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, November 25, 2011

Gobble Gobble

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I venture to say that it may have been one of our best ever. There was no stress and only happiness, laughter, and a lot of food!

Scott and I woke up early and headed to KMart. We weren't shopping for anything in particular, and we were going because it has been our tradition since we started dating. Not having a "mission" allowed us to simply have a good time meandering around the aisles casually looking for bargains. Although we didn't buy much, I found myself a festive (and extremely comfortable) pair of Santa lounge pants that I plan on wearing while decorating and baking cookies.

The house was filled with my cousins and their children throughout the afternoon and evening. It was so much fun watching all of the younger cousins run and play. Although they don't see each other often, they seem to resume their friendships without missing a beat. It was hard for the adults to maintain conversations over the squeals and giggles emanating throughout the house!
Typical to tradition, my Mom prepared a delicious feast. She always cooks too much food which then is conveniently divided among my cousins to take home. Come to her house for dinner, take home enough food to eat for a week. Nobody ever complains!

We perused the Black Friday ads and have our schedule set for tomorrow. We aren't going after any high ticket items, so I'm not terribly concerned that we will get into a brawl in the middle of the aisle. Of course, you never can tell...If necessary I'm not above walking slowly with an exaggerated limp in order to provide Scott with more times to dash through the store to grab an item. Wish us luck!

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

The days of my throwing some clothes into a bag and heading away for the holiday are over. Now when we travel, even for a few days, I end up loading the back of our SUV with suitcases and bags overflowing with clothes and toys. Traveling for Thanksgiving used to be so much easier!

Yesterday, after packing up both the car and Robby, we headed up to my mom's for the holiday. I was impressed that I was only 40 minutes past my self-imposed deadline. Considering that I was constantly unpacking what my little "helper" included in the suitcases, I was pleased with my quasi-punctuality. Scott drove separately, leaving after work.

The 2 hour drive took nearly 3.5 hours as we crawled along the congested roads with our fellow travelers. Thankfully Robby is a good little traveler. He happily passed the time singing Christmas songs and playing on his DS. I, on the other hand, was not nearly as content. I simply wanted to get to my Mom's, relax, and start the Thanksgiving preparations.

Robby immediately began to help his Nana when we arrived. I hadn't unpacked the car before he was standing on his stool in the corner of her kitchen, cracking eggs and mixing stuffing. It was fun watching him assume the jobs that had been mine when I was a child.

Today we will have a house full of family and friends. Our table will be overflowing with goodies (including cake of course) and I'm sure we will all eat too much. Robby will be able to run around with his pint sized cousins while the adults peruse the ads for tomorrow, share stories, and laugh.

By the time you read tomorrow's blog I will be tucked in bed, warm and hopefully asleep. We plan on finishing our Black Friday shopping and returning to bed before most people have their first cup of coffee. I'm off to develop our sale attack plan. Wish us luck and Happy Thanksgiving!


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thankful for...

Yesterday I spent the morning in Robby's kindergarten class helping with their Thanksgiving re-enactment feast. The boys wore feathered headbands while the girls sported adorable Pilgrim hats. We made "stone soup" (from the classic book about sharing) and pumpkin pies. After lunch the class retreated to the carpet, where they performed what the five year olds promised was a traditional Thanksgiving dance: The Hokey Pokey. (Okay, we weren't exactly authentic with our re-enactment, but we certainly had fun.)

Watching Robby sitting with his little classmates, I paused to absorb how much has changed during the past year. He is growing into such an amazing young man. I am so grateful and blessed to be his mom. While I still miss him while he is at school, I'm willing to admit that he is growing and thriving and that the "K" word isn't as bad as I feared.

I am thankful that I am able to be fully engaged in his life. As much as I complain about my insurance adjustor and the hoops that I must navigate to receive care, when the red tape is completed, I am fortune enough to have a prosthetic. So many amputees do not have access to adequate prosthetic care, not only in other parts of the world but in our own country.

So many policies have a lifetime cap on prosthetic care set at an obscenely low amount. I have a friend whose policy maxes out after $10,000. In most cases, $10,000 will only buy three toes and a poorly constructed socket!

Assuming that the lifetime cap is not an issue, many amputees face mounting bills because of requisite co-pays. Some policies require a 20% co-pay on all prosthetic care. Considering that an above knee prostheses with a mechanical knee costs approximately $20,000, the amputee must come up with $4000.00 in order to receive their leg. High co-pays keeps life changing bionic devices simply too cost-prohibitive for so many amputees.

Scrounging up the co-pay amount is a financially impossible feat for an individual who has lost their job due to medical issues or an accident that necessitated the limb loss. Without the prosthetic, they are confined to a wheelchair with limited employment options. A cycle has been established that is difficult to break.

