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, July 06, 2012

Showdown at the Gym

One of the reasons I like my new gym lies in the escape it provides me. I don't have to chit chat with anybody. I can just go in, turn off my mind, and turn my stress and anxiety into sweat on the gym floor.

Earlier this week I had an encounter at the gym that left me both speechless (this does not happen often) and shocked. For the first time since I started working out, I was approached by somebody who was apparently angry at all amputees and wanted to make his opinion known. The rudeness of some people will always be lost on me.

I was struggling with my shoulder lifts when this older man approached. I gave him the courtesy hello paired with a slight nod of my head. He scowled in return.

Without any introduction, he looked straight into my eyes and proceeded with his tirade. "You are what is wrong with this country. You should be ashamed of yourself. Here you are working out and getting disability. Get off of your lazy a$$ and get a job. Get off welfare, there is nothing wrong with you. You just don't want to do anything and just want to stay home collecting my money. You are everything that is wrong with this country and the reason that we are failing."

Dumbfounded, I sat still for a few moments as I tried to process. This man, this individual who has never even said hello to me, is blaming me for the woes of the country? It didn't take long before I became angry.

I took a deep breath in an attempt to steady my voice, stood up, and met him nose to nose. I was slightly amused that he winced when I stood in his face. I stared in his eyes for a few seconds before offering my response.

"Sir, I am not what is wrong with this country. I have a job. I am not on disability nor am I on welfare. In fact, I think that you are what's wrong with this country. Your rush to judgement is the problem. You epitomize both ignorance and intolerance."

I stood toe to toe, waiting for a response but he simply slithered away. With my nerves shaken, I stayed to finish my work-out. My inclination was to grab my keys and run to the sanctuary of my car, but I also knew that my message would have been lost had I not stood my ground and finished the circuit. I was upset, but I had no reason to hide!

I haven't seen this man since our showdown, and I am hoping it stays that way. Confrontation doesn't come easily for me, and I am proud of myself for standing my ground and defending myself. Perhaps my muscles aren't the only thing getting stronger!

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Louie Louie

Rain showers canceled our parade plans and thwarted our blackberry picking efforts, but we still had a fantastic Fourth of July. Scott and Robby dropped me off at the gym in the morning while the two shopped at Home Depot for "man things." When the boys picked me up an hour later, I was drenched in sweat and Robby was clutching his prized new socket set.

After a patriotic breakfast at Bob Evans (we couldn't think of any place that exuded more Americana), we headed home to watch the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest. Turning onto our road, Robby and I simultaneously shrieked for Scott to stop the car. I hopped out and ran (across traffic) to the other side of the intersection to retrieve a new little friend.

Robby was elated and I was immediately dubbed "Super Momom-Turtle Saving Champion." He was convinced that we had found Louie. We've been looking for Louie the Turtle for the past 5 weeks ever since a flyer was put in our mailbox from a family trying to locate their missing pet. Every time we walked through the neighborhood, played in the woods, or visited our neighbors, Robby would remind me to "keep an eye out for Louie."

Adamant that he had finally located the missing pet, I agreed to take the turtle home so that we could call the family. I tried to prep Robby that the chances of our found turtle being Louie were slim and that we would feed our little shelled friend some watermelon and let him go in the woods. Robby agreed that we would let the turtle go if he wasn't Louie, but he was convinced that we had discovered the missing pet.

I called the family who, to be honest, seemed surprised to hear from me. After a month they have given up hope of recovering their lost little friend. I was asked if the turtle had a blue mark on his underbelly.  I asked Robby, who turned the turtle over to expose the blue mark. The family arrived at our home five minutes later with their ecstatic 10 year old leading the charge.

Against all odds, Robby had managed to locate the missing turtle and reunite him with his owners. I was proud of my little turtle-finder for turning down the offered reward without hesitation. He simply explained that he has "a kitty cat named Charlie who is orange. If Charlie gets lost, I would want somebody to help me find him, too."

Our Fourth of July was low-key but productive. We reunited a lost pet with his family, attended an neighboring town's community picnic, and saw a beautiful fireworks display. All in all, it was a great day!

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Happy 4th of July!!

"Poor me" days are rare, but when I do have one, it is usually a doozy. Much of yesterday was spent hiding from the world and trying to avoid as much human contact as possible. I just wanted to wallow, to be by myself, and to feel sad.

I'm happy to report that I'm feeling better today. My Ampuversary blues are not completely gone but are definitely fading. I'm beginning to feel happy and excited about various projects, and my smile isn't forced. I want to thank everybody for their support and kind words. It helps to know that I'm not alone and that so many people care!

I can't see my mood doing anything but continuing to improve as the day goes on. After all, it's impossible to be sad when fireworks are being displayed! Robby, Scott, and I have our matching flag shirts and we're ready to immerse ourselves in all things Patriotic today.

This morning we are going to a parade followed by blackberry picking. I've promised Mr. Bill a pie and, even though the pool collapsed, I want to thank him for all of his hard work. After the pie is baked and delivered, we'll head to Middleburg, VA for more Fourth of July festivities.

Middleburg is an absolutely charming town near us. To describe it as affluent probably does not do justice. Although we all love the area, there is no way we could ever afford to live there. So, every year on the Fourth of July, it has become our tradition to park our car a few blocks away from the town square and discretely sneak through some bushes to crash the quaint community celebration.

