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, September 09, 2011

My Last Day :(

I can't believe that Kindergarten starts on Monday. It feels like just yesterday I was watching Robby take his first steps. Didn't he just learn to say my name? He is growing up too fast, and it is tearing me apart.

I realize that I must sound pathetic lamenting Robby going to the "K word." I thought I would be ready to let him go--but I have come to the conclusion that I will never be prepared. I am simply going to have to do it and return home and cry until I pick him up. Mr. Bill promised to be on his porch with a cup of coffee (with a nip of brandy should it be necessary) and to keep me company on my first day of solitude.

Today is the last day that Robby and I will go through our normal routine. Although our schedule has modified and adjusted over time, we have remained fairly predictable during the past five years. Monday morning, everything will change.

I'm going to miss our lazy mornings together. I love him curling into me as I sip my coffee and he drinks his milk. We've probably read a library full of books in bed over the years! Monday, I will give him breakfast, pack him up and drive him to school. Full days at home will no longer be his norm.

He is going to be making new friends and having experiences without me. I know that this is normal and that he needs to break away in order to grow and learn. Still, I wouldn't be true to myself if I didn't acknowledge the pain I am feel in letting him go. I never imagined that being a mother would bring heartache and joy simultaneously. Sometimes, these seemingly conflicting emotions somehow work together.

With time, I know that we will both adjust to the change. I've been assured by scores of Moms that I will enjoy the time to myself. I will be working for my prosthetist, and the added income is a welcome relief. I won't have trouble filling the time, but I will be missing my little buddy!

Intellectually I know that his growing and spreading his wings is a good thing. We'll adjust to the schedule change and forge a new routine. That being said, I hate change! This morning I suspect I'm going to try to cuddle a little longer and read a few extra books as I desperately try to stop time. I know that Monday will be here before I know it, and, while he is excited beyond belief, I am having a difficult time. Would somebody please pass the cyber tissues? I think I'm going to shed a lot of tears this weekend.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

You've Had It Harder... No, You Did

There is a camaraderie that is forged among amputees. Perhaps it is because, regardless of the circumstances, we all know what it is like dealing with a limb loss. No explanation other than "bad stump day" is needed for another amputee to understand the pain or discomfort that is being experienced. I love being part of a group of amputees. Inevitably, the conversation always turns towards comparing stories. After all, every amputee has a story.

Watching the story exchange between amputees is nothing short of fascinating. It seems that, regardless of the situation concerning our personal limb loss, amputees tend to feel that they had it "easier" than another. It is an odd form of survivor's guilt.

An amputee who lost his leg because of an accident cannot fathom losing his limb because of cancer. Often, an immediate sense of guilt is apparent as they shower the cancer survivor amputee with accolades about their strength. "I don't know how you managed losing your leg and going through treatment for cancer. You must be so strong. I don't think I would have been able to handle it!"

Ironically, the survivor amputee retorts with, "At least I knew when my amputation was going to occur. I can't imagine going to work one day and ending up in the hospital because of a freak accident. The cancer gave me something organic to blame. I wouldn't be able to handle being hurt and losing my limb so traumatically."

I find that I engage in the same comparisons when talking with my amputee friends. When I share my story with someone who underwent a traumatic amputation, I often hear, "I couldn't imagine knowing the date and time of the amputation. I would have gone crazy waiting. I'm not sure I would have been able to make that decision." However, I can't relate to sheer terror of stepping off a curb and being struck down, losing my leg in an instant. I'm fairly confident I would never want to walk down the street again!

These exchanges tend to continue until the beer is gone or they call a truce on the "who had it worse" conversation. In reality, I doubt anybody will concede that their amputee story is the winner of the "most horrifying" award. While we all take pride in what we've overcome, on some level we fear what could still occur. After all, there isn't a punch card that will keep us immune from experiencing an accident or a disease. Perhaps the "you have it worse" mentality is masking our fear that limb loss could happen again, under a variety of circumstances.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Off To The ER...

I have learned to despise the first day of school because Scott is grumpy for days leading up to the start of a new school year. As if contending with one bad mood isn't enough, Robby becomes a never ending pit of "I want" and "I don't want that, I wanted the other thing" for the first few days after his Daddy's summer vacation ends. I feel like I am treading a minefield of raw emotions, simply trying to survive until everybody adjusts to the new schedule.

