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 18, 2012

Mission Impossible

Tomorrow morning Scott, Robby, and I will be waking up in downtown Philadelphia. I've been invited to speak at the Challenged Athletes/ Ossur Mobility Clinic, and I couldn't be more thrilled. The fact that I have Scott and Robby to accompany me on this speaking venture makes it all the more special.

I always become near frantic before any speaking engagement, and preparing for this event has been no different. Knowing that I was going to be standing and speaking to hundreds of people while wearing some form of spandex has sent me into a near panic. Yesterday I spent two hours perusing the athletic apparel section of various stores, desperate to find a pair of work out pants that would slim my rear, accentuate my waist and fall below the knee to hide the unsightly muffin top that has developed between my knee and socket. Talk about mission impossible!

Out of desperation I finally settled on a pair of black Bermuda-style shorts, opting to ignore the suggested attire email I received earlier in the week. With my jiggling bum properly disguised, I think I'll be able to concentrate on delivering my speech. Of course, I have to write it first!

I have known about this event for several weeks, yet I have devoted no time to formulating my speech. I'm hoping that I am good "off the cuff" because that is what it is going to happen if I don't start composing soon. Thankfully I have an outline of the points I want to cover. I just need to sit down and dedicate an hour or two to fill in the details. "Stop procrastinating" has now been moved to the top of my To Do list.

Wish me luck tomorrow! I'm going to have Scott video the speech (if I ever get it written) and I will post it over the weekend. Hopefully I don't completely embarrass myself. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

One Million Milestone!!

Everyday (weekends excluded) for the past three years I have been posting on this blog. I didn't know where this venture would lead, but I felt compelled to share my experiences and thoughts. In three years, despite illnesses, injuries, and traveling, I have never missed a weekday post.

When I first introduced this blog, I encountered my share of naysayers. My site was referred to as a "silly little blog that would never have a true impact." Some told me that I was wasting my time while others viewed my writing as a fad that would quickly fade. Despite the criticism, I was resolved to keep posting. My goal was to reduce the isolation and despair that often accompanies an amputation by sharing my experiences.

I used to check my statistics religiously. I remember being thrilled when I had more than the three hits! The fact that somebody other than a family member was taking the time to read my words delighted me.

As time has gone on, I have become less concerned about my statistics. I know that people are reading my blog because I receive comments and emails from readers on a regular basis. My goal of reaching out and helping others through this platform is being achieved. Typically I only check my statistics when I am asked about my readership.

Yesterday (after trying all three of my passwords) I logged on and checked my stats. I was simultaneously amazed and excited when I realized that my "silly little blog" has achieved a milestone: this blog has garnered over 1 million page hits!

Sometimes I become overwhelmed when I imagine people taking the time out of their day to read my words. I know that many of you have fit reading this blog into your daily routine. I imagine you reading the newest post while sitting at the kitchen table drinking your morning coffee, on your smart phone during lunch, or in the evening when everything is finally quiet and calm. Every time I think about my readers, I smile!

Thank you for taking the time to read my posts. I wish I had the words to express the gratitude I feel to those who have accepted me and my adventure into blogging. I can't believe that we are already at one million views! I wonder where we will be in three more years? Rest assured, I'll be here to blog about it!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Bionic Barriers

Yesterday morning I woke up early, quietly drank my coffee, got dressed, and left for work. Both of my boys were still sound asleep as I sneaked out of the house and drove away. I haven't joined rush hour traffic en route to work since Robby was born!

I was invited to speak to a group of prosthetists about my experiences with a bionic ankle. I am always happy to share my story in the hopes that those practitioners who are hesitant to try new technology might be motivated to learn and expand their component repertoire. I am lucky to have a husband who understands how the correct prosthetic can change a life and understands my passion to help other amputees. He rearranged his work schedule so that he could stay with Robby allowing me to accept the invitation to speak to this group.

Every time I meet with a group of prosthetists, I am both energized and deflated. I'm excited about sharing my story and showing the practitioner the power that they hold when fitting a patient with a prosthetic. A comfortable socket combined with appropriate components can be a game-changer for an amputee. Unfortunately, my excitement is always tempered with sadness when I realize how many amputees are settling for poor prosthetic care.

Sitting in a room overflowing with experienced prosthetists, the instructor asked those who have experience with bionic devices to raise their hands. Two hands went up.  One hand was mine and the other was Elliot, my practitioner. He was shocked, but I wasn't surprised. I've seen the same responses across the country since I've started interacting with these groups.

Bionic technology is relatively new, especially concerning microprocessor ankles which became available only five years ago. Unless the practitioner has graduated from college within that time, these devices were not included in his or her curriculum. They are new and require a concerted effort to learn how to use them and how they can benefit a patient with them. The older I am becoming, the more I am beginning to realize that too many people become complacent and set in a pattern, unwilling to expand their horizons. Unfortunately, it is the amputee who truly suffers.

Prosthetists who do not feel comfortable fitting microprocessor devices often tell their patients that the components are "no good" or that the ankles "are not worth the price or the hype." Some simply say that the ankle is "not appropriate for them" and proceed to fit the patient with the same components that they have always utilized.

