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, May 24, 2013

In Defense of Moms!

It has recently been brought to my attention that some individuals still do not respect parents who put their career on hold to stay home with their children. As a stay-at-home Mom for five years, I must express my utter outrage at such implications. I worked harder staying at home and raising Robby than I did when I was a childless professional.

When I was teaching, I could look forward to days off, weekends and summer vacations. There was always an end goal--a marker that I could anticipate during the stressful days. When I transitioned to staying at home with Robby, the days off also evaporated. In reality, I haven't had a real vacation since he was born!

Now that I'm working from home, I am not longer the stereotypical stay-at-home Mom. I am still as involved in Robby's life, I still cook the meals and I'm still responsible for all of the household chores. The only difference is that now my time while he is at school is used for work instead of caring for him. I am busier now than at any other time in my life. I am constantly working on a project, finishing up homework, or anticipating the next meal. Again, there is no break in sight.

It infuriates me when my contributions as a stay-at-home parent are minimized. I may not put on professional clothes and drive into an office each day, but my work is just as important and just as taxing as my professional counterparts. It's time that all parents receive equal respect for their contributions!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

My Garden

It seems that every summer we embark on a building project. In reality, Scott and I do not possess the knowledge, the skills, or the tools to build with anything other than Legos. Thankfully, Mr. Bill always volunteers to assume the roles of chief engineer and foreman on each of my projects.

Two summers ago we built the tree house. Since its construction, Robby has spent countless hours in his little tree oasis, fighting off imaginary pirates, fishing for sharks and blasting into space. This past winter he discovered that by wetting the slide at night and allowing it to freeze, he could slide into the snowbank on ice, just like a penguin. He seemed to have a great time, but I have to admit that I wasn't terribly fond of landing face first into a snowbank.

Last year we built the pool stage. Although it broke under the weight of the pool, it was repaired and transformed into another deck. I'm toying with the idea of putting a screened gazebo on the platform, creating an outdoor living area where I can relax, write and remain bug bite free. However, those plans will have to be put on hold because Mr. Bill (along with his helper Robby) has already constructed this summer's project.

Robby loves going to pick-your-own produce farms, and I thought that he was at the perfect age to start a small garden. I had planned on buying a kit to create a raised garden when Mr. Bill offered to build me one. He promised that it would be better quality, cheaper and larger than the "prefabbed crap at Home Depot." It didn't take much convincing for me to take him up on his offer.

The lumber cost considerably more than the kit, but the garden is both larger and sturdier. Besides, if I had bought a kit, Robby wouldn't have been able to "help" Mr. Bill in the building process. Since he had a hand in the construction, he feels vested and proprietary about his garden. Besides using the drill, I think that shoveling the dirt out of Mr. Bill's pick-up truck was the highlight of the building process.

Robby now has a special farmer hat that he dons each time he checks on his garden. We planted peas, green beans, watermelons, tomatoes, potatoes and carrots. We were so excited when they all started sprouting. The happiness quickly deflated when we discovered that the garden had been invaded by cut worms, who had worked all night to behead our young new plants. The plans for an organic garden were quickly squashed as I drove to the store to find the strongest chemical deterrent possible.

Our chemically enhanced garden is growing quickly. I love Robby's enthusiasm as he diligently waters the plants and sings them songs each night. To my chagrin, Mr. Bill offered Robby a fun deer deterrent. Now each night before he is tucked into bed, my little gardener runs out to pee alongside the plot. Out of all of the work that has gone into the garden, including the entire building process and the utilization of power tools, I suspect that marking it each night ranks among Robby's favorites.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Going to Orlando!

After a few snags and some shuffling of plans, I am delighted to announce that I will be representing Ossur at the Amputee Coalition National Conference this year. This conference is, by far, my favorite event to work. Although my days will be occupied in the confines of the booth, I always leave this event with a sense of renewal and optimism. Imagine how I would feel if I actually attended a seminar or educational activity!

For me, this conference is about empowerment. For a few days at the end of June, I will be one of many instead of "the only one." It is refreshing to be surrounded by others in the amputee community. My prosthesis may garner attention, but it simply because the onlooker is comparing devices. In one month the hotel will be taken over by the limb loss community, rendering the four-limbed to minority status.

I have often remarked that the best thing about living life as an amputee is the community to which I now belong. At the conference, it is the norm to see prosthetics whipped off in the midst of a discussion to point out components and to troubleshoot issues. I don't have to explain the feelings that arise from a "bad leg day" nor do I have to try to minimize the aggravation I feel when the phantom big toe begins to twist. It is wonderful to be completely understood without trying to provide flowery descriptions of the elusive pains and frustrations that arise from living with an amputation.

