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, June 15, 2012

Happy Summer Vacation!

This morning Scott will turn off the alarm for the last time this school year. He will turn in his keys, walk out the door, and probably skip his way to the car. It is the last day of school!

It's hard to believe that another school year is ending. It feels like just yesterday I was sobbing on the way home from dropping Robby off at school. Now both of my "boys" will be home, and both are thrilled.

This summer will be different than those from the past because I am working more hours. Both boys are going to have to realize that even though they are on vacation, I need to work. I'm anticipating some growing pains as they vie for my attention, but I'm optimistic that we'll eventually fall into a pattern. Of course, by that time it will probably be September!

I predict I will end up waking up early in the morning to get my work done. It's simply easier for me to concentrate when I don't have family distractions. It's amazing how much I can accomplish in the pre-dawn hours when I have a constant stream of coffee in my system. 

If I finish my work early, I'll be able to spend the rest of the morning and afternoon with Scott and Robby.  I really want this summer to be memorable. I know that my seasons of Robby enjoying hanging out with me are numbered. Soon he'll be wanting to swim with his friends instead of  me. It's normal, but it doesn't mean that it won't make me sad. I plan on making the most of the next few months, probably more for me than him.

For the next few months, I just want to enjoy being with my boys and having fun. Inevitably time will fly by and, before I know it, I'll be writing a blog lamenting Robby's return to school. Hopefully I'll be able to reflect on all the good memories we've created as well.  Happy Summer Vacation!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Starting the Process

Yesterday I received confirmation of news that, to be completely honest, I knew but had been trying desperately to forget. Despite being active and mobile, my limb is not faring well. My fears have been affirmed, and I am going to have to have a major revision surgery in the coming months.

It turns out that I have a trinity of stump issues. I have a bone spur, a failed skin flap, and a splintering distal tip. Apparently I like to do everything, including developing limb issues, in a zealous fashion!

Repairing the distal tip will be the most invasive procedure, requiring the removal of bone and reassembly of the bone bridge. In essence I will be undergoing a re-amputation. An amputation is definitely not an experience I am excited to repeat.

True to Murphy's Law, the bone spur is not located close to the distal end of my limb. Shaving it down will require another significant incision. Pretty soon my stump will be nothing but a series of scars.

While I am not happy about the prospect of surgery, I know that it needs to be done, and I've started the process of approval with my insurance adjustor. I have no doubt that I will be required to appear in court and navigate through another sea of useless red tape and heartless denials. Trying to obtain approval will end up being as painful and frustrating as recovering from the surgery itself.

I am saddened that I'm facing another revision surgery, but right now I don't feel overwhelmed. I suspect that I am not worried because I know that the process of approval will take months. Although I know that I need the surgery now, in reality it will probably not occur until August or September. I'll worry about the pain and recovery when I have approval and a surgery date. Until then, I think I'll just try to forget and enjoy my summer.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Fitness Update

It's been a few weeks since I have written an update about my quest for physical fitness. I find that holding myself accountable through this blog has helped me maintain focus. It certainly has not been an easy journey to shed the pounds. It has not been nearly as much fun as eating the cupcakes and treats that put on the weight!

I have been working out now for nearly three months. I left my first gym, but true to my promise I never actually quit. My incident with the tracker jackers sidelined my work-outs for a week, the gym refused to credit me the sessions that I missed, and my contract expired. Considering how unhappy I was with the facility, the trainers, and my progress, it should not have come as a surprise to them when I declined another contract.

The facility I left was considered a "designer gym." There were private work-out suites and the only other person in the room was the trainer. It was the epitome of personalized training. Unfortunately, my trainers refused to personalize any of the routines to fit my unique needs. I was never able to establish trust with them making it nearly impossible for me to feel comfortable. I felt an inordinate amount of pressure to succeed because I knew the financial investment was great.

My new gym is on the opposite end of the upscale spectrum. I have joined Planet Fitness which is basically a large room filled with a variety of machines. In spite of the imposing equipment, I never felt intimidated as it is touted to be the "No Judgment Zone." As if it couldn't get better, they give out pizza, bagels and tootsie rolls! This gym is definitely more my speed.

Planet Fitness offers free personalized training which I have utilized several times although I typically use the circuit at the back of the facility. It's fashioned similar to a Curves Gym where each exercise is timed for one minute and 30 seconds. Cues are provided to switch stations and prepare for the next machine. The circuit provides a full body work-out in 30 minutes.

I have been enjoying the circuit so much that I have begun to do it twice, turning me into a toned fat-burning machine. Yesterday a man came up to me at the gym and told me that I was a "nice little piece of tight a$$."   Instead of chastising him for the sexist comment, I simply smiled and replied, "It's not tight yet, but I'm working on it. Thanks for noticing." It's been a long time since I've been hit on!

