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, April 20, 2012

My Mom

I have no doubt that when it comes to getting a good mom, I hit the lottery. My mom is my strongest supporter. She has been by my side through all of my struggles and has stood proudly by my side to celebrate my accomplishments. I believe that my successes would have been far fewer had I not had her to encourage me, to cheer me on, and to give me a swift kick in the rear when I was wallowing.

I've always taken for granted that my mom will have the right words for every situation. When I first began to talk about amputation as an option, she never showed any weakness. She remained strong and confident in my decision during times when I was full of doubt and fear. In retrospect, I probably would have fallen apart completely if she had demonstrated anything but absolute confidence that I was making the correct decision.

Now that I'm a mom, I am in awe at her ability to maintain her emotions during that difficult time. I wonder if I would be as strong for Robby? I don't know how she did it, but I am forever grateful for her steadfast support.

Anybody who knows my mom always ends up respecting her. In college, she was the one that my friends would call when they couldn't confide in their own parents. I always felt a little sad for them because I couldn't fathom having that type of closed relationship a parent.

I've always been able to talk to her about everything, big or small in my life. I still talk to my mom daily- not because I haven't "cut the umbilical cord" but because I like chatting with her. She makes me laugh!

I remember a conversation I had with my Mom about three years ago. I explained that I was feeling frustrated because I didn't know any other amputee parents. I wanted to do something bigger, to reach out, and to help other amputees. I wanted to create a community, a place where ideas could be shared, and encouragement and support would abound. It was during that phone call that this blog was born. She is my greatest support and fan, and I know that I wouldn't be who I am today if it wasn't for her.

Yesterday was my mom's birthday. I wanted to be able to visit and spend the day with her, but between Robby's school schedule and my work obligations, it just wasn't feasible. I'm going to see her today though, and hope to make up for missing her special day.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

What I Learned

After three consecutive days of grueling sessions with my trainer, I am happy to spend today away from the gym. I'll still be working out, but the fact that I won't have to drive in order to sweat makes me feel like I'm on vacation. I've been going to the gym now for a month and, to my disappointment, I still hate it. I hope that this changes!

My weight has seen minimal change (only four pound loss) and my clothes do not fit differently, except of course for my bra which is the only part of me I'm not trying to shrink. I keep thinking that I'm going to feel stronger. Unfortunately, all I'm feeling is extremely sore. We're currently on our fourth tube of Bengay. It is hard to remain motivated when I'm not seeing or feeling any results.

My pinch cut sores are beginning to heal, and I'm hopeful that they will be completely closed before my training session next Tuesday. After my post detailing the painful situation, I was contacted by some amputee athletes. I was advised to try something called body glide. Apparently this gel is designed to minimize friction and to reduce the likelihood of pinch cuts and sores. I ordered it immediately and I am looking forward to giving it a try.

The athletes seemed surprised that I have never heard of this exercise-specific lotion. I get so frustrated when I confront and struggle with an issue only to discover that a simple remedy is readily available making my suffering unnecessary. I'm active in the amputee community and try to stay current on the newest advances. Still, this exercise lotion eluded me. It makes me wonder, what else don't I know about?

I hate that, despite the access to instant knowledge on the Internet and my ability to network, I feel like I am still blindly trying things, hoping to stumble upon something that works. There is so little written about amputee fitness, especially in regard to issues such as inappropriate exercises, sores and pinch cuts, and limb cramping. I know I cannot be the only person to have encountered these issues.

While I'm disappointed in the results of my training and I'm frustrated with my fitness "experts," I have learned a lot during the past few weeks. I'm going to keep speaking up and advocating for appropriate exercises with my trainer. I'm also going to keep researching and trying to learn how to maintain a healthy limb under this strain. I am beginning to lose hope that my body will be transformed, but I am certainly learning bundles through this experience.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Space Ships and Apricots

Yesterday, despite nearly every little muscle screaming at me to quit, I got dressed and headed to the gym. To be honest, the only reason I went was because I paid for the sessions in advance. After talking about the squatting situation (again) I was instructed through a series of upper body exercises. Although my muscles were burning and my arms felt like limp spaghetti, I was happy that my leg survived the workout unscathed. Hopefully my situation is understood.

