Week of 11-10-14

Usually, I go to PT at A Step Ahead twice a week but last week I only had one appointment. So, since my supervised exercises were cut in half, I thought I needed to take it upon myself to make up for that. In order accomplish that, I decided to attempt to walk to the nearest Chase with my mom, without my wheelchair and with just my crutches in tow. Naturally, I googled what the distance was from the apartment to the bank and how long it would “normally” take to walk there. 0.3 miles each way and about 7 minutes to get there. So, a roundtrip is 0.6 miles and should take about 14 minutes. My mom kept asking me if I was sure I didn’t want to take the wheelchair and if I’d be ok to walk that distance without being able to take a break in the chair. I said yes, but with a little bit of hesitation. After all, if I walked to the bank and back, successfully, this would be the longest distance, without a break (except for when I needed to cross the street), that I will have walked with my crutches. So, my mom and I were off. There were some slight nerve-wrecking moments getting off the sloped curbs in order to cross the street, but I made it to the bank in 32 minutes. I took care of what I needed to at the bank and then took a 5 minute rest in front of the bank in order to power up for the walk back home. It took 30 minutes to make it back home. The last half block home was a bit strenuous, but I was a trooper. I may have cut through Rite Aid to shave off those 2 minutes. However, I don’t think cutting through Rite Aid shortened the distance, but it did allow me to pick up the pace because walking indoors on linoleum is much easier than walking outside on cracked pavement. 0.6 miles in 1 hour and 2 minutes. It wasn’t easy though. I was exhausted and my hands, arms, back, legs, and butt sore were all sore. The sun was still out when we left the apartment and had almost fully set by the time we made it back, but, we made it back…and without needing the wheelchair to rescue me.
On Tuesday, I was still a little sore…but no slacking off allowed. I didn’t think I could do such a long walk 2 days in a row, so I decided to walk to the mailbox since I had to mail some cards. I made the walk to the mailbox this time without having to take any breaks. A few weeks ago when I did the walk, I had to stop twice before making it to the mailbox. Improvement. After sticking the cards in the mailbox, my mom asked me if I wanted to turn around and go back the way we came or if I wanted to circle the block and go back the long way. Sure, why not..I completed my version of a marathon yesterday, a walk around the block is nothing. It was a little warmer out this day than it was on Monday, so by the time I made it back to the house I was sweating all over the place, mind you…I had taken off my sweatshirt when we got to the mailbox and all I was wearing was a pair of short shorts and a t-shirt. My mom was in jeans, a t-shirt, a sweatshirt, and a light jacket. Sigh.
Another successful walk in the books.
On Wednesday, I went to my appointment at the plastic surgeon. This was a follow-up to my last appointment, which was a few months ago. We discussed how my skin has healed, how it’s still healing, and what my options are for trouble options that I currently have, and what my options will be if they continue to cause me trouble. When my legs are fully exposed, no shrinkers or liners, I’m generally very gentle, but sometimes when I’m at A Step Ahead or seeing any of my doctors, I feel like they’re manhandling me. I’ve gotten much better, but it still gives me a bit of anxiety…Gentle, people! There’s nothing that has to be done right now in terms of surgery, but we discussed what kinds of surgery that could/would be done, if necessary. We’ll try to address everything prosthetically at first, and if that doesn’t work then we’ll look into surgery options. Surgery would be the last resort because after 12 major surgeries, I’m not electing to have any operations or procedures and because any procedure would likely put me out of commission for at least a week, which at this point in my recovery would be a MAJOR step back.
On Thursday, I had an appointment for a “driver’s evaluation” at Abilities/The Viscardi Center, a non-profit organization that provides services for children and adults with disabilities. I wasn’t quite sure what the $250, hour long evaluation was for, since it’s pretty obvious to me that I need hand controls in order to drive a car, but off we went since it was necessary to complete this appointment before signing up for driving lessons. This is basically how the appointment went..showed up, the gentleman filled out paperwork for about 15 minutes in silence (with us sitting across from him), then he finally spoke and introduced himself. We then spoke about different types of hand controls and Ben and I asked some questions. After about 30 minutes or so in his office, we headed outside so that I could get into a learning car and see the hand controls in person. He and I got into the car and then he proceeded to tell me about how to operate the type of hand controls in that car. I asked questions and we sat in the car for about 20 minutes and then my “evaluation” was over. We exited the car and then he asked me if I was told about the payment. I said yes but didn’t have it with me so he told me I could just mail a check. I left still not quite sure why that hour was worth $250. So, the next day, prior to mailing out the check, I sent him an email asking what exactly the $250 covered. It covered the interview (interview?..ok.), the in-car evaluation (if that’s considered an evaluation), and my first driving lesson (ok..that works for me). Driving lessons cost $90. So basically $160 to sit in an office for 30 minutes and talk about why I was amputated, if I’m a right/left-handed, about hand controls, and then 20 minutes in a car. At the end of the day..it is what it is and everyone needs to get paid for providing a service…but I don’t know…$250 for not a lot just seemed a little offensive…
It took me a little longer than expected to get last week’s events in so stay tuned for a post on this week’s happenings…hopefully….

