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, December 16, 2011

How to Help?

I doubt many know that my first dealing with health issues occurred during adolescence. When I was 14 I became ill with what we thought to be the flu. We realized that the diagnosis was incorrect when I didn't quickly recover. I remained sick for the next three years.

My attendance at school was sporadic at best. I was commonly absence for months at a time as the doctors tried to find a diagnosis. Finally, after years of mental and physical pain, we discovered the culprit: I had contracted Lyme disease. Unfortunately the disease went undiagnosed which allowed it to spread neurologically. Two bouts of IV antibiotics, and several months later, I finally regained my strength to return to school full time my senior year.

The teen years are a difficult time to be struggling with illness. I was isolated from my peers and essentially "forgotten" by my circle of friends. I learned a lot through this experience, perhaps most valuable was the importance of reaching out to others when they are struggling. Being sick is miserable, but being sick and forgotten is a pain that cannot be described.

Perhaps understanding the importance of supportive friends cannot be appreciated unless you have felt the isolation that often accompanies an illness or life changing event. I suspect that avoidance of uncomfortable situations is human nature because it seems to be the instinct of so many. When somebody is diagnosed with cancer, becomes ill, or loses a limb, friends and family often fade into the background because they don't know what to say or how to react to the situation.

I am often contacted by friends and family members of a new amputee. They want to know how to help, but they also want to know what they shouldn't do. They don't want to say or do the wrong thing to make the situation worse. Staying away and avoiding their loved one is, by far, worse than saying or doing something "wrong."

Fear of offending the friend should never keep somebody from reaching out. A new amputee knows that they no longer have their limb. It isn't a topic that should be avoided out of a fear of causing pain. I have yet to meet a new amputee who doesn't have the need to talk about the loss! Sometimes having those "this really sucks" feelings validated by a caring friend helps speed the healing process.

Whatever the obstacle being faced by a friend, it is never wrong to reach out and offer support. Please don't assume that others are offering a caring ear and words of encouragement. I know from experience that there can never be too much love and support during difficult times!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Elf

It is nearly impossible to grasp that we have only nine days until Christmas. Didn't we just go Trick-or-Treating a few days ago? Time has flown by during the past two months!

Our house isn't as decorated as I had envisioned back in September, but I am pleased with both my efforts and the results. We have an enormous tree covered in an odd assortment of lights and glittery decorations hanging from the ceiling and chandeliers. My favorite holiday trinkets are strategically placed through the house. I didn't do as much decorating as I have in years past, but considering everything that is going on right now, I am content.

We are overflowing with Christmas excitement in spite of the mediocre embellishments. Right now our house is on Santa patrol. Robby has me check his status on the "Naughty or Nice" list several times a day. (Thanks Mary for telling me about www.claus.com.) Robby can't wait until Santa finally comes!

I know that his years of fully believing in Santa Claus are limited. In another year or two Robby will either figure out the identity of Santa or doubts will be created by his peers. I have no doubt that I'll be as devastated as he when he stops believing!

In the meantime, I've vowed to make the most of his believing in Santa, and I plan to make this Christmas as magical as possible! Every few days we hear the sound of jingle bells. Typically, Robby and I are in the living room while his Daddy is (conveniently) in another room. As soon as we hear those bells, we take off running to Robby's bedroom. As much as we try to run fast, the elf always gets away before we can see him!

The elf has been leaving a note and a small gift. Yesterday he left Rob a Nutcracker ornament on his pillow. I wonder how Santa knew that Robby is taken with nutcrackers this Christmas? As Robby says, Santa seems to know everything!

I love seeing the excitement radiate from Robby when he discovers his little surprises. The gifts, although modest in size and price, have been making an impact that is priceless. Seeing his excitement is the best Christmas present of all!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Spilled Milk

I shudder to admit that I was counting down the minutes on Tuesday before I took Robby to school. I wasn't feeling well and have been struggling with flu-like symptoms since Monday night. He was bouncing off the walls, begging to decorate more cookies and paint ornaments. I tried using logic, explaining that I didn't feel well and that I didn't want his good clothes to get dirty before school. Neither explanation was accepted as he pouted and informed me that he "heard a present falling off of Santa's sleigh and it had Momom written on it!"

After I dropped him off, I set the timer on my cell phone and went straight to bed. I slept for the next two hours. I can't say that I woke up feeling refreshed, but I was certainly feeling more functional. I had some gingerbread tea, swallowed some more Tylenol, and then took off to pick up my little guy from school.

When I arrived in Robby's classroom all of his little friends were furiously writing letters to Santa Claus. Robby was sitting by himself at the lunch table quietly eating. He kept his head down and barely smiled when I approached him. My heart sank as I instantly knew that something was wrong.

In spite of my insistence that he tell me what was wrong, he refused to talk to me on the way home. Instead, he told me that he wanted to have a talk- man to man- with Mr. Bill first. I stopped pestering for answers and we quietly drove to Mr. Bill's house.

Robby sat on the Lazy Boy recliner next to his confidant and began to sob. He proceeded to tell Mr. Bill that he had spilled his milk at lunch time. He made a mess all over his rice and the floor. He had made his teacher upset.

Mr. Bill listened to the story and then offered Robby some cheese. He explained that accidents happen and that nobody was mad at him. "Well Mr. Bill, Miss Dominique (his teacher) said that I can't have any more milk. I guess I'm going to have to be a water man from here on out because I'm cut off milky."