To make the transition more difficult, we always seem to confront some sort of emergency on the first day of school. It would be nice if Scott could simply come home from work, play with Robby and ease into the new schedule. Unfortunately, the universe seems to have other plans!

Two years ago Robby stuck a bead up his nose, necessitating his first trip to the emergency room for its extraction. Last year, we discovered a leak in the skylight in our bedroom. The steady stream of water by my bed prompted an emergency trip to Lowes, followed by several hours on the roof trying to remedy the situation.

I was optimistic that this year our bad luck streak would be broken. Robby slept in yesterday morning allowing me my first hour of solitude since June. I sipped my coffee and simply enjoyed the quiet.

Robby woke up in a surprisingly happy mood. With his feeling better, I was able to spend the morning cleaning the house and working on the seemingly insurmountable piles of laundry that had accumulated throughout the house. After lunch I whipped up a batch of bread dough in anticipation of dinner. I smiled, thinking of how inviting and comforting the house would smell as Scott returned from his first day.

I had just finished kneading the dough when I heard, "Momom, help me." Dropping the dough on the counter, I went running. Robby was sitting at the kitchen table, surrounded by glitter, glue, bits of green paper and a lot of bright red blood. The index finger on his left hand was gushing and his little safety scissors were still in his right hand.

Upon seeing a piece of his finger tip, unattached and lying in a bowl of glitter, I realized that we needed to go to the emergency room. I grabbed it and threw it in a cup of ice. I wrapped Robby's hand with a clean dishtowel and headed out the door. Our emergency room is only 10 minutes from our house, but that time felt like an eternity with Robby screaming in pain and terror in the backseat!

They began working on Robby as soon as we entered. He began to quiet down as the nurse took his vital signs. In an extraordinary calm voice, he explained that he was "using safety scissors but they didn't work because I still got hurt. I think they must be broken." I was impressed by his composure, and my heartbeat began to return to normal.

The skin that I had retrieved was not necessary. Since the tissue retrieved was only skin, it was not a candidate for reattachment. Of course, being covered in glitter and glue probably posed more of an infection risk outweighing benefit that would have been reaped. Thankfully, the bone was not affected and, other than having one slightly misshapen and flattened finger, Robby will be no worse for the wear. The bleeding was stopped and the wound was cleaned and sealed. As typical, I am sure that I was more traumatized by the event!

By the time we came home from the hospital I was exhausted, Robby was running high on adrenaline and pain medication, and my bread dough had expanded all over my kitchen counter. I went into my bedroom to change my clothes to discover, you guessed it, the leak in my bedroom had returned!

I had to dodge buckets (and rain drops) as I made my way to bed last night. Robby had a difficult night, constantly complaining that his "finger was out of breath." I tried to explain that his boo boo was throbbing, but he preferred his description.

Today we are headed to the pediatrician for a wound check and a tetanus shot. If the rain stops, Scott will have to go back onto the roof and caulk around the skylight (again). This is not the way I had hoped to begin a new school year, but it seems to be our tradition. Next September, I think I'm running away from home on the first day of school.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Back To School Shopping DISASTER

After a quiet few days at home watching Veggie Tales on the couch, Robby is finally feeling better. His energy levels haven't fully rebounded, but he has begun interacting with his toys and has regained his appetite. Other than providing medication, there was little I could do except sit with him and snuggle.

Although I hate seeing him sick, I have to admit that I relished the endless hours of holding him on the couch. I was able to tune out both Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber and simply enjoy being needed and wanted by my little boy. He doesn't cuddle nearly as much as he did even a few months ago, and, to be completely honest, I miss it!

Yesterday morning Robby woke us up with an excitement in his voice that has been missing since the infection developed. He started jumping up and down on our bed while chanting, "My throat doesn't hurt at all Momom. It doesn't hurt anymore. Yee Haw!" Despite being only 5 in the morning I knew instantly that he was better and that there was no way I was going to convince him to go back to sleep.

After pouring myself two cups of coffee, I began to peruse the Labor Day ads. Suspecting that Robby's standard wardrobe of sweat pants (clean but almost always stained) and assorted jerseys was not going to make the cut for Kindergarten, I decided that we would take advantage of the sales and buy him some jeans. Armed with our circular and a happy little boy, we headed to Kohl's department store.

