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, July 05, 2013

Celebrate? Nah!

This past week has been constant action. It began with me in Orlando working at the conference and attempting to deliver a motivational speech. From there I flew to Ohio where I attended my husband's family picnic and spent time with my in-laws. Our first day home happened to coincide with my ten year Ampuversary which was wrought with emotion. To add insult to an already difficult day, a swarm of yellow jackets decided to become intimate while attacking me. Any modesty I was feigning evaporated when I ended up in the emergency room with my feet in stirrups as a team of doctors debated if all of the stingers had been removed. 

Yesterday was the Fourth of July, and to be honest, I really didn't care. It only took my boys seeing me waddle down the hallway to realize that there was not going to be any Yankee Doodling in our house!  After spending much of the morning fidgeting to find a comfortable sitting position, I finally gave up and we headed to the pool. Despite the crowds, we had a great time. As a bonus, the cool water felt wonderful against the tracker jacker welts. For the first time since the assault, I wasn't in pain.

We decided to forgo our tradition of crashing a neighboring town's picnic, and spent the evening relaxing at home. I just couldn't fathom sitting on the grass and contending with bugs and the heat. Although we missed the fireworks, a quiet night at home was just what we needed. I did soothe Robby's disappointment by picking up a small assortment of fireworks which we can detonate at my Mom's house. Thankfully it didn't take long for him to accept that we had to wait to set them off.  After all, pyrotechnics and living in the woods do not mix.

While we did not participate in our traditional Fourth of July traditions, we had a nice day. Swimming in the afternoon and spending the evening doing nothing holiday oriented was just what we needed. I rationalized that sometimes traditions need to be broken, especially when the obligation of participation becomes a source of stress and frustration. We had an uneventful holiday and that is okay with me!

I plan on spending the majority of the weekend at the pool, seeking relief from the pain and itchiness of the stings while playing with Robby. Hopefully my melancholy mood will start to become more upbeat and cheerful. The pain from the stings, coupled with the emotions surrounding my Ampuversary and extreme exhaustion from traveling, have worn me down. The warm and happy sunshine, coupled with the healing properties of the cool pool water, will help to lift my spirits!

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Bad Day

I had every intention of putting a celebratory twist on my Ampuversary, but I was never able to fully embrace happy emotions. Instead I spent much of the morning struggling with feelings of grief, inadequacy and the frustration that I wasn't jovial. By lunchtime I had fully abandoned feigning the happy-go-lucky attitude and instead permitted myself to feel the emotions I was fighting against. I was sad. Of course, the fact that we had torrential downpours against dark skies all day certainly didn't help booster my mood.

My life is extremely full and happy, yet yesterday I couldn't help but keep thinking about everything that I lost ten years earlier. There was no way around it; I missed my leg! After finally accepting my melancholy mood, I broke down crying several times throughout the day. Robby, unaccustomed to seeing me break down, took it upon himself to try to cheer me up. He brought me water, cookies, Black Bear, a blanket and tried to play the guitar for me. It was impossible not to crack a smile when he attempted the Cha-Cha Slide!
Scooter took me out for a nice dinner and when we returned, Robby helped me harvest our first beans of the season.  I started to cut some hydrangeas to take in the house.  Bad move.  There was a yellow jacket nest nearby and they attacked! Four bites on my ankle, three on my bum, and four---well, let's just say I was seen screaming and removing my underwear.  Scott came running with my Epi-pen (which hurts to administer by the way) and I spent the evening in the Emergency Room.

Yep, yesterday was not a good day.

I want to thank everybody for the outpouring of support I received yesterday. Personally, I'm glad that the milestone Ampuversary is behind me. Although it was a difficult day, having such a wonderful support base certainly made it easier.

Happy Fourth of July!  Have fun and stay safe.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Decade of Limb Loss

Today marks my 10 year AmpuVersary. It is difficult to fathom that I have been living as an amputee for a decade. In some ways it feels as if I have been an amputee forever, with my bi-legged life a distant memory of a life lived by somebody else. It is odd how fully I have adapted to my new existence.  Despite the familiarity of my life with a prosthetic, the memories of July 3, 2003 remain as vivid as if they occurred yesterday.

The drive from our Virginia home to the Baltimore hospital that steamy July morning were perhaps the most angst-filled moments of my life. I have never before, and have not since, felt the same terror that I experienced that morning. I remember understanding that my life was about to be irrevocably changed and feeling as if the future was completely out of my control. Despite the fear, I was confident that I couldn't continue to live in the constant pain that I had been experiencing the preceding five years. In many ways I felt like I was rolling the dice, hoping for a better life but not certain of the outcome.

Although it has been a decade, the memories of the drive to the hospital remain raw. Just remembering causes me to experience a physical reaction as if I am reliving the terror and anxiety that I felt that morning. Needless to say, I try to avoid those memories!

Remembering the fear is uncomfortable, but it has also become unexpectedly empowering. When I am overwhelmed or scared, I find myself drawing strength from the knowledge that I have survived the physical pain and the emotional quagmire that accompanied my amputation. Although it won't always be easy or comfortable, I know that I will always figure out a way to adjust to life's changes. Discovering my inner strength has allowed me to try things with one foot that I never dreamed possible before my accident.

