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, March 04, 2011

Mommy Guilt

This morning I find myself waking up in a hotel room in South Carolina. This is a short trip and I'll be returning home today. Robby, however, did not find solace in the fact that I'll be coming home soon.

To say that Robby did not handle my departure well would be an understatement. For the first time, he had tears as he kissed me good-bye. He pleaded for me to stay, emphatic that I needed to bring him along so that somebody could "keep an eye on me." He begged for me to stay home for a "snow day" and then asked if I could put him in my suitcase. Tugging at my heartstrings, I was reminded that we were best buddies and that "best buddies always stay together because that's what best buddies do."

It was hard to leave him. I watched my sad little boy looking at me through my mom's window, seeing me drive away. I can't be positive, but I'm fairly certain I saw a tear stream down his little cheeks. I turned off the radio and drove away in silence.

As soon as I turned the corner, I pulled the ponytail out of my hair and I cranked up "Celebrate" on my car stereo. While I felt sad leaving Robby, it was hard for me to contain my excitement. After the past 10 days, the prospect of sitting in a hotel room by myself has been dangling in front of me like a luxury vacation.

My sister has been making progress everyday. Despite her improvements, I would be remiss if I didn't admit that seeing her struggle makes me sad. It's difficult watching those whom you love experience pain. I wish that I could magically take all the "boo boos" away, both physical and emotional, as easily as I can with Robby and a CARS band-aid. I know that I can do nothing more than offer support, babysit and contribute to the meal brigade.

Although I'm working on this trip, I am embracing this opportunity as a chance for me to escape for a few hours. As selfish as it may sound, being alone and not having to take care of anybody feels wonderful. I feel as if I left all of my worries, troubles and stresses at home. If I could only keep my "Mommy guilt" from intruding on my quest for relaxation!

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Completely Normal

It occurred to me yesterday that certain phrases are uttered in my home that are not commonplace in other families. For instance, I doubt that other children are instructed to "bring back Momom's leg right now" or that they are told to "put the screwdriver down and stop playing prosthetist." Those phrases roll off my tongue so naturally that I don't think twice about saying them!

Robby, of course, is unaware that references to a prosthetic leg are out of the ordinary. When we are at the grocery store he'll ask me if I have my running leg on so that we can race to the milk. Playing soccer at the park, he will remind me to kick with my "other leg so that the fake one doesn't fly through the air again." Typical to his pattern, Robby is oblivious to the second looks that we garner after he utters those unusual words.

Yesterday I was shopping at Target with Robby. Our quick little shopping trip was going on 45 minutes, with the first 30 devoted to "just looking" at the CARS toys. I was hurrying through the aisles, trying to get home to start dinner when Robby jumped in front of the cart.

"Momom, STOP!" Not only did I stop, but the three shoppers around us halted as well. Everybody stood still and all eyes were on Robby. After what seemed like five minutes but was, in reality, probably only 10 seconds, my little crossing guard spoke.

"Everybody, just stay calm. There is no need to panic, everything is going to be just fine. Nobody move even one teeny tiny step. There is a stink bug right there (he points to the tile floor about two feet away)." He then gingerly stepped towards me and reached for my hand. He led me to the stink bug, and then faced his audience. "Don't worry. Momom is going to stomp on the stink bug with her running leg. It won't hurt at all because it is made out of material. It is not bones. See?" (He then proceeds to lift up my pant leg to show my prosthetic.)

Instinctively I stomped on the odoriferous little pest with my prosthetic. As I turned toward my cart I noticed the small gathering of uncomfortable witnesses. Apparently they were not accustomed to having a prosthetic offered up as a bug exterminator.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

It's OKAY to Grieve!

I remember my emotions being frayed in the days leading up to the first anniversary of my amputation. I was proud of my accomplishments yet, despite my efforts, I couldn't feel completely happy. It seemed wrong to celebrate the loss of a part of my body, albeit broken and causing me pain.

On my first anniversary I refused to talk about the significance of the date. I maintained my stoic I'm-doing-great facade, refusing to admit to the pain that I was feeling. I am not a good role model for how to deal with the first anniversary. I would have been better off dealing with my emotions rather than bottling them up.

I've written before about spending the first few years of my amputation in denial. While I knew that my limb loss was real, I refused to admit to the emotional toll that the amputation had taken. I felt compelled to remain upbeat and optimistic, accepting and "just fine" for everybody around me. I knew that they had been through hell and back with me and never wavered in their support or love. Because of this, I didn't want to add to their stress burden by admitting that I was anything but well-adjusted and happy.

It took me a long time to admit to myself and to my family and friends that I mourned my foot. While I never regretted the decision to amputate, I grieved for the person that I was before the accident. My life was forever changed, and it took me years to realize that it was okay to miss being a normal limbed, pain free young adult.

One of the benefits that my blog has brought me lies in the people who have entered my life. I have had the opportunity to meet so many caring, compassionate, quirky and wonderful people. Although not all of my readers are amputees, most who contact me are dealing with their own limb loss.

A friend of mine, who happens to read this blog, recently marked her first year as an amputee. She was in a situation similar to mine. She sustained an injury and, despite years of limb salvaging surgeries, finally concluded that her best quality of life would result from amputating part of her leg.