Picking Up The Pace…

Well, I got on the treadmill the other day while I was at A Step Ahead. Yes…the treadmill. Just walking…no running, obviously. I walked at a speed of 1.0 for 5 minutes. We had it set to 1.2 for a hot second, but that was too fast…The difference 0.2 makes. Sigh. I thought I’d catch a break and get to rest for the remainder of that appointment, since after all, I did just walk on the treadmill for the first time, and for 5 minutes straight..but my PT wasn’t having it. I was allowed to rest for 2 minutes and then we were gonna do some exercises. Following my first 5 minutes (first time ever since getting the prosthesis) on the treadmill, I did some squats (half squats since I can’t fully bend my knee), and lifted some 5 pound weights…3 sets of each. Not much of a workout, but enough to make my left leg and hip sore! What the hell is that about?!? And to top it off…I think I pulled a muscle in my neck/shoulder/arm from holding on too tight while walking on the treadmill for fear of falling off. Really?!? Mental note – stretch next time. Click on the link below to check out the video of me on the treadmill.
Walking on Treadmill_11-3-14
I have to kick my walking into high gear. With the winter slowly approaching and the potential of the conditions outside becoming “unfriendly” to me, I have to get as much practice in as I can so that I’m prepared for those conditions. Rain, snow, sleet, slush…all unfriendly and potentially dangerous conditions. I have to practice on my stamina and endurance. I’ve started to either leave the wheelchair at home or leave it in the car (under certain situations) in order to try and force myself to walk more. I need to practice on my speed too. I walked 1.0 on the treadmill, but “normal” walking pace is 2.5-3.5, probably closer to 3.5 as a New Yorker. Maybe I need to move…hah. Aside from practicing on my speed in order to get to normal walking pace, I need to practice so that I can make it to the bathroom when I need to pee really bad or so that I don’t get run over by a car when I’m crossing the street and the light has turned green while I’m still trying to get across! Yikes. I also have to start timing myself to see how long I can “last” before I NEED To sit down and take a rest. I need to get myself a stop watch. =)
With the coupling of my recent progress and the NYC Marathon, I’ve gotten a lot of people telling me that I’ll be able to run the Marathon next year. People – I love and appreciate all the support and confidence you have in me, but let’s be honest, it’s probably not going to happen. I had no desire to run the NYC Marathon or any marathon prior to the accident and I have no desire to run it now. Whether I will be able to or not is one thing. Whether or not I want to, is an entirely different story. 5K was my max prior to the accident and it will probably stay that way. I want to get back to taking yoga & pilates classes, playing volleyball & softball, taking trapeze classes, etc. Is it possible that my tune may change?…Perhaps, but unlikely. But thanks to everyone for believing that I can do it.
I made an appointment for adaptive equipment (hand controls) training for driving. However, before I’m able to start taking lessons they need me to go through an evaluation, which costs $250. I’m not quite sure what the evaluation is for or what it will entail, but I think I can complete their evaluation for them. It would go something like this…I don’t have either of my legs. I wear prosthetics for both my legs. I need hand controls in order to drive. Now, teach me how to drive with hand controls. Thanks. Can we get started now? Appointment is next Thursday. Stay tuned for how that goes. With me moving forward with this, Ben and I really need to decide on what new car we want to buy. Once I’m “trained” on how to drive with hand controls, I’m going to want to drive, I think. I may be too freaked out, but hopefully not. Without the new car that the hand controls will be installed in, no driving for me. So…Ben and I need to get on that. We’ve narrowed it down to a few models, but just need to check out a couple more of them in person. Anyone have any connections to car dealerships?
It’s been quite a while since I’ve added to the Teenaisms page. I’d forgotten about them since coming home, but trust me, they still occur. I think I just didn’t notice them as much since leaving the hospital and returning back to the real world. With that being said…I’ve put up 2 new ones.
As always, thanks for reading this.

