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, February 06, 2015

I'm trendy!

While I could have cared less about the Super Bowl, I have to confess to watching all of the commercials. Scott teased me by saying that I had it backwards, that I should be folding laundry and doing the dishes doing the commercials so that I could fully attend to the game. I disagree. I didn't care about either team and found the commercials the most entertaining part of the whole event. (Okay, Sheetz appetizers for dinner was a close second.)

This year the commercials seemed to be all about tugging at the heartstrings by featuring people who were overcoming great obstacles. Throwing some amputees into the mix has long been the marketer's go-to tactic, and this year's commercials were no exception. Everybody was abuzz with not one but two full commercials featuring amputees and, perhaps more important from a marketing perspective, their use of prosthetics. 

The commercials were not entirely accurate, but I suspect that only an amputee or a close family member would have known.  Robby was quick to point out that the Toyota commercial, featuring Amy Purdy hopping out of bed with her prosthetic legs already attached, was inaccurate. "Momom, she wouldn't sleep with her legs on.  She would take them off so that they could get some air. And she would also have to put her liners on first."  I realize that seeing her rolling on liners, lining up her legs before carefully stepping into the sockets would not have made nearly as sexy of a commercial but I am tickled that Robby was able to spot the inaccuracies.

After seeing the second commercial I was delighted. I couldn't help but think of new amputees, feeling alone and scared while watching the Super Bowl.  How empowered they must have felt seeing such strong amputee role models being celebrated in commercials.  I'm 40 years old, and for the first time in my life I'm finally trendy!

Thursday, February 05, 2015

What I Want Him to Know

My heart has been heavy this week. I've been trying to remain stoic by keeping up a happy demeanor so Robby doesn't become upset.  Despite appearing to be status quo, inside I have felt like pulling out my hair and rage--screaming to the heavens: My Dad is sick, and it is extremely serious. Talking to him several times a day, I have the sense that he is trying to maintain a similar strong facade to protect me.  Strange how parents always want to protect their children.

Scott has been a rock, listening to me ramble endlessly while conveying no new information. When I finally verbalized my worst fear, that my Dad was going to die without his knowing how much I loved him, he held me while I sobbed. I finally fell asleep from exhaustion. 

When I woke, he reminded me that my Dad is sick, but right now is still very much alive. Scott's dad died suddenly when he was in college. He never had the opportunity to tell him how much he loved him.  I know that I would burst into tears if I tried to tell my Dad, so I decided to write him a letter in this blog.  He is one of my biggest fans, and no matter how sick he may be, he still hasn't missed reading a post.  So please excuse this highly personal post, but I don't have the ability to express myself to him any other way.

Dear Dad,

I feel heartbroken when I contemplate the possibility that you will not always be on the other end of the receiver when I call you. I have become so accustomed to calling you throughout the course of my week, sometimes to exchange work stories (good and bad), to ask for advice, or just to complain. I have learned to rely upon your professional guidance as I navigate through my career. You have always understood my passion to help, and you have fostered and nurtured me as I stumbled to find my way.

Even though you may not always be on the other end of the receiver, rest assured that I will always carry your wisdom with me. As I find myself at professional crossroads, I know that I will continue to be guided by the advice and insights that you have already imparted.  When I was staying with you during my internship 20 years ago, you told me to become the co-worker that brings donuts to the office. "It never hurts to have people like you, and spending a few dollars for a dozen donuts every now and then will go a long way."  Well Dad, I've been taking the donuts (and cookies) to work ever since and that isn't going to change. 

Although you moved away to Easton when I was in the second grade, you remained present in our lives. You weren't there for everything, but I can promise you that you were there for everything that was important. I don't remember the highlights you missed, but I vividly remember looking into the bleachers at my All-Star softball game and seeing you cheering me on. You were there when I won Miss Tip-Tam, when I was "girl #2" in the school play and for my graduations. You took me trick-or-treating, and endured more than your share of  WWF wrestling matches.  Remember you were given a speeding ticket as you drove to my amputation?  But you made it in time to see me before the surgery.

You probably don't remember my 14th birthday, but it ranks among my favorites. You had just moved back to Harrisburg and drove over to Mom's house before I caught the bus for school. We went to breakfast for my birthday, just the two of us. Sitting in the booth at Burger King, happily munching on my french toast sticks, I felt like I was the most important person in the world. Although our relationship hasn't been perfect, I never felt abandoned or unloved.

I smile when I recall your reaction upon learning that you were going to be a grandfather again. You uttered the exact sentiment when I called you to tell you the same news 7 years later. "Holy shit. Are you shitting me? You're pregnant?"

You were at the hospital when Robby was born, passing the hours I was in labor by filling out crossword puzzles and chatting. You were the second man to hold my son, which in retrospect is appropriate. You were also the second man to hold Timmy. The stars certainly aligned that day, didn't they?  You happened to be at a meeting in DC when he was born. I loved that you could visit us in the hospital that first day. I probably never told you how much seeing you meant to me, but please know how happy it made me.

