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, January 06, 2012

Seasonal Precautions

I try to enjoy every season. After all, there is nothing that my complaining about the cold, heat, leaves or rain will accomplish, so I might as well try to enjoy myself. Robby loves playing in the snow and going sledding. Because I love watching him so happy and playing with him, we have both been anxious for snow. Unfortunately, we haven't been able to take his new sled on a test slide yet.

But with the frosty temperatures I have no doubt that the fluffy flakes will soon be falling. My house has been weatherized for maximum efficiency. Unfortunately, living in a home comprised primarily of windows the term "maximum efficiency" does not equate warm; it simply implies "less drafty." In the process of winterizing, I managed to unlock a hidden talent. It seems that I have a knack for putting up plastic sheeting without wrinkles or tears!

With the house sealed, yesterday I turned my attention to my leg. The plunging thermometer always causes an increase in phantom pain! When my stump is cold, I am simply miserable. As Robby says, "When Momom is hurting, nobody is happy."

I began by digging through Scott's sock drawers and pulling all of his tube socks that have holes. I discovered the first winter after my amputation that his tube socks fit perfectly over my limb. The sock is snug enough to stay in place but isn't tight enough to be uncomfortable. I seek the ones with holes as a courtesy so I don't stretch out his good socks.

With my stump socks identified, I rummaged through the closet until I found my heating pad. It took me 20 minutes to find something that should have been easy to locate. I really need to clean my closet! Despite the clutter, I kept looking because when I come inside from playing in the snow, my stump often needs to be warmed quickly. Wrapping it with a warm heating pad feels heavenly on extremely cold days and was worth the hunt.

While I was in the closet, I spied my box of hand warmers down from the top shelf. Incidentally I also dislodged 20 rolls of toilet paper, a fish tank filter and a set of hot hair rollers which had been precariously balanced next to the warmers. Another reminder that I really need to clean my closet!

The air activated little hand warmer pads have been an integral part of my winter arsenal since I discovered that they work inside my prosthetic. Each morning I toss one in the bottom of my socket before I put on my leg. Because the warmers are flat and don't require a lot of space, my prosthetic fit isn't compromised. The hand warmer heats my socket for up to 8 hours!

With my socks, heating pad, and hand warmers secure, I am ready for winter. Jack Frost can hit us with his hardest shot in the coming weeks, but my leg will stay nice and toasty. And if we do happen to have a blizzard this winter, I now know how I'll spend my time waiting out the storm-- cleaning my closets!

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Shrinking Jeans

After weeks of unseasonably warm temperatures, there is no doubt that winter is upon us. It's getting colder everyday. Yesterday I finally broke down and packed up my comfy capris and t-shirts, lugged my jeans and sweaters up from the basement, and resigned myself to winter.

I am seriously contemplating moving our bed downstairs. After all, there is something magical in the air that makes everything shrink. My jeans, which fit fine when I packed them away this past spring, are now uncomfortably snug. Obviously, they have shrunk!

Or, perhaps I have indulged in a few too many Christmas treats. While I would prefer to blame the clothes, in reality the culprit lies with my growing bum. I had not intended to make weight loss a New Year's resolution, but my unwearable magic shrinking jeans have added it to my list.

I have worked too hard to shed the weight I gained after my amputation. I also know that, unless I'm vigilant, the pounds can creep back on. I've purged my pantry of all of my baked goods by pawning them off on my neighbor. Mr. Bill was a little surprised when I showed up at his house with Robby's wagon packed with treats, but he didn't complain!

I've stocked my fridge with fresh veggies, yogurt and a big pot of brown rice. I'm going to start riding again (I took a brief hiatus during the holidays) and I am investigating adding a strength training component to my workout. I'm not going to go crazy with fitness because the last thing I need right now is a sports injury!

Per my original resolution this year, I am not going to beat myself up over my recent hiccup. I have vowed to release some of the pressure I place upon myself. I am giving myself credit for recognizing the issue before it has become a huge (no pun intended) problem. Time to start sweating!

