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 24, 2012

Covering Up

When I first became an amputee I was insistent that I would always don a cosmetic cover. I knew that my leg was not "real," yet I did not want anybody else to know that I used a prosthetic. I didn't wear the cover out of shame or embarrassment, rather I think I just wasn't ready to confront the reality that I was different.

As time went on I became more confident and I stopped trying to match my prosthetic to my natural leg. I realized that it wasn't an original part of me but that it was beautiful in its own right. I no longer needed to blend in with everybody else. I accepted that I was unique and embraced my new body, carbon fiber and titanium included.

I only think about the visibility of my prosthetic when I know that I don't want to draw unnecessary attention. When I was in a wedding a few years ago I wore a flesh tone legging over my socket. I didn't do this out of shame. Rather, I knew that walking down the aisle sporting a black carbon fiber socket could draw attention away from the focus of the event- the bride.

Next week Robby and I are going to meet his teacher and classmates for the first time. I want the attention to be on Robby, not on my prosthesis. He deserves the opportunity to make his own first impression. I worry that my leg would take the focus away from where it belongs during this important meeting, so I have decided to be discrete and wear pants.

I always feel oddly guilty when I make an effort to conceal my prosthetic. I'm not ashamed of being an amputee. I don't want to give the impression that I am embarrassed. That being said, I feel that it is imperative Robby be given his own chance to shine. I want him to be known for who he is, not because his Mom uses a prosthetic leg. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Kinesio Tape

While watching the Olympics I couldn't help but notice the number of athletes who were sporting brightly colored, and sometimes patterned, Kinesio tape. I first noticed the tape on volleyball players during the 2008 Olympic games. Now it appears that every athlete is on the Kinesio bandwagon.

Intrigued, I took to my computer and started some research. I learned that although Kinesio tape is now hitting the mainstream, it has been utilized for 25 years. It was designed utilizing the premise that the body can heal itself when it is properly supported. Because it is not constricting, the tape is comfortable to wear while it's porous surface allows the skin to breath. It is applied over muscles to minimize pain and inflammation, thus relaxing tired muscles that are suffering from overuse and supporting muscle movement.

I began to wonder if Kinesio tape might have a positive impact on my stump. Between the distal flap failure (my skin is now flabby on the tip of my limb, leaving my bone unprotected) and my bone spur/ bursas, I have been experiencing more pain. Always looking for a non-narcotic treatment, I decided to invest a few dollars and experiment.

When the tape arrived in the mail I was skeptical, but remained curious. After reading the directions, I taped the tip of my limb, positioning the tissue so that the bone was padded. The first few steps in my socket were not comfortable because I could feel all of the hair being pulled by the tape. Just when I got to the point where I was going to give up, the tugging stopped and my leg was comfortable.

I went about my normal activities, playing with Robby and cleaning the house. I didn't notice any difference in pain walking throughout the day. Keeping the tape on (the directions were clear that it could remain in place for up to three days) I curled into bed for the night.

The tape didn't alleviate any discomfort during the day, but I felt a remarkable difference at night! I'm not sure if it was because the tissue was supported throughout the day, or because the tape was somehow relieving nerve issues, but the absence of my normal twinges and phantom pains felt like a miracle. I can't remember the last time I didn't nerve pain or muscle spasms when I was trying to fall asleep. 

I've been wearing the Kinesio tape for two weeks and it has continued to yield profound results at night. The hair tugging that I feel each time I don my leg is worth because of the relief I reap in the evening. I don't know if the composition of the tape is directly responsible for extinguishing my limb pain. I can't help but believe that supporting the tissue must be beneficial. In either case, I have no plans on stopping the use of the Kinesio tape in the near future. I don't fully understand how or why, but I do know that it is working!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Sinking Ship

The past few days I have seen both the best and the worst in people. I've witnessed my Mom courageously struggling and fighting against the pain in order to recover. Her strength and determination leaves me in awe after every visit.  Although she continues to be in pain, she has been undeterred in her rehabilitation and her quest to fully recovery. I'm so proud to be her daughter.

