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, July 15, 2011

Toe Twisting Pain

I've come to realize that I don't appreciate the absence of pain and discomfort. I expect to be pain free and so I never really think, "Wow, my leg doesn't hurt today." Only when I do experience discomfort do I think about how long it has been since I've been in pain.

Last night, lying in bed desperate to fall asleep, I realized that my leg has been feeling better. The blood blister has resolved and my stump is no longer sore. I am now walking with my normal gait, and if I weren't constantly in shorts, my amputation wouldn't be obvious. Apparently my prosthetist was correct when he prescribed non-impact activity and a travel hiatus for a few days.

While I was happy to realize that the blood blister pain had faded, the only reason I had this epiphany was because I was having a bad phantom pain night. I don't experience phantom pain often, but when it occurs I am utterly miserable. When massage doesn't work, there is little I can do but try to remind myself that my toes are not attached anymore despite the fact that they feel as if they are being twisted in a molten hot vice. Logic, at least for me, does little to resolve my phantom pain!

Typically my phantom pain flares when I am fitted with a new socket or when I engage in high impact activities for a period of time. Yesterday I did neither which is why the pain took me by surprise. Around 2:00 A.M., I finally figured the cause!

My toe twisting sensation was triggered by stress. I fully acknowledge that my mind was racing when I went to sleep, and, while I tried to keep all of my worries in perspective, I think that my increasing fatigue made everything worse. When I couldn't fall asleep, the pain simply amplified.

Last night there was a direct correlation between my increasing feelings of stress and the intensity of my phantom toe twisting. Of course realizing the cause did nothing but frustrate me, further perpetuating the cycle. This could be stemming from exhaustion, but at this moment I really resent feeling phantom pain--and experiencing it when I'm stressed and tired simply feels like insult on top of injury! I think tonight will be a Tylenol PM night.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Angry Chicken

Since I introduced my travel boycott, Robby and I have been spending a lot of time in our little pool. It continues to amaze me how 34 inches of water can be so entertaining for a five year old. Of course, I would be lying if I didn't admit that I'm having fun as well!

Until recently I had forgotten how good my limb feels in water. Being completely unweighted and suspended by the cool water, even in our small pool, feels absolutely wonderful. I have begun to slip off my water leg, opting to be completely unhindered.

Although I take off my leg, I continue to wear the liner. I don't want my residual limb to become sunburned, and I view the liner as a protection against the sun's rays. Perhaps the paramount reason for wearing my liner involves safety. Because we are playing in water, I want to make sure that I am able to become ambulatory quickly should Robby become hurt. Wearing the liner ensures that I will be able to quickly step into my leg and run should we need assistance. Of course, now I have a strange tan line on my leg!

Robby's favorite game in the pool was created by him and has been dubbed "Angry Chicken." I have been assigned the role of "Momom Chicken." Robby is the farmer who tries to get me back to the grill so that he can eat me. I try to escape him by flipping him off my back by rocking from side to side. Oh, and I should mention that I have to scream "Bock bock bock" each time the "farmer" takes an imaginary bite out of me. It's amazing how far an invisible fork can reach!

I have been playing Angry Chicken everyday for at least three hours at a time. Robby doesn't seem to get tired. I've certainly noticed that my time on "the grill" increases as the afternoon wears on. Between the bocking sounds, squeals of "I'm going to eat you Momom Chicken... watch out for the barbecue sauce" and the splashing, I shudder to think what the neighbors must think.

With both my increased bike riding and playing in the pool, this Momom Chicken feels like her feathers have been completely plucked by the end of the day. I can't wait to crawl into bed and just lie still. Of course, I can only do this after I walk my pledged mile!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Tour Time

Every morning after properly waking up with a cup (or two) of coffee, I slip into my riding clothes and head downstairs. I climb onto my bicycle trainer and virtual trainer and transport myself into an animated cycling adventure. In the month of July everything changes!

While I can still be found riding my bike, I could care less about what the trainer display is showing. I am transfixed as I pedal along with my all-time favorite sporting event. I love the Tour de France.

I haven't always been a cycling fan. In fact, I initially hated the sport. I was, literally, a captive audience. Scott was watching the Tour and had control over the remote control when I was recovering from my amputation. I couldn't walk to another TV, so I was left with no option but to watch.

I quickly became a die-hard fan. Witnessing the determination, the self-sacrifice and the sheer willpower exhibited by these athletes is inspiring. In my opinion, those who scoff at cycling as a sport have probably never bothered to watch!