Sweaty and trying to gather up my energy to move my arms so that I could drive home, I was content just to sit in my car and feel the air conditioning hit my face for a few minutes. I would have fallen asleep if my phone hadn't rung. The caller was from Robby's school and, although my arms felt like they had been rung through a pasta machine, I quickly picked up the phone.

Robby's teacher was on the line and after apologizing for disturbing me, she explained that Robby was absolutely insistent that she call because he needed to talk to me. She put him on the phone, and our conversation went something like this:

me: "Hi Buddy. What's up?"
Robby (excited and speaking quickly): "Momom, you will never believe this. Today I met a real live apricot who has been in outer space. He's been with the stars Momom- I didn't know that you could do that. He showed us pictures of his space ship and, well this is going to blow your mind, we went outside and the space ship flew right over our school! Momom, I saw a real live space ship in the sky! The apricot told me all about it and you can float in space and you have to pee pee into a special tube or it floats too. I want to do that. Isn't that cool? I am going to be an apricot when I grow up."

It took me a few seconds to realize that the "apricot" was an astronaut. The father of a little girl at the school, a retired astronaut, graciously spent the morning at the school talking about his space adventures and the shuttle. Obviously he realized that the school was directly in the center of the flight path as the shuttle was being flown to Dulles Airport. Robby was (no pun intended) over the moon with enthusiasm and excitement about seeing the space ship and meeting the apricot and wanted to share his experiences with me.

I have to admit that I felt a tad emotional when I saw the shuttle fly by our house. Watching the original shuttle launch is such a strong childhood memory. I doubt I'll ever forget the palpable excitement in our house when we saw the first launch. I was young, but I realized that I was watching history.

In a way I was sad to see the shuttle fly by, knowing it is the last time it would ever soar. At the same time, Robby's experience did a lot to lift my spirits. It's wonderful that we will both have strong memories of the shuttle flying. Although he'll never see it reach space, he has been introduced to space exploration. When I picked him up at school I could see the same hopeful enthusiasm and awestruck amazement that I remember feeling when I was his age and saw my first launch. I love how things work out sometimes!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

No Pain, No Gain??

Every time I work out with my trainer, I hear the expression "No pain, no gain." I'm told to "fight for it" when I'm struggling with the weights, and urged to push beyond the pain to complete my reps. "Don't quit. Keep fighting. Ignore the pain." Judging by the bleeding sores that are now covering my stump, I think that I have taken that instruction too literally!

Because the skin on my leg has reduced sensitivity, I often don't know that I have been cut until I remove my liner and see the blood. When I felt a pinching pain at the top of my socket, I should have been more assertive and insisted on stopping. However, in my zeal to prove that I am not a quitter, I tried to shake it off. I am now paying for this arrogance with an oozing and painful limb.

A particularly grueling exercise that included frog squatting, kicking back into a push up, hopping forward again and then standing up, is the culprit. The skin on the back of my stump became pinched between the carbon fiber socket, creating a series of small cuts. The repetition of the exercise caused those small cuts to grow into larger sores.

Staying out of my leg, although prudent, is not a feasible option right now. Robby has to be shuffled to and from school, housework is mounting, and I have other responsibilities. Instead, I've been trying to provide some relief with moleskin and removing my prosthetic whenever possible.

Yesterday I cushioned the sores, took some Tylenol and headed to meet my trainer. I explained the situation and how the injury occurred. I also informed her that I couldn't do any deep squats until my socket is adjusted and the area heals. She said that she understood, but since the first exercise she asked of me involved squatting on the floor, it was clear that I didn't make an impression. I took it upon myself to adapt the movement and continued without asking permission.