I have to admit that I was impressed with Mr. Bill's ability to refrain from laughing at this innocent, yet dramatic, comment. Instead he patiently explained that he would be allowed to drink milk and that his teacher meant that he couldn't have another cup of milk during lunch. Robby's mood instantly elevated when he learned that he wasn't going to be banned from milk for life!

Robby was much happier after debriefing with Mr. Bill. We came home and he enjoyed a tall mug of ice cold milk with his Santa cookies. I curled up on the sofa and he watched Tom and Jerry cartoons until Scott came home from work. I wish that he would have talked to me directly about his school worries, but I'm so thankful that he has a kind confidant whom he trusts. If only my flu bug could be cured as quickly!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Infection Fears

If you ask an amputee about their biggest physical fear, most likely they will state losing the sound limb or having to amputate the next highest joint on their prosthetic side. Infection, falls, and trauma are variables that can strike an amputee without warning, sidelining activities and necessitating medical intervention. During the past week I have heard from four amputee friends who have been hospitalized because of infections.

All amputees who rely upon a prosthetic are susceptible to sores and infection on the residual limb. Sensation has been compromised making it difficult to feel small sores or pinch cuts. This is only exacerbated for the diabetic amputee!

Before I go to bed, I conduct my nightly limb check. I have a small mirror by the bed that I use to examine every inch of my stump. Doing this allows me to identify any potential sores, ingrown hairs or small cuts that may be a catalyst for infection. Some nights I wish I could just slip into bed without another thought, but I realize that the health of my limb necessitates the preventative checks.

In addition to thoroughly examining my leg, liner care is imperative to maintaining a healthy limb. My liner is against my skin for upwards of 18 hours a day. This dark, moist environment can be a breeding ground for bacteria and infection. I wash my liner every night, using my regular face soap. Once a week I will rinse it with a vinegar water solution. Considering the amount of dirt and sweat that accumulates on the liner, it is surprisingly easy to clean!

I often encounter one of my biggest amputee annoyances in the middle of the night. I hate getting up to use the bathroom or to chase away monsters and being forced to stop to put on my liner and leg. When I'm tired and want to return to bed quickly, I resent the few extra moments that it takes me to get up and walk.

I admit that, on rare occasions, I have slept with my liner. Typically this happened when Robby was sick, and I knew that I would have to put the vomit bowl under his little mouth at a moment's notice. Except for these rare circumstances, I never wear my prosthetic or liner when I sleep. The skin on my limb needs a chance to "breathe" after being confined and covered all day. Although I hate putting on my leg in the middle of the night, I won't compromise my residual limb health by sleeping in my liner.

Everyday I am reminded of the possibility of infection when I examine my stump for sores and cuts. Some nights I am so tired I would prefer to simply take my leg off and fall into bed. Instead I force myself to go through my routine. The health of my limb and my ability to walk are both worth this extra time!

Monday, December 12, 2011


Cutting down a Christmas tree has been a tradition in my family since I was young. I have fond memories of us piling into the car and driving to the Christmas tree farm. We used to sing songs on the hayride and took turns with the saw until the tree was felled. I love passing these happy childhood traditions onto Robby.

On Saturday Robby, Scott, and I met up with my sister and her three children in Pennsylvania to cut down our Christmas tree. We were delighted that my dad, who now lives in Texas, was in town on business and was able to join us. The grandkids were bouncing off the walls with energy and excitement as they vied for their Candy Papaw's attention.

As it turns out, Robby and his cousins were more interested in running around the farm and entertaining their grandfather than they were in choosing a tree. Scott and I were promptly abandoned on our quest of finding the ideal Christmas tree. The two of us scoured the fields in search of evergreen perfection.

Between the hilly terrain, the divots and tree stumps, and the mud, walking around the farm was not an easy task for me. To make it more laborious, I was forced to use my exercise leg because a new socket is being constructed for my Proprio leg. I relied upon Scott for most of the tree scouting since I was forced to concentrate on walking in order to avoid falling. As it turns out, Scott has excellent taste in Christmas trees!

He spotted a tree on the opposite side of the farm and was insistent that we check it out. To be honest I would have been satisfied simply to cut something closer to our location, but I decided to humor him on his quest. Despite slipping in the mud, it was worth the effort. He had managed to find the perfect tree.

The tree was bigger than its counterparts. It looked majestic, not massive. We estimated that it stood 7 feet tall. Apparently size can be skewed in a field. It wasn't until we labored to carry the heavy coniferous prize into our home that we realized the sheer size of this tree.

Our tree is nearly 11 feet tall, and is about 7 feet in girth. Standing tall in our living room, the ambiance of the space has been morphed from "open and airy" to "cozy and congested." It didn't look this big when we cut it down!

After the tree was secured in the stand, Robby and I started to hang the lights. Our four strands, which used to be ample for our previous trees, were woefully inadequate. We headed out to buy more lights and additional (shatterproof) ornaments. Unfortunately the stores were nearly sold out of lights so our choices were limited. It's a good thing I'm not a stickler for having things match!

The top third of our tree is adorn with traditional twinkling multi-colored lights. The center is covered with obnoxiously bright LED multi-colored lights. The bottom of our tree is wrapped with LED neon pink and purple lights, reminiscent of an Easter egg. Saying it looks odd is being kind.

The lights don't match and none of the branches above 4 feet have ornaments because Robby decorated it himself. I have branches brushing against my back and neck when I sit at the dining room table and we can't use the sliding glass doors because it is so big. Despite all of this, I smile every time I see the tree. Somehow, this massive and eclectically decorated Christmas tree is the perfect fit in our house.