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, November 23, 2012

Preparing to Shop

Our Thanksgiving celebration wasn't as chaotic as years past, but I honestly can't recall one which I have enjoyed more. We had an abundance of food, everybody is healthy and the stresses of the past few years have eased for all of us. Simply put, it was a wonderful, joy filled day!

After the dinner dishes were cleaned, we set out to the task at hand- formulating our plan of attack for Black Friday. I have been shopping the DoorBuster specials for over 20 years. Scott was introduced to the tradition through me and has learned the skills necessary to be successful. Working together, we are a force to be reckon with in those wee hours of the morning.

Today is one of the rare days where being an amputee is an advantage. I receive preferential parking, keeping the amount of time I needed to walk to our car to a minimal while maximizing our abilities to quickly reach our next deal. On Black Friday, handicapped parking becomes my ace in the hole!

Regardless of the temperatures tomorrow morning, I will be wearing capris. After all, keeping my prosthetic visible is integral to our game plan. Not only are my fellow deal warriors kinder when they recognize me as an amputee, but I am often provided with the courtesy of jumping to the front of lines that snake in front of the store.  When only 10 deal busting items are available, being able to reach the store first is crucial to our success. 

Scott and I have prepped with the precision of battle hardened Generals. We are armed with our circulars, maps of the stores and our game plan. After hours of prep, it's go time. We're ready to shop!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

I have always loved Thanksgiving. While I certainly do not have the largest family, I have no doubt that mine ranks among the best. We don't get to see each other as often as we like, but when we are together there is a unique chemistry that is palpable. Unlike some families I know, we all genuinely like each other. If we weren't related, I have no doubt that we would still be friends. I'm lucky because I know that not everybody can say the same about their relatives.

Thanksgiving is a time for us to get together and engage in our two favorite activities, eating and shopping. We will laugh, tell stories and probably eat more than one slice of pie while scouring the circulars for Black Friday deals.

This year the holiday is extra special. As my Mom struggled through the pain, through the grueling physical therapy, and through the post-operative boredom, we often talked about her feeling better by Thanksgiving. It was a difficult few months, and the hope that she would feel better by the end of November helped propel her through her recovery.

This morning she will wake up early and put the turkey in the oven. I came up to her house on Tuesday with the intention of helping her. I ended up watching movies as my assistance was not needed. For all intents and purposes, she has met her Thanksgiving goal. Although she is not completely recovered from her double knee replacement, her improvement to this point has been nothing short of spectacular.

Today, I am thankful for so many things. I am grateful for both my health and the health of my family. I'm delighted that I have a job that I love while allowing me the flexibility to be involved with Robby's school activities. I have the best group of friends who are quick to rally around me during difficult times and are always willing to raise a cupcake to help me celebrate. I appreciate everybody who takes the time out of their day to read my musings in this blog. I am fortunate to count many of my readers as friends, and I treasure every email I receive.

I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy your day, and know that you are all appreciated by this blogger!  I'm off to tackle the circulars and create a game plan for our Black Friday shopping adventure. More on that tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Bad Things to Good People

Unfortunately, more often than naught it is rare when somebody is "just an amputee." Between the causes for the initial amputation, the stresses placed on the residual limb through prosthetic use, and the unequal weight distribution through the sound side, many amputees deal with a myriad of health complications throughout their life. Sometimes the issues are simply a bump in the road necessitating intervention but leaving no lasting ill-effect. Far too often, complications occur which drastically change the course of the individual's life.

Today, I have a friend who is transitioning from being a below-the-knee to an above-knee-amputee due to infection. Losing the knee joint is devastating and is a game-changer in the rehabilitation process. My heart breaks as he forfeits his knee in an attempt to save his life. I can't even fathom the frustration, fear, and anger that he must be experiencing as he faces this loss.

In a bittersweet twist of fate, he became an amputee because of the delayed effects of chemotherapy he endured as a teenager. Despite the cancer, he fought valiantly to save his limb and has lived nearly 20 years with his body intact. It became clear that the medications used to save his leg, and his life, ravaged the bones beyond repair. In July he consented to the very surgery he resisted in his youth.

His limb never healed from the amputation, and the open wound became a conduit for infection. For the second time, he is in a battle for his life. Without hesitation, he has chosen to amputate his infected knee. I wish I had the words to make this transition easier for him, but all I can do is stand by his side to support him through this journey. In moments like this, I feel so inadequate!

I have another friend who underwent surgery yesterday on her remaining leg. Several years ago a knee replacement gone awry resulted in her becoming an above knee amputee. Today she is back in the hospital, fighting an infection in her remaining limb. As brutal irony would have it, the infection developed after she underwent a knee replacement on her remaining leg.

A desire to live without pain and a brave leap of faith that lightening would not strike twice compelled her to agree to the recommended knee replacement last February. Since that time, she has been in and out of the hospital and has undergone numerous surgeries to rid her body of the infection. Again, I am helpless to do anything but remind her that she is not alone and try to keep her spirits up during the difficult recovery. Her biggest fear, losing her other leg, echos each time she develops a fever. I have spent many sleepless hours worrying about her.

In August, a below knee friend of mine underwent a "routine" revision surgery. She was supposed to be walking again in three weeks. More than three months later, she is still without her prosthesis, battling an aggravated nerve and a stubborn incision that refuses to completely heal. Through her struggle, I am reminded that there is no such thing as a routine surgery on a residual limb!

