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, May 06, 2011

Mother's Day!

Since the Pirate Cruise last Sunday, my little guy eats and breathes everything piratical. He insists on being referred to as "Pirate Robby" and poor Charlie Cat has been forced to walk the plank more times than I can count. I've used my entire eye liner pencil maintaining his pirate mustache that was painted on his face last week. I'm going to be forced to venture into lipsticks if I don't get to the store soon!

Yesterday, after my little buccaneer and I engaged in another epic sword fight in the front yard, our neighbor Mr. Bill came over to visit. He apparently had been watching our pirate reenactment for awhile--he mentioned that he missed General Hospital because of the show in our yard. After a chuckle and some small talk, Mr. Bill gave me one of the highest compliments I could have received. He looked at me in the eyes and said, "You know Peggy, you are a really good Mom."
With Robby Rotten's behavior from Tampa still haunting my dreams, I needed that affirmation!

I often refer to Robby as my miracle. After my diagnosis and treatment for cancer, it was doubtful that I would be able to have a child. When I became pregnant the first time, I was ecstatic. Imagine my heartbreak when the doctor clarified by saying that he didn't suspect I would have trouble getting pregnant, but that he felt that maintaining the pregnancy would be difficult. My heart broke when I miscarried several weeks later.

When I became pregnant with Robby, I somehow knew that he was going to be carried to term. My body was stronger and I was healthier. It wasn't an easy pregnancy; I was actually placed on bed rest for the final trimester. Despite all of the obstacles, he was born healthy and at full term.

The instant he was born, I vowed to cherish every single moment. Even when I was exhausted from midnight feedings and I thought that I wasn't going to be able to handle another sleep deprived day, I would remember that the stage is fleeting. Knowing that I may never have another baby, I have made an effort to soak up every experience.

Robby is going to be five at the end of this month. I can honestly say that I have made an effort to be fully active in every stage of his development. I have spent countless hours pushing cars and playing pirates. We pretend to fish in the stream and then look for meteorites through the yard. Last week we played with a baby snake that he found in the yard! None of these activities I would consider fun. However, because I was with Robby, there was nothing else I would rather be doing in that moment than watching him have fun and learn.

I would be lying if I didn't admit that I would love to have another child. However, I am not going to spend time lamenting what might not happen. Instead I am going to focus on enjoying what I have right now, the best little mischievous cookie dough snitching pirate ever! Mr. Bill calling me a good Mom made me feel fantastic. In a way, I felt validated by his observation.

I hope that everyone has a wonderful Mother's Day. I know that I will thoroughly enjoy the runny eggs and cold burnt toast that will be proudly presented by my little boy and his Daddy. If the boys oversleep, I will hear the garage door open as they drive to Starbucks for coffee and a scone. In either case, I'll pretend to still be sleeping, which will be difficult after hearing crashing pans in the kitchen followed by the pitter-patter of not so quiet feet sneaking down the hall.

I'll post Mother's Day pictures on Sunday. Have a great weekend, and a Happy Mother's Day.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

This Little Piggy

Most people don't realize that Scott is also an amputee. He sustained a work injury which resulted in the amputation of his big toe. Yes, Robby is the only member of our family that can count to twenty!

The loss of the "little piggy that went to market" has not had a large impact on his daily activities. Scott occasionally complains of pain and has been known to "stub his stump" which doubles him over with pain. Other than being careful when considering shoes, he has been able to continue life as normal.

Daddy's mysterious missing toe has made quite the impression on my little guy. Upon discovering that Scott is missing his big toe, Robby has become protective of his little digits. In actuality, he has become paranoid of suffering a similar fate.

Trying to dress Robby has become an epic undertaking. He fights putting on socks and pleads with me to not "look at his piggies." When I remove his socks he often cries and begs us to not touch his toes.

I've tried playing various toe games to alleviate his fears. Robby simply starts to cry and hysterically kicks his feet. Cutting his toenails now requires two adults and full body armor.

Last week Robby stubbed his toe and broke down crying. He ran into his bedroom where I found him taking off his sock. In a quivering little voice he explained that he was "afraid that his toe fell off like Daddy's." I called Scott into the bedroom where we had the "Daddy lost his toe but it won't happen to you" conversation. I'm fairly confident that Robby did not believe a word we told him.

He is paranoid about losing his toe but remains oblivious about the fact that I am missing my entire foot and ankle. One of his new favorite activities involves trying on my various legs, holding onto the sides of the socket and "walking" around the house. Robby even asked me to call "Mr. Elliot" so that he can get a leg that fits him.

Using four year old logic, Daddy's missing toe has made more of impression than Mommy's missing leg. Maybe it is because Robby has seen my prosthetic everyday and he only discovered the missing toe. For Robby, prosthetics are a normal part of his life and he doesn't see it as anything unusual.

