About Me

My photo
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 25, 2012

Better Days

The past week has not been my best. The swarm encounter continues to wreak havoc on my body by making me feel toxic, ugly, and itchy nearly all the time. To add insult to injury, the weather has been atrocious with seemingly nonstop rain, humidity, and dark skies.

Between the hives on the bend of my knee, courtesy of a particularly sadistic yellow jacket, and the weather, my leg has been hurting. Every morning I wake up and struggle to fit into my socket because of the swelling. Throughout the day I constantly have to stop my activity so that I can release the pressure within my prosthesis because the tissue feels squished and cramped. I hate having to make adjustments to my schedule because of my amputation!

Phantom pain, which is rarely an issue, has been keeping me up at night. My big toe feels like it is being twisted in a vice while the toenail is being pulled off. It is not a comfortable sensation!

My leg has been kicking uncontrollably as I lie down to go to sleep. The nerves are so angry from being compressed in a tight socket that the stinging sensation is relentless. If I close my eyes I have flashbacks of being swarmed.

For the first time in a long while, I have actually felt disabled. I haven't been able to be the kind of Mom that I want to be because of the discomfort. I can accept not having a foot and using a prosthesis to walk, but I'll never get used to limiting my activities because of it!

Robby has been a trooper. He's been content shooting suction cup arrows at the sliding glass door and watching Super Mario videos on YouTube. He is now at an age where he understands when I explain that I am having trouble walking. He has been bringing me cups of ice water, Hershey Kisses, and lots of extra kisses to make the "ouchies" go away.

This weekend the weather is supposed to clear and (hopefully) the sun will shine again. As soon as the humidity dries up, I know that my limb will return to its normal size. Right now, I'm hoping that the song is right and that the sun really will come up tomorrow- I'm ready for this week to be over!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Return to Teaching...

Before Robby was born I worked in the public schools as a teacher for visually impaired children. The job was demanding, both intellectually and physically. I was responsible for upwards of 15 students spread among as many schools, and my days were a virtual juggling act as I tried to make sure that all of their needs were met while maintaining good working relationships with each school's unique personnel.  Between the driving, the schmoozing, and the paperwork I ended each school year burnt out and emotionally exhausted. Despite the frustrations, I loved my job.

When Robby was born I chose to stay home with him. I missed my students, but I gradually adjusted to a life away from teaching. I began working for my prosthetists and I am now managing social media communications for several organizations. I redefined myself and, despite the passion that I once held, I no longer labeled myself as a teacher.

I thought that I had put my role as teacher behind me. If I had been asked a few weeks ago if I envisioned myself returning to teaching, my response would have been a resounding, "No."  Despite the love and passion I once held for my field, I couldn't conjure a circumstance where I would return to working with blind children, and certainly not in the near future. I should know by now that whenever I feel like I have closed a chapter in part of my life that something happens to prove me wrong!

Two weeks ago I received a phone call from the parents of a child I used to teach, imploring me to work with their daughter again. I first worked with Abbi when she was a baby. She is now 9 and continues to deal with a myriad of physical and cognitive issues. Although she is not totally blind, Abbi has a difficult time using her vision and interpreting what she sees. I made no promises but agreed to evaluate Abbi to determine if I could help.

Although I haven't worked in the field for awhile, it felt instinctively natural interacting with Abbi. Within the first hour I knew that I was confident that I could help. I have agreed to begin working with Abbi twice a week.

I have to admit that I'm excited about returning to my original profession. While I enjoy working social media and patient outreach, blind children continue to hold a special place in my heart. It is nice to get back to my first passion.