I feel like our relationship was taken to a unique level when you moved in and lived with us for 8 years. I enjoyed putting dinners in the refrigerator for you to eat when you came home late at night. When we moved and were no longer near the donut store, I had fun baking you cookies to take to work. More than anything, I just enjoyed seeing you and having you in our lives. Robby adored having his Candy Papaw live with him. Remember the games the two of you would play? His face still lights up when he sees you!

Dad, there is so much that I want to say. There are just too many memories to recount, and I feel too much love to put into words. I think what I really want you to know is that I am lucky to be your daughter.

Please know that you will always remain present in our lives. Robby and Timmy will know their Candy Papaw and will learn about the impact he made on millions of people through his career. You could never be forgotten.

I know someday I'll pick up the phone to call you and you won't answer. I also know that you will still be with me, even when we can't converse. I will remember all of the professional advice you have given and will always consider what you would do when I am contemplating a professional decision. And yes, I will always bring donuts to the office. 

Someday I am going to be overwhelmed with grief. Losing you will cause a hole in my heart that will always remain vacant. But please rest peacefully knowing that I will, eventually, be okay. I will keep it together for Jae, Sheri, and Jeanette. I know that you would want me to become their rock, to support them through their grief. I promise you, I will be there.  After all, I'm your daughter.

Thank you, Dad, for everything that you have done for me and for all of the love that you have given me. I'm now 40 years old, but I've come to realize that I will always feel like your little girl, your Gupper.  I love you, and I will always try to make you proud.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

A Turn of the Wrench

One of the benefits of working for your prosthetist is constant access to top notch care. Yesterday I had to run to the office to deliver some business cards and reports. Almost as soon as I walked into the office, Elliot picked up Timmy and instructed me to walk down the hallway. My leg felt okay, but apparently my gait was off. He quickly pulled out his wrench and began working on my alignment.

Although I walked into the office feeling fine, I left feeling the subtle spring in my step that I had been missing. I spent the rest of the day running errands and working around the house. Not once did my leg feel sore or tired!

I thought I had been doing well, so I am astounded at how much better I feel after such a small adjustment.  I've been an amputee for more than a decade, and I continue to be left in awe when I think about the impact that subtle changes within a socket or with the alignment can yield on the entire body. I'm so glad that I had to fight traffic to go to the office yesterday.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

We're Back

Within the limb loss community, I venture to say that there is nobody whom I hold in higher regard than my friend Dave. An above knee amputee himself, he has put his law degree to work by becoming an insurance and reimbursement expert. We met through my work with Ossur, but we have become friends through our common goals and aspirations for the amputee community.

Several years ago Dave and I, in the midst of a discussion on how to change the world, conceived Amp'd. Amp'd is our podcast, designed for the limb loss community, where we talk about and debate relevant issues, obstacles and experiences. Despite our schedules, we had been doing a fairly decent job of producing a new podcast monthly until April.

We were supposed to record a podcast on April 24th. I ended up sending Dave a quick text, telling him that I would have to reschedule and attaching a photo of my newly born baby. We spoke numerous times on the telephone and exchanged countless emails, but never quite got around to recording another podcast until October. 

Despite the delay, we were rather boastful about our return to Amp'd. I was charged with uploading the episode, which I managed to do a few weeks later. I then promptly forgot about it and failed to send out the link.  (D'oh!)

In any case, we are vowing to resurrect Amp'd! Enjoy this slightly dated, incredibly apologetic lost episode as Dave and I sort through our schedules to get back on track.

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Monday, February 02, 2015

Sleep and Redecorating

This weekend was exactly what I needed! I was able to spend time with my Mom, just hanging out and relaxing without the stress of thinking about everything I could be or should be doing around the house. I was able to unplug as much as possible for a few days, which is something that has become a rarity for me. Of course, the fact that I was afforded  two nights solid sleep was appreciated more than I can say.

We packed up early Sunday and headed home. Although I hated leaving my Mom's house, I knew that reality was calling and I needed to get home before the impending winter storm. By early afternoon we pulled into the garage where we were met by Scott who helped to schlep everything back into the house. (It will never cease to amaze me how much stuff we require for a simple two night visit. I shutter to think of having to pack for a week vacation!)

I could tell that Scott was happy to see us, but something made me think that he was more excited than normal. As soon as I walked up the stairs my suspicions were confirmed. He had been working on assembling a new TV stand while we were away. I've been talking about the need for a proper TV stand for the past few weeks and finally ordered one a few days ago. Apparently Groupon purchases ship quickly because it arrived on Friday after I left for my Mom's.

 Our TV had been precariously perched on top of an old sewing machine cabinet, which was functional as long as it wasn't nudged. With Timmy starting to scoot and in anticipation of his crawling and pulling up soon, I feared that our set-up was a recipe for disaster. Our new stand is both longer and wider, fully accommodating the television and all of our components (including game consoles).

Looking at it fully assembled and functional, I could not be happier.  Not only is Hamlet safer but also our living room no longer looks like a dorm room. We finally have a room with proper, grown-up furniture! Scott may regret his efforts in putting it together for me because I have become inspired to redecorate other rooms in the house. I'm thinking that our bedroom could use a facelift.