Today is not about lamenting what was lost a decade ago. Rather, I choose to celebrate everything that I have accomplished. During the past ten years I have adjusted to many new roles, and my life is completely different than I envisioned. My desire to help others adjust to their amputation, coupled with my growing need to assist the amputee community, has taken my career out of the classroom and into arenas I never knew existed.

In addition to being an amputee, I am also a wife, a mother, an advocate, a writer, a spokesperson, a teacher and a motivational speaker. Although certainly the most visible, my limb loss is only part of the changes my life has taken. It isn't always easy and I still have days when I curse my prosthetic and I mourn the loss of my biological foot. But when I look at my life in it's entirety, I can honestly say that the past ten years have been my best, and I'm looking forward to the possibilities of the future.

I think I'll celebrate my AmpuVersary with a cupcake!

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Heaven Box

Ever since we told Robby that we were going to Ohio to visit his Grandma, he has been looking forward to two things: collecting eggs on his cousin's farm and going fishing. He vividly remembers "Grandma's fishing hole" and the fun he had reeling in fish after fish last year. It seemed as if a fish hooked onto his line nearly as soon as it was dropped in the water. 

Last year we drove to Ohio which made bringing his fishing gear feasible. Because he flew this year, we weren't able to pack his pole and tackle box. Scott and I discussed it and figured that, in the worse case scenario, we could run to Wal-Mart and buy a cheap pole to keep at Grandma's for future years.  Unbeknownst to anybody, Robby's grandfather who passed away more than 25 years ago had already taken care of securing a fishing pole for his grandson.

Although I never met him, I understand that Scott's dad was an avid fisherman. Unfortunately his poles, having been unused for at least half a century, were no longer functional. Scott and I decided that we were going to have to buy a pole for Robby to keep in Ohio, but we were hoping that his Dad's tackle box would hold all of the other supplies we needed.  After some searching, the massive tackle box, which hasn't been opened since he passed away, was pulled from the attic.

Sitting on the back porch, Robby and his Uncle Jeff opened the tackle box. To the surprise of everybody, especially his grandmother, the tackle box contained a grand new fishing pole. The printing on the package was the only indication that this pole was over 25 years old. The reel, a push button type scaled for a child, looked like it had been selected especially for a boy Robby's age. The fact that the rod was yellow only contributed to the mystique of this discovery.

Robby immediately declared that his grandfather was smiling in heaven because he had finally found the surprise. After that point, Robby renamed the tackle box the "heaven box" as he delighted in the gift. He was so excited to be fishing with the pole that he is confident was bought with him in mind so many years ago. 

Although he never met his maternal Grandfather, yesterday he held a strong presence in Robby's life. All afternoon he talked about him, about how happy he probably was watching him finally fishing with his pole, and how nice it was for him to think of him before he was even born. I never met him either, but I certainly felt his spirit as Robby was enjoying the sport they both love so much. 

Monday, July 01, 2013


To classify this past weekend as hectic would probably not be doing it justice. I woke up early Saturday morning in Orlando and finished my day at 11:00 P.M.  in southern Ohio. In between I was working, giving speeches, packing up the booth and traveling. I was exhausted by the time I arrived in Ohio, but being greeted by Robby wrapping his little arms and legs around me, covering me with kisses and promises that he was never going to let go, was the perfect way to end a very long day!

Public speaking is not something that comes naturally for me. I am much more comfortable telling my story and relaying my experiences when I am protected behind a computer screen. Standing in front of a crowd, even when it is filled with familiar faces, I feel vulnerable and scared. Although I don't relish the exposure, I do know that it is good for me to push my insecurities to the side and step outside my comfort zone.  Saturday afternoon, despite my anxieties, I stood in front of the conference and spoke openly and sincerely.

Preparing to speak, I reflected upon my life as an amputee. It's easy to dwell on the negatives. The sense of loss, the phantom pain, the socket issues and the obstacles that are encountered when living life with a disability often feel overwhelming. Wanting to be more uplifting, I challenged my thinking paradigm and tried to concentrate on the benefits.

Without a doubt, the greatest perk of living life as an amputees lies with the community. I have never encountered such an accepting and generous group of individuals. The level of amputation and the circumstances of our limb loss may differ, but the willingness to support and to share information seems to be universal. Working at the conference this past week, I witnessed strangers cheering on the first steps of a newbie, drying the eyes of a mother grieving the loss of her sons limb, and rallying to boost the self-esteem of a scared teenager. I have never been prouder to be a member of this community!

Bolstered by all of the positive energy abounding at the conference, I garnered my courage and spoke from my heart. To be honest I don't remember everything that I said, but I will never forget the connection that I felt with the audience. We were all there because we have lost part of our bodies, but at that moment we weren't consumed with what was missing.

We are becoming a community of individuals who prefer to celebrate what we can do instead of dwelling on what is difficult. I am hoping that this wave of empowerment continues beyond the conference because we have a lot of work to do.  I think prosthetic parity is a good place to start!