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Working at Home

For the past five years, I have referred to myself as a stay-at-home Mom. Although it was a difficult adjustment, I had no qualms about stepping away from my teaching career to take care of Robby. It hasn't always been easy, but I have never regretted this decision.

During the last few months, my professional responsibilities have been growing. Between writing insurance appeals, managing my prosthetist's patient outreach, and moderating the ACA Facebook page, I am now wearing a lot of hats. Add the fact that I'm still a mom to an active and curious part-time Kindergartener, a blogger, and a wife who is still expected to maintain the home, managing my time with all of my "duties" has become increasingly difficult.

Scott sent me a barrage of text messages yesterday while he was at work. He seemed to become aggravated when I didn't immediately reply. When he finally called, he remarked that I didn't seem "chatty." No, I wasn't particularly chatty. I was busy! Just because I'm home should not imply that I am always available.

I thought that I would be able to get a lot accomplished with Robby being in school, but three hours fly by so quickly. After I pick him up I try to spend time with him, work on the household chores, make dinner, and finish my professional duties. Opportunities to sit and chat are virtually non-existent as I flutter around trying to take care of everything. From researching insurance policies to not burning a grilled cheese sandwich to vacuuming the floors, I am spending at least 16 hours a day "at work."

It occurred to me yesterday, after hanging up from a conference call I completed while folding the laundry, that I am no longer a "stay at home" mom. My mounting professional obligations are now monopolizing a significant block of my schedule. Instead I have decided that referring to my situation as "working from home" is more accurate.

I am optimistic that my changing my label to "working at home" will signal some household changes. I am seriously considering hiring a cleaning service to help with the housework. It is no longer a matter of not enjoying cleaning; I now don't have time to do it.

Right now I think I'm going through the growing pains that working moms have experienced for decades. Although my professional adventures have been extremely rewarding, I realize that I cannot keep going at this pace. Working at home while trying to be a stay at home mom is draining. I think it is time to relinquish some of my "stay at home mom" chores!

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Back to the Routine

There are two sad boys in my house this morning. Much to their chagrin, Christmas vacation is over and they both must return to school today. They both looked so sad and forlorn when they were laying out their clothes and going to bed last night. Out of respect, I tried to keep my smile and gleeful demeanor in check!

I never imagined that I would be counting down the days until Robby returned to school. While I love having him home with me, I have come to appreciate the benefits that school affords. He is happier when he is able to interact and play with his peers, and when he is happier, everything is a lot easier!

During the past few days, our home has morphed from Christmas Wonderland to raging battlefield. Christmas music has been replaced by foot stamping. A battalion of tiny green army men have been turned into projectile bombs at the hands of a pint sized General. I'm fairly certain that at least a dozen soldiers are now MIA in our Christmas tree. All of the toys which were neatly piled in the corner were hastily moved to free up the time out stop. Yes, Robby Rotten has taken up residence and has refused retreat.

Although he won't admit it, I know that Robby misses being at school. He was thriving with his new routine. He loves playing with his friends, and I think he has missed the structure of his classroom. A week at home has rendered him mischievous, irritable, and demanding. Nothing seemed to satisfy his desires, and Scott and I tired of running around trying to please a five year old!

I am anticipating a final showdown this morning as I pack him up for school. I fully expect him to pull out all the stops, including but not limited to tears when I kiss him goodbye in front of his classroom. I'm sure that I'll feel a pang of guilt when I leave the school. I also suspect that it will only last as long as it takes me to drive to Starbucks for my celebratory back to school latte.

Monday, January 02, 2012

New Year Fun

New Year's Eve is a low key affair in our house. Scott traditionally holes himself in his "man cave" playing video games and Skyping with friends. I usually watch a movie, munch on assorted snacks, and go to bed shortly after putting Robby in for the night. Although this is our pattern many weekend nights, it somehow smacks as pathetic on New Year's Eve. Seemingly the rest of the world is partying and having fun, and my lack of extravagant plans makes me feel inadequate. I have come to dread New Year's Eve!

