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 20, 2012

Dear Ex-Trainer

Last week I received a letter from my previous fitness facility. I was reluctant to address the matter in this public forum, however new issues have come to light, and I feel compelled to respond. I want others to learn from my fitness blunder and hope to thwart the same issues from plaguing another amputee.

In addition to my other limb issues, I have been concerned about an area of numbness which began to manifest several months ago. During an appointment with my prosthetist yesterday, I brought the issue to his attention. After an examination, I  received a diagnosis that left me stunned. I have severe nerve damage in my stump which has left me without feeling in the area the size of a grapefruit.

After discussing the scenarios which might lead to this injury, we were both left with no doubt that I am dealing with the aftermath of my ill-equipped trainers.The repeated lateral movements which forcibly pushed my limb against my socket wall did not slim my thighs but did crush the nerve. Had I insisted that the trainers consult with my prosthetist, I would not be dealing with this issue!

I am angry at myself for not being more aggressive in my requests they collaborate with my prosthetist. I should have insisted, and I should have been a better self-advocate. Speaking up to defend myself against somebody whom I perceive to be an expert has never been my strength. I trusted that they were competent and that they knew better than I.

I will assume some of the blame, but a large portion lies with the "experts" whom I trusted. Clearly out of their comfort and knowledge zone, they should have researched below knee amputee fitness. A quick Google search would have yielded a wealth of information including a warning to avoid high impact lateral movements.

I learned a valuable lesson through my experience at this gym. Not only do I need to trust my instincts, but I need to become more assertive when I disagree with an expert. When it comes to my limb health, I have a better insight than anybody!

Fueled by my latest fitness setback, allow me to take this opportunity to respond to the letter I received from R, the gym owner. He wrote that he hadn't seen me in months and "would genuinely like to know the reason why."

Well R, you asked!

Dear R, 

I am not coming back to your facility because I have lost all trust in your abilities as both a trainer and a nutritional expert. I went into your gym with an open mind and an eagerness to achieve my goals. I was honest about my abilities and my limitations. I believed that you could help me.

In hindsight, I should have seen the red flags immediately. During the first week I was instructed to consume 2100 calories with the promise of losing weight. According to my calculations, and those of every expert whom I consulted, that consumption paired with the exercises that I was doing would result in a weight loss of .6 pounds a week. 

That minuscule loss is unacceptable, especially considering that I was paying you $165 a week to help me achieve my weight loss goals. When your calculations were questioned I was told that "we're just trying to figure it out" and that "it'll take a few weeks to get your caloric intake determined." For the amount of money I was paying I expected you to deliver results, not delay my progress. 

I began to ponder, did you really have my best interest or were you trying to thwart my progress in an attempt to continue my patronizing your facility. The slogan  "One Client. One Trainer. One Goal" was not reflected in your actions and your nutritional advice. I began to believe that we did not hold the same goal!

During the work-outs, which by the way were supposed to be 45 minutes but were habitually cut short to 30, I tried to enlighten you about the issues of exercising with a prosthesis. I was told to "toughen up" and to "stick it out." I did, and I ended up with cuts, bruises, sores, abrasions and crushed nerves. I know the difference between the discomfort that comes from working muscles and limb pain. I resent that you did not believe me.

When I said that I needed to get a prosthetic sock for my limb because I could no longer bear weight within my socket, I was told to "run to the car, not walk." R, if you understood prosthetics you would have realized that if I could have run at that moment in time, I wouldn't have needed the sock! However, despite numerous offers, nobody contacted my prosthetist to discuss the healthiest way to approach exercise.

You were supposed to be the expert, yet I was the one who had to constantly provide the education. Some movements are simply painful and dangerous for an amputee to perform. I should have been heeded and you should have made an attempt to learn and to adapt.

Your offer of "two free weeks with us but also get 8 weeks of one-on-one training, nutritional consultations, and a heart rate monitor for only $1397" is utterly laughable. To point out the obvious, I already bought the heart rate monitor from you. Why would I need to buy another? You might provide "nutritional consultations" but, unlike what you imply, you are not a nutritionist. I prefer to patronize somebody who has the credentials to substantiate their touted "expertise."

I have found a new gym and have been reaping phenomenal results. My new trainers asked for permission to consult with my prosthetist during our first session. They admitted that they haven't worked with an amputee and voiced a willingness to learn. I respected them immediately for their honesty!