10 Months and 1 Week

Since my last post, I’ve been practicing walking without crutches (still on a leash though) when I’m at therapy and taking on the challenge of stairs (only if it’s 2-3 steps though) when out and about. Walking without crutches, even if the safety blanket of the leash is attached to me, is still very nerve-wrecking. Stairs are really difficult as well. And my left knee (my actual knee) has some issues that make walking without crutches and walking up/down stairs difficult. One of the issues is that my knee doesn’t fully bend. We won’t make a decision on if I’ll need surgery for this problem until I’ve been walking on the prosthetics for at least 6 months. I really hope I won’t need another surgery..but if I do…then I guess I’ll deal with it then. What’s another surgery when I’ve already been through 12, right?…The other issue, is part of my knee cap, on that same knee. My prosthetist has tried a few different ways to try and relieve or alleviate the pain on my knee, but it seems like it may not be a prosthetic problem. So, my prosthetist said that I should bring it up with my plastic surgeon. I have an appointment with my plastic surgeon in 2 weeks and we’ll see what he has to say…whether he can address it or if I’ll have to visit a orthopedist. Ugh..hopefully no surgery. Surgeries…not a fan.
So, remember that trip to Seattle I went on last month? The program is officially live! Check out the below links to watch! First link is about the program. Second link is about “my story”.


The Mullen Agency did a really great job of putting this together. They were a really great crew!

Together with my friends, Doug and Wade, we put together a fundraiser a few days ago. On 10-30-14, we had “A Nice Night for a Walk”. We held the event at Doug’s office space. There was an outdoor space and an indoor space, which contained a bar, a ping pong table, a shuffle board table, an indoor basketball hoop arcade game, and TVs. Awesome. We had a really great turnout and sold almost all the auction items. It was a really successful night, all around. Thank you Doug and Wade for helping to put everything together. We were a pretty good team! Thank you to everyone that made it to the event, to those that donated items for the auction, to those that bid on the auction items, to Doug’s staff for all the help, to my family and friends who helped out at the event, and to those that donated but were unable to make it out that night. Here are a few pics. My PT (Phil) helping me walk without crutches, me trying to shoot some hoops (with my brother standing watch, in case I fall…), and me taking a break. =)
Walking with Phil
Taking a break
Last night, my cousin (Annie) and I went to see the 50 Shades Musical Parody of 50 Shades of Grey. My PT’s girlfriend had the winning bid on the tickets but was unable to use the tickets, so she offered them to me (Thanks Dana!). With the horrible, wet, and rainy weather, I decided to leave the wheelchair at home…very brave of me. I figured since we had door-to-door drop pick-up and drop-off (THANKS Danny!), I’d leave the wheelchair at home and just take my crutches. Rainy weather and wheelchair do not go together so well. Annie just had to walk next to me with an umbrella and be patient…We experienced a slight hiccup once we were at the theater, but stopped to figure it out, and dealt with it successfully. I knew I was going to end up at destinations where I’d be able to sit and rest, so it all worked out in the end. My next step at therapy is to show up without my wheelchair…so I figured I’d better start getting used to not taking my wheelchair around all the time. Big step for me.
Annie and I
50 Shades!
Show was very funny. You need to know a little about the book and characters in order to appreciate all the jokes from the show. And yes, there were men in the audience. It was a good laugh and the show was short and sweet.

