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 06, 2015

Snow Fun- sort of

Yesterday the snow began to fall early in the morning and continued well past dark. Scott and Robby both had school called off the night before in anticipation of the storm, so both enjoyed sleeping in without worrying. Timmy and I quietly played in the living room until the others rolled out of bed. (I tried to convince Hamlet that he didn't need to wake up so early because it was a snow day, but he seemed unimpressed by my logic. I am close to abandoning all hope of his sleeping until a respectable time.)

Robby spent a few hours playing in the snow with his friend, but I opted to keep Timmy inside with me. I am still in a test socket and I worried that the cold and wet snow might cause the plastic to crack. With my going to Texas today I was not willing to take the risk, even if being cautious meant missing out on beating the kids in a snowball battle. 

Instead of playing outside I assumed Momom duties of baking cookies, prepping hot chocolate when requested and dressing, undressing and drying the snow clothes each time they came inside to warm up.  Helping Robby into his garb for the third time I found myself hating the inventor of snow bibs.  While functional, the clothing is difficult to get onto a fidgety, excited 8 year old.  And to think I have another 8+ years of wrangling bulky snow clothes onto kids!

Today the boys have off school again, which is not a surprise with the almost foot of snow that fell yesterday. I'm glad that they are home because it means that I won't have to drive myself to the airport. I wasn't looking forward to schlepping my bags from the long term economy parking lot to the terminal. I suppose I'm a little spoiled with the curb side drop off.  (I know that they will be stuck in traffic, especially when they come to pick me up Tuesday night, but hopefully they won't mind. Or if they do mind, I hope they keep their complaints to themselves.)

I'm headed to Texas and I'm relieved that I don't have to stress about driving to and from the airport. I'm certainly worried about everything else! My Dad isn't feeling well and I worry about his prognosis.  I am trying to avoid thinking about the inevitable and instead choosing to concentrate on the fact that, at this moment, he is still very much alive. Mourning now won't do anything to lessen the pain in the future, or at least that is what I tell myself.

Robby and Scott are going to have a "man's weekend" while I'm away.  It was decided that Timmy is too young to enjoy the bachelor based revelry, so he is spending some special time with my Mom.  I'll miss them both but I know that they are being spoiled and will be happy. 

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Hair Gel

Yesterday afternoon I drove Robby directly to the barber after picking him up from school. I honestly don't remember the last time he had a haircut, but I do know that he looked like a ragamuffin when he bolted out of the house with his lunchbox in the morning.. With my going out of town to visit my Dad this weekend, I wanted to knock one small thing off my ever-growing to-do list.  Thankfully getting a haircut is no longer a traumatic event, so I figured it would be easy to knock out before the snow storm rolled into the area.  (Incidentally they are both home from school again today.)

I was taken back when we walked into the barber shop.  Robby strutted up to the desk and carefully signed his name into the log. Instead of waiting for me to instruct the barber, he requested that his hair to be "epic cool and awesome, but not too short because he doesn't want to look like a punk."  Watching him walk back without giving me a second thought, I was reminded that he is growing up. He is quickly transitioning from little to big kid, and I don't mind admitting that I am not ready!

I allowed Robby to take control over his haircut, and he emerged with a completely new style. He looked so grown up, but the request for a lollipop reminded me that he is still a kid. Our days of wash-and-go style are gone because he was introduced to the wonders of hair gel.  He is quite impressed with the styling product, although I suspect we are going to have to reinforce moderation in use.

Mr. Bill came over to visit before the storm and Robby took the opportunity to unveil his new do.  Mr. Bill was duly impressed, telling Robby that he looked "smart and handsome" and assuring him that the ladies were going to love it.  "I know Mr. Bill.  Chicks dig hair gel, right?" 

Sigh.  Did I mention I'm not ready for him to grow up?

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Fight for Change

Yesterday the weather finally cooperated, allowing me to pick up my new socket. My goodness, what a difference! The aches and pains that had slowly become the norm are gone. I had forgotten how liberating the absence of pain can feel. 

Sitting in Elliot's office, waiting for the final tweaks on my new socket to be complete, I was reminded about how lucky I am. I was prompted to get a new socket because I was experiencing some pain. Changes in limb volume and shape is something  common for amputees. What is unusual was my ability simply to call the office and begin the process. I am fortunate to have a prosthetist who does not accept pain as par for the course.

Too many amputees are rendered with a less-than-ideal fit because their insurance won't approve a new socket and/or their practitioner refuses to fight the denial through the appeal process.  These individuals are stranded in limbo, trying to cope with an uncomfortable device or foregoing the prosthesis altogether. I have no doubt that Elliot will have to battle with Elsie to get paid, but he never allows my comfort to become collateral damage.  I am all too aware that few practitioners operate with these principles.

I become so frustrated when I contemplate the spiraling insurance abyss that prosthetic wearing amputees must try to traverse. Right now insurance companies are calling the shots, and amputees are suffering with inadequate components and ill-fitting sockets.  Something needs to be done to ensure that all amputees are able to access comfortable, functional devices.

The issue is so massive that tackling it feels overwhelming. Perhaps the enormity of the issue is working in the favor of the insurance companies.  Fighting for access-for-all feels like a David vs. Goliath battle which has left the community wringing its collective hands in frustration. 