I no longer feel like my results are being manipulated and I feel that my views are respected. I am happy where I am going and, despite your generous offer of only charging $1397, I am not now, nor will I ever, return or recommend your facility. 


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Phantom Memories

Visiting the Smithsonian on Sunday has left us all with wonderful memories. Robby continues to chatter about the "ginormous dinosaur poop," often comparing his specimens with the photos shown to him at the museum. Thankfully, Mr. Bill finds the information charming and not strange!

Unfortunately the heat and humidity coupled with my failing limb and walking for hours on the marble floors of the museum has rendered me with more pain. I didn't notice the impact on my limb until I took off my leg and lay down for the night. Instantly my leg felt like it was being swarmed and stung. As the stinging increased, in intensity, the jitterbug kicking commenced. Needless to say, it was not a good night.

During the day my leg is sore but not painful. I'm functional, but at night the pain becomes relentless. I haven't slept more than a few hours since our museum trip, and I'm beginning to feel the impact. I'm beginning to feel dopey and more uncoordinated than normal. I'm hoping that soon exhaustion will take over, and I'll be able to sleep despite the kicking and stinging.

It has been a long time since I've been kept awake because of leg pain. Although I resent the pain, experiencing it also reminds me of how lucky I am. Some of my amputee friends live every day battling nerve/ phantom pain. I can't fathom that misery!

During the next few days, I'm going to take it easy allowing my leg to rest. I'm hoping that by keeping my leg use to a minimum my limb will begin to recover. Thankfully Robby seems content playing Operation and building the next architectural masterpiece with K'nex.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Sometime last month it became obvious to me that Scott wanted a scooter. He began hinting by reminiscing about his childhood, telling me stories about being young and riding his small motorcycle through his neighborhood. He slowly began to weave the tales of his youthful two wheeling exploits with our neighborhood routes, pointing out roads that would be fun to ride on a scooter or small bike.

 Finally, after two weeks of beating behind the bush, he showed me brochures for a scooter. Although I knew that Scott was itching for a scooter, I was (and remain) convinced that the yearning would quickly wane. If he invested in the bike, there was no doubt that it would be ridden a few times and promptly be parked in the garage assuming space and gathering dust.

He remained adamant that he would ride the scooter on a regular basis around our neighborhood and asserted that he had no interest in riding the bike on a road with traffic. The fact that he didn't want to ride the bike for a functional trip did not play in his favor. He was talking about spending a lot of money on something that we don't need and that he doesn't plan on using to save gas or mileage on the car. It would be, for all intents and purposes, nothing more than a toy. Coupled with the fact that he isn't known to spend a lot of time outdoors, is not adventurous, and prefers more sedentary activities, I was not a supporter of the scooter.

In addition to being an ill-conceived idea, it was obvious that he was going through his midlife crisis. He is attempting to reestablish his youth by reliving his childhood memories. Against my better judgment and at the urging of my friends, I finally acquiesced and agreed to the purchase of the $900 toy.

Scott was delighted and immediately began making plans for the acquisition. As he delved deeper into scooters and their various options, the base price inexplicably began to rise. Where we started out at less than a thousand, he ended up buying one that cost nearly $3,000! I was not a happy wife.

Needless to say I am less than thrilled with his purchase, but I cannot deny that he is happy. Time will tell if the scooter is a fad or if he will indeed use it on a regular basis. If it sits idol in the garage, I plan on fashioning his helmet into a bucket to catch the rain from our leaking roof. He has also been dubbed with the nickname of "Scooter." I contend that the nickname will last longer than his desire to ride!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Dinosaur Poop!

Sunday morning I woke up determined to check something off my "Summer Socket List." Since there wasn't a zip line nearby, I decided it was the perfect day to go into DC. I cooked a big breakfast, asked both boys to get dressed, and we headed to the metro.

Robby was overwhelmed with excitement when we told him that we were taking him to a museum to see dinosaur bones. He began peppering us with questions: How did the dinosaur bones get to the museum? Where were they found? How will they be held together? What happened to the meat that was on the bones?" We tried to answer his questions and suggested that he ask a museum tour guide if he wanted to know more information.

Although we live just outside the city, neither Scott nor I are seasoned metro riders. We habitually fumble with the fare machine, trying to look comfortable and suave while we are obviously tourists. Of course, Robby informing our fellow passengers that "Momom has Daddy's wallet in her purse so that nobody takes it away from him in the big city" didn't help us appear metropolitan!