Some more firsts…

I had a physical therapy session today and had a few firsts. Before I get into the firsts, let me just say that I got a new liner for my right side. When I can get my brother to help me again, I’ll shoot a new video showing both the liner and me putting the prosthesis on. This new liner is still custom but not as custom as my previous one. My prosthetist said that since my skin was doing well, we were going to try this new liner. The new liner is a little thicker and softer. If anyone is curious in seeing what the liner looks like before I get around to making another video, below is a link to a picture of my new liner. It comes at that length but it’s ordered in my size and then cut down so that it’s shortened for me.


Now onto today’s firsts…
1. I walked into A Step Ahead today. My physical therapist (Phil) saw us as we were parking the car and was busting my chops about not getting into the wheelchair in order to enter the office. But, since I didn’t have my crutches with me, I couldn’t fully walk into the office. So, I transferred from the car into the wheelchair, wheeled up to the stairs, stood up, and then walked up the 3 steps, and then into the office. It reads much easier than it was to accomplish. I held onto the railing with my left hand and onto Ben’s had with my right hand. I’ve practiced a little bit since our first attempt so I knew what to expect, but walking up stairs still requires grunting noises from me, like a tennis player. Once I got to the top of the stairs, I was frozen. I didn’t have crutches and I didn’t have a railing to hold onto anymore. At that point, Phil came out grabbed one of my hands and said, “Come on. Let’s go!” I said, “Huh? What?!?” No.” But it had to be done. Gotta soldier on. So, I grabbed his hand and walked into the office and into a room. I made it. Whew. Gotta try…won’t know if you can/can’t until you try. It may not be pretty at first, but you gotta try.
2. I got up from a chair without the assistance of a crutch or another person. We practiced getting up and sitting down from a chair without assistance.
3. I walked around the office with just one crutch. Scary.
4. If I thought #3 was scary. I was petrified for #4…I walked without any crutches! But don’t get too excited folks, I wasn’t completely on my own..I was on a “leash”. I was tethered around my waist, while Phil held onto the strap part from behind me. They strapped me in and then told me to start walking. My reaction, the usual reaction when they have me do something new and terrifying, “Uh, what? No!” But, then I eventually do it. I said, “I don’t think I can. I think my feet are glued to the ground.” Mentally, I wasn’t able to get going if I wasn’t holding onto something, even if it was with the lightest touch. I didn’t have the “security blanket” of my crutches, the parallel bars, or someone’s hand. So, we started with Phil holding the strap while standing behind me and Erik barely holding onto my hands, just so I could get started. All three of us took a few steps together and then Erik let go of my hands and I was walking on my own, with Phil still holding on in case I wobbled, which I did. And then, they told me to swing my arms. Come on!! I don’t usually swing my arms because swinging my arms, although it makes the walking more “natural” means my body is more loose. I tend to hold my arm up and have it tensed up, like the rest of my body needs to be, so that I can balance and stay upright. I would switch from tense to swinging, but after a few back and forths, I took a bunch of steps while fully swinging my arms. Those were probably the most natural steps and the most natural feeling I experienced since I started walking with the prosthetics. Weird, exciting, and scary all at the same time. After doing one loop around the office like that, I was beat. It doesn’t take much to get me exhausted when it comes to walking right now. I sat down and we all took a break.
5. Then, we started talking about how to fall and how to get up if I fall. Do this with your left leg. Do that with your right leg. Do this with your arms. I’m good. I just won’t fall guys. So, they put the mat out and put me on the ground. #5 – first time sitting on the ground (with or without legs) since the accident. And now that I was on the ground, it was time to show me how I would get up. This is difficult because I don’t have full range of motion with my left leg/knee. I can’t get it to fully bend. When you’re sitting in a chair, your legs are at 90 degrees. My leg doesn’t do that. My knee can only bend to about 40-45 degrees right now so when I’m sitting it’s extended out a little.
So, how to get up from the floor. Roll over onto my stomach, then get into a plank position and walk my left leg out (so now I’m kind of in a Y position), and now try and bring my left leg to the side of me. Stop. Because I can’t get my left leg to fully bend, I couldn’t really do that one and because the frame/socket on my right was digging into my lady parts. Next. Get back into “Y” position. Now, try and walk your hands back and then once you’re hands are at your feet try and stand up. Nope. My left knee isn’t strong enough. Ok, last option. Grab onto the chair and pull yourself up to the chair and then climb on. I don’t know if I couldn’t do this one because I was already exhausted from the walking and trying the other 2 methods or if I just couldn’t do it. The right leg is basically dead weight so I literally have to drag it. Unsuccessful. 0-3. The guys pulled me up and I sat down. Feeling defeated now. Luckily, I laughed throughout all three attempts so I didn’t feel as bad. I’m good at laughing at myself. And apparently, they found it amusing as well. =) Lesson here…don’t fall. As much as I would like to not fall, it’s not so realistic. So, until my knee can bend more, in a worst case scenario, if I’m by myself and I fall, I’ll have to take the prosthetics off, get myself off the floor (much easier to “pick myself up” without the weight of the prosthetics”) and then put the prosthetics back on. Not the most ideal, but it’ll have to do for now.

