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, August 17, 2012

Two New Knees

As soon as it became apparent that my Mom needed a double knee replacement we began to prepare Robby. He loves his Nana and we didn't want to try to hide the situation from him. I knew that I was going to making frequent trips to help her recover and trying to disguise my purpose would be practically impossible.

We sat down Robby and carefully explained that Nana was going to have surgery and that I was going to go to the hospital to be with her. I told him that her doctor was going to give her two new knees but that she would be okay. I continued by assuring him that after she healed and learned how to use the knees she wouldn't hurt anymore and continued by predicting that she would be able to push him on the swing again. Robby seemed to accept my explanation and, with the exception of making sure that she would be asleep for the surgery, he didn't have any questions. 

Everyday while I was away Robby asked about his Nana. He fretted that she was in pain and worried that she was sad.  Yesterday, upon hearing that we were going to stay at Nana's house, and that he was going to be able to visit her, he took off skipping into his bedroom with a look of purpose on his face. I frantically packed for our trip, trying to anticipate every need, when he came into our room with a handful of change. It turns out that he was raiding his piggy bank because he wanted to go to Cupcake Heaven to buy Nana a "yummy surprise."

After getting packed up, kissing Daddy goodbye and securing the cupcake treat, Robby and I took off on our road trip to visit Nana. He quietly played his DS for the first two hours of the drive, affording me some much needed quiet time. As we neared the rehab facility, he put down his little electronic toy and began to ask questions.

At first he wanted to know if Nana was still hurting. I explained that she is still ouchy but promised that she is getting better everyday. He then wanted to know if she can walk on her new knees yet. I took the opening to warn him that she is using a walker to help her get around.

His final question took me off guard.  "Momom, did Nana get the new C-Leg or did she get the Rheo knee?" (In case you are unfamiliar, the C-Leg and the Rheo are two commonly used prosthetic knees.) I almost slammed on the brake when I realized that Robby thought that Nana's "new knees" were prosthetics!

It never occurred to me to explain that the knees were implanted inside her body, not donned like my leg. Robby is so used to being around amputees that he simply assumed that the "new knees" were prosthetics. A visible sign of relief come across his face as I explained that she has the same legs because the doctor simply replaced the bones inside.

He was delighted to learn that the knee could be replaced without cutting off the entire leg. "Wow. I didn't know that they could do that. It's a good thing that she kept her feet because walking with two C-Legs is really REALLY hard!"

I just love his unique perspective on the world!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Bad Bad Sports Mom

Sitting in the viewing area last night during Robby's swim class I came to an unfortunate conclusion. I love watching him swim, splash, play and learn. I have relished experience and have thrown myself behind developing his interests and talents. That being said, I think it is fair to say that I am a really bad sports mom.

I find myself constantly biting my tongue, squeezing my hands in anger and increasingly frustrated with his instructor. Robby has been in the swim level for the past 14 classes. During this time all of his classmates have graduated several levels.  Meanwhile, Robby has been stymied.

I understand why Robby has not graduated to the next skill level. The instructor, who might be 16 years old, has a check-list of skills that must be demonstrated to a predetermined proficiency. Robby has mastered all of the requisites with one exception, the dreaded "tarzan."

The "tarzan" movement involves swimming on your side while keeping your shoulder out of the water. After kicking for several feet (the arms must remain still), the swimmer is supposed to flip and reposition with the opposite shoulder in the air. For a variety of reasons, Robby has struggled with this skill.

I'm not frustrated that he can't do the move, but I am becoming increasingly agitated that it is only worked on every few classes. Last week Robby didn't "tarzan" at all, and last night he only worked on the skill for 5 minutes. Yes, I have apparently become the kind of mom who keeps track!

Robby's enthusiasm for swimming is quickly waning. Every time he makes a friend the child graduates, leaving him behind. The majority of the other students have pools at home and take private lessons outside of class. Robby has neither opportunity, and relies upon class time to learn the skills. How is he going to learn how to do the "tarzan" if it is never worked on during his class?

I've struggled to keep my helicopter tendencies in check. I am not an intrusive parent who expects their child to excel in every circumstance. However, I hate seeing Robby disappointed and I become aggravated when I don't think the instruction is correct. So far I haven't intervened, but quietly watching pool side has not been easy. At this point, I think that the coveted graduation medal will be well-earned by both of us- if and when he finally receives it!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


I want to thank everybody for the outpouring of support that I have received since my Mom's medical odyssey began last week. It means so much to know that people care and are genuinely concerned. The numerous emails, text messages, Facebook posts and tweets reminded me that I was not alone, and that people cared.

Yesterday morning I was apprehensive when I walked into my Mom's hospital room. She had been so ill the day before, I hoped for the best but feared the worse. To my delight I found her sitting on her bed, smiling and happily munching Frosted Flakes!

After a battery of tests, she has been cleared to start the next phase of her recovery. She is going to be moved to a rehabilitation facility where she will receive intensive physical therapy for two weeks. I know that it is going to be exhausting and painful, but I also know that she's going to rise to the occasion.

