dance!) The movie ended and I was left both relaxed and smiling, two attributes that have been scarce in the past weeks.

To my delight, Saturday night I was able to sleep-- in fact I slept for 11 straight hours! Feeling refreshed has reminded me how I have been neglecting to take care of myself. The simple act of allowing myself to indulge in watching a movie, without worrying about occupying Robby or taking care of another chore, was enough to help me recharge.

It's not New Year's, but I think that this is a good time to recommit to my failed resolution. I may not always have the chance to sit and watch an entire movie, but I need to find the time to take care of myself without feeling guilty. I deserve to always feel this refreshed! Thanks, Mom-- I guess you still know best.