Scott and I fully anticipated dealing with questions about how I lost my leg and if he will lose his leg someday. Instead, Scott is being inundated with inquiries from a little boy obsessed with a missing digit. Apparently the leg isn't the issue because, right now, it is all about the toe!

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

The SuperWoman Complex

During the past few weeks I have had the pleasure of making several new friends through my blog and website. Although they are different places in their journey, they are all relative "newbies" when it comes to living as an amputee. Talking with them through email and on the phone, one resounding issue kept recurring.

All of my new friends feel as if they are trying to remain strong for their friends and family to their own detriment. I understand this trait because this was also my experience. After my amputation I found myself trying to make everybody around me comfortable with my limb loss. I refused to let them see me depressed or frustrated. I remained happy and upbeat in public. Inside I was falling apart.

On some level I knew that I wasn't being honest, but I didn't know how else to act. I was worried that if my friends knew how I was really feeling, they wouldn't want to spend time around me. After all, they wanted to go shopping, laugh and be carefree. All I wanted to do was to curl into a ball under my covers and cry. I was certain that if I were honest with how I was feeling, I would depress the mood and become a kill-joy.

My friends and family remarked on my strength. I received accolades from co-workers about my ability to cope. Although the kind words were nice to hear, I also felt undeserving; I knew that I was living a lie.

Despite my smiles and my laughter, I knew that I was not well-adjusted. I missed my leg. My strongest memories are of everything being so much harder than I anticipated. I had opted for the amputation to rid myself of the pain and to regain my life. Instead I emerged feeling ugly, disabled and disheartened.

My friends and family never knew how I was feeling. I worried about placing that burden on them. I've learned that this coping mechanism is common among many new amputees. Let's be honest, it is not the healthiest approach- I gained in excess of 100 pounds during this time frame.

I find myself offering similar advice to most new amputees. My emotional healing from my amputation didn't begin until I allowed myself to give my feelings a voice. Keeping everything bottled up, I was only hurting myself and limiting my own recovery. I urge, sometimes at the risk of being perceived as begging, my new amputee friends to give their grief and anger a voice. It will work against your recovery if you try to live a facade that everything is always fine.

As I started writing and, eventually talking, I realized that my loved ones were not turned off by my emotions. I worried about disappointing people by appearing weak. Instead of being shunned, I was offered hugs.

I realized that I didn't need to be SuperWoman. It was okay to cry. It was okay to scream and be so angry that I would literally tear wads of paper for fear that I would start throwing things if I didn't find a release. It was safe to call a friend and say that I was sad. In fact, it strengthened my friendships because those who care about me were allowed to help.

I learned that being true to my grief had a direct correlation with my own happiness. With time and practice I can say with certainty that living as an amputee has become easier. I no longer analyze every step and every obstacle. I walk without thinking about it, and it finally feels normal.

Of course, I still have days where I miss my foot. I still grieve, but the frequency is not nearly as often as it was in the beginning. When I'm sad, I've learned that it's okay to say, "I'm really sad today. I miss my foot." Acknowledging these emotions has empowered me to be true to myself, one leg and all!

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Our Piratical Adventure

Saturday I went to bed feeling like a failure. Robby Rotten had run amok at the clinic, embarrassing me both professionally and maternally. I felt like I should be wearing the badge as "World's Worst Mother" because I simply could not control his outbursts.

I woke up early Sunday morning with my little guy still asleep and decided to write my blog for Monday. I knew that I would be traveling into the late hours of the night, and I was unsure if I would have the time or the energy to write on Monday morning. I would like to use this post to provide "the rest of the story."

Sunday Robby woke up chipper and rested. He immediately walked over to me and threw his little arms around my legs. He repeatedly said that he was "so so so sorry for ruining the day" and asked if we would still be best buddies.

We talked, or rather I lectured and he listened attentively, about appropriate behavior when I am at work. I told him that I was disappointed and explained why I felt that way. He explained what he should have done during the running clinic and at the aquarium and repeated his apologies.

After hugging and a good breakfast, we both decided that we were going to make the best of our last day in Florida. I embraced the opportunity to resurrect "Robby and Momom's Super Fun Florida Adventure" and did some research. After a quick Google search, I knew immediately what we were going to be doing.

I found a pirate themed ship that sets sail three time daily. The afternoon cruise fit perfectly into our schedule, and I knew that Robby would have a blast. Robby became giddy when I told him that we were going to go on a "real" pirate ship!

The cruise offers activities tailored for children who love all things piratical. The crew wore costumes and spoke in pirate phrases. Each "Little Pirate in Training" was offered a gun upon boarding. After the ship sailed, the Little Pirate crew was summoned to the meeting area. Wooden guns were exchanged for water guns because they were going to "take the ship back from the adults." (At the same time the adults were being armed with water guns of their own.)