Unfortunately, I've also been forced to deal with those who prefer to live as victims in their life. Everyday problems are amplified and exaggerated due to the "woe is me" mentality. Although heartbreaking to watch, especially when it is somebody I care about, I have to learn to distance myself from their self created train wreck.

In addition to dealing with self-prophesying victims, I have been peppered with insults and complaints from someone whom I considered to be a friend. Yesterday evening I opened my email and read a curt and rude message informing me that I "don't have a heart" and that I am "selfish, arrogant, self-centered fat b*tch." What did I do to deserve such harsh criticism? I haven't carved out time in my schedule to drive 80 minutes for a visit.

Allow me to set the record straight about how I have been spending my days. I wake up about 5:00 AM, pour myself a mug of coffee and immediately begin working. Robby has been waking up around 8:30, at which point I put away my computer and concentrate on him. He is away from home, missing his Daddy, his cat and his toys. I have been desperately trying to keep him busy so that he doesn't lament being away.

We have been spending our days on an adventure that habitually leaves me either exhausted or physically sore. Around dinnertime we return to my Mom's to feed the dogs before heading to the hospital. We usually return to her house by the time it is getting dark, at which time I give Robby a bath and cuddle for cartoons. When he finally does fall asleep I grab my computer and try to play catch up on all of my assignments.

I don't resent coming to my Mom's to help her during her recovery. She has always been there for me and I can't imagine not being here. That being said, roads run in both directions. If I knew that my friend was in the area, I would have offered to make the drive. I would never have expected a friend to drive to visit me during such a hectic time. I would have visited with a pizza in one hand and a cupcake in the other, asking what I could do to help!

Between watching loved ones self destruct and being insulted, I am at the end of my emotional rope. My heart is aching, but I have to let go. I need to use my energies towards productive endeavors instead of spending sleepless nights worrying. Today, I am going to focus on letting go of those destructive forces. I can't do anything to fix the situations, but I refuse to be brought down with their sinking ship!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Saturday morning Robby was still smiling from our fishy excursion. Wanting to keep him busy, I took to the internet and researched activities close to my Mom's house. I grew up in this house, yet I'm shocked at how many local attractions I've never experienced!

Since the aquarium was more educational based, I sought a physical activity. I finally settled on "Mountain Adventures" which is hosted at our local ski resort. The website touted climbing structures, obstacle courses, a maze and something called an "OGO" ball. Determined to have fun, I threw a box of band-aids into my purse and we headed to the resort.

Robby immediately noticed the "OGO" balls when we entered through the gate. In case you are unfamiliar, OGO balls are large inflatable plastic orbs. Passengers willingly climb into the ball, which is then zipped shut and pushed down the side of a mountain. My wide-eyed six year old saw adventure and speed. I saw inner ear imbalance and probable vomiting. I also knew that, before we left, being strapped into a giant beach ball and pushed down the mountain was inevitable.

Trying to put off the rolling torture, I directed Robby towards the obstacle course. He had no apprehensions and immediately started crawling across the rope net bridge. Unfortunately his fear made an appearance about half way across the net and he became frozen, frantically calling for help. I tried to talk him through his fears, but soon it became apparent that he needed rescued.

Traversing a rope net bridge with prosthetic is a physically and mentally exhausting endeavor! The toe of my prosthetic constantly became stuck and the entire device almost came off on two occasions. I had to be cautious because, although I knew that there was a catch net beneath us, retrieving my prosthetic should it fall would have been difficult. Slowly, I made it across the wobbly, hole riddled bridge to rescue my little adventure seeker.

After Robby and I crossed the bridge, we continued exploring the various activities. He had a blast on the zip line and we made it through the maze in record time (on our third attempt). He learned how to cross a tight rope (while maintaining a death grip on my shoulder) and made it half way up a rock wall.