Unfortunately Robby and Scott won't be joining me at the conference. I was hoping that they would be able to come because I think that they would both benefit from attending. Robby would especially love meeting with other children and sharing stories. Of course, the fact that the conference is held at Sea World this year would have been enough to blow his little mind! Can you imagine my little fish and koopa lover at Sea World? He won't make it this year, but I'll certainly scope out the area out as a potential family vacation in the future.

Although I'll be working in the booth for the duration of the conference, I'm looking forward to seeing friends and to meeting those whom I have come to know via the internet. It will be exciting when I finally get to hug friends whom I care about yet have never met! If you are going to the conference next month, please swing by the booth and say hello. Maybe I can take a break and grab a cupcake with you!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Padded Up!

Scott grew up playing baseball and basketball; I spent countless hours in the spring and summer playing softball. When Robby was born, we both assumed that he would naturally follow suit and play baseball. As soon as his personality began to manifest, it became clear that we were not dealing with a traditional little boy. When we asked Robby what sport he would like to try, his answer was resounding and has been consistent: ice hockey.

It has taken Robby a long time to take the ice as a hockey player. He took lessons for over a year in order to gain the requisite skills to play. Finally, after hours of hard work and practice, he was approved to enroll in hockey lessons.

Last week we finished buying the full ensemble of padding and protective equipment. Robby was delighted to finally have all of the pads that the "big kids" wear. Dressed in his prized gear, we were ready to pile into the car when he asked if he could go show Mr. Bill his hockey uniform. As soon as I agreed, Robby was out the door, fully padded with his stick in hand.

Mr. Bill seemed duly impressed and oohed and ahhed appropriately. Robby handed him his stick and asked his friend to hit him in the shins to prove that it the pads worked. Bill obliged and gently tapped his leg with the stick. Robby then asked Bill to hit him in the back, his elbows and his head. I'm sure that the rest of the neighbors would have been perplexed to see Bill hitting Robby repeatedly with a hockey stick, but in this situation, it seemed completely natural!

Thankfully Mr. Bill did not honor Robby's final request. Out of all of his newly acquired equipment, Robby's cup ranks among his favorite. I had to keep from laughing when he begged Mr. Bill to hit him in his "private area."  Bill protested, but Robby assured him that he was wearing a special protector and that everything was snug and safe. It was fun to watch Bill, who is normally so confident, squirm.  I decided to intervene in the little show-and-tell demonstration and instructed Robby to get into the car for his lessons.

It is a good thing that Robby was fully padded for last night's lesson because he was inadvertently checked into the wall by his instructor. My heart jumped and I I shrieked when I saw my little guy become squished before falling hard onto the ice. It's a good thing that I could see him smile from across the rink because I was ready to sprint onto the ice to help him up.

After standing and shaking off the fall, Robby skated over to the side of the rink to speak with me. I asked him if he was okay, and he smiled from ear to ear.  "Momom, you need to chillax. Did you see me get pushed into the wall? It was awesome! It's a good thing I'm wearing this cup. I didn't feel a thing!" I wish I could wrap him in bubble wrap, but I guess I'll have to settle for the assorted hockey pads and protective gear.  Obviously I need to work on becoming a relaxed hockey Mom.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Birthday Blues

Typically I look forward to my birthday with the eagerness of a child. Perhaps the excitement of the past week caught up with me, but this year I felt humdrum about the entire day. I didn't feel excited or happy about turning a year older, rather I found myself feeling disconnected. Instead of enjoying my special day, I spent the hours waiting for it to be over.

I'm not upset about turning 39, although to be completely honest the prospect of turning 40 does not amuse me. I have accepted that I am middle aged, but I also believe that my best is yet to come. My 20's were spent in and out of the hospital as I battled constant pain. My 30's were spent adjusting to living life as an amputee and navigating the minefields of motherhood. I feel like I am now beginning to know myself and I look forward to the adventures that will come my way.

With two trips into Washington DC and an appearance on a nationally syndicated radio show, last week was exceptionally busy. I was running on adrenaline and it was a matter of time before I came crashing down. Unfortunately, I began the descent on Saturday and by Sunday morning, I had thoroughly crash landed into reality.

Between balancing my new professional adventures and trying to handle several personal family issues, my birthday was less than climactic. It felt disingenuous to feign excitement when I was overwhelmed with sadness and worry. I tried to feel festive, but the mood never materialized.

I assembled a lasagna on Saturday night so that I had minimal cooking on my birthday. Robby and his friend baked me a cake which looked odd but tasted better than anything that I could have bought at a bakery. The highlight of my day was reading all of the birthday wishes that were posted to my Facebook and Twitter accounts. It warmed my heart to know that so many people were thinking of me and wishing me happiness, even though I pretended that it was just another Sunday at home.