In retrospect, planning a shopping trip for the first day that he was feeling better was not my wisest Mom decision. I think his energy levels were not nearly as high as he thought, and he quickly became tired. As he became fatigued, he became grumpy and, before I knew it, Robby Rotten was wreaking havoc in the store.

Robby Rotten knocked down a pile of jeans because I told him that we were going to try them on to check the size. He ran through the shower curtain section while screaming, "I'm going to get naked and shower in here." As soon as I thought I had the situation in hand, he slipped out of my grasp and hid under the various clothing racks. He was bumping into shoppers and knocking clothes off the hangers. His abhorrent behavior was garnering me both looks of disdain and shunned whispers.

After literally dragging him by his feet from under the clearance rack, he knew that I was mad. Instead of behaving or even quieting down, he began to scream, "Please don't throw me in the trash can again tonight, Momom. Please don't make me sit in trash. It hurts my bum." Just to clarify, Robby has never been thrown into a trash, nor has he been forced to sit in garbage although sometimes his bedroom does bear an uncanny resemblance to a dump.

Scott, hearing the antics from across the store, simply handed me the car keys and took the cart to check out. I picked up my little cowboy boot flailing, arms thrashing, screeching hellion and took him to the car. But not before he screamed, "Please don't bite my ear off again, Momom" as we made our exit. I found myself trying to convince an elderly couple that I have not intention of biting my son's ear. They nodded, but judging by the level of his outburst and their shock, I doubt that they believed me.

Robby Rotten promptly fell asleep as soon as his booster seat was buckled. I sat in the car, mortified by his behavior and sure that everybody exiting the store was casting judgment upon my parenting skills. It is hard to believe that the precious little boy who cuddled up with me so sweetly during the past few days could morph into this little monster!

I am instituting a new family policy. Robby must feel better for at least 24 hours after an illness before we venture beyond our doors. It has been a long time since I have been that embarrassed. Now I have to drive an additional 40 minutes in order to redeem my Kohl's cash because I certainly can't return to my local store anytime soon!

Monday, September 05, 2011

Labor Day Reflections

I suspect my hatred of Labor Day began when I was a child. After all, the annual End of Summer Picnic was the gateway to a new school year. The endless summer days filled with riding my bike, swimming and sniffing flowers were soon to be replaced by pencils, homework and sneezing because of chalk dust.

As I have grown older, my feelings about Labor Day have only intensified. Labor Day has come to mark the passing of two important people in my life. My maternal grandfather, my Pop, passed away over Labor Day weekend in 1993. I remember him so strongly; his warm smile is so ingrained in me that it is hard to believe that he has been gone for 18 years.

To this day I continue to wonder, "Would Pop be proud of me? How would he feel about the decisions that I've made?" In some ways I'm glad that he wasn't alive to see my amputation. I have no doubt that it would have broken his heart, but he would have been my biggest cheerleader when I started walking with my prosthetic. I sometimes chuckle thinking how eager my Pop would have been to swipe my leg so that he could tinker on it in his workshop. I'm sure that more than one manufacturer warranty would have been voided because of his efforts!

Our family suffered a devastating loss seven years ago today when my stepbrother Christopher passed away. Chris was a character and would have made a phenomenal politician. He was able to say things and to do things without raising an eyebrow whereas, had I attempted the same, I would have been met with disapproval. Chris could smile to diffuse any situation and could convince a blind man to buy a flashlight. He lived each of his 26 years to the fullest, creating enough memories for a lifetime. I think of him often, wondering what he would be doing if he hadn't died so young.

Instead of celebration, Labor Day has become a day of reflection for me. I miss my Pop and Chris today. I think of both men and smile, but the feelings are bittersweet.

Today I'm going to make corn fritters and talk to Robby about Chris. I remember my Mom making them as a snack at night when he would come over to visit. That kid was skinny but he could eat a lot! I have no doubt that Robby would have liked Chris because, to be honest, I have never met anyone who didn't like him!

I'm also going to have a heaping bowl (maybe two) of Cookies n' Cream ice cream and think about my Pop. He would always buy it for me whenever I was sick or sad, and today I think I'm a little of both. I see so much of my Pop in Robby-- both exemplify unconditional love.

It just occurred to me that Robby is an incredibly lucky little boy. He has the best angels in the world! Thank you Pop and Chris for looking out for him. I love and miss you both. Happy Labor Day.