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 29, 2013

Just Listen...

In my opinion, one of the worst things that can be said to somebody who is injured or ill is "It can always be worse" or "Think of how I felt when x y or z happened to me." While I understand the compulsion to want to uplift or motivate, making those comparisons does nothing to buoy my spirits. Instead, I always leave the conversation feeling deflated and frustrated that I might have been perceived as whiny.

Compared to others, I realize that my issues may be nothing more than a hiccup. Many of my friends have been unable to wear their prosthesis or have been dealing with chronic infections for years. Despite knowing how lucky I am in comparison, it would be dishonest for me to deny my feelings and frustrations. I am allowed to feel and to express all emotions without them being trivialized!

Yes, compared to others my issues are probably mild. Using the same logic, compared to a few days ago my life is much more complicated.  I am usually an optimistic person, but right now I don't want to look on the bright side. When I hear "It could be worse" and I want to scream "It could be better too!"

I suspect it is human nature to want to relate and to cheer somebody. I have learned several things during the past few weeks but perhaps one has made the greatest impression. The next time somebody I care about is suffering, instead of offering consolation through personal comparisons, I'm just going to offer support and listen.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

My Gripe With The Bunny

Scrolling through the TV guide the other night, desperate to watch something other than another reality-based program, I became practically giddy when I saw that Peter Cottontail was on the schedule. I haven't seen the cartoon classic since I was young, perhaps only a few years older than Robby. I have fond memories of watching it with my Nan and Pop after Easter dinner. Thinking of myself thirty years ago, wearing a frilly dress and sitting crossed legged on the floor at their house, I was suddenly hit with pangs of severe homesickness. I miss them both so much!

Excited to pass the Peter Cottontail tradition onto Robby, I popped a big bowl of popcorn and curled up on the couch next to him. While I recognized some of the characters and the theme song, I quickly realized that I had forgotten the entire plot. My excitement morphed into frustration when I realized that the villainous rabbit was "Iron Tail," a vengeful bunny who hated all children because he lost his fluffy tail and was forced to live his life with a prosthetic made out of iron. 

Seriously!  This is another reason why amputees struggle with societal perceptions. Iron Tail was so angry that he had to live with a prosthetic that he vowed and worked towards ruining Easter for everybody. The unspoken (and granted probably unintentional) message: Amputees are angry because their life is horrible.

Just to be clear, Iron Tail did not have a noticeable limp when he was hopping on screen. He was able to sit on his prosthesis without any grimaces or complaint and never once did he complain of phantom tail pain. Considering that the tail was much heavier than the fluffy cotton original, he was bouncing around as if it was as light as a feather. His prosthesis did not seem to be impeding his ability in anyway!

Instead of enjoying the cartoon, Robby and I spent the hour trying to figure out why Iron Tail was so miserable. According to Robby, he had a "tricked out tail that was much better than the boring kind every other bunny had" and that he should be happy. Considering that the lack of a tail didn't seem stop any of his vengeful plots, I failed to understand why he was purportedly miserable with every aspect of his life. As far as I could tell, Iron Tail was certainly not relegated to the status of "disabled bunny,"  as he was able to steal the basket of eggs with ease.

I realize that I have developed a gripe with a child's cartoon from the early 1970's. I wish that I had remembered the plot to this cartoon before cuddling with my son to create a memory. Thankfully Robby is astute enough to question the role of the amputee bunny, but I am saddened that children around the country simply watched the cartoon and accepted the unintentional message that life without a limb is an abysmal existence. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Swim Day

The first day of Spring Break was spent sledding and playing outside. Yesterday Scott and I decided to surprise Robby with a trip to the indoor water park. I've come to accept that my daily goal has become tiring out Robby so that he sleeps well, affording me precious quiet time at night and in the early morning to get my work done!

After teasing a big surprise all morning, Robby finally "guessed" the surprise correctly. Of course, the fact that both Scott and I were wearing our swim suits and I was holding his goggles probably helped him figure it out. (We realized that we needed to provide clues when his first guesses included going to cowboy school and visiting a koopa farm.) Thankfully the disappointment of foregoing cowboy school (again) was short lived when he realized that we were going swimming.

Wearing our swimsuits under our sweats and carrying an armful of towels and my swim leg (which oddly enough both boys get a hoot out of carrying into the aquatic center), we set out for an afternoon of swimming fun. Robby was grinning ear to ear as soon as his first toe touched the water. I just love seeing him so authentically happy!

Robby and I went down the corkscrew water slide at least 20 times. Considering that it was 44 steps to the top of the slide, we did a lot of climbing. The fact that I was wearing my water leg, which provides no flexion or energy return, made traversing the slippery stairs an impressive feat. Robby was even amazed by my climbing abilities offering me a congratulatory fist bump each time we made it to the top of the slide. 

