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, January 25, 2013

Snow Day!

After much anticipation, Robby experienced his first official snow day! Yesterday morning I was woken by the phone at 5:00 AM. A call at that hour can only mean one of two things: somebody has died or school has been delayed or cancelled. Thankfully, the purpose was the latter of the two options. Upon hearing the news of his delay, Scott turned off his alarm and went back to sleep. Knowing that any attempts at my falling back to sleep would be fruitless, I quietly drank coffee in the living room and waited for the sun to rise.

At dawn, I was surprised by the landscape. Instead of our yard being covered with mounds of fluffy white snow, I saw about an inch of snow with blades of grass and dirt poking through. We certainly didn't get much, but apparently it was enough to cancel Robby's school and delay Scott's for two hours.

Robby was delighted when I broke the snow day news. He immediately began begging to go outside to play. I was trying to buy some time (for another cup of coffee) by telling him that he had to eat his breakfast first. In one swift move he jammed his Eggo into his mouth and declared breakfast over. We were bundled up and playing in the snow by 8:00.

Robby's first objective was shoveling Mr. Bill's walkway. Honestly, we didn't have enough snow to necessitate shoveling. However, he seemed insistent that we do it and I knew that he would have fun. We grabbed our shovels and headed across the street, kicking blades of grass and stomping down the mole tunnels on the way.

Mr. Bill came outside as soon as Robby threw his final shovel full of snow and tried to give him a dollar. Interested in how Robby would handle this exchange, I stepped back and simply watched. Instead of taking the money, Robby said, "No, thank you" and offered the following explanation.  "Mr. Bill, do you remember in the summer that you fixed my fishing pole a lot of times? Well, you said that I can shovel your snow for you because you helped me. So that's what I'm doing now." Mr. Bill smiled and put his money away.

With the shoveling task completed, we set out to try his new sled. Robby received the sled two Christmases ago and has only been able to use it one time. He's been chomping at the bit to get it out and see how it rides. Even though we only had an inch of snow, he was able to fly down the hill.  I'm pretty certain that his giggles could be heard down the street!

After a few hours I was ready to come inside. My gloves were drenched and my foot was freezing. (A surprising benefit of being an amputee is that only one foot gets cold in the snow. It took me a few winters to realize that I only needed one boot.) Thankfully our neighbor came down to play for a few hours while her Mom went to an appointment. I was happy to help watch her, and Robby had a snow playmate. The arrangement was a win-win for everybody!

Robby and Rowan spent the remainder of the afternoon playing outside. They experimented with ice fishing but quickly discovered that the stream was frozen. Quick to adapt, they decided to go ice collecting instead. When I saw them wading and splashing in the frigid stream, I had to play my mean Momom card and call them inside to dry off. They were pink cheeked and smiling ear to ear as they warmed up under the electric blankets while roasting marshmallows in front of the fireplace.

With the excitement of playing in the snow fresh in his memory, I hesitate to tell him the weather forecast. Tonight we are supposed to receive several inches. If this comes to fruition, I predict lots of snow fun in our future.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Free Hockey (and cake)

Scott is a huge hockey fan. Ever since I have known him he has looked forward to the season beginning and grieved when the play-offs were over. Robby seems to be following in his Daddy's footsteps, although his attention is limited to the first 30 minutes of the match at which point he becomes more intrigued by the "man food" that is consumed during the game versus the action on the ice. Needless to say, both boys have been eagerly awaiting the start of hockey season. The announcement of the end of the lock-out signaling the return of his beloved sport was a cause for celebration in our home.

The official opening game for the Washington Capitals was on Saturday but the first home game was on Tuesday. In anticipation of the boys watching the Capitals play on home ice for the first time after the lengthy delay, I spent my time between appointments prepping a smorgasbord of "man food." A crock pot full of lasagna, a large bowl overflowing with assorted raw veggies (with dip), homemade nachos and sugar cookies were all awaiting Scott and Robby when they came home from school. The house smelled wonderful!

In the few minutes at home between dropping off Robby and going to work with Abby (the blind child I see twice a week), I decided to log onto Facebook. Clicking through my notifications, one caught my attention. In disbelief I had to read the message three times before I was sure what it said.