Thanks for reading! ‘Til next time…

(Revised) Journey to Seattle! (Original to be back up later)

I know it’s been a while since my last post so I have a lot of catching up to do. In terms of rehab and therapy, I’m still going to PT at A Step Ahead and practicing how to walk on the prosthesis. When I walk, I walk with crutches. We’ve tried stairs once, just so I could get a sense of what to expect and feel. It’s hard and scary. Walking up is a little painful, mainly because my left leg is still unable to fully bend and walking down is nerve-wrecking because I feel like I’m going to fall on my face. We’ve started to practice walking outside, also scary. I only have a couple of months to practice walking outside because once the snow starts to fall it’s probably going to be extremely difficult to do. So, I have to get myself motivated and practice, practice, practice.
Now onto the title of this blog…Journey to Seattle! Ben and I just came back from a trip to Seattle. Why’d we go to Seattle? Did I plan this trip to a place I’d never been to pre-accident? A place that I knew nothing of and didn’t know if it would be easy or difficult to get around in…of course not. I “won” a free round trip airfare for myself and Ben to anywhere that JetBlue flies to in the continental U.S. I never win anything. Yet another example of how losing my legs in a traumatic accident has brought about “good” things. I kid. So, how exactly did I come to win this flight?
A few months back, a lovely woman named Lisa Colombari, who works for JetBlue, sent me a donation and a hand-written note. I sent her a thank you email. Then, a couple of months later, when I was arranging my travel to LA, I reached out to Lisa to ask her some questions I had regarding traveling. The LA trip was my first time flying since the accident. I didn’t know what to expect. A month following that, she reached out to ask me about my LA trip. In that same note, she also asked if I would accept her nomination of me for JetBlue’s new program called Fly It Forward. JetBlue is launching a new program called Fly It Forward, a play off of Pay It Forward, that awards “deserving” people with a free roundtrip flight to anywhere in the continental U.S. that JetBlue flies to and she wanted to nominate me. I was humbled and honored, not only by her nomination, but that she remembered me. I told Ben about it and then emailed her back to tell her that we would gladly accept the nomination.
We were scheduled to fly out on Thursday, September 25th. On Tuesday, September 23rd, I met the “crew” and they filmed me during my PT appointment at A Step Ahead. The following day, they came over to our apartment to get some footage of me doing everyday things around the apartment and to interview both Ben and I. Our JFK to SEA flight on the 25th was departing at about 8:45A and the crew asked that we meet them at JFK at around 6:30A. Ugh. They wanted to film me arriving at the airport, checking-in, obtaining our boarding passes, etc. Being up and out of the house at 6:30 in the morning is its own struggle, but to be filmed too…Oy! My brother picked us up at around 6A and we headed out to JFK. Upon arriving at JFK, the entire crew was there and ready to “capture” me getting out of the car. So much pressure! After getting our boarding passes, going through security and getting my pat down (always lovely), we headed towards our gate in the JetBlue terminal. As Ben pushed me into the main rotunda of the JetBlue terminal, I see the camera guys and a woman standing in the middle with a bouquet of roses. What is going on?!? It was Lisa! She and I had never met before. It was a wonderful surprise. We hugged, talked about the process, and then she started to get emotional on me. I had to quickly stop her and tell her it was way to early in the morning to get all emotional and start crying. =) She introduced me to her lovely daughter and then we all walked to the gate together. We chatted for a bit, took some pictures, and then she and her daughter had to be on their way to catch their flight to Vermont. She is awesome and without her nomination, we wouldn’t have even been considered for the program. Thank You Lisa.
It was now time to board the plane. With crutches in tow, I was preparing myself to walk onto the plane. Did I forget to mention that this was my first time flying with my prosthesis and that I was going to attempt to walk onto the plane. No? Well, now you know! So, I wheeled myself down to the plane and once there, Ben lifted me and the chair up the little step from the jetway onto the plane itself. He handed me my crutches, I stood up from the chair, and walked myself over to my seat and sat down. Success. Whew! I was so anxious. Luckily we were in the first row. And not only did I successfully board the plane by walking to my seat, I also walked myself to the bathroom and back 3 times, and walked of the plane. And let me tell you, walking on prosthetics on a moving plane, with an unsteady floor, not easy.
And then another surprise. Once we were off the plane and in the airport, I was greeted with cheers, applause, and balloons by the gate agents, as well as the awaiting passengers who were waiting to board the flight that we had just deplaned from. How embarrassing. And naturally my first thought is, “Oh, am I the reason that’s keeping these people from getting on their flight?…Great.” The cycle just continues. I’ve moved on from from delaying subway passengers to now delaying plane passengers. So, after the cheering and balloons, I was presented with a personalized “Fly It Forward” luggage tag. So cute.
After all the pomp and circumstance, we left the airport to head over to the hotel to check-in, settle in, and then head over to Pike Place Market. I caught a fish! Twice! See pic below. Possible video later.
We wheeled around the Market for a bit, grabbed some snacks, checked out the vendors, and then headed across the street to grab some clam chowder. Side note – In case any of you are wondering…prosthetics, coupled with the wheelchair, rolling on cobblestone…NOT a good match. Every few “bumps” I had to pull both my feet back (with my hands) because they kept bouncing off the feet rests. As I was saying…chowder. Ben and I split a bowl from the famous, Pike Place Chowder. Delicious.

