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 13, 2011

Gone Fishing

Between the pain in my stump and my elevated stress level, sleep was practically impossible on Wednesday night. Apparently I was grinding my teeth and flexing my biceps because I had trouble talking and unbending my arms. Needless to say, it was not a pleasant way to wake up!

There was no denying it--I was tired and irritable. I'm afraid to admit that I was not a very good Mommy for the first half of the day. I knew that I was short tempered with Robby and he had done nothing wrong. Knowing that I was not being a good Mom made my mood sour even more!

In order to try to heal my residual limb before my Philadelphia trip, I had promised that I wouldn't ride my bike. I also knew that if I didn't find a way to relieve my stress I was going to implode. I broke my promise, hopped onto the saddle and attempted to pedal my worries away.

I dismounted nearly 90 minutes later. I was covered in sweat and physically exhausted. My leg was a little worse for wear, but riding wasn't as detrimental as I feared. I was happy that I was able to bear full weight through my prosthetic. Walking still hurt, but it wasn't enough for me to keep my leg off.

During my time pedaling I was able to work through a lot of my frustrations. I find something cathartic about the repetition of pedaling. I was a much better Mom in the afternoon!

After I showered and fixed lunch, Robby and I decided to go on an adventure. He made a sign that he swears says "Gone Fishing." I'm fairly sure it is just a bunch of happy faces and his name written a few times. In any case, we hung our "Gone Fishing" sign, grabbed his pole and a jar of maggots (yes, maggots) and headed to the stream.

Robby declared that he was "going to catch a fish if it is the last thing I do." I was warned that he wasn't returning back to the house until he "reeled that sucker in." Considering that the fish in our stream are the size of small goldfish, I knew that we were going to be there for awhile.

Two hours into our fishing trip we received a visitor. Mr. Bill, our neighbor, came down to visit and brought Robby a present. He built Robby a boat. Robby handed me his pole and immediately began to splash around with his "pirate ship." I have the world's best neighbor. Not only did he build Robby a boat, but he actually managed to help Robby catch a fish. My little guy was delighted as he reeled in an anchovy sized fish!

I continued to feel guilty about being snappy with Robby in the morning. I guess moms always feel guilty! Robby, however, seemed to have forgotten the rocky start to the morning. After all, he had a boat and caught a "ginormous fish."

We spent the evening cuddled up on the couch, and I began to count my blessings. I have a wonderful little boy and a husband who, as soon as we unpacked our groceries, willingly drove back to the store because I kept talking about how good the blueberry pie ice cream looked! By the time I tucked Robby into bed he continued to talk about his catching "a fishy as big as a whale." I thoroughly enjoyed my ice cream surprise, and my outlook was improving. Through my stress and worries, I've realized how very lucky and blessed I am.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

My Philadelphia Diet

Robby and I have been invited to Philadelphia to participate in a new television show (Health Heroes) for the Discovery Channel. I was initially overwhelmed with the invitation, worried about every aspect of my being on television. Of course, the top of my worry list was my appearance.

Although I have maintained my weight loss fairly well (fluctuating 10 pounds through the winter) I resolved to lose as much weight as possible. After all, if the camera adds 10 pounds, and I am 10 pounds heavier than I would like, my math indicates that I would have been embarrassed. I knew I had to take the situation in hand.

In my typical over-zealous fashion, I immediately stepped up my work-outs, sweating longer and pedaling harder on the bike. Robby and I have been playing outdoors seemingly non-stop. I reason that I'm both being a good Mommy and getting an extra calorie burn during those endless hours of tag and Pirate Fighting in our front yard.

My efforts have not been in vain. Yesterday I put on a pair of shorts that were too tight last summer, and now they are too big! I have lost 17 pounds so far, and I feel great. Well, I almost feel great.

Weight loss for an amputee has a drastic impact on the fit of their prosthetic. My shedding nearly 20 pounds has caused my leg to become too big, thus I am forced to wear socks, increasing the ply throughout the day to soften the rocking of my limb against the socket wall. I hate socks!

