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, February 10, 2012

The Super Bug

During the past week I have been overwhelmed with emails of concern and words of encouragement for my sister Sheri. I appreciate all of the support that we have received, and I feel humbled by the outpouring of love.

Our introduction to the dreaded "super bug" began last weekend. Since being found by our mom in her car and incoherent on the side of the road, my sister has been battling a systemic infection both in and out of the hospital. Our family unwillingly has been thrown onto the medical roller coaster (again) and it doesn't feel like the ride will be coming to an end anytime soon!

We were optimistic when Sheri was released from the hospital on Monday with a PICC line, IV antibiotic therapy, and a visiting nurse set up for daily visits. We were prepared for the treatment to take weeks, but we had no way of predicting the roadblocks thrown into her path. Super bugs we witnessed are horrible, violent little germs that wreak havoc on the entire body.

On Wednesday my sister was rushed back to the surgeon with a hot spot on her breast and a low grade fever. According to Sheri, "I walked into the office and whipped out my boob. He grabbed a needle and a knife and started carving me up like a Thanksgiving turkey." I suspect that the examination was a little more involved than her version, but have no doubt that the physician needs improvement in his bedside manner!

Since Wednesday, both her hand and her breast incisions have been packed daily to drain the infection. Her antibiotics have been increased substantially and, despite the addition of Cipro to her prescription arsenal, her infection continues to spread. My heart breaks seeing her struggle.

This morning Sheri will be in surgery (again). It was determined late last night that the infection has spread throughout her breast tissue. They will be removing the infected breast tissue, reattaching her nipple and crossing their fingers that they got it all. In essence she is undergoing a modified mastectomy. I never imagined that this drastic surgery could be necessitated by an infection!

I'm worried for my sister, but I am also angry. Bad things keep happening to the good people in my life. Trust me, I have a lengthy list of people who would be more deserving of this infection! I know that it is a moot point, but I must say-- Sometimes life just isn't fair!

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Mail Day!

Every day I have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of my mailman. I've been making several trips per day to the mailbox, hopeful for letter that I've been expecting. Considering that our mailbox is nearly 1/4 mile away, it is a considerable trek! My anticipation peaks and my heart begins to beat faster as I open the little door on our mailbox. Instantly my hopes are squashed when I realize that only junk mail, bills, and assorted newspapers have been delivered.

I've been waiting for word from the Workman's Compensation Commission of MD about my case. Since the non-hearing debacle from January 18th, I've been on pins and needles waiting for the next move. My frustrations have been increasing as each day goes by without any word on my case.

I called my attorney earlier in the week to inquire about the status of my hearing. I was shocked when his secretary actually put my call through to him. Not that he was particularly helpful, but it was nice to actually be able to converse with the man who is supposed to be advocating my case.

During the course of our brief conversation, I mentioned that I liked "Skippy" (the young and inexperienced lawyer who was assigned to represent me at the last hearing). I was a little disturbed when my attorney replied by saying, "He's young and fresh out of law school. He still cares about what he is doing. When you get to be my age, you don't care as much anymore." Although obviously true, I was surprised and taken aback that my attorney actually admitted that he doesn't care anymore. Who does that! It certainly did nothing to increase my confidence in his representation of my case.

Yesterday, in lieu of the forecast snow, we received a steady and cold rain. I wasn't going to schlep up to the mailbox in the unfavorable weather, but my curiosity got the best of me. I bundled up, and went to retrieve our mail.

I began to shake as I opened up our mailbox, but it wasn't from the cold. I spotted a letter from the Commission. With the cold rain pouring down, I stopped in my tracks and opened the envelope. The typed form letter left me speechless.

Unbeknown to me, the Commission has approved my appeals without a hearing. I didn't even know that this was a possibility! Everything has been approved and ordered by the court. I was drenched by the time I got home, but I felt 50 pounds lighter. The weight of not knowing and not having control over my own decisions has been lifted.

I'm going to be able to proceed with my revision surgery as recommended. While I'm not excited about the prospect of a re-amputation, I am thrilled to be able to put this chapter of my life behind me and move forward. It's degrading to have to testify in court in order to obtain recommended medical care. I'm happy that, this time around, I was spared that experience and the court ruled in my favor without a formal hearing!

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Stinky Fun

The weather during the past few days has been unbelievably beautiful. Instead of sledding and throwing snowballs, Robby and I have been playing laser tag in the woods and exploring the stream. It feels like spring, and although I still wish we had more time in the snow, we have been soaking up every moment before winter decides to arrive.

It does not take much to convince Robby to go outside to play. He is a stereotypical boy who loves digging in the dirt, climbing in trees, and exploring. Judging by how he looks when we return after an outdoor adventure, I suspect his goal is to become as mud-laden as possible!

As soon as he got home from school yesterday he ditched his school clothes for a pair of hole-riddled jeans, a stained shirt, and his froggy boots. He grabbed his binoculars, meteorite detector, and a shovel. He packed a bag with two Rice Krispie treats, his cowboy gun, and a hammer "just in case we get lost in the wilderness." I grabbed my cell phone and we took off to explore "the deep forest" which, incidentally, is our backyard.

I was warned of the dangers of panthers and bears which, according to Robby the Wilderness Guide, are known to roam the wild. He pointed to tracks in the mud to confirm his suspicions. He was confident that they were from a spotted panther. He refused to entertain the notion that they might have been from the deer who frequently run through the yard and, at that point, I realized the adventure was more fun through his eyes. Upon reflection, they could have been from a rogue panther.