After working out, walking was bordering on excruciating. I hobbled directly to the pharmacy, determined to find something better than the moleskin I had been using. Although it has been effective, the adhesive has been sticking and pulling at the fresh scabs, thwarting the healing altogether. In my desperation I bought half a basket full of assorted bandages, ointments and remedies, determined to find something that worked both to protect and heal my pinch cuts.

Finally, after a lot of experimenting, I have found the blister specific bandages to be the most beneficial. They stick to my skin without peeling (no easy task since the cuts are in the bend of my knee) and do not adhere to the open wound. The bandage is coated with an antibiotic ointment to help prevent infection and is thick enough to provide a comfortable cushion between the sores and my socket. After carefully applying a total of four blister bandages, I slipped my liner and leg back on. I was happy to take my first pain free steps since the injury occurred on Friday!

I understand the expression "No pain, no gain." I also know that this fitness endeavor is not worth physically damaging myself. I want to be healthy, but pushing myself into a pinch cut situation is not promoting wellness. From now on I'm just going to adapt the movements when necessary. I know my body, and I know how my socket and limb will react.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Fishing Derby

The warmer weather always heralds the opening of Robby and my favorite outdoor establishment, the Animal Park. He has been going to this little petting zoo since he was one. The zoo keepers know him by name and allow him special access to the animals. He has helped birth a goat, bottle fed a feral cat and helped round up countless chickens in his young life.

The temperatures this weekend were exceptionally pleasant, so I decided that Sunday was the perfect time for our inaugural trip. The fact that it was also the weekend of the much-anticipated fishing derby cemented my park going plans! Robby loves to fish- or at least to try to fish. He has spent the months since the Animal Park closed "practicing" his fishing skills by standing on the couch, bed, and occasionally the kitchen table, pretending to battle a giant fish with my broom handle as his pole.

Saturday night, while tucking him into bed, I told him that he needed to get a good night's sleep because we were going fishing at the Animal Park the next morning. In retrospect I should have waited until the morning to break the exciting news. The next hour was spent trying to calm down my little fisherman. He woke up at 5:30, raring to go to the Animal Park. He begrudgingly agreed to watch River Monsters (a television show featuring an experienced angler) to get tips for catching the big one.

We arrived at the park at the precise moment the Fishing Derby was slated to begin. The shore of the pond was teeming with experienced fishermen, each toting a large tackle box, expensive looking pole, and intimidating reels. Robby took his spot on the edge, proudly carrying his pint sized plastic neon green fishing pole which had been repaired with blue duct tape.

The air horn blew and all of the men cast their lines, baited with assorted live critters, deep into the pond. Robby quietly squished and formed some white bread over his hook, asked me to attach the bobber, and dropped his line, without casting, the poles length into the pond. Robby stood quietly, just looking at the water.

Only 30 seconds after Robby dropped his little bread baited hook into the pond his bobber began to sink. "Momom, I have a bite. Let me reel this monster in." I was shocked, but not nearly as astounded as his competitors, that Robby caught a 19" fish within a minute using only a bread ball and broken pole.

Robby caught a total of three fish during the Derby, more than any of his fellow fishermen. Each was caught using a bread ball and his simple drop the hook and wait method. He never had to wait long!

When we were out of bread and packing up, another gentleman who was diligently working three poles, finally caught a fish. It was measured for entry into the competition. Part of me was delighted when he was told that "the little kid has four inches on you." He did not look pleased, but Robby was delighted.

Robby chatted the whole way home from the Animal Park. He immediately began providing animated reenactments of catching each fish to anybody who would listen. He was quite proud of himself and for good reason. I received a call last night from the Animal Park that Robby won the Fishing Derby. His prize? A brand new fishing pole. He's already begging to go fishing again, and he promises to catch a fish bigger than a bike.