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 22, 2012

Not as Much Fun!

When I was in my early 20's, I thought nothing of jumping in the car and going for a road trip. I loved the freedom of leaving when I wished and arriving at a destination at a time of my choosing. I didn't have any constraints, could pack light, and went at my own pace.  I was reminded yesterday how drastically my life has changed!

I spent nearly two hours packing for our Ohio visit, trying to anticipate every need, only to realize that I have forgotten things and we will need to go to Walmart when we arrive. The trunk is stuffed so full that both Scott and I have to be at the ready to grab items that fall when we open the door. Robby with his DS, DVD player, and cell phone games required that we invest in a power strip for our cigarette lighter.

Obviously traveling with my family has crimped my road trip style. I'm no longer uninhibited and free to travel the open highways. I have to plan meticulously and work to entertain both fellow travelers throughout the drive lest I be bombarded with "I'm bored. Are we there yet" in unison.

Even if I were traveling alone, I know that a road trip would not be as enjoyable anymore. Driving and sitting for long distances is now uncomfortable and sometimes downright painful because of my amputation. I hate that I am reminded of my limb loss when I'm just trying to sit in a car seat!

I'm usually comfortable for the first two to three hours. After that time, my stump begins to cramp within my socket. I then spend the remainder of the trip trying to strike a balance between keeping my leg on so that I can equalize my weight distribution and relieving the pressure because of swelling.

Removing my leg completely makes my limb more comfortable, but then all of my weight and balance must be born through my remaining leg. I certainly never appreciated the important role that feet played during sitting. Without my foot, my lower back and hip begin to ache and cramp because of the unequal pressure.

I spent the final two hours of our drive putting on and removing my leg in an attempt to strike a balance between accommodating for the swelling and alleviating an achy back. I was frustrated and downright miserable as I was squirming in my seat to become comfortable. By the time we finally arrived at our hotel, I venture to guess that I was more excited than Robby to hop into the pool and stretch out.

This morning we are going to the pool for a quick swim before taking off on the second leg of our trip. I'm hoping that swimming in the morning will thwart any swelling that would occur from my sitting in the car. If it doesn't work, I might join the whining, "Are we there yet" chorus!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Westward Bound

It's that time of the year again: time for our annual pilgrimage to Ohio for Scott's family reunion. We'll be driving this year as airfare for three and a rental car is simply cost prohibitive at this point. Like last year we've decided to break our trip up into two segments, stopping halfway to stay at a hotel with an indoor swimming pool. We're hopeful that swimming will help Robby get out the energy that becomes penned up during the long drive!

I'm delighted that my sister and her children are going to be moving into our house for the weekend. Not only do we feel more secure with in-residence house sitters, I know that my niece and nephews will have a blast. Between the bouncer in the basement, the stream, the sprinkler and the fire pit, our house will be a great spot for a mini-vacation for the kids.

Yesterday I battled the oppressive heat and readied the house for company and packed for our trip. It never ceases to amaze me how much stuff a family of three requires when taking a road trip. Add  few extra legs to our luggage and our trunk is now bursting. When I was in college I remember hopping into the car with a duffel bag full of clothes and being set for the week. Now I find that packing for a weekend away takes intricate planning, several suitcases and multiple trips to the store. I love my family, but sometimes I miss those simpler days!

This morning after my sister arrives, we will pile into the car and head for the middle of West Virginia. Robby will have his DS, a DVD player and our cell phone for entertainment. Despite the plethora of options, I have no doubt that I will be bombarded with a chorus of "I'm bored, are we there yet" within the first 90 minutes. Neither one of my boys is particularly good long distance travel which is why I remembered to put my Tylenol in the glove compartment for easy access. 

I'm hopeful that holding the possibility of swimming as a carrot at the end of the drive will help keep in the whining in check. Wish us luck and, hopefully, my next post will be from West Virginia!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Pool Construction

Last summer Robby and I spent nearly every day in the small pool that was sitting in the middle of our driveway. Although it was only 10 feet in diameter and 30" deep, it was the perfect fit for the two of us, especially since he was not an experienced swimmer. Much to Scott's chagrin, I have decided that this summer we needed to upgrade!

During the past six months I have been researching above-ground pools. I knew that I wanted something bigger, but I didn't want the pool to be so deep that it would be over Robby's head. After all, forcing him to swim constantly would be exhausting and not a lot of fun! I finally settled on 15 feet in diameter by 42" deep, bringing the water level up to Robby's chest.  The pool has been ordered and is now sitting in a large box in the center of my driveway, just waiting to be set up for hours of summertime fun!

After talking with Mr. Bill and mulling around options during the cold winter months, we have finally put our swimming pool plans in motion. I thought that we were going to have to bring in excavators to level the area, but our creative neighbor had a better idea. He, along with his trusty helper Robby, are going to construct a large platform in our backyard to support the pool. Mr. Bill explained that the stage can be leveled and, should I decided to get a bigger pool in the future, it can be expanded without a lot of hassle.

Yesterday we took the first steps towards our pool construction project. Mr. Bill came over, and he and Robby carefully chose and staked the location. Watching the two "work," I was hard pressed to pick who was happier and more excited about the upcoming construction. I have to admit that I feel a tinge like a small child on Christmas morning. I'm so excited about having a larger, deeper pool that I can't stop smiling.