Ben chowing down

Ben chowing down

After grabbing the chowder, we made a quick stop at the original Starbucks and then headed back to the hotel. It had been a long day and we had to be up early for the next day’s activities.
The plan for Friday was to head to the Space Needle in the morning and then take the ferry over to Bainbridge Island in the afternoon. The Space Needle opens up at 10A but since we were filming, they let us in at 9A. Perks of having a film crew with you…a V.I.P tour of the Space Needle.
View from the observation deck of the Space Needle

View from the observation deck of the Space Needle

Crazy Hair

Crazy Hair

Stood up to take this picture but needed Ben to hold me so I wouldn't get blown away!

Stood up to take this picture but needed Ben to hold me so I wouldn’t get blown away!

After getting our tour and learning all about the Needle, we had lunch with the crew at SkyCity, the rotating restaurant one level below the observation deck of the Needle.
Space Needle Restaurant
Once we finished lunch, we took a little break before heading to the pier to board the ferry that takes you to Bainbridge Island. Bainbridge Island is an island/city off of Seattle that’s located in the Puget Sound. It’s a really lovely and quaint island. The crew conducted their final interview with me on the island. After we “wrapped”, Ben and I drove around and explored the island.
Ferry Ride

Ferry Ride

On Saturday, we met up with one of my friends who happened to be visiting from LA for the weekend. Such a nice coincidence! We met up for breakfast at a restaurant called Geraldine’s Counter in a part of Seattle called Columbia City. Another delicious meal. After breakfast, Ben and I went to check out the EMP (Experience Music Project) Museum. It’s a museum dedicated to popular culture. It was definitely a fun museum. See pics below!
My creeper of a husband. Stalk much?

My creeper of a husband. Stalk much?

