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, October 04, 2013

A Prescription for Surgery

No parent wants to hear that surgery is required for their child, but I have to admit that I wasn't shocked by the doctors declaration. Robby has been dealing with a hearing impairment since birth and although he has adjusted well, it does impact his speech and health. After much discussion and weighing our options, we decided that it was in his best interest to proceed with the procedure.

During our appointment yesterday the doctor confirmed that scar tissue is continuing to accumulate in my little guy's ear canal. Although it can't be said with 100% certainty (after all, nothing medicinal is ever 100%), we believe that the scar tissue is the result of his malformed incus. Since he is too young to have that repaired, we are left with little choice but to address the problems piecemeal. 

Later this month Robby will have the scar tissue removed, and tubes will be placed in both ears. I'm hopeful that the tubes will help to safeguard against the ear infections which seem to thrive in his little canals. We aren't expecting complete resurrection of his hearing, but even a slight increase and diminishing the recurrent infections makes it worthwhile.

Robby was initially upset when he heard surgery recommended, but calmed as soon as the procedures were explained to him. He is exceptionally clear in his explanation to his teachers and friends. "I'm having surgery, but it isn't the regular kind. You know, the kind where they stick you with needles and pull out saws to cut you open. There won't be blood and nobody will see my guts. I'm going to have the mask kind, where I have to breath some special air that will make me feel funny and fall asleep.  Easy peasy, but I think I'll still get a new XBox game from my Dad."

While Robby is handling the news admirably, Scott is having trouble digesting the fact that his little boy will have an operation. Robby certainly knows his Daddy because Scott came home with a new XBox game simply because he was upset by the news. My sweet husband's eyes swell with tears whenever I try to discuss it, and he turns pale and clammy. I'm certain that I will have a more difficult time calming down Scott than I do Robby on the day of the procedure, but I have no doubt that Robby will make out like a bandit.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Work Ethic

Scott and I have been trying to coordinate some home repairs, a venture which has resulted in nothing but frustration. We have learned through experience that neither of us are particularly handy when it comes to home fixes. I do have a talent for clearing clogged drains, but other than that, our skills are limited to spackle, hanging pictures, checking the fuse box for a blown breaker, and changing light bulbs. I knew that patching our leaking roof and fully insulating our attic were both beyond our realistic abilities. 

Over the past week I have invested hours on the phone and internet trying to locate roofers to provide estimates. I have contacted in excess of 10 contractors, only to receive responses from 6. Each of those six scheduled a date and time to view the project and provide a quote. Each has systematically canceled their scheduled appointment, citing everything from car trouble to health problems and even traffic, promising to call me to reschedule when they have access to their calendar. None has contacted me again.

I don't know why my quote solicitations seem to be repelled, but the cancellations have not been limited to roofers. I have scheduled three separate quotes for insulating our attic. One just never showed up at the allotted time, one cancelled twice before finally making it to the property, and one was so condescending and rude that I wouldn't want him to insulate the pigeon house my neighbors just installed. 

Unfortunately, our customer service obstacles have not been limited to the home improvement industry. We have also been working towards refinancing our home. If I had a few dollars for each time I've been disconnected, been promised paperwork, or have left messages which have gone unanswered, our mortgage would certainly be paid in full!

For some reason, people just don't seem to want to work anymore. Between my unexpected obstacles trying to find competent contractors, dealing with banks, and the national government squabbling so much that it shut itself down, I am frustrated with the lack of work ethic I've been experiencing. I'm tired of contacting companies to try to give them my business and money. I shouldn't have to beg for the "free quote" they all promise on their websites. Unfortunately, my roof won't be patched simply because I'm frustrated, we still want the insulation, and refinancing would be beneficial. Good thing I have a speaker phone because it looks like I'm going to be on it a lot as I search for somebody willing to work.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

The Strongest Koopa!

Until recently, and with the exception of his well-loved Black Bear, Robby had never been particularly interested in stuffed animals. He would eagerly accept them when gifted only to pile them in a corner a few hours later. I learned to hate the commonly bestowed child gift because they took up a lot of space, provided little to no play value for him, and were nearly impossible to clean. 

Robby, of course, is full of surprises. He was given a few stuffed turtles from my friend Mary Ann, and his collection was born. He now has 14 stuffed turtles and to my surprise, he plays with them. He spends hours having turtle fights, playing turtle tag and loving on them. My living room, bedroom and kitchen floors are often littered with plush green turtles of various shapes and sizes. I have to admit that it is more pleasant to step on a stuffed turtle than a Lego!

Every turtle has a name, and he can explain the rational behind each one. Daddy Koopa, the biggest by far, has a variety of pockets and hiding spaces. My Mom sent this present to Robby last winter when he was battling Dengue Fever. He used it as a pillow for a long time, but now Daddy Koopa has been relegated to the "protector." Each night Robby makes sure that this turtle is propped on his dresser facing the door to guard against intruders and bad dreams.

His favorite turtle is Happy Face. We acquired this toy during our visit to the Baltimore Aquarium. Robby claims that Happy Face is the "most snuggliest" koopa, and is always ready to play. Happy Face likes adventures, so sometimes I put him in the booster seat to surprise Robby when I pick him up from school.

Mommy Koopa is the only turtle which is not plush. We bought her at a craft fair this past summer. She is fabricated from a small bowl, a few bent spoons and some bead eyes. I'm not sure why, but Robby was drawn to this little statue. He was insistent that he buy her, forcing us to traipse through the entire fair to locate the vendor.

