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 18, 2011

The Good... and The Bad

Yesterday was a long day working in the booth. It's physically exhausting to stand within a 16 foot space for eight hours. I was mentally drained after smiling, answering questions and engaging in small talk for hours on end. When I finally made it back to my hotel room, all I wanted to do was crawl into bed and sleep--which is exactly what I did!

Standing in the booth I am afforded the opportunity to meet prosthetists from all over the world. I met so many practitioners who exuded love for their profession and their patients. I was touched by the compassion that they demonstrated as they sought products to help their patients reach their goals.

Unfortunately, I met with some prosthetists who seemed to be lacking both interest in learning and compassion for their patients. My heart sank as I spoke with some of these individuals. Simply put, I am astonished by the sheer number of really bad prosthetists.

I was told repeatedly that "computerized components aren't worth trying" and "I will never even let my patient try (fill in the blank)." One practitioner from the New England area informed me that he doesn't encourage his patients to learn about components and prosthetic options because he's "been doing this for 22 years and he will always know more."

Practitioners bragged to me about how much money they earn, remarking that they choose components that provide the highest profit margin. I was left speechless (which doesn't happen often) when a prosthetist actually referred to me as a "fly girl." When I asked him to explain, he told me that my job (patient model/ company Spokesperson) was "simply to be another member of the freak show that walks around this hall."

Yes, a prosthetist actually referred to a group of amputees as freaks. The fact that this man actually has a practice and sees patients scares me. My heart goes out to those who seek care from this man!

How many amputees are settling for poor prosthetic care? Apparently the number is higher than I realized. Thankfully I also interacted with a multitude of practitioners who were interested and excited to embrace innovations. I would feel comfortable having some of these individuals treat my friends and family. The good prosthetists outweigh the number of the inept, but it doesn't diminish the fact that some amputees are receiving sub-par care.

Innovations are occurring at a furious rate in the field of prosthetics. Now, more than ever, it is important for the amputee to become educated about components. If your practitioner refuses to discuss a product with you or is unwilling to explore other prosthetic options, seek care somewhere else.

We don't return to a hair dresser after we receive a bad haircut, yet many amputees continue to patronize prosthetic facilities that are creating ill-fitting sockets, manufacturing inappropriate prosthetics and are unwilling to consider patient input. One of the most important jobs of a prosthetist is to listen to the patient. If you aren't being heard, I urge you to find somebody who will listen. If you need help locating a new practitioner, let me know and I'll try to help.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

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Peer Discussions and Confessions

I enjoy working at these prosthetic conferences for a variety of reasons. Selfishly, I relish the time alone where I am allowed to order room service, walk around in my roomwith no pants and put whatever I want to watch on the television. I am able to sleep soundly with the knowledge that I don't need to listen for Robby.

When I am not working, my time is my own. I don't need to finish housework, make dinner or wash another load of clothes. Of course, a week's worth of these tasks will be waiting for me when I return.

I also find it refreshing to be among other amputees. I feel a sense of relaxation when I know that I am not the only prosthetic user in the room. Carbon fiber and titanium limbs are commonplace around the hotel, at least for this week! I am the norm, not the anomaly. It's a nice change!

I enjoy talking with other amputees, comparing experiences and discussing prosthetics. It amazes me how quickly a casual conversation can shift from "what type of foot do you use" to more personal confessions such as "I still can't look at myself naked in the mirror." I'm not sure if everybody working in the booth has a similar experience, but I tend to field a lot of personal questions.

Some things are simply instinctively understood by another amputee. As much as I try, I cannot accurately describe what it feels like to have an ill-fitting socket, or the frustration that is felt when nerve pain keeps me up at night. It is nice being around others who deal with similar issues.

Today I will spend the entire time working in the booth. I'm hoping that I will have the opportunity to explore to exhibition hall today. I do know that I will meet more interesting people with fascinating experiences. I am also sporting a brand new green headband in honor of St. Patrick's Day.

On a completely unrelated topic, I am missing Robby and Scott. This hotel is a family destination. My room overlooks the pool, including a water slide and waterfall. Robby would have loved it here!

Last year we had so much fun on St. Patrick's Day. Thankfully he doesn't understand calendars yet, so I can have the Leprechaun come to the house any day I pick. Knowing that doesn't make me miss him any less.

Oh well. I have another long day in the booth. Wish me luck and Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wimp or Introvert?

Yesterday I kissed my little boy good-bye, pulled my suitcase out of the trunk of my Mom's car and watched them drive away. Robby was upset and I am fairly confident that we both had tears in our eyes. I am going to be gone until Saturday night which is the longest I have ever been separated from him.

I later learned that his tears were fleeting and he smiled a giddy grin for the remainder of the day. My Mom took him to Bass Pro, a huge sporting goods store, where she bought him a real fishing pole in his favorite color--yellow. So much for missing his "best buddy!"

The sun was shining and the weather was warm when I arrived. I checked into the hotel at 2:00, and I immediately noticed the gorgeous pool area. The perfect place to soak up the sun and get a little exercise. Unfortunately, I left my swimsuit and water leg at home. Bummer!

Being in Orlando, I realize that I am surrounded by world famous attractions. Disney and its affiliate resorts, Sea World and a plethora of other fun destinations surround me. I had hours to explore and have fun.

The problem is that I don't enjoy doing "touristy" things by myself. I wish I could write about my afternoon adventures. The truth is, I pulled the black-out curtains and took a nap. I did enjoy the nap though!