That night, we decided to go to a seafood restaurant. We were in Seattle, after all. We had some amazing oysters at Shuckers restaurant in the Fairmont Hotel.
The plan for Sunday was to go check out the Museum of Flight. Prior to heading to the museum, we went for brunch at The Butcher and The Baker. The museum was awesome, but slightly overwhelming. So many planes all in one place. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to do the Boeing tour portion of the museum. It wasn’t handicapped accessible. Boo. They also had a few planes displayed in an airfield across from the museum. Of these planes, a few were open to the public. However, I was unable to check these out also, as a long flight of stairs needed to be climbed first in order to board them. But, Ben got to check out the interior of a former Air Force One plane and a Concorde. I was able to check out the inside of a cut up old U.S. Airways plane. At least I got to do that…
The Butcher and The Baker

The Butcher and The Baker

Ben deplaning Air Force One

Ben deplaning Air Force One

On our last full day in Seattle, which happened to also be the only day where we got stuck with a full day of rain, we just took it easy. We slept in and decided to go for ramen for lunch. After lunch, we went back to Pike Place Market to do some souvenir shopping. That night, we met up with an old high school friend of mine who had moved out to Seattle earlier in the year to take a job with Microsoft for dinner. And with that dinner, our trip in Seattle was coming to an end.
We had a good time in Seattle and overall, getting around wasn’t too bad. As usual, I was very anxious and paranoid about traveling, but even more so because I had never even been to Seattle prior to losing my legs so I had no idea what to expect. What did I learn? It wasn’t as bad I was expecting. If I came across an “obstacle”, I conquered it…or at least tried my best to and if I didn’t, then I didn’t. But I at least I gave it a try. Traveling on my own right now? Impossible. Too many things to carry. Remember, I need both hands to wheel and/or walk (crutches). Hills in Seattle are not my friend, nor is the cobblestone. Rain? Messy and annoying, but at least my legs are waterproof. Hah. So, the most difficult part of the travel was probably schlepping the bags around. But once the bags were checked, we were ok. With each time, it gets easier…
Thanks JetBlue. Fly It Forward.

What and How

This post will be more viewing than reading. I’ve been asked several questions about the prosthetics; questions like, what the prosthetics look like, how do you put it on, what’s this, and what’s that. I’ve described and explained as best I can about what’s what and the process of putting the prosthetics on but I think it’s difficult to fully grasp without a visual, and understandably so. It’s very hard to comprehend when you’ve got both legs. I know it would be hard for me. So…I decided (thanks for suggesting the idea Danny!) to shoot a quick video that, I hope, helps. Now, by no means is it even close to being an Oscar award winning video, but if it provides everyone with a clearer understanding to the questions they have, then mission accomplished. I enlisted my brother to help film and edit this quick, on the fly video that he shot and edited for me in one day. I may not have used the proper terms for a few things (this is all new to me too and I’m still learning) and may have repeated “basically” one too many times, please don’t hold it against me! And upon viewing the video, I realized I accidentally referred to the silver sock as a liner. Sorry for the confusion! I hope the content of the video outweighs my poor “on air” abilities…I’ll have something scripted next time!
Please follow link below for video. The video was too large of a file to upload so I’ve pasted the link to the video. The link may expire – I’m not sure. If it does, and you’re unable to view the video, but would still like to see it, please just give me a shout.


It finally happened!

