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, March 22, 2013


Because of the issues with socket fit, I haven't been able to wear my new "screw 'em" leg. I'm disappointed that I won't be able to wear my chromed socket again because I felt both comfortable and confident when donning it. Although the bling on the socket is the most noticeable, the genius of my new leg lies squarely with the foot that I chose. Thankfully I won't lose the foot when a new socket is built!

Between my work with my prosthetist and my relationship with Ossur, I have been afforded the opportunity to walk a lot of prosthetic feet. Although I have a amicable relationship with Ossur, I don't limit my prosthetic choices to one manufacturer. After all, I will be walking on and relying upon the device on a daily basis. I refuse to compromise on my prosthetic. I cannot be swayed away from function simply because I am called occasionally and invited to a conference. I will always pick the components that work the best for me, regardless of whose label is affixed to the bottom!

When I began the process of designing my new high activity prosthesis, I tried a variety of components. I was surprised by how comfortable I felt walking with many of the feet. Although most were good, one immediately became my first and only preference. I was not surprised when I realized that I had picked the new XC foot by Ossur.

I have walked dozens of feet since becoming an amputee 10 years ago. I can honestly say that the XC is the most responsive and the most  intuitive non-bionic foot I have ever walked. I find it comfortable, lightweight with a roll-over that feels natural. Wearing my new prosthesis is reminiscent of my biological leg because the flexion provided through the unique shape of the ankle provides increased energy return for the next step. Simply put, this foot makes walking easy!

Before the socket sidelined my activities I was busy putting my new foot through its paces. From moving wood to running in the park with Robby, I have no complaints. I realize that components are an individual choice. What works for one amputee may feel awkward and uncomfortable to another, but if you are in the market for a higher activity leg, the XC is worth a try!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Amputee Grandma

Yesterday afternoon I peeked into Robby's classroom window before picking him up. I saw him sitting at the art table next to some friends, happily chattering non-stop. I love the moments when I catch a glimpse into his life without his knowing and I witness his happy and outgoing personality.

As soon as I entered the classroom he leaped towards me, embracing me in a bear hug. Talking quickly (he was obviously excited) he began to tell me about a classmate's grandmother. His thoughts were running together so quickly that I couldn't follow what he was saying. I had to stop him and encouraged him to take a deep breath and start again.

After calming down and gathering his thoughts, he began to relay the story. His friend's grandmother was in the hospital and she was going to be getting a new knee soon. He quickly clarified that they she was not getting new "inside knees" like Nana (referencing my Mom's knee replacements) but that she was going to be getting a prosthetic knee.

I promised Robby that I would reach out to his friend's grandmother and asked the teacher for some paper so that I could write a quick note. In the meantime, Robby asked for the prosthetic ribbon pin I was wearing. I took it off and he gave it to his friend. I overheard him say, "It's going to be really cool that your grandma will have a prosthetic like my Momom. Not many people get to take their legs off whenever they want. She'll learn to walk with it and it will make her even more special. She'll probably get a Rheo knee or a C-leg and both are good. She could try to get the Genium but it's a b*tch to get insurance to pay for it." Yikes! I guess he does understand more of our casual dinner conversations than I thought.

My little guy chatted the whole drive home about the new amputee grandma. He planned ways that we could help her and wanted to know if I could call Mr. Elliot and ask him to start working on a new knee. I had to smile as I thought about how my being an amputee has created a unique perspective from my little boy. Instead of being scared or grossed out by the loss of a leg, Robby was able to relate and offer support. After all, how many six year old can hold a conversation about prosthetic knees and the chances of insurance covering the cost?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Best Buy With Mr. Bill

Yesterday morning I woke up early with every intention of tackling the looming report. Instead of working, I ended up writing my blog, drinking countless cups of coffee, and watching The Biggest Loser. While I'm not typically a procrastinator, this project provides the perfect excuse to start.

Frustrated by my lack of progress before Robby woke up, I was optimistic that I would knock out many of the required sections after I dropped Robby off at school. As I was pulling out of the driveway, Mr. Bill waved me down. He does so much for our family that when he asked me for a favor, I simply couldn't say no. My "work all morning and write until I drop" plans were pushed aside (again) so that I could take Mr. Bill computer shopping.

Mr. Bill has been talking about getting a computer for several years, and he was finally ready to move forward with his plans. I suspect that the dreary weather which has kept him inside has spurred his home computing needs. He gets so bored (and depressed) when he isn't outside working. I've never met anybody who feels the need to be busy all the time!

After dropping Robby at school, I picked up Mr. Bill and we headed to Best Buy. He is knowledgeable in so many areas, but technology is not one of them! I know I cracked a smile when he mentioned that he just wanted to be able to send an electronic mail (e-mail) and get onto "the Google" to look up his Civil War artifacts. 