I have concluded that I am either an introvert or simply a wimp. I become anxious when I am in new areas by myself. This is partly because I am an amputee woman; I feel more vulnerable. I know that I a female tourist with one leg is an easier mark. I detest feeling vulnerable, so I retreat to the safety of my hotel room.

My staying within the confines of my hotel has become a joke in my family. I don't bother to check the weather forecast before my trip because I'll never leave the hotel. I think I am leaning more towards the "wimp" label.

Today I have to work a session in the morning, but I won't be needed again until the evening. I will have the afternoon off. I am not doing any of the tourist destinations (they are both cost prohibitive and not fun solo) but I do vow to leave my hotel.

I wasn't sure what I was going to do or where I was going to go, but last night I found my answer. I was unpacking my suitcase when I discovered that I had apparently forgotten to pack underwear. On a five day trip, the lack of underwear could become an issue. I have even more motivation to get up the gumption to leave the boundaries of this hotel. Let the great underwear quest begin!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Orlando Bound

Today I catch a plane and fly to Orlando, Florida, and I will be staying until Saturday. This is the longest amount of time I have been away from Robby. I am sure I will enjoy the first few days, but I'll be ready to come home and see my little buddy by Thursday.

Robby was not happy when he learned about his Momom's trip. He immediately began to cry, pleading for me to stay home. Thankfully, his Nana called and asked him if she could buy him a fishing pole when he went to stay with her. Somehow my Mom always knows exactly what to do, and her timing is impeccable.

Upon hearing the promise of a fishing pole, Robby no longer seemed to lament my leaving. He actually pulled my suitcase down the hall and instructed me to start to put clothes in it. He told me to "get packing so that he can go to Nana's and get a yellow fishing pole." So much for being missed!

I will be spending the next few days in the booth at the AAOP Conference. I think I am one of the few people who actually relishes working the exhibition floor. I love meeting new people and introducing them to various prosthetic options.

I'm looking forward to doing some window shopping and, of course, I'll report back anything that seems interesting. If you are in the area, stop by and to say hi. Oh, send my Mom some good vibes as she takes care of Robby Rotten for me!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Should Have Known Better...

I had a rough day on Friday. My accident anniversary reared its ugly head and knocked me for a loop. I tried to avoid over-reflecting on the past and spent the afternoon playing with Robby and baking cookies.

I should have known better than to bake cookies when I'm sad. Friday night, when the house was quiet, I sought solace through the self-medication of homemade cookies. Robby woke up on Saturday and asked for a cookie. I lied and told him that Daddy ate them.

Saturday I resolved to have a better day. The sun was shining and I actually heard some birds singing. I managed to put the guilt of my cookie gorge, and making Scott the scapegoat, behind me as Robby and I headed outside to play.

He began frantically to plead his case to go down and "fish" in the stream. He even found his Froggy boots which I thought had been lost in the abyss of his closet. Incidentally, we also found the remnants of three cupcakes- minus the icing of course.

He doesn't have a fishing pole or bait, which really doesn't matter because we don't have any fish in the stream. At this age he doesn't seem to be concerned with details. We put on his Froggy boots, I grabbed my cell phone and we headed off to fish.

I sat on a fallen tree trunk and was contemplating the week that lies ahead. Robby was "fishing," a term defined as sticking a long stick into the water to dislodge and throw rotting leaves and mud from the stream bed. He caught a "super big one" and asked me to come see. He stood so proud with his prize collection of muddy leaves that were protruding off the edge of his stick. I got closer to admire his "catch."

I should have known better. He flung the large wad of rotting muck over his shoulder. I got a mouthful of stream gunk and slime.

After removing the wet funky debris from my nose, cheeks, hair and mouth and accepting Robby's hug of apology, we walked to another area of the stream. He wanted to visit Robby Island (a small piece of land on the other side of the stream) and he had a plan. He asked if he could scoot across the log.

I should have known better. He fell into the stream. Froggy boots don't provide a lot of protection from the water when submerged up to the hip.

With both of us covered with cold rotting leaves and mud, we ended our fishing adventure. Robby was stripped naked outside and immediately put into a bath. I washed my face and brushed the remaining leaf stems from my hair.
Still feeling some lingering guilt about eating all of his cookies, I asked Robby what he wanted for dinner. He asked me if he could pick. I said yes, and he jumped up and gave me kiss.

I should have known better than to let him choose dinner. He picked mashed potatoes and ice cream.

By the end of the weekend I felt like a parental failure. I had eaten his cookies and then lied and blamed it on his Daddy. I received a face full of mud. I watched Robby fall into a cold stream. I then fed him an unbalanced dinner of mashed potatoes and vanilla ice cream. I certainly wasn't going to get "mother of the year."

However, putting him into bed, Robby told me that he had the "bestest weekend of his whole life, and that is four years." He recounted his adventures, telling me that he loved baking cookies and we get to make more since Daddy thought they were so yummy. He felt bad for covering me with his "ginormous and messy fish," but that he really caught a big one because he's a good fisherman. He got to visit Robby Island and then he went swimming with the water bugs. He finished by telling me that I made him a delicious dinner that was "super duper yummy."

The same experiences, from two completely different perspectives. Looking back, I like Robby's version better! Maybe I will win Mother of the Year... after all, it depends on who is allowed to vote.