After several hours, he began asking about the OGO balls. Finally, I acquiesced and agreed to look into the height and age requirements. I was relieved when the attendant informed us that Robby was too young and too short to go for a ride in the ball. The disappointment was written all over his face as we turned to walk away. My heart sank when I heard the attendant offer, "But he's old enough to go down the wet ball, as long as you ride with him."

Robby immediately began shedding his shoes and socks. I was still trying to process the concept of a "wet ball" as I followed him up the hill. Five minutes after we began climbing we were finally at the top, facing the imposing balls.

It turns out that a "wet ball" is simply an OGO ball filled with gallons of water in the center compartment. I climbed in first, handing my prosthetic back to the teenager helping us. Robby followed me and we sat in a shallow pool of cold water inside a large hamster ball. Before I could change my mind the gate was opened and we were pushed down the hill.

Robby laughed during the entire ride! I was pleasantly surprised that we did not go upside down in the ball. We simply rocked back and forth as the water moved. I have to admit that the ride was fun, and to my delight it did not make me sick. When we finally stopped at the big mud puddle at the bottom of the hill, he was already begging to go again. I slipped on my leg and agreed that we would go for on more ride.

Before the day was done I schlepped up the hill and rode the wet ball 17 times. Despite being exhausted and soaking wet, we stayed at the park until it closed. I am hereby submitting my application for Mom of the Year after this adventure filled day!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Surprise Trip!

The summer that I so vividly envisioned in June never materialized. I anticipated spending days in our backyard pool, splashing with Robby and lounging in a raft. Our pool popped after 4 hours, leaving me with a broken platform and a ravine created by 3200 gallons of water gushing downhill. 

Instead of basking in the sunshine laying on a beach towel, I spent the majority of my time working.  Although I'll miss Scooter and Robby when school starts, I will enjoy the solitude so that I can work during the day instead of getting up before dawn. With time in short supply, I'm embarrassed to admit that my house hasn't been cleaned since the school year ended.

My Mom's bilateral knee replacement has taken priority this month. I was able to return home for two days, where I caught up on errands and gathered more paperwork from my home office. I packed up Robby and we've moved into my Mom's house for awhile.

With my Mom settled in rehab, my constant presence is no longer necessary. We go and visit her during the evening for a few hours but our afternoon schedule is clear. Because we haven't taken a vacation this summer, I've been trying to make the most of our time in PA by going on day trips.

On Friday I packed up Robby in the car, gave him his DS and refused to tell him where we were going. He immediately began pleading and bargaining to have me reveal the secret. The more I refused to reveal the destination, the more excited he became as he tried to figure it out.

After driving an hour and navigating through Baltimore to find the appropriate parking garage, Robby and I walked to "the big glass building." Those who were around us in line for tickets quickly realized that Robby did not know where he was and played along with my game. He asked the couple behind us what was inside and they simply shrugged and smiled.

When we first entered. Smile couldn't be bigger!
As soon as we entered we came face to face with a large aquarium filled with large fish. Robby shrieked, startling the other patrons. He jumped up, wrapped both arms around my neck, buried his head into my shoulder. "Momom, I didn't know that there was a big city aquarium here. I thought I would never get to go to the aquarium again. I'm so excited. You're the bestest Momom in the whole world for bringing me here."

We had a wonderful day exploring the exhibits and learning about our finned friends. Robby was particularly enthralled by the jelly fish, sharks and dolphins. We even watched the dolphins do tricks, a sight which brought my little guy to tears. After the show Robby walked up to the trainers and said, "I really liked your dolphins. Do you know Winter? Winter is special because she is a dolphin who doesn't have a tail. She uses a prosthetic like Momom. But your ordinary dolphins are nice too."

I don't know who enjoyed the day more, Robby or me. He loved watching all the fish and exploring the vast exhibits. I was thrilled that my surprise worked and that he was having a great time. Robby will remember the fish that he saw. I'll remember sharing the day with him in such a special way. Although the summer is coming to an end, we still have another few weeks. I plan on filling them with as much fun as possible!
Robby asked me to include the shark picture. (He thinks people will be impressed.)