With the confidence that my Mom was no longer in medical danger, I was able to leave her for a few days. I wasn't looking forward to the drive, but I needed to come home. I missed Robby and Scooter!

I know that Robby missed me. On Monday night he called and was crying throughout our conversation, repeatedly asking when I was going to come home. It broke my heart hearing his little voice breaking up through his tears. He kept asking me to come home, but I could make no promises about my timeline. Too much was undecided and too many medical variables were in play. All I could do was remind him that I loved him and try to distract him from his emotions.

Robby simply squealed when I told him that I was on my way home. I pulled into the driveway and saw Robby running out of the house to meet me. I was greeted with him running to me and wrapping his arms and legs around me tightly as he jumped into my arms. It was the best hug of my life!

It's wonderful being home, even if it is only for a few days. Knowing that my Mom is both safe and medically sound, I have finally been able to rest. I slept soundly until 5:00, when Robby woke me up with kisses. Apparently he is still excited to have his Momom home!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Medical Hiccup

Yesterday was an unexpectedly long and emotionally charged day. I woke up happy because I was expecting my Mom to be released to the rehab facility. My bag was packed and I was looking forward to getting her checked into her new room and driving home to see Robby (and Scooter). I was optimistic and upbeat when I walked into her hospital room.

One glance at her and I immediately realized that something had gone array during the night. My Mom looked horrendous. Her lips were blue, she was swollen and disoriented. Before I could gather all the facts a gurney was wheeled into the room and my Mom was whisked away for tests.

I learned that during the night my Mom's heart rate began to race while her oxygen levels started to fall. Coupled with her plunging platelet count, her doctors were concerned that she had developed a pulmonary embolism. She was rushed down to Nuclear Medicine for a scan of her lungs. She was sick, and all I could do was sit and wait.

All of this transpired so quickly that we assumed that information would be forthcoming. I patiently sat by her bed and waited for somebody to come and reveal the results. I read my Kindle until the battery died. I then played on my phone until it died as well. Despite repeated requests, we didn't receive the results until nearly 6:00 in the evening, ten hours later!

By the time the medical plan was discussed I was too tired to be angry or frustrated by the delay. I was simply thankful that we finally had answers, and that my Mom was going to be treated. We have been assured that this little hiccup to her health will not yield permanent implications, and that she should resume her rehabilitation plan in a few days.

The past 24 hours have been an emotional roller coaster. I am reminded how much I detest roller coasters! I'm hoping that everything is back on track and that she responds to the prescribed protocol. I am beginning to feel homesick but I plan on staying here as long as I am needed. After all, my Mom has always been there for me!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Knee Surgery Update

My weekend was spent hunkered down in my Mom’s hospital room desperately attempting to make her as comfortable as possible.  When I wasn’t in her room I was taking care of her dogs and tending to everything at her house.  I haven’t slept much, and on the rare occasions when I was able to lie down, I found myself fretting and clenching my jaw so severely that it hurt to open my mouth.  Needless to say, I’m physically and emotionally drained.
Thankfully my Mom came through her bilateral knee replacement surgery with flying colors. I almost hugged her surgeon when he approached us in the waiting room with the good news! She didn’t encounter any physical issues or setbacks during the surgery and he expected a full, albeit it painful, recovery.

We were prepared for her to be uncomfortable, but I don’t think anybody is ever ready to witness the suffering of somebody that they love.  Seeing her grimace and hearing her moan from the slightest movements of her legs has been torturous. I wish that I could take on the recovery for her. Watching her I felt so helpless, but I’m sure that is how she felt as she stood by and supported me through all of my leg surgeries.  

Since we couldn’t take away the pain, my sister and I took up residency in her room and vowed to make her as comfortable as possible. We employed all of teacher honed organizational skills keeping her medications charted and on track, along with making sure the various leg machines and pumps were being used at the prescribed intervals. Since pain medications are prescribed on an “as needed” basis, the onus fell to us to let the staff know when they were needed.

It turns out that my sister is an excellent timekeeper. She had everything programmed into her phone and within a few hours we were able to get my Mom’s pain under control.  She kept all medications and therapy protocols implemented with precision timing. 

I was delegated the “muscle” of our advocacy team. I was responsible for politely reminding the nurses and securing whatever my Mom needed. Not wanted to be perceived as an annoyance, and recognizing the power the staff yields over the comfort level afforded to my Mom, I decided to sweeten our favor by bringing in cookies and pastries each morning.  After all, cookies and cupcakes make everybody a little more forgiving!

The past few days have been arduous, but I witnessed something amazing. I have always known that my Mom is a strong woman, but the past 72 hours have afforded me the opportunity to see the depths of her strength. Every therapist, nurse and physician who came in contact with her remarked that she has been doing phenomenally well. She is walking with more ease than the patients who are recovering from a single knee replacement.  I know that her recovery will be painful, but all worries and doubts about the ultimate outcome have been erased. I know that she is going to be just fine!