My leg hurts whenever I am wearing my prosthetic. It is difficult for me to walk up and down hills because of the pressures within my prosthetic. I am no longer feeling a natural freedom when I walk. Rather, I am forced to calculate the terrain and to consciously minimize the rattling of my stump within the socket walls.

I find myself frustrated that I can't lose weight without having so many aspects of my life affected. With each step I am reminded that I am walking on a prosthetic. I simply don't appreciate the constant reminder!

While I am going to need a new socket, it is going to have to wait. Filming for the show is next week and I don't want to use a test socket during this opportunity. I'll have to be happy with my 17 pounds, three short of my goal, because I have to tone down my exercise for a few days. I am toying with the idea of eating high sodium foods (don't tell my Mom) so that my limb swells and will fit comfortably into the socket.

Despite my socket issues, I'm still thrilled about this opportunity. I am going to do my best to portray amputees in a positive light. I'm no longer overly concerned about my appearance. I may end up on the cutting room floor again, but I'm going to look cute!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Gas Prices and the Grumpies

Yesterday I was not in the best of moods. I was feeling overwhelmed with my "to do" list and worried about my family and friends who are struggling. Simply put, I was feeling like I was drowning in a sea of worry about everything. I hate feeling that way!

In an attempt to shake my bad mood, I packed up Robby to head to the park. I was determined that I was going to leave all my frustrations behind. As I turned on the car and cursed my bad day, the dreaded yellow light was flashing--I was almost out of gas.

I hate getting gas, especially since it is now almost $4.00 a gallon. On the short drive to the gas station, between holding my breath hoping that I won't have to push the car and lamenting the fact that I was going to have to shell out a lot of money for a liquid that I need but don't particularly enjoy, my mood continued to sour. At the risk of pointing out the obvious, gas has become so expensive!

For the first time, we have started to cut down on the amount of driving that we do. Scott will stop for groceries on the way home from work so that we don't drive later. I haven't been visiting my Mom as often because it now costs about $50 in gas. We have begun calculating fuel costs into every decision. In reality, we probably should have been doing this for years, but rising gas prices have made reducing use a priority.

Still suffering from a bad case of the "grumpies," I pulled up to the pump and prepared for my financial purging. After few minutes my car was full and my wallet was lighter. I crammed the crumbled receipt into the console of my car and turned the car back on. Pulling away from the station, I told Robby that gas now cost an arm and a leg.

A few moments later, Robby looked up from his Leapster and very sweetly said, "Well Momom, if it is going to cost an arm and a leg it's a good thing that we have lots of legs at home." In a moment, Robby's innocent observation changed my mood. My "grumpies" evaporated as I began to chuckle about his comment. He has such a wonderfully unique perspective on the world!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Chance Encounter

Perhaps the greatest gift of my becoming an amputee lies with the people whom I have met. I must have an "I'm approachable" aura because perfect strangers feel comfortable sharing personal revelations at unexpected times. This past weekend I met an elderly gentleman. Although we only spoke for a few minutes, I know that I will never forget this man.

I was at a buffet style restaurant with Robby, my mom and my sister and her family. As soon as one child's plate was prepared, I was being begged by another to go get more food. With the constant up and down, I didn't have an opportunity to sit down and eat.

While filling my niece's plate, an elderly gentleman approached me and inquired about my leg. He revealed that he was a retired Marine field medic and he thought that perhaps my amputation was the result of a war injury. I have been approached with this question so many times that my answer has become rote. I explained that I was not in the military and provided a brief synopsis of the cause of my amputation. I thanked him for his service to our country before walking away.

On my next trip up to buffet, this time with my oldest nephew, this man came back up to me. This time he told me that I was "ravishingly beautiful" and suggested that I try out for Miss America. He proclaimed that I could be the "first one-legged Miss America." I liked this man, thick glasses and all! I thanked him for his compliment, gave him a hug and continued to pile noodles onto Jacob's plate.

Upon returning Jacob and his food to our table, Robby was ready to browse the trough. Again, this man came over to talk to me. I glanced at his wife, thinking that she might be annoyed by the attention he seemed to be showering on me. Instead she was smiling.