Our afternoon was spent looking for wild animals and meteorites. Tromping through the woods, trying not to get tangled in the dead thorn vines, I was reminded how glad I am that Robby only goes to school for a half day. I wouldn't miss getting covered with briars, trapped by thorn vines, and stalked by wild animals for anything! I happily followed Robby the Wilderness Guide through our yard, loving every moment of watching his active imagination at work.

After schlepping our way through the mud, leaves, and assorted muck, Robby stopped in his tracks and simply pointed to large hole in the bottom of a tree. He whispered, "Look Explorer Momom, I think something lives inside there. Let's take a closer look."

I was confident that Robby had "discovered" nothing more than a hollow tree trunk, but I was happy to oblige his curiosity. We hedged up cautiously, and crunched down to peer inside the hole. Against my better judgment, I grabbed a long stick and poked inside the hole. It turns out that it is never wise to blindly poke sticks into possible animal dens.

We didn't see any animals, but they certainly made their presence known. As soon as the stick entered the hole I began to smell a strong, offensive yet extremely familiar odor. We found a skunk den, and they were not happy to be disturbed.

Robby took one sniff, looked at me and screamed, "I don't like the smell of this. I'm getting out of here." He took off running up the hill back to the house. I tried to follow suit but am not nearly as swift as my child. It took me longer to get up from the ground, and I can't run as quickly.

Thankfully I didn't get sprayed directly. Unfortunately I did run directly through the skunk stink in my ungraceful attempt to deftly escape. Any ideas on how to get skunk stink off a plastic foot shell?

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

I'm going to Try

About every 18 months I find myself feeling antsy and looking for a new challenge. While I by no means consider myself to be athletic, I do enjoy pushing my own boundaries to accomplish a goal.

Two years ago I took up running and ran a 5K. I discovered two things about myself during the race: First, I realized that I can physically run a 5k. Secondly, I confirmed that I utterly hate running.

A few weeks ago my prosthetist presented me with an opportunity both to challenge myself and to cross something off of my bucket list at the same time. Since I've been toying with the notion of competing in this event for a long time, it felt akin to fate when I was invited to participate as part of his team. I am excited, and nervous, to announce that I am officially signed up for my first triathlon!

Barring my revision surgery interrupting my training schedule, I plan on participating in the Celebrating Heroes Triathlon on June 24. This event is the perfect foray into the intimidating world of the triathlon. Because it is sponsored by a rehabilitation hospital, many of my fellow competitors will be amputees or living with some sort of physical disability. It is somewhat comforting to know that I will not be the only amputee in the field.

This triathlon involves a .62 mile swim in a quasi-warm lake, followed by a 17 mile bike ride and a 3.4 mile walk/jog/run. I have a lot of training ahead of me in the next few months, but I am excited about this challenge. I want to prove to myself, and to Robby, that my amputation has not held me back. I suppose I also want to try to recapture some of my youth by pushing myself to my physical limits. On a more conceited note, I would simply love to be able to refer to myself as a triathlete!

Monday, February 06, 2012

The Wannabe

A few days ago I watched an episode of Taboo which profiled a woman who lived her life in a wheelchair despite the fact that she is able-bodied. Before my amputation I was completely oblivious to the subculture surrounding disabilities. The fact that people yearn to live with a disability, in a wheelchair, or with an amputation perplexes and disturbs me.

Wannabes and fakers (the term commonly used to describe those who feign disabilities) dredge a variety of uncomfortable emotions for me. I become angry when I think about somebody dreaming of living with an amputation. My life was thrown an enormous road block when I lost my foot. I went through physical pain and an emotional turmoil that few would be able to comprehend. Although I have learned to adapt and I am happy, I would never say that the journey or my amputation is worthy of envy!

Since watching the episode, I have become quasi-obsessed with understanding the wannabe mentality. Barring unrelenting pain and disease, why would make somebody want to become an amputee? Perplexed and curious, I've been doing some research into this subset of individuals.

The psychological term for wannabes is "body image integrity disorder (BIID)." Individuals with BIID wholeheartedly believe that they are living disingenuous lives trapped inside their able body. I have read it described as feeling like an amputee with all four limbs. They are incomplete because their body doesn't match the image in their mind.

Despite my reading I still don't fully comprehend BIID. Although it is denied, it seems that these individuals glamorize amputees. They don't factor the pain, inconveniences, and frustrations that I contend with on a daily basis. They see only the loss of the limb as a physical completion of themselves and fail to consider the ramifications of living life as an amputee.

I endured more than 20 painful surgeries in my attempt to salvage my foot. The decision to amputate was wrought with fear and was not taken lightly. If I had been offered a feasible option to amputation that would have allowed me to live a functional life, I would have jumped on it. The fact that some people resort to self-amputation of a healthy limb in order to achieve their dream of being an amputee repulses me.

I looked up BIID and discovered several groups and pages devoted to the issue. The majority offered support for those who were seeking to mutilate. I was disgusted to read threads where the self-amputation of toes to "start small and work towards the bigger prize" were detailed. Similar to the directions found in cookbooks about how to de-bone a chicken, the instructions were laid out in a matter of fact, hum drum manner.

After investing too much mental energy on the issue, I have concluded that I will never understand the Wannabe. I can't relate to the overwhelming desire that would force somebody to take the drastic step of self-amputation. The Wannabe yearns to live their life with a disability. It is ironic because, in my opinion, they are already disabled by their psychological issues. Amputation is not the remedy for this disorder!!