Slipping into the crowd feels like stepping back into the past. Robby has a great time joining the children's sack races, tug of war, and ring toss events. I didn't know that people actually had sack races and community tug of war competitions until we discovered this town! We don't know anyone, but we realized that if we act like we belong, nobody ever asks any questions. The celebration ends with an impressive fireworks display which always leaves Robby in awe.

I hope that everybody has a happy and safe 4th of July! I'll post pictures of our party crashing highlights tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

I'm Sad!

Yesterday morning Robby and I were bustling with excitement. The pool water was delivered ahead of schedule, and we were swimming before noon. We played for hours, basking in our new summer oasis. We were both exhausted and purely happy by the time we climbed out of the water in the afternoon.

After we wolfed down a snack (after all, swimming makes you hungry) we headed to Target to secure some new pool toys. We stocked up on diving rings, another raft, and assorted chemicals to keep our pool sparkling clean. The back of the SUV was bursting with a summer's worth of pool supplies and games to keep both my little swimmer and me occupied during countless hours of relaxing in the water.

I drove into our driveway and, instead of seeing our beautiful new pool, I saw nothing but aquatic destruction. A floor board came loose and broke through the bottom of the pool. The 3700 gallons of water that was delivered mere hours earlier had gushed down the hill towards the stream. All of the hard work, all of my visions of us spending the summer poolside were squelched.

I went for a walk down the hill under the guise of inspecting the damage, and I screamed before breaking down into a puddle of tears. I fully admit that my reaction was extreme, but I felt angry, sad, and for some inexplicable reason, lost. Between my inconsolable sobs it occurred to me that my reaction was probably more a result of my AmpuVersary being today. However, knowing the root cause did nothing to lessen the intensity of my emotions.

For some reason my AmpuVersary is hitting me hard this year. During the past few years I have flirted with sadness on the anniversary, but I haven't experienced the raw emotion that I am feeling today.  I am feeling what I can only describe as a strangulating sense of loss.

It's hard to fathom that 9 years ago I entered the hospital with two feet knowing that I would be leaving with only one. I clearly remember looking down at my toes on my left foot, trying to memorize every detail. On the operating table I remember deliberately wiggling my toes as I was falling asleep, hoping I would always remember what they felt like. I knew that when I woke up my life would be different, and although it was the best medical option, I was nearly paralyzed by fear.

My amputation has set my life on a different path and has brought some truly remarkable people into my life. I have pushed myself to live my best life despite using a prosthesis. I don't live my life on the sidelines, and I am actively engaged with my family and community. Every obstacle, every battle, and every setback that I  have overcome has done nothing but empower me to push forward and be a better person.

I love my life! That being said, today I am profoundly sad. I miss my foot, but not in the physical sense. I miss the simplicity of my life when I didn't use a prosthetic. I miss being able just to get up in the morning and walk,  to hop into the stream without changing legs, and not having to deal with copious amounts of sweat that pool up in the bottom of my socket when it's hot.

Today I'm tired of being stared at and receiving second glances and hearing not so subtle whispers about my prosthesis when I walk through the grocery store aisles. I want people to look at my eyes instead of my socket. I guess I am simply tired of always being different!

Between the pool destruction and my AmpuVersary, my mood is tender. I suspect that I will shed a lot of tears as I reflect and think about my journey. I am taking Robby to see Brave today, partly because he wants to see the movie but primarily because I want to hide. I don't want to interact with people and talk. I just want to retreat. I know that tomorrow I will be okay and that this mood will lift. In the meantime, I am just going to try to survive today.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Construction Complete!

Today is the day that we've been anticipating for the past few weeks. We've pulled together as a family and worked hard to make my pool dream a reality. Sometime today (hopefully early) the pool water truck will pull into our driveway and will fill our little summer oasis. I can't wait to start swimming!

Our pool isn't big by any standard, but you wouldn't know that by the amount of work that has gone into this  project. The main obstacle during construction was our yard which is not even remotely level. I was convinced that I was going to set up the smaller pool in the middle of the driveway as we did last summer.   I explained my disappointment to our neighbor during one of our afternoon coffee breaks and discovered him walking through our yard with a tape measure later that evening.

Undeterred by our landscape and always eager to help, Mr. Bill hatched a plan.  He offered to build a reinforced platform which could be leveled in lieu of bringing in bulldozers to physically flatten our yard. It sounded like a simple solution. Our larger pool was ordered and construction plans were drawn up.

The plan seemed perfect in its simplicity, and we all expected construction to take no more than three or four days. Instead it took two weeks, countless trips to Lowes, several hundred cuss words (from Mr. Bill) and a lot of sweat. Similar to the construction of the tree house last year, the weather was oppressive with heat in excess of 100 degrees and high humidity.

Mr. Bill is a true gem because he not only built the platform for us but also allowed Robby to "help" with the construction. The eager hands of an inexperienced six year old certainly slowed down the process, but Robby was delighted to be able to participate. Mr. Bill never shooed him away although it certainly would have been easier, and always stopped to answer questions or Robby's pleas for a turn with the drill or hammer.

While Robby and I were at my Mom's picnic, Scott and Mr. Bill worked most of Saturday to finish the platform. I was elated when I walked in the backyard to see the finished project and spent a few hours staining the wood, the final step.

I can hardly wait to see the pool water truck turn down our driveway. I'm not sure who's more excited: Robby and me to go swimming or Scott and Mr. Bill because the construction is complete! In either case, I owe them both a big plate of cookies and a debt of gratitude for all of their work to make my summer dream a reality.