This year fate intervened with our humdrum plans. I won tickets to a Children's Museum in Baltimore. The museum was having a New Year's countdown at noon which not only seemed appropriate for kids but also accommodated my propensity for falling asleep before the ball drops at midnight. I was delighted that we had something fun to do, and even more thrilled that it was completely free!

Saturday morning we piled into the car and drove to Baltimore to redeem my prize. Robby was utterly mesmerized when we entered the museum. In the center of the lobby stood a three story, intricately designed climbing structure. The plethora of rope bridges, plank ladders, mesh tubes, and rock walls seemed to beckon his name. He gave me a kiss, posed for one picture and took off climbing!

Initially Scott and I stayed at the bottom of the structure with the other adults. I managed to keep Robby in my sights thanks to the zoom lens on my camera. After about ten minutes, I noticed that he wasn't moving. I volunteered Scott to go help him.

Unfortunately, Scott went in a different entrance and was separated from Robby by a mesh wall. As Scott tried to work his way through the obstacle course, I slung my large flowered purse over my shoulder and prepared to rescue my son. Although I was well under the weight restriction, I can assure you that the "urban tree house" was not designed for anybody over the age of 15. It was certainly not intended for a middle age amputee woman lacking any natural grace and agility.

Acting on instinct, I crawled into the entrance, determined to reach Robby. My first obstacle was the rope ladder. Rope ladders, it turns out, are not easy to navigate with a prosthetic. I had to deliberately place my foot on each rope loop before hoisting upward. I was slow, but I eventually made it to the next level. I was convinced that I would reach Robby when I turned the corner.

Crap! Apparently the intricacies of this structure could not be appreciated from the ground. I still had a tube separating me from my scared little guy. I hate heights! I was not happy about being suspended in a mesh tube tethered to the ceiling by chains two stories high. Each movement caused the tube to sway and I was not a happy Momom!

Squeezing through the mesh tube was not my finest moment. I tried scooting on my bum but quickly realized that I was too tall to sit up. I was forced to back out and enter on my stomach.

While commando crawling through the mesh tube, my prosthetic became caught in one of the holes. I stopped as soon as I felt the suction break but quickly realized that my options were limited. I couldn't back out of the tube because I had a string of kids behind me in the tube, already annoyed at my slow pace. I knew that proceeding forward would cause me to crawl out of my leg. With my suspension compromised, I had no choice but to take my leg off and push it through the tube ahead of me.

Between my leg and my purse, my hands were full, making it more difficult to maneuver through the swinging obstacle. I was relieved when I was finally able to throw my leg (partly out of relief and frustration) through the opening on the other side, freeing up my arms and signaling the end to the mesh purgatory. The teenager who witnessed my leg flying through the opening, unattached to a body, was not nearly as thrilled!

Finally I managed to reach my little boy. He had become stuck by a free swing ladder and was afraid to climb. I held the ladder for him, allowing him to reach the "promised land"-- the slide at the top of the structure.

After we slid to safety, Scott and I took a moment to regroup. While I was rescuing Robby, Scott was looking at the map that we received when we entered the museum. Ignoring the "Read this first" directive clearly written, in bold, at the top of the map was not our wisest decision. The schematic showed the three entrances, each color coded and clearly marked by age requirements. Robby had entered the 10 and above structure. D'oh!

We spent the rest of the afternoon playing on the 5-7 year old climber. Robby had a blast, and to my delight the openings were larger to accommodate parents. While I still had to maneuver the rope obstacles, I had more room to move and didn't become stuck. Scott and I took turns climbing with Robby. He never seemed to tire! We did.

After nearly four hours of climbing fun, we convinced Robby that it was time to go home. We wanted to make it home before dark and before the drunks took to the road. Although I still went to bed before the revelries began at midnight, I didn't feel my normal pangs of guilt. I think I was simply too exhausted to care!

<-- Robby trapped. Note that he is crouched down, demonstrating the size of the space.

The more spacious, and age appropriate tube! ------>