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 17, 2015

Tour de Neighborhood

While yesterday was not warm enough to go to the pool, it was the perfect day to spend outside. My morning and early afternoon were scheduled with appointments, but almost as soon as I arrived home, I challenged Robby to a neighborhood bike race.  In retrospect I probably should have withheld the challenge until after I had changed out of my sundress.  As soon as I threw down the challenge, Robby was out the door, riding to gather his friend Rowan to join his team.

Before I had a chance to change into more appropriate riding attire I had two kiddos (three if you count Timmy, but in all fairness he had no idea why he was cheering) jumping up and down begging to start the "most epic" neighborhood ride. I grabbed my racing partner, strapped him into his baby buggy and strapped the helmet onto my newly styled hair.  Scott hopped onto his scooter to act as traffic cop, race judge and basic team support. In other words, he made sure the intersections were clear and carried the water bottles.

For some reason, I was feeling particularly competitive and decided not to let the kids win. I think my decision surprised them because when Scott dropped the Happy Face flag, I took off like a flash. The friends frantically pedaled after me, shouting cheers of encouragement and directions as they tried to keep up. Although not particularly helpful, Timmy thoroughly enjoyed the excitement, being part of the action, and the wind blowing in his face as we tooled around the neighborhood.  He was laughing and grinning the entire time.

I tried to temper my excitement when I reached he duck pond (finishing line) two bike lengths ahead of my fierce competitors. Okay, I do have to admit that I did unstrap Hamlet so that we could perform our victory dance in the middle of the road. After all, I had just schooled some little racers who were talking smack just an hour earlier. I deserved to gloat a little.  Of course, those who were driving by obviously missed the context of my victory dance, and I'm sure it looked both odd and boastful. 

The friends are already plotting a rematch, which I will gladly accept. I'm fairly certain that they will win the next race, not because I will allow it but because I was rather sore last night from pedaling so hard. Every once in awhile I'll put in 100% effort to win, I am reminded of my victory every time I try to sit this morning.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Hearing Disclosure

We received the best possible news from Robby's ear specialist. We went to his appointment expecting to hear that his tube was misaligned and needed to be replaced. Although we hated the notion of Robby undergoing another ear surgery, recently the implications of his hearing issues have been glaring. His speech has stymied and it has been increasingly difficult to gain his attention when we are at a distance. 

Instead of hearing our amateur diagnosed confirmed, the doctor threw us for a loop when she declared that the tube was still in place. She vacuumed out the copious amounts of ear wax that had formed around the canal and discovered extensive granuloma formation. The surgeon explained that these little obtrusive masses were probably the result of a lingering ear infection.  He was prescribed ear drops to "melt" them away, and hopefully no further treatment will be necessary.

Although the granuloma tissue is still present, simply removing the wax from around the canal has made an incredible difference in Robby's hearing. He immediately began to talk about how much easier it was to understand us when we were speaking. He explained that many times he just nodded because he was hearing too many muffled sounds to decipher our conversation. Hearing this from him broke my heart! I wish he had told us earlier that he was struggling.

We had a lengthy family conference last night where we addressed Robby trying to conceal his difficulties.  We reminded him that we are a team and that when one teammate is struggling, they need to speak up so that everybody can pitch in and help. Fearing that he was embarrassed, I tried to convey that his difficulty hearing was no more a reflection of how great he is than my amputation is for me. It is part of us, but we are not defined by our losses. I think he understood the analogy because he gave me a hug and promised to let us know the second he notices a difference.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Appointment time

In preparation for leaving for Arizona, this week has become Appointment Central. At this juncture, Timmy is the only one who is not visiting some sort of medical professional in the next four days. I know that we are going to be busy running all over the area and spending time in waiting rooms, but going to Arizona with the knowledge that these "little things" are over will be calming.  None of these doctor appointments are pressing, but they are all important to complete before the new school year.  I figured that the week before vacation was probably a good one to sacrifice. 

Today we take Robby to the ear surgeon  which is perhaps the most important appointment of the week.  He has been having increasing difficulties with his dominant ear and we need to know what is going on with him. We've been told by a nurse practitioner that his ear tube is working its way out and is somehow awkwardly stuck in his ear canal. I'm really hoping that this is the situation and that removing the tube will ease the pain and increase his hearing. 

After Robby's ear appointment, I have one scheduled for a physical.  I have a list of questions and mild ailments (a far nicer word than complaints) and I am looking forward to answers. I know that I probably won't know anything definitive today because I'm sure that blood tests will be involved. Even though I won't leave with answers, I feel like today is an important step towards feeling better.