I won tickets to the home opener for the Capitals! Not only did I win tickets, but they were in a private suite. Both of my hockey fans were dumbstruck when I told them that we were going to the game. I rescheduled my appointment, put the food away and dug everybody's Capitals shirts out of the hamper (they weren't stained so I reasoned it was okay).  In record time, we were off to DC.

It wasn't until we were riding the escalators to our viewing suite that Scott asked me how I won the tickets. I explained that I saw a post on a page that instructed fans to "like" the post for a chance for tickets. Never wanting to miss the chance for something free, I liked the post and didn't think much about it. When we arrived at the suite and he read the name of the company on the door, Scott stopped in his tracks. 

In a strange twist that could only happen on Facebook, I won tickets from a company which I had actively campaigned against for the past few months. The only reason I liked their page was because I wanted access to leave a scathing review for substandard electrical work which they performed. In my defense, we had tried to rectify the situation with this company for seven years before I took my case to social media. Within an hour of posting my experience on Facebook and Twitter I received calls from customer service, and the work was completed and finally passed inspection within days.

On the same page where I waged my campaign, there is now a prominent photo of our little family, happily posing with our tickets in front of the company sign. I wonder if anybody will scroll down the page and discover my negative reviews!  Despite the loss and the source of the free tickets, we had a great time at the game. Scott was delighted to watch the home opener in person; Robby was delighted that we were in a private suite and he could use the bathroom whenever he wanted; I was thrilled that the suite tickets came with access to the all you can eat cake buffet in the hallway.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Leg Shopping!

Right now I am experiencing the rush that many of my friends encounter when they buy a new purse, a new tool or a computerized gadget. After two months of living with limited mobility due to a damaged prosthetic, my insurance case manager finally heeded to reason. Approval has been issued for a new activity prosthesis. I get to go leg shopping and I couldn't be more excited!

I have been utilizing a prosthesis for nearly ten years. For the majority of those years I have been afforded the opportunity to work (albeit limited) within the field of prosthetics. I understand the pros and cons of various features and have come to appreciate the sheer scope of prosthetic choices that are now available. I think I might be experiencing a classic case of information overload.

Charts and Venn diagrams comparing components and features are littering my kitchen counter. I know what I want but the long length of my limb severely limits my options. It is ironic that my frustration should stem from having too much leg!  If I could turn back time and redo my amputation, I would request my limb to be a two inches shorter so that my prosthetic options wouldn't be limited by the short clearance between my leg and the ground.

After much evaluation, I have my choice narrowed down to three and look forward to test walking each foot before making my decision. I realize that this process takes time, but considering that I'm choosing something that I will rely upon daily, a few extra hours seems like a reasonable trade.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Ice Lesson

I am delighted that Robby has found a sport that he loves.  He is excited before each lesson and begs to attend the practice sessions between classes. Watching him on the ice as he is concentrating on everything that the instructor says and deliberately practicing each skill, I can't help but smile. I'm becoming comfortable enough with him on the ice that I only mildly cringe each time he falls, and Scott is becoming better at resisting his impulse to run on the ice to help him. In some ways, I think we are all learning during his lessons!

It has taken me awhile to get into the swing of being an ice mom, but I think I finally have it down. There is a large box in our trunk which is stocked with his skating gear (snowpants, gloves, helmet and skates) as well as all of the layers required for bundling for Scott and me to stay comfy while standing in a large freezer for an hour at a time. Okay, comfortable might be an understatement, but the freezing temperature is at least bearable.

Watching Robby during his skating lessons is a highlight of my week. I love to see him listening to his teacher and diligently practicing everything that was demonstrated. He is so proud and enthusiastic with each skill he masters.

While I enjoy his lessons, I have come to dread the practice sessions. Because Robby is enrolled in the Learn to Skate program, he is permitted to bring a partner onto the ice to help him practice during designated times. While all of the other little novice skaters are practicing with a parent at their side, Robby is by himself.

Robby has never complained, but I know that he would love it if I were skating with him. I realize that some amputees can ice skate, but I suspect that most possessed the ability before their limb loss. I have never been able to skate, and the prospect of attaching thin metal blades to the bottom of my foot and prosthesis and attempting to maneuver a slick surface is overwhelming. I can't imagine the various ways I could injury myself during what would surely be a comical attempt at skating.

