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 07, 2016

Phantom Pain Culprits

Admittedly I am fortunate when it comes to experiencing phantom pain. Compared to some of my friends who suffer debilitating and lengthy episodes, my bouts tend to be both fleeting and few. Until this past week I have only experienced phantom pain when the weather is changing (storms approaching) or when I am in the middle of a socket adjustment. Now I can add a new culprit to the mix: antihistamines and/or bug toxins. Unfortunately, there is little more I can do to negate either offender.

 If my phantom pain reactions are caused by the bug toxin(s), all I can do is wait for them to be cleansed from my body. I wouldn't be surprised if the bug venom was responsible. The angry reaction which has manifested from each bite certainly indicates that my body has a strong response to the bug toxin. I suppose that the toxins also triggering phantom pain episodes is entirely plausible.

I have been taking an antihistamine (in the form of Benadryl) since the bed bugs decided to use me as an all-you-can-bite-buffet. I don't like taking the pills, but life without them becomes unbearable with itchy, burning pain. I have come to accept that groggy is better than itchy, so I have been relying upon the maximum dose for the past week. Thankfully my body has somewhat adjusted to the side effects, and I no longer feel like I am operating in a haze.

Even though the side effects of the Benadryl have somewhat normalized, I've noticed that my leg has become increasingly angrier as the week has progressed. At first I attributed the pain to the bites all over my limb. After all, donning a liner and carbon fiber socket over tender and inflamed blisters is not a pleasant experience. As the bites have begun to heal, I have noticed that my leg pain has instead begun to increase.
Between twitching in my socket, an aching phantom ankle and toes that feel like they are being twisted with pliers, I have been wrung through the phantom pain circuit. I am woken at night with my leg in  kicking spasms. I have been experiencing electrical shocks so strong that they force me to stop me in my tracks. In short, I am miserable!

Because the phantom episodes are increasing, I am beginning to wonder if the phantom pain has been tripped by the antihistamine.  Hopefully I'll be able to taper off the Benadryl this week and, assuming my theory is correct, my phantom pain will become another unpleasant memory from the bed bug experience.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Back to Play

The past few weeks have not been my finest. Between the headstone unveiling for my Dad, Timmy becoming dangerously ill with pneumonia and strep, and being mutilated by bed bugs, I have been living on high alert crisis mode. Struggling just to maintain a semblance of function, my markers for a successful day included having the kids eat, getting Robby to school and completing my work obligations. I just didn't have the energy to invest in anything more than the minimum.

Thankfully things have started to drastically improve. My fumigating the house upon immediate bed bug discovery may have been enough to stop the infestation in its tracks. The bed bug sniffing dog (yes, there is such a thing and he was adorable) came to our house to help investigate. No bugs were discovered, which (hopefully) means that I did not transport the horrid little critters home. We are still on bug alert and living out of zip lock bags, but our house baking has been put on the back burner. 

More important than the bed bugs, Timmy is feeling better. Each day my little guy is coughing less and smiling more. His precocious and mischievous energy has returned in full force. Yesterday the weather was gorgeous so I packed him up and we went on a special trip to the farm. We played on the moon bounce, zipped down the slides and climbed on the tractors. He was grinning from ear to ear, giggling with each new activity and discovery. It was so wonderful to see him so carefree and happy again. 

He had a wonderful time playing, but he did tire quickly. Typically we would have been at the farm for a few hours. Yesterday he was tuckered out after 45 minutes. I know it is going to take him awhile to fully recover, so I am taking 45 minutes of full on play and joy as a win.

Hopefully things will continue to look up!

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Streaker in the House

After being knocked down by pneumonia and strep, my little Timmy is back to his normal mischievous self. He was being especially silly yesterday, stripping down to only a smile. Every time I look away he is cracking a coy smile and dropping his clothes (and diaper) to the floor before running around the house giggling. I should give him some credit because he always puts his diaper into the trash can when stripping.

I know that Timmy is having fun and his temporary aversion to being clothed normally wouldn't bother me. I do wish that he had chosen a better time to experiment with the nudist lifestyle. While I know that they don't attack during the day and that they only feed off victims when they are sleeping, I worry about Timmy being naked if we have bed bugs in the house.  It just seems prudent to keep clothed until we are 100% bug free.  Unfortunately my two year old doesn't understand my logic and perceives my insistence that he wear clothes as a challenge to strip quickly.