During the past year I have watched her grow and flourish. She has let me experience her triumphs and joys. I regret the circumstances that led to our friendship, but I consider myself fortunate that she entered my life.

Anniversaries are difficult. I try to use the date as an opportunity to look back on my accomplishments and achievements during the year that passed. Of course, if that doesn't work having a slice of cake might help too!

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Turned Ankle

Last week I was reminded that life can change in an instant. My priorities Wednesday morning of cleaning my kitchen and scrubbing my bathroom quickly became afterthoughts as my attention shifted to caring for my sister and her children. In a moment. the cleanliness of my house became inconsequential. I was reminded of what is truly important in life.

Sheri could have died or faced a lifetime of disability. Because of the quick actions of the paramedics and emergency room physicians, she received the clot breaking medication quickly. She sustained no permanent brain damage from the event and, with time, she will make a full recovery. She had a stroke on Wednesday yet was released from the hospital on Saturday. I find that remarkable.

My niece Tiffany spent the weekend with me and has been safely returned home. She and Robby had a great time playing and I know that he misses his little partner in destruction. I loved hearing them laugh, especially during this stressful time. However, I am amazed at how much chaos two little people can create in a relatively short amount of time!

Tiffany and Robby have a common love for all things arts and crafts related. In an attempt to occupy busy hands and to help minimize the stress that my niece was feeling, I opened up my craft supply drawer and gave them free access. I created an art utopia!

My two little artists happily created for hours. Unfortunately, I now have glittered floors, Play D'oh is encrusted in my dining room table, and I find myself trying to find out how to remove not-so-washable marker from my cat's fur. Beads are littering my living room floor and I found a pipe cleaner in my dishwasher. I sat on the couch yesterday and felt more than the cushion beneath me. I stood up to find that I sat on an open tube of blue glitter blue. I am now sporting a sparkling bum in my pajama pants!

I had planned on spending yesterday cleaning up the aftermath of Robby's extended play date. Apparently my leg had other plans for the day. As I walked throughout the house, my limb worsened. As strange as it sounds, by the afternoon it felt like I had somehow twisted my limb. It felt like a turned ankle, but obviously since the joint is no longer there, that couldn't be possible. Walking was painful.

My plans of cleaning were derailed by my non-existent twisted ankle. I ended up putting down the broom and cuddling next to Robby on the couch to watch cartoons. I was frustrated that my leg was hurting, but I was happy for the break.

Maybe my sore leg was the sign I needed to just slow down for a day or two and recharge. If I learned anything last week, it is that life is unpredictable. I need to learn to relax and just enjoy the moment. For what its worth, I also learned that, given enough time, a cat will eventually lick the purple marker (apparently non-toxic) off her white paws and blue glitter makes objects appear slightly smaller in the mirror!

Monday, February 28, 2011

My Hero... My Cousin

Saturday morning, my older cousin Bob became my hero. He was asked to help a stranger whom he will probably never meet in person. He asked for nothing in return, and I have no doubt he would have refused compensation had it been offered. He gave a family hope and perhaps saved a life. He donated his bone marrow.

Bob joined the bone marrow registry several years ago at the urging of Jen, his longtime girlfriend. Jen was battling leukemia and understood the importance of building a comprehensive donor base. Unfortunately, we lost Jen nearly two years ago. I know that a day doesn't pass where she is not missed.

On Friday night Bob received a phone call that he his bone marrow was needed. Immediately, we all thought of Jen when we were told the news. I have no doubt that she is proud of Bob. Jen's legacy is providing hope for another family who is fighting the battle of their lives to save a loved one. I can think of no greater tribute. I hope that donating his bone marrow in Jen's honor will help my cousin grieve his loss.

I imagine that Bob's bone marrow is the ammunition that this patient needs to win the war. Bob is also a cancer survivor and he is strong. so the recipient is going to be infused with the very best!

I registered to be a bone marrow donor several months ago. I was surprised at how easy the process was to become a member of the registry. About a week after completing the online application I received packet of information and two swabs in the mail. I swabbed the inside of my cheeks and sent the mailer back. I did not even have to pay for postage.

About a month ago I was called and asked to provide a blood sample. I was thrilled that I was a potential donor for stem cells. I had the blood drawn but I have not heard anything, so I am assuming that I was not a match.

If you have ever thought about placing your information on the bone marrow registry, you can learn about the process here. You never know- maybe somebody is waiting for you to save their life!

My Hero!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Quick Update

We have confirmed the cause of the stroke: a small hole in her heart which allowed a clot to travel to the brain. Of course, knowing the reason doesn't affect the outcome, but we will hopefully be able to prevent another event in the future. At least we have an answer.

My sister has been released from the hospital and is beginning rehabilitation. She is receiving OT and PT. Her speech is nearly restored. Her voice is weak but she is no longer difficult to comprehend. Some words allude her, but she is improving daily.

Her right side is weak but is not paralyzed. The doctors and therapists believe that she will regain full movement and strength. It is going to take time, and work, but she will be able to resume her activities.

We are thankful that the hospital physicians recognized the symptoms and administered the "clot busting" medication so quickly. We believe that saved her life, or at least saved her from a life of disability. The situation could be so much worse!