I'm sure I could learn how to skate. It has taken time for me to realize that just because something is possible does necessarily mean that it is a good idea. I'm still recovering from my fall two months ago. Falling again and inflicting another serious injury is not a risk I am willing to take at this point in my life. 

Instead of going into SuperWoman mode and mastering a skill out of a desire to somehow prove myself, I have taken another approach. I sat down Robby and explained that not skating with him made me sad. I wanted to acknowledge the fact that he was the only child without a parent on the ice, and I needed to make sure that he understood the reasons. Robby sat quietly as I proceeded with my rehearsed speech.

I talked about my fall and the impact of the injuries on both legs. We talked about number of times that he falls and, although it is fun for him because he's little, I'm getting old and it hurts to hit the ice. I ended by telling him that, although I can do many things with him, this was one activity that was too risky for me to try right now.

It was hard admitting that I can't do everything, but I am trying to remain positive. Although I am highly active, I do have limitations. Learning to live within them and honoring safety is an important life lesson.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Koopa Crazy

Robby has gone through a lot of phases in his young life. The trains that he used to treasure are now boxed and in the garage, replaced by cars and Lincoln Logs. Slowly, Little Bear and The Wiggles have given way to odd Lego sword fighting cartoons and Superheroes. (He still cuddles up and watches Bearenstein Bears with me, although I suspect that he does this because he knows it makes me happy rather than because he enjoys the show.) I know that outgrowing toys and activities is an expected part of childhood. As a Mom, I love seeing him explore new things and push the horizon. But I have to admit that packing up his previously prized treasures always feels bittersweet as it serves as a reminder that my little boy is growing up.

There is one phase that I don't think I'll mourn when it is outgrown. Robby has begun a turtle obsession. To be accurate, he refers to turtles as "Koopas" (based on the Mario Bros. games) and he probably makes reptilian references at least a hundred times a day. 

Around the house and in private, he has requested that we call him "Robby Koopa." I am now "Momom Koopa" and Scott is "Daddy Koopa." He has a "koopa dinner" and a "koopa bath" before getting in his "koopa pajamas" and tucking his "koopa fins into his koopa shell" for bed. By the time the day is over, I am going Koopa crazy!

I must confess that a few nights ago I was a bad koopa Momom. Before you continue reading, I must preface by saying that I have never done something like this in the past. I realize that my actions were out of character, and I am both embarrassed and disappointed in my temporary lapse of judgement.

In a moment of exhaustion and yearning for a simple conversation that doesn't involve the term koopa, I am hesitant to admit that I met my breaking point. When Robby jokingly asked me if we were having "koopa" for dinner (for the third time that day), instead of my typical "I would never eat a cute little koopa," something made me say "Yes, we are having koopa roast." He looked shocked, but that didn't stop me from spinning my tale.

I claimed to have walked into the woods to look for the young turtles when he was at school. I came upon a nest full of little babies, which are the tastiest because their little necks are tender and tasty. As if that wasn't disturbing enough, I proceeded to demonstrate how I held the shell down with my prosthetic, grasped the neck and pulled the little koopa out. I then triumphantly put all the deshelled little koopas into a bag and cooked them in the crockpot all day.

Somewhere in the middle of my story, Robby's look of shocked disbelieve morphed into horror. I should have stopped earlier, but for some reason I was having a really good time with the little koopa catching story. Finally, he said, "Please tell me that you didn't kill a koopa, Momom." His little eyes swelled with tears, and I knew I had taken the joke too far. I assured him that I was kidding and promised that I would never hurt a koopa. The rest of the evening, along with the next two days, I paid my penance for my koopa cooking joke by constantly affirming that I would never hurt or eat a turtle.

Other than provide me with a fleeting sense of amusement and a great deal of remorse, my story did nothing to quell the koopa fascination. Yesterday we took Robby to the aquarium. After looking at the map and planning our route, Robby took the lead. He ran past the sharks without a second look, breezed through the dolphin exhibit and hurried past all of the tropical fish. We had only been there for 25 minutes and, according to our pint sized tour guide, had seen everything except one exhibit.

We spent the next two hours looking at the koopas.