When we weren't climbing and sliding, Robby loved practicing his swimming strokes (including the dreaded "Tarzan" stroke from swim class) and playing in the water obstacle course. He was a bundle of energy and movement for nearly three hours until our day came to an abrupt end. Apparently somebody (I'm hoping a child) defecated in the pool. The area was evacuated and the pool was closed for the rest of the afternoon.

Robby was disappointed when we had to leave the water and made us promise that we would return to swim again when "the poop is cleared away." After three hours of swimming, Scott and I thought that Robby would be tired out. As it turn out, Robby was raring to go for the rest of the evening, and Scott and I were both exhausted. So much for my plan of his going to bed early and my working. At one point I was fairly certain he was going to be tucking me into bed.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Spring Break Snow!

Spring Break is in full swing in our house. Robby and Scott have thoroughly enjoyed spending their days lounging around the house, playing XBox and watching cartoons. True to the vow he made to his teacher, Robby has not worn pants since he came home from school on Friday. A little chilly to have bear legs, he's graciously agreed to wear his Super Mario Bros. and Angry Birds lounge pants. He is going to be forced to break the "no pants" promise when we run errands, but so far we have been enjoying the break by being a family of recluses.

Most Spring Breaks have been filled with day trips and adventures at the park. This year we will be spending our time sledding and cuddled by the fireplace. What a crazy season this has been; we received no snow during the traditionally cold months yet we had four inches of fluffy white fun fall yesterday. Regardless of the date, Robby is delighted whenever it snows, and he began begging to play outside.

After I slurped down two mugs of coffee, we bundled up in our snowsuits and headed outside to play. Because Robby's friend is spending her vacation in Florida, I knew I wouldn't get much of a respite from playing outside. Although it wouldn't have been my preference of activities, it really isn't a lot of fun to play in the snow by yourself and the opportunities to throw snowballs have been few and far between. I tried to push the discomfort aside and just enjoyed the time with him.

We spent hours sledding. Actually it is more accurate to describe him as sledding and me as assuming the role of the donkey, responsible for schlepping the sled back up the hill. Typically I have no difficulty walking outside and through our yard. Tracking through five inches of snow was laborious, especially with my prosthesis. Instead of walking I was relegated to marching so that I could clear the snow with each step. After 3.5 hours of marching and pulling a sled uphill, I was elated when my red cheeked little snow bug asked to come inside and warm up.

By the time we were warmed and finished with lunch, the snow had morphed into rain. As quickly as it began, our snow-filled wonderland had completely melted away, leaving slush and mud in its wake. Although it wasn't the beginning of the Spring Break we had anticipated, we had a great day. Who knows what adventures we will have today!

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Amputee Trend

I have never considered myself to be trendy. To be honest, I typically "discover" the latest fashion fad just as it is beginning to go out of style, and I still have clothes from high school hanging somewhere in the depths of my closet. Who knows, pretty soon wide-striped neon might be considered fashionable, and I'll be ahead of a trend for once!

Watching TV over the weekend it occurred to me that there is one trend that unknowingly I have been  sporting. Lately it seems that every other commercial and just about every television drama features an amputee. From Grey's Anatomy to Bounty commercials, we are everywhere!

While I love that amputees are being featured more frequently in the mainstream media, I am left wondering why. I suspect that the sudden interest stems from our Wounded Warriors as well as amputee athletes (particularly Oscar Pistorius). Of course Oscar is now famous for a far more tragic event, but the awareness about amputees and prosthetic technology that his presence in the Olympic garnered cannot be dismissed.

Of course, the vast majority of amputees in this country are neither wounded warriors nor super athletes: we are normal citizens who are trying to live the happiest and most productive lives possible. We aren't receiving awards, or winning gold medals or seeking accolades. We are simply working for acceptance and accessibility as we go about our daily routines.

I find myself feeling divided about the sudden influx of amputees in television and on commercials. On one hand it is wonderful that members of my community are being highlighted. At the same time, it feels as if the amputee is relegated to little more than a prop, shown to elicit sympathy from the viewer. After all, it is hard not to remember that Kleenex was there to dry the tears of the little girl who was watching her daddy (wearing military fatigues and a shiny new prosthetic leg) walk for the first time.

Much like the metallic pink shirts and black stirrup pants that are in the back of my dresser drawer, I am sure that the amputee trend will eventually wane. I only wish that the commercial value of using an amputee will diminish because society needs to see amputees in a realistic light. We are parents, siblings, teachers, students, neighbors, friends, business owners and customers. We are more than the shock value elicited by our missing appendage.