The next few days will not be particularly fun, they will be productive. When we come back from Arizona all of the test results should be available, and I will have some answers and hopefully a plan. I don't think that anything serious is wrong, but I am tired of blaming everything I am feeling on getting older. While I'm sure that is part of the equation, I want to make sure that there isn't something else at play. I am too young to feel this tired, achy, emotional and old!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Countdown to Conference

One week from today I'll be in Arizona preparing for the Amputee Coalition National Conference.  Although I don't doubt that I'll be busy, I am excited about reuniting with my amputee friends.  There is a camaraderie and acceptance that is pervasive within the limb loss community that I find both comforting and empowering.

At the National Conference, the roles are switched as individuals with limb loss become the majority.  Every time I attend this event, I find myself feeling empowered by the knowledge that, even if it is only for a few days, I am no longer the only one utilizing a prosthesis. For the duration of the event, I know that I won't be subjected to the gawking and the stares that have become part of my normal experience since becoming an amputee. The reality of the onlookers returns as soon as I leave the confines of the hotel, so I am going to soak up every moment of normalcy while I'm there. 

While I am working at conference, Scott and Robby will be on an adventure of their own.  Instead of driving directly to the meet me in Tucson, they will take a detour north to visit the Grand Canyon. I have heard Scott talking about his dream of seeing the Grand Canyon for as long as I have known him. I'm so excited that he is finally going to make this dream a reality, made even more special by the fact that he'll be sharing it with Robby. 

Their Grand Canyon adventure is sure to be epic because I have arranged for them to spend the night in a Wild West themed hotel. From mock gunfights in the courtyard to dancing saloon girls performing in the dining room, I know that they will both remember this experience for a lifetime. Part of me wishes that I would be able to share it with them, but I also realize that there is something special about a father and son bonding. I have no doubt that I will be inundated with photos and stories when we are reunited in Tucson.

While the three of us are in Arizona, Timmy will be spending a special week with his Nana and cousins in Pennsylvania where he will be doted upon and spoiled. He has a special relationship with his Nana and my only concern with his staying for a week is the worry that he won't want to come home. I will miss him dearly, but I don't expect the feelings to be reciprocated as he will thoroughly soak up the attention from everybody in the house!

The next few days will be busy as we all prepare for our respective adventures.  At this point, it is impossible to determine who is the most excited!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Menopausal Mobility

It has been eleven months since my hysterectomy, and I am beginning to see changes in my body. Whereas I used to carry weight in my bum and thighs,  I notice that it is shifting to my stomach. Rogue hairs on my chin seem to grow at lightning speed, but if I break a nail it takes forever to regenerate. Despite being on estrogen replacement therapy, I have been experiencing wicked hot flashes.  Every morning I wake up with the blankets kicked to the bottom of the bed and my nightgown on the floor. Apparently I become hot while sleeping and strip completely down. 

More frustrating than these issues have been the implications of menopause on my limb. My leg volume, which used to be stable, now wildly fluctuates.  I have to be extremely careful about the food that I eat because if it contains too much salt, my prosthesis won't fit. Knowing that I won't be able to walk comfortably if I eat  Doritos has certainly become motivation to make better food choices!

Unfortunately I sometimes miscalculate the amount of sodium in food. While I've become fairly adept at cooking for my new menopausal needs at home, I struggle when we eat out. This past weekend while visiting my Mom, we ordered Chinese food. The sodium content never even crossed my mind as I happily munched on the chicken and cashew with rice meal.

It wasn't until the next morning, as I tried to slip into my socket, that I realized I had a problem. My leg was swollen and, while I could wear the prosthetic, it was definitely tight. I assumed that my walking through the day would push out the excess volume, which is typical when it is swollen in the morning.

My limb had other plans and continued to swell throughout the day.  By the end of the day, my leg was swelling over the rim of my socket. When  I took off my leg  and liner, I noticed a wide swatch of oozing contact pressure sores from where I was pressing against the back of the socket.

I thoroughly doused the area with antibiotic and hydrocortisone creams and swallowed the maximum dose of diuretic before hopping into bed. By the next morning the skin was healing, but I opted to be proactive by taking another dose of the diuretic before breakfast. I hate relying upon water pills to fit into my leg, and I view them as an emergency crutch when I make a mistake. Obviously, I made a huge mistake by eating the Chinese food. A few hours later, my leg was again fitting like a comfortable glove.

I knew that being pushed into menopause would cause some physical changes. I never anticipated that my limb would be impacted in such a dramatic manner. Monitoring my sodium and increasing my water intake are now becoming part of my daily routine. It is going to take me awhile to adjust to this new normal, but after what I experienced this weekend, I know that it is my only option if I want to maintain a healthy limb and retain my mobility.