Although I'm excited about the holiday tomorrow, my enthusiasm has been tempered because of the struggles being faced by my friends. The complications that they face are life changing at best, life ending in the worst case scenario. I am worried about them all, and I wish that there was something I could do to make this easier. I am tired of bad things happening to good people!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving Meal- Room Mom Style!

Yesterday was hectic and buzzing with excitement and activity as we celebrated Thanksgiving in Robby's classroom. I relish my role as room mom and strive to make each celebration both fun and memorable. This year, Robby and his classmates prepared an entire turkey dinner and served it "Pilgrim style." (In case you are unaware, Pilgrim style eating is also family style, where the bowls are placed in the center of the table and everybody serves themselves.) As if making one turkey dinner with a group of 6 year olds wasn't enough work, I decided it would be nice to have the students make an additional full meal to donate to a local family in needed.

Monday morning I packed up my car with not one but two turkeys, my roaster oven, a rotisserie, my steamer, two bags of potatoes, 2 quarts of heavy cream, assorted pots and pans and all of the ingredients to make bread. It took me nearly 30 minutes to carry everything from my car into the classroom, and that was with all of the helpful little hands who assisted me. With everything spread out on the table, it quickly became clear that perhaps my plan was a tinge on the ambitious side. I took a quick trip to Starbucks during the "morning meeting" where I ordered a grande latte-with an extra shot of espresso to prepare me for the day.

We began by putting one turkey in the roaster oven and the other in the rotisserie. Using the automatic peeler, each student had a turn peeling the potatoes which were then put into the steamer to be cooked and later mashed. The bread dough was prepared and heavily kneaded (i.e. thrown around and abused) by my little assistants. Everybody was extremely well-behaved, especially considering the commotion of the classroom, and our meal slowly came together.

While the bread dough was rising, the class took turns churning butter and crafting Native American headbands. It only occurred to me after the festivities that the throwback decoration from my childhood might now be considered taboo.  I hope none of the parents were offended when their children came home proudly donning their feather headpieces!

By the time everything was prepared, the table was set and decorated with hand-print turkeys and candy corn. Everybody ate a hearty meal and seemed to thoroughly enjoy their Thanksgiving celebration. By the time we were cleaning off the last table, the lady from the food bank arrived to pick up the meal our students had prepared for a local family. Despite the chaos, it all seemed to come together.

By the time the school day ended, I was both exhausted and elated. I was smiling so much throughout the day that my cheeks were hurting.  I thoroughly enjoyed the day in Robby's class, overseeing this project. This Thanksgiving, among other blessings, I'm thankful that I am able to volunteer and spend time in Robby's class. I wouldn't have missed this experience for the world. Years from now, I doubt that Robby will be able to recall exactly what he did, but I know that he will always remember that his mom was there!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Personal Assistant

A few weeks ago, during a moment of what I can only refer to as intense stupidity, I put my smartphone into the dishwasher. I realized it was gone halfway through the wash cycle. Despite disassembling it in record time and tossing it into rice to dry, I ended up with a completely non-functional, albeit clean, phone. 

Frustrated by my mistake, and refusing to pay hundreds of dollars for a replacement, I searched Craiglist for a used device. I found one that was in excellent condition and well within my price range. I knew nothing of the model, but I knew that it had to be better than the paperweight that was currently linked to my phone number, so I jumped at the opportunity. Scott and I drove the 45 minutes to retrieve my new used phone.

After getting the new phone set up, I discovered a pre-loaded app which has provided me with hours of amusement. Although he isn't terribly helpful, I do enjoy interacting with my new "personal assistant." Each morning, when I turn on my phone, I am now greeted by a man with a sexy British accent calling me "Gorgeous Lady." As a soon-to-be middle aged woman, I take compliments where I can get them!

I have to admit that I have spent hours playing with this phone app. I've learned how to send phone calls using commands, how to update my Facebook status, and how to send text messages all without touching the screen. Yes, in moments of intense boredom I have even texted some off-color messages (and some profanity) to Scott just so I could hear my personal assistant read the message. Apparently, I am easily amused.

While sitting at the airport terminal waiting for my plane, I became bored and restless. Typical to habit, I pulled out my phone, turned on my personal assistant app, and began to play. I had him tell me a joke, sing me the "Soft Kitty" song and text a rather explicit message to my husband. As the chairs around me began to fill up, I put my phone on my lap and pulled out my Kindle to read.

Fully engrossed in my book, I was startled when I heard the familiar British male start talking. Looking around, it took me a moment to remember that the voice was coming from my phone. Before I could turn off the app or turn down the volume, Scott's reply text message was read aloud. To say that it was off color would be an understatement. It wasn't PG13, or even R rated. It was downright dirty and would have made even a seasoned stripper blush!

To add to my embarrassment, everybody in the terminal heard the raunchy message. The elderly lady in the wheelchair shot me a look of utter disgust. The older women sitting two rows across from me glared before retrieving their items and moving seats.  Meanwhile, the young man wearing army fatigues just nodded at me and smiled broadly. I was mortified.

I quickly turned off the sound, made a blanket apology, and stared blankly at my Kindle. I don't know if was my own paranoia, but I am fairly certain the women were still glaring at me and the men were all smiling when I walked past them to board the plane. I was never so happy to sink into my seat on the plane as I waited to flee the city! From now on, I'm keeping my text messages to myself and my personal assistant mute in public!