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, May 04, 2012


With the weather warming, it has been nearly impossible to keep Robby away from the stream. Actually, the temperature has little to do with the attraction. He will hop in the water while I'm bundled up in a jacket. At every opportunity he has been gravitating towards the stream ever since the deep freeze of winter has left.

A few weeks ago Robby discovered a colony of tadpoles living in the stream. He was giddy when he caught his first little swimming friend. After talking with his teacher, we decided that it would be a fun class project to watch the tadpoles change into frogs. Robby was more than happy to oblige and easily caught two plump little tadpoles to be adopted as his class pets.

Robby's little classmates love watching the tadpoles. Every morning they eagerly run over to the small aquarium to check on them. Twice a week, rain or shine, I schlep down to the stream and fill a pitcher with fresh water for the aquarium. Watching the water being changed in the tank is quite the spectacle in his class as all of the kids crowd around me eager to watch and help!

Yesterday while changing the water, we discovered that the plumper tadpole is beginning to grow frog legs. Talk about exciting! Within moments of the discovery Robby's entire kindergarten class was frog jumping all around the classroom, singing and ribbit-ing with gusto.

After jumping for several minutes, Robby came over to finish "helping" me change the water. He looked at the smaller tadpole and noticed that he was not yet growing his legs. Quickly all of his friends stopped hopping and came over to inspect for themselves.

His teacher and I were quickly peppered with questions. "Why doesn't the other tadpole have his legs yet?" "Why is he so much smaller?"  "Is he going to be okay?"  "Is he going to die?" "Will he still turn into a frog?" The hopping happy class quickly became frantic and worried over the little legless tadpole.

I tried to explain that tadpoles all develop at different times, just as they all grow at different speeds. The tadpole will be okay, and he will grow his legs. Despite my attempts, I could tell that they were not convinced. Then Robby added his two cents- "Don't worry everybody. Just stay calm. If the tadpole doesn't grow his legs Momom and me will take him to see Mr. Elliot. He will build some prosthetic legs for the tadpole so he will be able to hop."

His teacher looked uncomfortable. I had to keep myself from giggling. Robby's peers thought that made perfect sense and stopped panicking about the undeveloped little legs. To Robby, it made perfect sense. I just love his little perspective on the world.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Philly Mobility Clinic

I never went to physical therapy after my amputation. I requested PT but was summarily denied by my insurance carrier. I was never provided with an explanation and, to be completely honest, I was too mentally and physically exhausted at that point to fight.

Everything I learned about walking on my prosthetic I figured out through trial and error and with the assistance of my prosthetist. I made a lot of mistakes, and my learning curve could have been lessened greatly had I been working under the supervision of a good physical therapist. If I had the opportunity to go back in time, I definitely would have filed an appeal and fought for the service. A lot of bad habits were developed due to my improvising!

My first experience with a physical therapist came at the Amputee Coalition Conference in 2008. I attended a mobility workshop taught by Physical Therapist extraordinaire Bob Gailey. I spent three hours shuffling and moving in a hotel ballroom along with a few hundred other amputees, all with various levels of limb loss and experience. By the time the clinic was over, I was sweaty and exhausted. I also knew that my life was forever changed because of the experience.

In a few short hours Bob was able to dissect walking with a prosthetic into easy to understand and apply steps. My gait was normalized, my stride length was equal, and I was more confident in my abilities. I had been an amputee for five years at this point and thought I was doing a good job walking. During that clinic my "good walking" was molded into "darn near perfect."

Last year I had the privilege of attending a running clinic hosted by Ossur and Challenged Athletes Foundation and taught by Bob Gailey. Before the clinic I had tried running. In fact, my first deliberate attempt resulted in my falling and breaking my wrist. To say I was a cautious participant would be an understatement!

I decided to trust Bob and his teaching process. By the end of the morning I was running. I wasn't fast, nor was I particularly pretty to watch, but I was no longer afraid, and for me that felt like winning a Gold Medal.

I was flabbergasted and honored when I received an email several weeks ago inviting me to speak at the running clinic in Philadelphia. The clinic is being held on May 19th and more information can be found here. I can't guarantee the quality of my speech, but I can attest to the metamorphosis that takes place to participants during this event. Amputees of all athletic abilities and experiences are welcome to attend.  Hope to see you there! (On a side note, it will also be my birthday and I'd love to get together for a cupcake after the event!)

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Play-Off Essay

I have a hard time sitting around and doing nothing. I feel a need, almost a compulsion, to always be busy. Even if the task isn't particularly productive, I feel better being engaged in an activity versus just sitting and watching television. I love to write and spend a lot of time on my computer, either working on this blog or entering various essay contests.

Over the years I have wasted entering Internet essay contests, and I have yet to win a single prize. Last year I learned that my piece detailing why my sister and her family deserved a trip to Disney made it to the final round, but since we never received tickets in the mail, I eventually accepted that I did not win. Undeterred by my lack of success, I continue to write and enter.

A few weeks ago I came across a contest searching for the "Ultimate Hockey Fan." If you know me at all, you would realize that my being considered a hockey fan borders on the absurd. Scott, however, is a die-hard follower and fan of the Washington Capitals. When I saw that the prize was box tickets for a play-off game, I thought it would be fun to enter. I wrote my submission in first person, borrowing the thoughts and actions from my husband. I hit the "send" button and never thought much about it.

In fact, I forgot all about the contest until I received an email from ESPN (the contest sponsors). I was informed that I was a finalist and a phone interview was requested. Somehow, I had convinced the reader that I was the ultimate hockey fan. Who knew I had a knack for fiction!