The metro ride only served to enhance Robby's anticipation. By the time we entered the museum, we could hardly keep up with him. He ran inside and stopped in his tracks, staring at the elephant in the rotunda. "Oh my. It's the biggest elephant in the whole wide world. Momom, I bet the poop was ginormous." Lovely. We were standing in the middle of a world renown museum surrounded by culture and artifacts, and my child is inquiring about poop.

We continued into the dinosaur exhibit where Robby was impressed by the massive size of the fossils. Again, he inquired about the size of their bowel movements. I promised him that we would Google dinosaur poop when we got home but that he should simply look at the skeletons while he was here. "It's okay, Momom. I'll find out on my own."

He then turned around and walked to the information kiosk that was right outside the exhibit. I didn't know if I should let him ask or if I should try to distract him from his mission. In the end I reasoned that the information guides have probably heard just about every question and would not be surprised by what came out of my little boy's mouth. I let him wait in line to ask his question. I prepared for my embarrassment when I heard him ask,  "Hi. My name is Robby and I live in Virginia. I have a question. Those dinosaurs were really really big. I was wondering, do you know if their poop was big? Do you have any in this museum? I bet it smelled really bad too!"

The guide smiled and excused herself to look under the counter. After a moment she presented a photograph of what she claimed to be dinosaur poop. Robby was impressed with the photo, and I felt a little better knowing that he was not the first child to present such a request. According to the guide, the "dinosaur poop" question is posed several times a day, primarily by boys between six and eight years old.

It is good to know that Robby is a typical six year old boy, even if I don't fully comprehend his fascination! Robby was blissfully exhausted by the time we got home. He spent the evening looking at pictures of dinosaurs and talking to his cat about the pictures of the "ginormous super huge bumpy poop."

Monday, July 16, 2012


While driving home from the gym Friday afternoon, I wracked my brain trying to come up with an adventure. Although I doubt Robby would ever become bored of his favorite pastime, I was growing weary of sitting by the stream watching him catch tadpoles and fish. I was trying to devise something different or a project that would occupy us for a few hours.

Unable to come up with anything, I resigned myself to another afternoon of swatting away mosquitoes and baiting hooks and I turned on the radio. The DJ's were bantering and, unlike most times when I simply tune them out or switch stations, I listened. I'm glad that I was paying attention because I received my activity inspiration.

In addition to being Friday the 13th, it was also Cow Appreciation Day. How could I not know this! Robby loves going to Chick Fil A, and for one day only the restaurant offered a free meal to everybody who came dressed as a cow. I put my creative costuming hat on and went to work.

Scouring around our closet I located the tunic that I made for Halloween the year Scott dressed as a caveman. The front of the fabric was plush with a leopard print, but the back was black and white. Perfect for cow spots. A few black t-shirts and shorts and a stapler were all I needed to complete our bovine-inspired look.

In order to keep everything simple, I opted to staple the spots onto our black clothes as it was an easy and non-permanent way to create the cow costumes. I figured it would take no more than thirty minutes before we were cool cows and out the door. It took nearly two hours to complete our costumes, but the extended time was more indicative of my having an eager little helper who loved cutting spots versus the project being difficult.

While Robby and I were busy crafting our cow outfits, Scott devised a route to all six of our local Chick Fil A restaurants. Apparently people in this area love chicken! We donned our spots, grabbed our map, and promised our neighbors to return with dinner for everybody.

Dressed in full cow garb, I drove to every local restaurant to redeem our free meals. Robby was in full costumed glory as he posed for photos and accepted compliments. Some of the restaurants had a few customers dressed like cows, but in a few we were the only cows. We garnered a lot of smiles and quizzical looks from fellow diners. We had so much fun!

All six restaurants held true to the promotion and gave us each a free meal. Robby decided to forgo a kids meal because he reasoned that he'd "get more chicken with a regular meal." I'm so proud that he shows an appreciation for getting things for free!

By the time we were done with our route, we had scored twelve full chicken meals. Robby delivered the dinners to our neighbors, telling each of them that we have "a whole crap load of free chicken in the car." I'm not sure if they smiled because he was an adorable little cow or because they were receiving free food. Either way, our little adventure made a lot of people happy!