This Thanksgiving I consider myself to be inordinately blessed. I have excellent prosthetic care which allows me to live my life to the fullest. My heart breaks for amputees across this country who cannot walk to the dinner table tomorrow simply because they can't afford a prosthetic. The discrepancy concerning access to adequate prosthetic care in this country is tragic. I consider myself incredibly lucky to be on the propitious side of that continuum. I realize that because of my access to prosthetics, I am able to be the mom that Robby deserves.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

It's Okay To Leave

When I became an amputee, I felt like I had lost control in many ways. When I was ready to be fit with a prosthetic, I felt as if I were desperately treading water in an unfamiliar world. I didn't understand the jargon, the process, or my options. I was happy when I was handed a leg and blindly trusted that it was the correct device for me. After all, I accepted that my prosthetist was the expert, and I assumed that he knew best.

As I have delved more into the world of prosthetic care, I have learned that my experience is not unique. Many amputees become overwhelmed and confused by prosthetics. Unfortunately, not everybody is fortunate enough to have a phenomenal practitioner. I have discovered that there are a lot of prosthetists who are not providing the highest quality of care.

So many amputees settle for poor prosthetic care simply because they don't realize that they could be doing better. Complaints about ill-fitting sockets, uncomfortable components and difficulty with mastery of the device fill my email inbox on a weekly basis. It frustrates me that so many are suffering because of a poorly fitted prostheses.

My advice is simple: if you are experiencing pain, you need to speak up. When you don't understand why you are being fitted with one component over another, ask for an explanation. If your prosthetist isn't listening, you need to go to somebody who will not only value your opinion, but also realizes that your thoughts are paramount!

As patients, we always have a choice. It is not only your right but also your responsibility to ask questions, to learn about the product, and to make informed decisions. By simply accepting a prosthetic because the "expert" said it is best, may compromise your quality of care.

I have received more bad haircuts during my lifetime than I care to count. That being said, I never go back to a stylist whose work has forced me to wear a hat for six weeks. Using that premise, why would I continue to go to a prosthetist who manufactures uncomfortable, and many times unusable, devices? It is okay to change prosthetists, even if he or she is "really nice," in a quest for better care! You deserve it!


Monday, November 21, 2011

My Brag Blog!

During my teaching career, I estimate that I have sat through hundreds of parent-teacher conferences. This past Friday I attended my first conference for Robby. I have to admit that everything looks different from the other side of the desk!

I was surprised at my level of nervousness before the conference with his teachers. I'm involved in his class and speak to his teachers daily, yet the idea of a "formal" meeting put me on edge. What if they told me that my son was unruly, disruptive and not academically swift? What if he is a bully? What if we have been failing at parents and are, indeed, raising a little hellion? I tried to muster my courage, put on make-up and a smile, and prepared to face whatever report was dealt by his beloved teacher.

Academically, Robby is scoring high. He is working on a second grade curriculum for Science and Social Studies/ Geography. His math and reading levels are nearly as high, with him testing at the end of the first grade. I was not surprised that penmanship is an area designated for improvement.

Robby utterly despises pencil work. He loves to paint, but he hates coloring. He refuses to draw anything more than happy faces, but he'll spend hours painting models and decorating treasures with glitter. Trying to get him to write his name or his letters is akin to water boarding in his eyes. On more than one occasion we have both been on the verge of tears when he is required to write words for homework. Although we will continue to work on his penmanship skills, I suspect that a career as a Calligrapher is no longer in the running!

I was thrilled to hear about Robby's academic success. I've always thought he is a smart little boy, but it is nice to have those suspicions validated. The next bit of news that his teachers relayed made me want to jump up and down and do the worm dance in the middle of the classroom. (No doubt that display might have trumped the memory of my scaling a fence to spy on Robby during his first day of school for the school personnel!)

It turns out that Robby is referred to as the "classroom crusader." When he sees a student who is upset, sad, or he perceives as being wronged, Robby immediately steps in to intervene. He has no qualms about offering a supportive hug or stepping in to protect a friend from being picked on. His teachers went on to explain that Robby demonstrates an innate sensitivity towards other students and frequently reaches out to include those who have been excluded from an activity.

While I'm proud of Robby's academic success, I am utterly ecstatic with the compassion that he demonstrates on a regular basis. He has no hesitation to step into a situation to help a friend who is hurting. He isn't shy about offering hugs (which no doubt is one of the reasons he has been so sick this year) and shares what he has in order to help a friend. I hope that he always has this much courage to stand up for his convictions, and he will remain astute enough to see when his friends are hurting.

Although I walked out of the meeting when we were finished, in all reality I might as well have been floating from pride for my little scholar. I barely made it to the security of my car before my tears started to flow. Robby is thriving in Kindergarten, and I could not be more delighted.