The man apologized for bothering me, but explained that he felt compelled to talk to me. He continued to explain that he was a field medic during "the war" and that he was forced to amputate a fellow Marine's leg. He grabbed my arm and his eyes began to well with tears as he continued to tell his story.

The Marine's leg had been severely injured by shrapnel. He explained that he was working with minimal supplies, and that time was rushed. He doubted that the man would be able to keep the limb, and he worried about an infection setting in if he tried to salvage what was left. The elderly man's voice quivered as he told me that he amputated the limb.

This sweet man has been dealing with the guilt of the decision he was forced to make decades ago on battlefield. He revealed that he has nightmares about that Marine, wondering if he made the correct decision. In an almost pleading and apologetic tone, he told me that he didn't know what else he could have done.

I sent Robby back the table with his plate overflowing with assorted carbohydrates and continued to listen to this man's story. He proceeded to explain the injury and the details of that situation.

In an unexpected twist, the man looked in my eyes and thanked me. He revealed that he always wondered about that Marine, and if he was doing okay or if he was angry about what he had done. He said that he saw me walking around and keeping up with the "little ones" while wearing a "fake leg" and those memories came flooding back.

He saw how effortlessly I was walking and getting around and he knew that the Marine whose amputation has been haunting him is fine. Seeing me, he realized that Marines are tough and that if this "beautiful young woman" is doing well with one leg, so is that man. He hugged me one last time before sitting down with his wife.

I had gone to the restaurant to watch the kids have a glutenous good time. I ended up meeting an amazing elderly man who carried a heartbreaking guilt. For some reason, he felt a sense of peace after seeing how comfortable I am walking with my prosthetic. I am so glad that this kind Marine took the time to tell me his story. I am humbled if I contributed to his finding peace after all of these years. I have to admit that I was walking a little taller after this encounter!

Monday, May 09, 2011

Mother's Day Bliss.

As a Mother's Day gift for my Mom, I gathered all of her grandchildren on Friday afternoon for a photo. She likes to have a picture with her and all of the kids once a year, but with their ages ranging from four to seven, getting a good picture of everyone isn't always an easy task.

Each year's picture reflects the stage and the personality of each child. Last year Robby was crying, Jacob (my four year old nephew) was pinching Jared (his three year old brother). After all, little kids don't always appreciate working with a photographer. I'll never forget the time my then two year old niece lifted up the back of her dress, bent over and said to the photographer "hey lady, picture this."

My sister's children came to the photography studio with new haircuts and sporting coordinating outfits. They were freshly showered, spotless and looked adorable. I, on the other hand, was glad that I wiped (most) of the bubble soap off of Robby's face and hands, and changed his shirt into one that wasn't quite as dirty. This year, he is definitely the ragamuffin of the bunch!

Finally all of the kids were able to understand the expectations that we had for them. There was no screaming, no hitting and (thankfully) no tears. After all these years, we were able to get a good photo for my mom!

Sunday ended up being a wonderfully relaxing, laid back day. With all of the traveling and running around that I've been doing during the past few weeks, it was refreshing to just sit and do nothing. I have to admit that it felt unnatural not to be in constant motion!

The now traditional "World's Best Mother" banner was hung from my porch on Sunday morning. Scott brought me coffee in bed while Robby smothered me with kisses and hugs. I was told that I wasn't allowed to cook or clean all day.

I only broke the rule one time. Robby and I made a small cake for our neighbor whose daughter is stationed in Afghanistan. We wanted to do something to raise her spirits since she wasn't going to be able to see her child on this special holiday. As soon as the cake was slipped into the oven I was ushered out of the kitchen, and Scott cleaned up the cake mess.

The boys spent the afternoon making me dinner and playing outside. Robby came out of the kitchen and told me not to worry, that he was teaching Daddy and had everything under control. Meanwhile, I tried not to feel guilty about not helping. It didn't take me long to get over my guilt!

I hope that everybody had a wonderful Mother's Day. I felt both loved and appreciated by my family, and it was nice not doing anything for the day. Unfortunately, today is Monday so I need to get busy on the laundry and cleaning. Only 364 more days until my next day off!