It was so much fun watching the Little Pirates, donning their hats, run into the center of the boat screaming "Argghhh" and shooting water pistols. I think it was even enjoyable watching the adults return fire. Everybody was laughing and fully in the moment.

Because I am an amputee, I was solicited to play a special part. I was decked out with a pirate hat and sword. Since I had my own pirate leg, I didn't require much for my pirate transformation to be complete.

While I was being prepped, the passengers were told a story about "Peg Leg Peg, The Smelliest and Meanest Pirate on the Seven Seas." Peg Leg Peg likes to steal treasure and garlic from the ship. The only way to get rid of Peg Leg Peg was to douse her with water to get rid of the smell.

The Little Pirates were put on alert for Peg Leg Peg, with the warning that they might smell her presence soon. All of a sudden, the Little Pirates started complaining about a bad smell. That was my cue! I jumped out of the galley and screamed a wicked "Argghhhh" and swung my sword. I was immediately soaked by the Little Pirates, defending the ship's treasure and garlic with their fully loaded water guns.

In reality, I probably had as much fun on the pirate cruise as Robby. He completely believed that he was on a real pirate ship. (The fact that I was playing the part of Peg Leg Peg hasn't phased him.) He insisted on keeping his "pirate paint" on his face for the rest of the day. I received a lot of smiles as we walked through the airport with my little boy donning his pirate hat and face paint. It was refreshing to receive smiles instead of the stares of pity and judgment that were directed towards me the previous day!

Monday, May 02, 2011

Robby Rotten came to Florida

I had been looking forward to this past weekend for months. Upon receiving the invitation to speak in St. Petersburg, FL, I immediately began to plan activities that I knew Robby would love. I even managed to arrange for a private, behind the scenes tour of the local aquarium which happens to feature a dolphin with a prosthetic tail.

I envisioned two fun-filled days in the Florida, soaking up the sun and creating wonderful memories. I packed meticulously, trying to anticipate every need or possible desire. I knew that nothing could spoil what I dubbed "Momom and Robby's Florida Adventure."

It turns out that I was wrong. One thing could positively ruin the weekend, slashing my dreams of creating a fabulous memory between Robby and me. My sweet little Robby apparently decided to forgo this vacation, sending Robby Rotten in his stead.

Although I've heard stories of other children acting out, I am fairly confident that my Robby Rotten antics could beat most others. He was obstinate, demanding and just plain miserable.

During the running clinic on Saturday he refused to follow directions, opting to locate seashells and assorted fish parts in the dugout in lieu of participating. He threw himself into temper tantrums at the most inopportune time, causing stares from the other children while I received looks of empathy and pity from their parents.

He was whiny when his whims were not immediately satisfied. He threw an all out, fist pounding on the ground fit when I told him that he couldn't have ice cream. Not that I need to defend my decision but it was only 8:15 in the morning!

Robby Rotten stood behind me when I was delivering my speech. I lost my thoughts several times because I was struggling to keep the back of my shirt down. For some reason, Robby decided that lifting up my shirt and licking my back like a kitty while I was speaking to a large crowd seemed like a good idea.

By the end of the running clinic I was thoroughly embarrassed by my ill-behaved little hellion. We went back to the hotel room, where he promptly fell asleep. By this point I regretted that we had a commitment to visit the aquarium. I felt obligated to go because so many individuals were involved with the planning. Against my better judgment, we went to the aquarium.

We were expected at the aquarium to film a small scene for an upcoming movie. Ironically, Robby was charming while the cameras were rolling. For a brief moment on Saturday, my sweet little boy was resurrected. As soon as the filming ended, Robby Rotten returned.

Robby loves fish. Apparently Robby Rotten does not love fish. He seemed to enjoy petting and feeding the dolphins but nothing else piqued his interest. He spent the next hour meowing like a cat and scratching me whenever he didn't get what he wanted.

He whined, complained and refused to follow instructions. I got so fed up with his behavior that we had to forgo the extraordinary opportunity to swim with a baby dolphin and had to leave the tour early. On the way out to the car he dug in his feet and began to scream, "Please don't throw me in the trash again. Please don't break me into pieces again. Are you going to throw me away?" We received a lot of stares, but I guess it isn't every day you see a one legged woman pulling a screaming child through a parking lot.

I wish that Robby Rotten had stayed away for this trip. I had planned on having a wonderful weekend with my little boy. Instead of feeling like paradise, Florida began to feel like purgatory. Someday, when Robby is older, I'm going to remind him about how badly he behaved. Actually, I take that back. I think I'll tell his prom date. That will be much more humiliating!