I asked Robby why he named this turtle "Mommy Koopa," and his answer was succinct. "This koopa is different from all of the others and that makes her special. Her shell is hard and tough and doesn't rip. That means that she is super strong. She has pretty big eyes and makes me smile. This koopa just reminds me of you so that's why I named her."

I would be lying if I didn't admit that his justification made my heart melt. I love that he sees my differences as wonderful and unique. When this turtle phase ends, all of his plush toys will slowly be packed away. When that time comes, I can assure you that Mommy Koopa will assume a special place in my china cabinet.

In order from bottom to top (biggest to smallest)

Daddy Koopa
Happy Face
Blue fin
Cute shell
Cute head
Cute fin
Baby aka Charlie

This is Mommy Koopa--------->

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Mom Instinct

Last Thursday Robby was not feeling well and Scott and I debated whether or not to take him to the pediatrician. I try to be a relaxed Mom, but also fully recognize that my instinct is to take him to the doctor for every malady. Wanting to control my frantic mom impulses, I decided to nurture him through his cold without medical intervention. I have to admit, I was oddly proud that we had avoided a pediatrician visit!

By Friday morning Robby was better and, against his most vocal wishes, I sent him to school. He had a great day and was fully on the mend by the time evening rolled around. We changed into jammies, curled up on the couch and watched Ninja Turtles (for probably the 30th time). He was smiling and in good spirits when I tucked him into his race car bed, surrounded by stuffed turtles. 

At 10:30 I heard a light coughing coming from his room. By 11:00 it had morphed into full blown hacking, and he was miserable. My poor little guy, who seemed to be fine a few hours earlier, was feverish and complaining of a headache and sore throat. I knew that a long night was in store for us.

Robby finally fell back to sleep around 3:00 AM, but he was anything but restful. By the time the sun came up, I knew that we were going to have to go to an Urgent Care center. I packed him in the car and drove to a new facility, hopeful that being at the door when it opened would help us avoid long waiting periods.

Thankfully the doctor saw him right away, and it didn't take long to diagnose the issue.  My poor little Koopa had a double ear infection and strep throat. So much for my parental instincts! 

We spent the majority of the weekend on the couch watching Christmas movies and cat napping. By Sunday evening Robby was on the mend and feeling better. I was so happy when he ventured out from under the blankets to play with his little green army men.

Robby is on the mend--again. The antibiotics are definitely working, allowing Robby to return to his jovial self. While I'm relieved that he is feeling better, I'm now fairly confident that I will never be a competent judge of when a doctor's visit is in order.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Inspiration in Unexpected Places

I have to admit that I was disappointed with the attendance at the running clinic that I organized this past Friday. I really thought that more individuals would be excited to take advantage of the once in a lifetime opportunity. After all, how often is somebody offered personalized (and free) instruction for a Paralympic gold medalist? Whether it was scheduling conflicts or weather issues, the attendance was certainly lower than I had hoped.

Despite being more "intimate" than anticipated, everybody seemed to get a lot out of the experience.  Athletes of all abilities, from novice to more experienced runners, participated and learned from one of the best. Always guarded about the egos of many athletes, Heinrich Popow surprised me. He could not have been kinder or more generous with his time and talents. He instinctively tailored his instruction to the level of each participant, and pushed and encouraged each individual to achieve more than they thought possible. Standing on the sidelines watching everybody evolve was simply remarkable!

Towards the end of the clinic, I asked Heinrich if I could get a picture with him for my blog. He smiled, and then went to retrieve his backpack. Inside the front pocket he pulled out his gold medal from the London games. I was flabbergasted that he would keep something so rare in such a casual location. When I asked if he felt safe walking around with his medal, he smiled and said, "It's okay. I'll be getting another in a few years." 

By the time we had all posed with his medal, local school children were filing onto the track for their recess. Their presence was our cue to wrap things up, but Heinrich had other plans. He asked me if I thought that the kids would like to see his medal, too. After I assured him that they would be interested, he took off sprinting towards the teacher on the other side of the field. 

Within moments of his introductions, he was being swarmed by all of the elementary students. He took time to answer all of their questions, and although he was under no obligation, he let them pose for photos. He even played soccer with a few of the boys. I'm sure that meeting him and seeing the Paralympic gold medal was the highlight for many of those students.

Each day, you never really know who you might be meeting, changing or even inspiring. I'm sure that Heinrich anticipated helping other amputees learn to run. After all, that is why he was coming to our intimate event. But I doubt that he knew that he was going to impress scores of school children.

Simply by sharing a few moments, I'm certain he changed many notions that these children might have held about individuals with disabilities. Although he is an above-knee amputee, he demonstrated that he could run, play soccer and achieve the pinnacle of his career. I have no doubt that many of these school children will be changed because of this brief encounter.

I no longer hold athletes to "hero" status. After all, my last two sport heroes, Lance and Oscar, both experienced epic falls from their pedestals. Although I refuse to assign the accolade of hero, I will say that Heinrich has been elevated to somebody whom I admire but not because of his athletic prowess, although it is certainly impressive. I believe that the test of true character lies with how you pay it forward to help others. Investing in the patients at the clinic, as well as spontaneously sharing his story with the school children, demonstrated a generosity of spirit that seems to be lacking by so many.