When I ride during the month of July, my eyes are glued to the television. Sometimes I become so engrossed in the coverage that I forget I am in my basement. I become transported to the roads of France as I pedal and sweat along with my fellow cyclists. I seem to ride longer and harder during the Tour, often pedaling upwards of 40 miles at a time.

I have to give props to my husband. He not only understands how important the Tour has become to me, but also he indulges my quirky cycling fantasy. Scott has even been known to play the role of a schloog while cheering me on. A schloog is the term coined to describe the spectators along the route who are dressed in outlandish costumes to cheer on the riders.

The Tour is entering the mountain stages, and I am giddy with excitement. Our fridge is stocked with PowerAid Zero and my padded cycling shorts are clean. While putting away laundry yesterday I happened to notice that Robby and Scott's SuperHero shirts now have capes attached. This year I think I might have two schloogs to cheer me up the mountains, and I couldn't be happier!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Awareness Buttons

This past April was designated by the Amputee Coalition of America (ACA) as "Limb Loss Awareness Month." Information about Awareness month was scant, leaving many amputees (including myself) lost for exactly how to raise awareness. The evening of April 1 found my confusion morphing into frustration when I realized that ACA's own Facebook page failed to mention that their self-designated "Limb Loss Awareness Month" had arrived.

Reading the streaming conversational threads about what the month means and the best way to celebrate, I decided to become proactive. I quickly made a ribbon avatar and posted it on my Facebook page. To my surprise the ribbon became popular and was adopted by several hundred amputees during the month.

Since that time I have been receiving requests to purchase the prosthetic inspired ribbon. After several months I have finally secured a copyright on the design. I am thrilled to announce that the ribbon buttons are now available for purchase through this blog and my website.

The buttons measure 1.5 inches in diameter. I am selling them for $3.50 each which covers the cost of the button as well all shipping and handling costs incurred. Buttons can be purchased through the Paypal link in the sidebar of this blog. I think that the button looks fantastic and I am excited to offer it. I hope that you like it as well! Wear it with pride.

Monday, July 11, 2011

This is Your Best Collaborative Effort?

In full disclosure, I have a tumultuous history with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Robby and I were traveling last May when we encountered a screener who, in my opinion, abused his power and subjected us to a screening which lacked common courtesy and dignity. I have found the screenings conducted by TSA officials to be inconsistent among airports to the point where I experience anxiety before I arrive at the airport. Simply put, I never know what to expect.

In an effort to respond to the complaints lodged by passengers with disabilities, the TSA has been working with the Amputee Coalition of America (ACA) on a new notification system. I first learned of this plan over a year ago when my firestorm with the agency began. This system, at least a year in the works, has been touted as a way to facilitate the screening process for individuals with disabilities, including those with a limb loss.

I opened my email and was excited to receive a copy of the new notification card. I opened the PDF file and immediately began to laugh. Seriously TSA, you have had over a year and this is the best that can be done? A print-me-off-the-computer, fill in the blank, this is my disability but I'll still be subjected to extra screening name tag inspired card?

This "notification card" would indeed inform the screeners that I have a prosthetic and that I have a name. However, I have never had an agent dispute those points. Typically seeing carbon fiber attached to a pylon and a rubber foot is a fairly good indication of a prosthetic, even for the most inadequately trained agent!

I understand that this card might be quasi-useful for individuals with medical implants, or amputees who wear a cosmetic cover and are bashful about verbalizing their limb loss. For me, flashing the "I am an amputee" name card will do nothing to expedite the screening process. I habitually wear a skirt or shorts when traveling to make identification of my prosthetic easy.

The "notification card" is lacking any information about what I, as an individual with a disability, should expect during my screening. Perhaps printing the "dos" and "don'ts" on the card would have been advantageous to thwart any abuses of power. If the carrier knew that a request was against regulation (such as removing a prosthetic) and it was clearly stated on the "officially issued" pdf card, it could be an opportunity for education.

As it stands now, amputees will still be subjected to extra screening by individuals who have been improperly trained. I fail to fathom how seeing a computer generated, fill-in-the-blank-with-name-and-disability card will facilitate my screening. Speaking for myself, I find the "notification card" a pathetic attempt at outreach to the amputee community!

I have decided to improve upon the issued "notification card." Although I still doubt that this card will help to facilitate anything during the screening process, the AmputeeMommy version will at least educate the traveler about their rights. This information was glaringly absent from the official version which makes me wonder, does TSA not want amputees to know their rights?

Here is the AmputeeMommy version of the TSA card. Unlike the collaborative effort that took over a year to create, my notification card was created in Adobe-- in about 10 minutes.