Although tiring, the battle over Hamlet's clothes is a welcome change from the worries of last week. He was so sick that he had us frightened. Compared to what we went through, running after my happy little streaker is a pleasure.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Bugging Out

Despite my intense frustrations, our house extermination has been pushed back. When I learned that we will be living with the little buggers for another few days, I wanted to cry. The bearer of bad news offered little concern for our plight and simply told me to "try to ignore the fact that you are living with bugs." Seriously? How am I supposed to just pretend that everything is normal when I'm living out of giant zip lock bags, dealing with painful bites and welts all the while knowing that the little critters are waiting in line to chomp at the all-you-can-suck blood buffet.

Of course, the Prednisone isn't helping my mood. I find myself snapping a lot more and demonstrating considerably less patience than my norm.  Yesterday I had to walk away from my computer several times to stop myself from sending a snarky email. It's not that I'm feeling confrontational.  I just think that my threshold for playing games is lower than usual.

The delay in extermination means that Robby is home another day from school.  (I can't send him to school if we suspect that we are infested with bed bugs.) We also have been cautioned against staying in a hotel to escape our infestation because we will only spread the problem to other people. So, we're stuck in the house until our exterminators get us back on schedule for baking the little buggers out of our lives for good.  In the meantime, I'm going to take a deep breath, eat a cupcake and try to remember that soon this will all be a memory. 

Monday, October 03, 2016

Bug Invasion

Early Friday morning I had a dream where I was scratching my skin with a Brillo pad. I vividly remember frantically rubbing the pad all over my arms, trying to find relief for a persistent itch. I woke up to find that the sheets were bloodied and my arms were covered with hundreds of red bumps and welts.

Initially I thought that I had contracted poison ivy when I was in the woods with Timmy earlier in the week. Knowing that the doctor could both give me a shot and prescribe medicine to hasten my healing, I packed up the boys and headed to my doctor.  (His practice recently began opening up at 8 AM for unscheduled sick visits.)  With Timmy and Robby in tow I was hoping for a quick appointment with substantial itch and pain relief. 

It turns out that my self diagnosis was incorrect, and that I was not suffering from poison ivy. Instead, bed bugs had eaten me alive. Judging from the amount of bite marks, it is believed that I had at least 200 of the little critters feeding all over my legs, arms and neck.  Each bug feeds up to three times on the host (me), causing at least 600 bite marks all over my body with each one swelling to the size of a nickle.  The fact that I had at least 200 bugs crawling all over my body while I was sleeping is beyond comprehension.  I left the office with two prescriptions to help relieve the itch and pain along with the sage advice of calling an exterminator.

The bites on my arms are painful and sore, but the most concerning are those on my residual limb. Wearing my leg has become extraordinarily painful because of the large welts. I cannot lather my limb in anti-itch cream because it makes my liner slide off. I honestly don't have the words to adequately convey the pain and discomfort that I am feeling because of my 600+ bite marks. I just want to curl up in a corner and cry, but I now worry that we might have more bugs in the house and I don't want to risk further exposure.

We do not have a clutter-free home, but we are certainly not filthy or unkept. We know where I encountered the bugs, but that will be the topic for another blog. (I'm not a litigious person by nature, but the contamination was so blatantly negligent that I am considering bringing legal action to recoup the cost of our extermination fees.)  In the meantime, it is safe to assume that the little invaders latched onto me and it is prudent to assume that they are now in our house. 

We spent the weekend chemically bombing our house, doing laundry and packing packing all of our super heated clothes into large sealed bags. I have been feeling sick since playing host to the bug buffet, but my need to rid our home of these invaders was enough to push me beyond my own pain thresholds. (I have found that hopping into a cold bath provides the most relief, especially on my residual limb. In between loads of laundry and setting off chemical bombs, I have been hopping in and out of the tub.)

Yesterday the exterminator came to do an inspection, and he was not able to visually identify any bugs. Of course, I had sprayed so many chemicals that it is suspected that the bugs retreated into the walls. We are having a bug sniffing dog come out today to confirm that the bugs traveled home with us.

If the bed bugs are confirmed by the dog, it has been decided that we are going to bake the buggers out of the house. Using heat extermination is not only more effective, but it is safer. Timmy is recovering from his pneumonia, and I want to keep the chemical exposure to a minimum. ( Although we left the house for the requisite two hours, Timmy was definitely coughing more when we were in our chemically covered house. Witnessing his response was enough to sell us on heat extermination.) 

In the next few days the exterminators will bring in large heaters and fans. The ambient temperature within our home will be heated to at least 125 degrees and held at that level for at least 5 hours. The bed bugs will experience death while being cooked alive. Considering the agony that they have caused me, I think that this is a fitting end to their unwelcome intrusion.

A blessing throughout this experience has been that, at this juncture, I am the only who has been bitten. I am thankful that the little buggers opted to feed on me instead of Timmy, who was sleeping within arms reach. Of course, I have read that the bite marks can manifest themselves up to 14 days after the feeding, so we are not yet in the clear.