I've been working out without the fancy trainer for almost three weeks. I've already lost weight, and I can tell a difference in my body shape. I have learned to push myself to the point of muscle fatigue but not so far that I am in true pain. I've realized that I know my body best, and that I'm able to push myself without causing injury. I never thought I would feel this way about working out, but I really like my new gym!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Pool Drama

A few weeks ago Robby went to a birthday party at a local swimming pool. While he was having a great time splashing around with his friends, I busied myself by reading the assorted pamphlets that were strewn on the tables in the lobby. After reading a flier advertising swimming lessons, I decided to propel myself into the strata of "World's Best Mom" by signing him up. After all, he loves the water and is always giddy with anticipation when he knows that he will be going to a pool.

I was excited to reveal the big swim surprise because I just knew that he was going to be over-the-moon. I sat him down, showed him the brochure and told him that he was going to be taking swim lessons. I watched as the smile melted from his face, revealing a scowl. He handed me the brochure, got up and said, "There is no way I'm going to be take swim lessons." So much for my World's Best Mom nomination.

Scott and I agreed that swim lessons were not optional. We are going to be putting in a larger above ground pool this year and Robby needs to demonstrate some swim competency. We both stood firm and insisted that he take the classes.

Yesterday was Robby's first lesson. He began to complain during lunch. By afternoon he was trying to get out of the class by telling me that the "frog that he caught a few days ago might have made a baby in his throat." He had resorted to sobbing by dinner time.

He cried when we insisted that he put on his new swimsuit. He then informed me that he "was never ever going to wear this stupid blue swimsuit again. It will remind me of the stupid stupid swim school and it will always make me sad." He then continued to lament his impending swim lesson doom.

The car ride to the pool both frustrated me and made me sad. He continued to cry and frantically plead his case. "I really don't want to do this" was followed by "I'm not prepared." He then complained about my signing him up for the lessons while he was at a party and declared, "The next time I go to a birthday party do no sign me up for anything." I did have to giggle when he told me that he couldn't get in the water because his "hormones were all out of whack."

All day I tried to talk with him to allay his fears about the lessons. He simply insisted that he didn't want to go, and my logic was not working. Finally, he mentioned that he didn't want to "sink like a stone" in the pool. I promised him that he would not and agreed to stay poolside throughout the lesson. He was not happy about it, but he finally walked into the building.

Robby was nervous walking towards the pool. His teacher handed him a yellow plastic duck and asked him to get into the water. He dropped my hand and hopped in. He spent the next 45 minutes smiling, laughing and blowing bubbles in the pool.

As promised, I stayed poolside. While all of the other parents were relaxing in the air conditioned lounge, I was sweating in the humid air, pungent with chlorine. I've decided that next time Scott can take him for lessons! In the meantime I'm seriously considering signing my little guy for drama classes. I think he has a knack for it.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Arms and Legs for All!

Did you watch Secret Millionaire last night? I was nearly giddy with excitement when I learned that one of my favorite charitable organizations, Limbs for Life, was being featured. By providing a prosthesis to those who cannot afford one, this charity changes lives  not only for the amputee but also for their community of friends and family.

So many erroneously believe that Medicare will cover the cost of a prosthesis when the amputee is financially drained. In reality, many insurance plans (Medicare included) cap their costs at 80%. The individual is responsible for coming up with the remaining 20%.

Considering that a low-tech above knee prosthesis can run in excess of $15,000, the amputee must pay $3,500 just for the "luxury" of being able to walk. Assuming that the individual was able to secure the payment, the cycle will need to be repeated in 3-5 years, which is the average life of a prosthesis. Raising at least $3,500 every five years is a financial burden that many are simply not able to assume. Many amputees are bankrupt after the costs of the surgery, hospitalization, rehabilitation, and missed work relegating obtaining a prosthesis to nothing more than a dream.

I become frustrated and depressed when I think about all of my amputee peers who are living in a wheelchair or using crutches simply because they don't have enough money in their bank accounts to pay for the leg that they so desperately need. My friends who have struggled to pay their 20% are often relying upon the same device long after it has become antiquated and dangerous. I have seen too many legs fixed with duct tape and super glue because the wearer can't afford the necessary repairs.  Some things simply should not be dependent upon wealth--the ability to walk or use both arms being one of them!

I am lucky that my amputation falls under the Workman's Comp umbrella. Although I have to fight for liners and devices, I have yet to be  denied a leg outright. The quagmire of paperwork and court appearances that I manage is simple compared to those who struggle to raise the sometimes unattainable 20% for the most basic prosthesis.

The volunteers at Limbs for Life work tirelessly to bridge the financial gap for amputees in this country. People from all over the United States have received a prosthesis at no cost due to the efforts of this group. These individuals have been able to ditch the crutches and wheelchairs, many times enabling them to return to work and get off  SSI Disability.  Despite their outreach, too many amputees are not ambulatory because they can't afford it. Something must be done to secure prosthetic devices for every amputee who wants one.

I've identified the problem. If I could only come up with a solution!