Scott spent most of Sunday afternoon tutoring me on the intricacies of the sport, concentrating on the Washington Capitals. I learned about the positions, some of the stats and the stories behind many of the players. By the time the phone rang for my interview my mind was on hockey overload.

To my surprise I wasn't asked any questions about the Caps or about the game. We talked about the perception of hockey, why I like the game and how I feel about the players in general. I was surprised about how much I knew, and how much respect I indeed had for the sport. I hung up the phone feeling confident that I completed a strong interview.

Yesterday evening I received a phone call from ESPN. I have been selected as one of the "Ultimate Hockey Fans." This evening a camera crew will be arriving at my home to film my reactions while watching the Capitals game. I suspect I'm going to have to be more animated than my usual demeanor, which includes my toiling on Facebook and giggling at Scott while he prances and paces around the room spewing obscenities at the television.

My reactions to the fast paced action of my new found beloved sport will be included in a piece that will air later in the playoffs. I'll let you know when it is going to be shown. In the meantime, I'm hoping that my acting ability is as strong as my interview skills! I hope Scott appreciates the play-off tickets because this could push me into a whole realm of humiliation. After all, my being on ESPN is the epitome of irony!

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Ready to Bake

I love to bake. I am proud of my reputation among my friends and family as the purveyor of delicious treats and goodies. Robby has been toiling with me in the kitchen since he was an infant, and I was delighted when he could crack an egg and measure sugar before he could speak.

During the past 18 months my baked goods production came to a halt. My extra large oven that I purchased after we moved into this house broke, forcing me to rely upon a small, built-in wall oven. The oven only had room for two small cookie sheets and it was virtually impossible to accurately regulate the temperatures. It should have just had two settings- "burn" and "under bake." Robby's Easy Bake Oven was more reliable!

I have been coveting a double wall oven for over a year, diligently checking the weekly sale circular hoping for a bargain. After experiencing disappointment every Sunday morning for over a year, I was shocked when I opened the ad last week and saw that my dream oven was not only on sale, but it was 50% off the lowest price!

I went to the store that day and bought my double oven. I have waited for so long, but somehow the few days before delivery felt like an eternity. It felt like Christmas morning when the long awaited delivery truck pulled down my driveway.

They delivered the wrong size oven. My plans of baking chocolate chip cookies were dashed as the delivery men drove away with what I had believed to be my oven still in the truck. I went back to the store and waited for another oven to be delivered and installed.  

We waited all day on Saturday for my oven delivery redo. Finally, about 5 pm the delivery truck pulled into the driveway. My other oven was quickly removed and my shiny new stainless steel oven was brought into my kitchen. Ready to give it a try, I discretely took the butter out of the refrigerator so that it could start to soften for my evening of baking fun.

I was deflated and angry when the delivery person informed me that he was not going to install my oven because he didn't bring the correct tools. I reminded him that I already paid for the installation, and produced my paperwork as proof. He simply shrugged and said that there was nothing that he could do and that I should talk to the store about removing the installation charges. I was furious when he turned his back and walked away, leaving a gaping hole where my previous oven used to reside and my new oven in the center of my kitchen.

After speaking with the store manager, I concluded that I no longer trusted them to perform the installation. I called my neighbor and she recommended that I try her handyman. I gave him a call and was thrilled when he told me that he could do the work.

Yesterday, after months of waiting and over a week of the anticipation roller coaster, my wall oven was installed. Within hours the smell of baking cookies and bread were wafting through my house.  The saying that "good things come to those who wait" is certainly true, especially in this case. I love my new oven and, to the delight of Scott's students and my neighbors (the recipients of most of my baked goods), I can now bake 80 cookies at one time!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Bad Leg Weekend

It has been a long time since my limb has hurt so severely that I haven't been able to walk. I can push through a good deal of pain, but this weekend I wasn't able to wear my leg without wincing. Walking with pain and a severe limp always discourages and frustrates me. Nothing makes me feel more disabled than being limited because of pain!

My purse is overflowing with a variety of socks, each with a different thickness, in the hopes of padding my stump to create a comfortable fit. Despite my efforts, nothing helped. I finally gave up on my prosthetic, resigned to the fact that I am dealing with a nerve issue in my limb and not simple shrinkage.

Since the pain started on Thursday during my session with my trainer, it became progressively more intense with each step. Saturday I was hobbling around with a gait akin to Quasimodo. By Sunday I couldn't wear my leg at all and was confined to the couch for much of the day.

To my frustration, removing my prosthetic only alleviated some of the discomfort. My leg continued to hurt and created a pain radiating from my phantom ankle up to my hip. I have never experienced anything like this before, and I was beginning to worry! It has kept me from sleeping and enjoying life.

Out of desperation I pulled out my massage pillow, looking for some relief but not overly optimistic that it would be found. I had reconciled that the issue was somehow nerve related. Lacking anything else to do, I decided to give massage a try.

Almost instantly I felt jolting electric shocks as I positioned my stump between the shiatsu balls on the pillow. I quickly realized that I needed to ease into the massage, slowly relaxing my leg on the pillow without adding pressure.  After about five minutes I was able to tolerate the full massage pressure, and I began to feel pressure release from the outside of my leg.

I continued with the massage for about 30 minutes before I decided to give my prosthetic a try. Gingerly I pulled on my liner and cautiously stepped into my leg. I was expecting the stabbing pain that had become common place. Instead I felt nothing except the wonderful absence of discomfort. My leg felt completely normal!

I am kicking myself for spending so many days suffering before trying the massage pillow. If I had given my standby treatment for limb pain a chance, I might have avoided days of agony and missed sleep. Right now I'm just grateful to feel normal again.

I am not sure what caused my angry limb. I can only guess that an exercise caused the muscle to tighten around a nerve. Whatever the cause, I'm just happy to walk without pain!