I consider myself fortunate to have found a prosthetist who loves technology and approaches each patient as a personal challenge. I worry about my fellow amputees who are not nearly as lucky. I am hopeful that my speaking to these groups will make an impact and motivate the prosthetists who are on the fence about this technology to be willing to learn and to try. Unfortunately, a complacent practitioner can handicap an amputee as much as the limb loss.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Exercise Overload

I think I am in a state of fitness saturation. It feels like my every waking moment is consumed with working out, tending to various limb injuries which are the result of my working out, or counting calories so I don't sabotage my fat burning efforts. Right now I just want to stay in bed and eat a cupcake!

During the past seven weeks I have dedicated myself to becoming healthy and strong. I've fought through blisters and pinch cuts, phantom pain and socket sores.  I've used 5 tubes of BenGay to treat my sore muscles after sweating through 21 sessions with my trainer. I thought by this time in the process I would be feeling better about myself. Instead, I find myself feeling frustrated and depressed.

I know that I've lost weight, but each pound shed merely reminds me of how much more I should be losing. I am, without a doubt, the chubbiest person I've seen at the gym!  My clothes are looser, but when I ask Scott if he can see a difference, he simply responds by saying, "I see you everyday, it's hard for me to judge." I really wish he would just lie to me and tell me that the transformation is amazing.

I thought that I would find the weights and exercises easier. Instead I am still struggling with my form. I still look like a novice and continue to feel silly and out of place at the gym.

During this foray into the not-so-wonderful workout world, I have cursed my prosthetic more than I have since I first became an amputee. I am tired of having to adapt the movements and make accommodations. I anticipated muscle fatigue and being sore. I never envisioned how I would feel so disabled in my quest to become healthy!

I can't help but think that many of my frustrations should be attributed to my trainer instead of my prosthetic. Despite my explanations, I continually have to make adjustments to the movements. I hear mutterings among the trainers that I am making excuses and being weak by making an accommodation. These innuendos make the experience even more toxic as I  feel myself becoming defensive and angry because I do not use my amputation as an excuse.

The countdown is on and I only have 6 more sessions at this facility. With the end in sight, I am fighting the inclination to simply quit. I want to see this through to completion and I won't allow myself to give up.

I've made some progress, but I know that I still have a lot of work ahead of me. I'm not giving up on becoming healthy, but I am abandoning all hopes of this facility helping me achieve my goal. I'm currently investigating other gyms and trainers who will be more adept at working with my prosthetic.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mother's Day Recap

As anticipated, yesterday morning I woke up to the sounds of clanging pots coming from the kitchen.  Robby and Scott were hard at work making my Mother's Day breakfast of bacon and eggs. I laid in bed and just smiled as I heard Robby directing his Daddy around the kitchen. The hours we have spent cooking and baking together have definitely paid off!

Robby came into the bedroom and woke me up with a kiss and a cup of coffee. He then told me to go back to sleep because the surprise was still frying. I agreed, put the coffee down, and pretended to go back to sleep. I felt so content and happy simply staying in bed and eavesdropping on the cooking commotion coming from the kitchen.

I could tell that both Scott and Robby were proud of the breakfast that they had prepared. Sitting next to my plate was a small gift bag holding a "Mom" bead for my Pandora bracelet. I could not have been more delighted.  Robby snuggled next to me in bed and "helped" me eat. Apparently my boy likes bacon--a lot!

Unfortunately, that is where my Mother's Day bliss ended. Within the next few hours Robby became extremely ill. It started with his complaining about a sore throat but quickly became more involved. At one point he went into a coughing fit in the living room. He cried out for me to help, and when I reached him the coughing had subsided but he had tears streaming down his little pink cheeks. He said that his throat hurt a lot and that it didn't feel good to breath. I scooped him up, Scott grabbed the keys, and we headed out the door to Urgent Care.

My little guy is a trooper and, despite feeling awful, complied with all of the directions and requests from the doctor and nurses. He underwent three throat swabs and allowed numerous people to listen to his chest. I knew when the second physician was called into the room to examine Robby that we were probably not dealing with a simple strep infection.

It turns out that Robby has a lung infection (pneumonia). This is the third time he's had this issue in the past year. He became ill so quickly, it's hard to fathom how he progressed from being happy and munching on bacon to so sick in a few hours. As a mom, it was a terrifying experience.

After receiving the diagnosis, being armed with a Roladex of phone numbers of specialists to contact, and frantically driving to the pharmacy to fill the prescription before they closed, we were all exhausted. Robby spent the evening lying on the couch with his Daddy. I tried to provide comfort and lots of love because that was really all I could do. I feel so inept and helpless when he is sick!

We had planned on grilling steaks for Mother's Day dinner. Instead Robby ate a Popcicle (after a lot of begging and encouragement), Scott ate left over Buffalo wings, and I had cake. It wasn't exactly the nice meal we had planned, but at that point none of us cared.

Right now the best gift I could receive would be Robby waking up feeling better. I know that his cough will linger for awhile, but I hate seeing him hurt and sick. I'll keep you all posted on his progress.