Today the true construction begins. Robby and Mr. Bill will build the platform in sections inside his air conditioned garage, to be moved and assembled on site at a later time. My little construction worker spent most of last night organizing his tool box in anticipation. Scott will be in the yard using the post hole digger to break up the clay soil so that the footers can be set. It's safe to say that he is not nearly as excited as his son! My job is one of supervisor making sure that everybody stay hydrated and well-fed.

Hopefully within a week I'll be swimming in our more spacious pool. Robby and I can hardly wait to relax on the raft and call for the cabana boy (Scott) to bring us drinks and snacks. I know that our new backyard aquatic oasis will be heavily used this summer. For Robby, building the platform with his Daddy and Mr. Bill will probably create the strongest memories.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Mutual Feelings

Since I choose to forgo a cosmetic cover on my prosthetic, I am accustomed to stares, questions, and second glances. Typically they don't bother me; I have learned simply to ignore the gawks and continue along with my life. I realize that a prosthesis is out of the ordinary, and anything that is unusual will receive a second glance.

Every once in awhile I encounter somebody who seems obtuse to social convention and the interaction becomes uncomfortable. Usually this happens when I am peppered by questions that are either too personal or too plentiful. Some people are simply oblivious to cues that I want to end the conversation leaving me with no choice but to be blunt.

I am sure that my prosthetic garnered stares when we were at the Sailabration in Baltimore this past weekend, but I didn't pay much attention. We were so busy looking at the ships and the planes to be concerned about who was looking at us! I had forgotten that I was "different" until a father and son approached me and began to ask questions.

I always try to stop to talk to a child curious about my leg. Children are much more likely to just ask questions instead of trying to casually look without catching my gaze. When the little boy approached with his father and asked me what happened to my leg, I immediately knelt down and began to answer his questions.

Unfortunately this little guy was not satisfied with my traditional explanation of, "My leg got hurt and the doctors couldn't fix it so they decided to give me a new one." This child wanted details, the gorier the better. His father stood next to him, seemingly as interested in the specifics as his son.

I spoke with the family for several minutes, answering the questions but trying to indicate that I wanted to end the conversation and leave. I didn't want to be rude, but the father was absolutely unaware that I didn't want to continue answering the same questions. I wanted to spend the day with Robby and Scott exploring the ships, not satisfying his son's unnerving desire for specific details!

As annoyed as I was becoming, the feelings were amplified within Robby. He did not want to stop to talk with this family. He was patient at first, but there were big boats to tour and he didn't want to waste time. Finally, he decided to just speak up. "Would you stop asking my Momom questions about her leg? She uses a prosthetic. It's made by Mr. Elliot and she can take it off. It's not a big deal. Look around at these ships, they are amazing. Stop asking questions about her leg and look around!"

While I wish that Robby had been a little more tactful, I was secretly happy that he created the opening for me to end this conversation. I was able to say good-bye and continued walking around the harbor with Robby and Scott in tow. I'm sure that the little boy's father thought my son was rude, but the feelings were definitely mutual!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Sailabration Fun

Saturday morning we piled into the car and headed to Baltimore. This is the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 and we were headed to see the "Tall Ships" which were in port for what is dubbed the "Star Spangled Sailabration."  We knew that Robby would be in awe with the ships and we weren't going to pass on this historic event.

We had originally planned for a day trip until my Dad offered to use some of his hotel reward points to secure us a room. We stayed a few blocks from the harbor and from our window had a fantastic view both of the ships and the firework show. Thanks to him we were able to turn a day excursion into a mini vacation.

As predicted, Robby was left breathless by the ships. He simply walked around aghast looking at the massive vessels. He loved boarding and exploring them but seemed most impressed by talking with the various crew members. My little guy certainly does know how to put on the charm: he was able to get a private tour of the living quarters which was off-limits to tourists!

While waiting in line to ride a small electric boat, we were treated to an airshow by the Blue Angels. We tried to prep Robby by telling him that he was going to see special airplanes that not many little boys get a chance to see. He was psyched when he heard the roaring and saw the first plane fly overhead.

It didn't take long for his delight to morph into horror. During their first trick, as everybody else in the crowd was saying "ooh" and "ahh," my little guy started screaming for help. "Momom, quick! Call an ambulance. Oh my gosh this is horrible. Stop taking pictures and call for help. They are all going to crash and die." He covered his eyes with his hands and began to tremble.

Apparently we forgot to tell Robby one important fact about the Blue Angels: the pilots do tricks. He wasn't expecting to see aerial acrobats and instead thought he was witnessing a crash. After some reassurance both from me and his Daddy that the pilots were doing tricks and not losing control, he began to enjoy the show.

With the trauma of the Blue Angels behind us, we went on to have a fantastic afternoon. Robby steered the electric boat around the harbor and learned how to load a cannon. We finally arrived back in our hotel room, exhausted but happy. I was perhaps the most overjoyed when we realized that the fireworks could be seen from our hotel window, meaning that I could relax and that I didn't have to put my leg back on!

We had a great time in Baltimore at the "Sailabration." I'm glad that we decided to go because, despite the crowds and the Blue Angel debacle, it was a wonderful experience. Hopefully, it was just the first of many summer adventures to come!