I've added Abbi to my schedule without deleting any other obligations. I am going to be busier than I've been since Robby was born. I guess this summer we'll see if I'm good at juggling because I certainly have a lot of balls in the air!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Excuse the Complaining

It has been over two days since my run-in with the swarming "tracker jackers" and I'm still reeling from the encounter. The epinephrine that they administered at the hospital continues to elevate my heart rate. It's slowly beginning to return to normal when I am resting, but I continue to become winded and quickly out of breathe simply walking around the house. I haven't been able to exercise, but I'm not overly concerned because, according to my calorie counting watch, I am burning nearly 400 calories an hour simply because of my rapidly beating heart. That is not exactly the way that I want to lose weight, but I'll take every pound loss where it can be found!

For lack of a better description, I just feel toxic. My stomach is upset, I'm exhausted, and I have no appetite. Food simply tastes unappealing. I made a cake last night and didn't want to eat any of it. Trust me, I rarely meet a cake I don't like!

To add to my discomfort, the welts are just beginning to present themselves. I mistakenly thought that I wouldn't develop any marks because I was treated at the hospital. I could not have been more wrong! I'm now covered with hot red circles about the size of a half dollar. They are tender to touch and itch constantly. Yesterday afternoon I realized I was garnering stares at the grocery store when I was absentmindedly scratching my stung covered bum--not exactly the ladylike behavior that would make my mother proud!

To phrase it succinctly, I'm miserable. I feel like an ugly, itchy monster with a racing heart and an angry digestive system. I take solace in the fact that I will soon seek my revenge. The exterminators have already been called, and soon the swarms of venomous insects will meet a painful and fiery death. Right now, that is the only thought that seems to bring a smile to my swollen, red and puss encrusted face.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Mobility Clinic Recap

The past 24 hours has done wonders towards clearing my mind. My stings are still uncomfortable, but I'm doing well considering how severely I was swarmed. I want to thank everybody for their well wishes and positive thoughts. It really means a lot to me to have such caring friends and readers!

Before my sting attack, I had been planning on writing about the Challenged Athletes/ Ossur Mobility clinic that I attended on Saturday. It was an utterly amazing day, and I couldn't have conjured a better way to spend my birthday!

I was surprised to see the sheer number of amputees who showed up for this event. It was wonderful to see that most participants were accompanied by a small legion of their own cheerleaders. Grandparents, parents, siblings, spouses, children, and friends all showed up in droves to support and cheer their loved one who was bravely trying something new and outside of their established comfort zone.

I should be used to being assigned an unexpected task when I am asked to work at one of these events. Despite the history of these requests, I am always taken aback. When I arrived at the clinic I learned that I was going to be leading the warm-up stretches for the group. After a five minute cram session to try to learn the progression of the stretches, I was standing in the center of the circle of participants, all staring at me for instruction. If they only knew the irony of my leading the group! Somehow I mustered my way through the routine without falling.

With the stretching complete, we broke into smaller groups for running instruction. I joined the novice running group, hoping to offer support or help when needed. I was quickly paired with a young lady (17 years old) who was a new above knee amputee. Despite her smile and enthusiasm, her nervousness was obvious.

Bob Gailey, the physical therapist running the clinic, breaks running into five distinct steps. My partner mastered the first step without difficulty. Unfortunately she stumbled and fell  when she was trying to master the next progression. I was impressed with how quickly she stood up and attempted to walk. Her prosthetic knee refused to cooperate.

If you are going to fall and have a prosthetic issue, the running clinic would be an ideal location. Within minutes she was being attended to by practitioners and Ossur representatives. The problem was quickly remedied. Apparently the bits of rubber padding from the AstroTurf field lodged in her hydraulic knee, jamming the mechanism.

With the knee cleaned out, she asked to continue with the clinic. We got back in line and waited for our turn to work on phase three. The fall only seemed to strengthen her resolve to try.

Five steps into the course, she stumbled and fell. Again, the rubber lodged in her knee necessitating the prosthetic be dismantled and cleaned out for the second time. We didn't go back onto the field as she opted to watch instead of participate for the rest of the day. I can't say I blame her! She has my utmost respect for her determination and the strength that she demonstrated by trying something so new and scary so soon after becoming an amputee. Although she fell twice, I have no doubt that she will be up and running in short order.