As soon as we walked into the store we were surrounded by eager 20-something salesmen, all vying for our attention. At one point I stepped in front of Mr. Bill as he was being led towards high powered laptop systems while being inundated with chatter about processing speeds, memory and solid state hard drives. Normally so confident, he suddenly looked like a little deer in the middle of the road. I led him towards the bundled computer packages which would provide more than enough power for his needs, essentially blocking the salesmen with my body language and glares.

Although he asked questions about the system I suggested, I suspect that his inquiries were simply obligatory. Knowing nothing about computer systems or the internet, he was as out of his comfort zone as I am when he takes me go to Lowes. In a friendship which at times seems uneven, with me frequently soliciting his input and expertise, it was nice to be the "expert" for once.

He trusted my recommendation and we made the purchase. He was grinning with an excitement reminiscent of Robby on Christmas morning as we drove home. An admitted novice, it is my job to set up the computer, secure him an email account, and teach him how to get on "the Google." Who knows, he might actually start reading this blog!

Unfortunately I spent my scheduled report writing time at Best Buy so I am falling behind schedule. I'm hoping tomorrow to wake up early and knock out some sections, because I suspect that my afternoon will be occupied as I move Mr. Bill into the computer age. Wish me luck on all accounts.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Procrastination Blog

Last week I was given a new project--a work which has set my mind swimming. I typically relish new challenges, but this one has me apprehensive. Knowing that the outcome yields profound results combined and the reality that I have no experience with the necessary skill have created a perfect storm for high anxiety.

I have been asked to write a bid for a government contract. Although my comfort zone is typically behind a keyboard, this type of technical writing is unfamiliar and daunting. Hoping that I would be able to figure my way through the quagmire commonly referred to as the solicitation, I woke up early to tackle the project. I'm now sitting in my rocking chair in front of the fireplace with the 100+ page solicitation sitting in a binder on my lap. Instead of working my way through the proposal, I'm writing this blog.

I don't know if it is real confidence or if I am simply trying to convince myself, but I do believe that I must rise to the occasion and figure out this report . My mind has been chunking on this project since it was assigned early last week, and it was all I could think about during the long drives I took over the weekend. You would think with all the time I have invested planning and worrying that I would have something accomplished other than the Title Page.

Despite spending countless hours scouring the internet, I haven't found any functional templates or examples to follow. I only find ominous warnings to follow the proposal guidelines and to be exact in the information provided. I feel like I am looking for a GPS road map but I'm left with only the North Star.

When it comes down to it, I know I need to just get started. I wouldn't have been assigned this project if I weren't deemed capable, so I need to push my apprehensions aside and just start muddling my way through. I'm going to stop procrastinating and get to work. But first, maybe I'll get another cup of coffee.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Phantom Pains

I am frequently asked about my experiences with phantom pain and how I deal with it. I must begin by admitting that while I have flare-ups, my experiences with phantom pain definitely fall into the "mild" category. Many of my friends suffer debilitating  pain issues, so compared to them, I am extremely lucky!

Research is confirming what I have suspected to be true for awhile. The severity of phantom pain is strongly correlated to the circumstances involving the amputation. Mine was planned and completed within a controlled environment with a prescribed protocol to minimize nerve damage. The surgical precision used to remove my limb reduced the frequency and severity of my phantom issues. Those who lost their limb from a traumatic incident, such as a car accident or gun shot wound, tend to have more intensive phantom issues. 

Despite knowing how my friends suffer, it is difficult to remember that I am fortunate when I am in the throes of a phantom episode. Although I remain thankful that they only occur a handful of times a year, I am miserable when it is happening. My recent limb issues have resulted in increased phantom pain incidents.

What does phantom pain feel like? Although it manifests differently for each amputee, mine always feels the same. Imagine that your left toe is being squeezed in a vice and twisted in a clockwise direction. Simultaneously somebody is pulling the toenail off while darts are being thrown into the heel. The outside of the ankle is being struck by a hammer, just below the joint bone, and the entire foot will go into a cramp (just for good measure). Looking at my leg it is easy to see that this torture is not actually occurring. Yet despite the absence of my leg, these strong sensations often last for hours.

Sometimes massage helps to eliminate some of the pain. I've also found heat and soaking in the bathtub to be somewhat beneficial for short periods of time. Unfortunately, when the pain is at its worst, the only thing I can do is try to occupy my thoughts and remind myself that it won't last forever. I realize that I'm lucky, but it is certainly difficult to remember when it feels like my foot is being subjected to Taliban style torture.