With amputees trending in popular culture, I can't help but hope that the time for battle is approaching. I see Amy, Noah and even Oscar (pre-conviction of course) as our fife and drummers, setting the stage for an insurance revolt. Popular culture is being inundated with amputees, and perhaps our plea for insurance equity will finally be heard. 

I keep hoping for somebody else to fix the system, but too many people are suffering while we wait. I have come to believe that this issue is so massive that it will require the collective community to work towards a resolution. If we want change, we have to be willing to become involved and stop passing the buck for somebody else to do it for us. I have long believed that our strength lies with our numbers, and it is time that we unite behind this issue.

 I am lucky because I live near Washington DC, I know the issues, and I'm an amputee.  Perhaps it is time that I put my efforts behind the issue.  Today I am going to make some phone calls and schedule appointments with my Representatives and Senators. I doubt that I will receive face time with any decision makers, but I plan on making such a compelling case with the aides that they will take up the banner for insurance equity.  Does anybody want to join me?

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Plans Diverted

Unlike most of the working world, I was actually looking forward to Monday morning. Not because I was eager to tackle the predictable flood of beginning-of-the-week emails, nor was I excited about a full afternoon of conference calls on my calendar. The fact that I had an appointment to pick up my new leg trumped all of my work week woes.

During the past week I have been annoyingly aware of my prosthetic. I haven't been sidelined by the issues, but I could feel that slowing down would be advisable. Unfortunately, Timmy missed the memo and continued to exercise his newly discovered freedom by crawling. I just don't remember Robby being this inquisitive!

My new leg excitement was squelched by a 5 AM phone call announcing the cancellation of school due to ice. Again, the boys were ecstatic with their unanticipated vacation day. I, on the other hand, was left wringing my hands. I don't mess around with icy roads. If they were treacherous enough for school to be cancelled and the Federal Government to delay opening, I was not going to venture out to pick up my new leg. Disappointed with the change of plans, I slipped on my ill-fitting prosthetic and hobbled out to the coffee pot. 

I spent the majority of the day chasing after Timmy who seemed to be on mission to be as mischievous as possible. To his
delight and my dismay, he learned how to open cabinets. He thoroughly enjoyed practicing his newly discovered skill at each opportunity! After spending the afternoon chasing him out of the kitchen, sweeping up the chocolate chips he found and putting away the bags he pulled from the shelves, I have concluded that I can no longer procrastinate baby-proofing the kitchen. 

The weather is supposed to be clear this morning with freezing rain moving in during the afternoon. I should be able to get to Elliot's to pick up my leg. If the fitting goes smoothly, I might have enough time to swing by Lowes to stock up on baby proofing supplies. At least I'll have a project during the next snow storm is supposed to roll in on Thursday.  Have I mentioned that I'm ready for spring? 

Monday, March 02, 2015

Chuck E Cheese

Before leaving to pick up Robby from school on Friday, I quickly swallowed a couple Tylenol, slurped down with a cup of coffee.  I didn't need the Tylenol or the caffeine jolt from the coffee, but I knew that I would appreciate my prophylactic efforts in a few hours. I had promised Robby and his friend Rowan that I would take them to Chuck E. Cheese after school. 

I'll be honest, going to Chuck E. Cheese is not my favorite family adventure. The lights, sirens, screams and various arcade noises, mixing with the aromas of cheap pizza, quickly put me into sensory overload. I also have an undiagnosed gambling problem which the "games" at Chuck E Cheese seem to bring to the forefront.  I have been known to burn through my tokens almost as quickly as the kids. Knowing the rush I receive when I hit the jackpots and when the tickets start streaming from the machine, I have no doubt that I need to stay away from slot machines that pay cash in casinos. 

This trip to Chuck E. Cheese I was able to keep my gambling compulsions under control simply because I was occupied taking care of Timmy. Perched in his stroller, he was mesmerized by the same features that prompted my Tylenol earlier in the day. Despite being overdue for his nap, Timmy remained alert and awake throughout the evening. The novelty of the arcade never grew old in his eyes. 

Robby and Rowan ditched me as soon as they had their tokens in hand. They used to sit with me at the table, nibble on pizza and talk game strategy. Now they only talk to me because they know that it would be rude to ask for more tokens without an obligatory conversation.  I have been relegated to chauffeur and piggy bank. 

Robby may not want to hang out with me at Chuck E. Cheese anymore, but Timmy was delighted to spend the time with me. Of course, he was strapped into his stroller so he was a captive audience. While the two older kids tackled the games in their quest for 1000 tickets, Timmy and I meandered around the building. 

I spotted a little car ride-on amusement and thought that Timmy might enjoy it. I sat him down and strapped him into the seat. His face lit up and I could tell that he was delighted to be sitting in the toy car. I fed the token into the slot and gave myself a silent pat on the back for being a good mom. I knew that my little baby was soon going to be over the moon with his first ride. 

Wrong!  As soon as the ride begin to slowly move forward his happy face morphed into one of pure terror. He instinctively reached for me, clenching my shirt with his fist and burying his face in my chest. He was only on the ride long enough for me to unbuckle him and remove him from the amusement torture of the moving toy car.  Only after he calmed down did I realize that the ride took a photo of each rider when the amusement started.  This photo is priceless and is almost worth the unintentional terror the ride inflicted on my little Timid Timmy.

Before the ride started to move.

Immediately after the ride started to move.