During the break I gave my speech. I was asked to talk for 10 minutes. I managed to speak for 6, which I guess isn't too bad. If you round up, it is 10, right?

We spent the second half of the clinic cheering on the legion of young children who were learning to run. Their spirit and positive energy was contagious! Some of these little ones had never attempted to move quickly and in a few short hours they were literally jumping, skipping, and racing each other. I saw more than one Mom and Dad shed tears as they watched the transformations.

Lives were changed during the clinic on Saturday. I am honored to have witnessed people achieving goals they never dreamed possible. I met a young lady who had been fearful of running her entire life. After a little instruction and a lot of cheering she was running with so much confidence that she barely resembled the person I met at the beginning of the session. She hugged me when she left and confided that she has decided to run a 5K this summer. She then waved to me from the parking lot as she was running to her car.

Scott was amazed by the people he met and the changes that transpired within them. I've tried to describe the event to him, but I really think it is something that needs to be witnessed in order to be appreciated. I know that he is changed because of this experience.

Every time I attend this Mobility clinic, I leave feeling uplifted and empowered. I  made some new friends and have memories that I will always cherish. I may not always remember names, but I will never forget the smiles on the faces of the participants and the pride oozing from their loved ones as they saw disabilities overcome and dreams realized.

Here is my speech if you are interested...

Monday, May 21, 2012

My Hunger Games Moment

I was planning on writing about the wonderful experience I had at the Challenged Athletes/ Ossur Mobility clinic on Saturday. It was a life-changing experience made even more special because I was able to share it with Scott and Robby. I couldn't have imagined a better way to spend my birthday!

Unfortunately, the events of  Sunday have forced me to postpone my writing about the clinic and my speech. Yesterday, in an effort to soak up some sun and get the yard cleaned, I set out to work in our woods. After about an hour cleaning out the brush with the sling blade, I was beginning to feel like I was "in the zone." I should have known better than to pat myself on my back.

I tried to bring down a small thorn bush when I saw a large insect in my peripheral vision. The bug kept buzzing around my face and, although I tried to move out of his way, he seemed determined to sting me. I tried to bat him away from my face when he stung my left eye brow. Everything after this incident is a bit of a blur.

I remember grabbing my face and bending down. When I looked up I saw what looked like hundreds of bees swarming up from the ground. In an instant I was surrounded by angry bees, all trying to sting me. I can only assume that I whacked their nest with my blade, and they were seeking revenge.

I was being stung on the scalp and neck as I tried to flee. My prosthetic became entwined in the very bush I was trying to bring down, and I fell. The furious insects began to gorge on my bum.

After making it out of the woods and away from the swarm, I was not in good shape. I fainted (I thought from the pain) and Scott took me to the hospital. I protested because I am not allergic to bees. I stopped complaining when my throat began to swell, making it extraordinarily difficult to swallow and breath.

Within moments of pulling into the emergency room drop-off area, I was being  attended to simultaneously by at least 8 people. IV's were started in both arms, numerous shots were given as I breathed some foul smelling substance through the mask. The doctors stopped counting the stings when they identified at least 20 marks.

I am thankful for the doctors and nurses at the hospital. They were competent, kind, and calm. I received the best treatment possible, and after a few hours I was released.

Right now I feel toxic. I'm swollen, sore, and itchy. I'm also incredibly grateful that it was me who found the nest and not Robby. I shudder to think of what the ramifications would have been had he been stung so severely. Despite the stings, I know that we were all very lucky!

I am officially retiring my landscaping duties. I am calling an exterminator this morning to clear out the nests. (Scott found some of the flying assassins. At an inch in size, we have now identified them as yellow jackets, not bees.) My birthday present to myself this year is the landscaper who I am hiring to finish making the woods a safe place to play. I never want to experience that horror again; I felt like I was living through a scene from The Hunger Games!