Hope everyone had a nice Labor Day Weekend!
Lots of firsts coming up…
I brought my prosthetics home! After almost 2 months of dealing with insurance and a couple of other issues, I was finally able to bring my legs home. Both exciting and overwhelming at the same time.
I arrived at A Step Ahead on Thursday morning, put on MY prosthetics, practiced walking in the parallel bars and around the facility on forearm crutches, and then when my “workout” was done, I didn’t have to take the prosthetics off and return them. These weren’t the usual loaner prosthetics so I didn’t have to leave them behind at A Step Ahead. I was going to be taking these legs, my legs, home. But wait, not before I went to the bathroom and peed first. A venti Starbucks will do that to you. I wheeled into the bathroom (I had the prosthetics on but was sitting in the wheelchair), with my mom in tow, and then thought about how I was going to do this. This was, after all, my first time going to pee with legs on. And yes, I’m a 32 year old woman, who, on occasion, needs her mother to help her pee. But not to worry, she’s not the only lucky one. There are others in my family who get the honor of assisting me on my bathroom trips when I’m outside of the comforts of my bathroom at home. Anyway, back to the peeing story. I was able to take my pants off while standing, as opposed to wiggling out of them while in the wheelchair. Then I sat down on the toilet and it got weird. You see, I was amputated below the knee on my left leg so I still have my thigh, but my right leg was amputated above the knee so the prosthetic covers what’s left of my thigh. So…I’m sitting on the toilet lopsided b/c my left thigh “mooshes” but my right “thigh” does not. Interesting. Yet another thing to get used to. Peed, stood up, and was able to pull my pants up while standing, no need to sit down first and then wiggle them back on.
After completing the first time peeing with legs adventure, it was time to get in the car and head out. My physical therapist says to me, “Ready to walk out of here?”. “Uhm, no..not really. We’ve never walked outside before with the prosthetics or down a ramp.” Well, there’s a first time for everything. So, away we went. I stood up, grabbed the crutches, and we walked out the door. I made it down the ramp, through the parking lot, and to the car without falling on my face. Success. Now I had to get into the car with these prosthetics, which basically meant getting in as if I had a really short skirt on, sideways. I had to sit down with my legs facing outward and then get one leg into the car at a time. Once all in, we were on our way. That would mark the first time I was in the car with prosthetics. Check.

First car ride with legs

First car ride with legs

During the car ride home I realized that I needed to make a pit stop at the pharmacy. So, before stopping off at the pharmacy, we stopped off at home to get the leg rests for the wheelchair (I didn’t have them with me since without the prosthetics the leg rests aren’t necessary.). We park the car across the street from the pharmacy, I get out of the car, transfer into the wheelchair, and then we put the leg rests onto the wheelchair. Crap! We brought the wrong leg rest for my left leg. I’m still unable to fully bend my left leg (hoping that will change over time) so I have a “special”leg rest to accommodate my left leg, but we brought the “regular” one that matches the right leg rest. Ok, now what? Well, I didn’t feel comfortable walking down the block with the crutches and I didn’t want to take both legs off in the car, so…what to do? Oh F*** it, I’ll just take my left leg off and put it on my lap. Yes, I was being pushed in my wheelchair, while sitting in it with my right leg on and my left leg in my lap. Too bad I didn’t get a pic of that.
Once home, I kept the legs on and did so until the end of the night. But, before taking them off for the night, I did some walking in the apartment…the first steps at home. (See video) I walked down the hallway, used the bathroom, and then walked back down the hallway. It was very weird to be walking down a hallway without a mirror at each end, which is the case when I’m at therapy. I thought I was settling in for the night, but then I went out to grab dinner. I walked from the car to the front of the restaurant. First, official, outside steps that didn’t involve rehab. Well, that all escalated very quickly. First bathroom trip, first outside steps leaving rehab, first car ride, first steps at home, first time using bathroom at home, first time “going out”…all with prosthetics on. That was quite a Thursday. See video and pic.
Walking at home for the first time

Done for the night and charing the right leg.

Done for the night and charing the right leg.

Now it’s Friday and I have to head back to rehab for an appointment. Yet another couple of firsts…my first time putting my prosthetics on at home. My first time walking out of the apartment and to the car with a walker. Once at rehab, though, I didn’t get as much walking done as I would’ve liked. I think my legs were a little pooped out from the previous day’s workout. And because I’m an overachiever, that was very disappointing. But, part of this process is knowing when to push through and when to take it easy. Pushing through tiredness is ok, but pushing through pain, not so much. But the appointment wasn’t a total waste…I met Tammy. Tammy is a bilateral amputee who is AK and BK as well. Although her amputations were congenital, meeting her and getting to speak to her was comforting. We exchanged #s and now I can reach out to her if I have questions. I can ask my doctors, therapist, and prosthetist questions until my face turns blue, and they’ll answer as best they can, but nobody can truly give me the answers to my questions unless you’re going through or have gone through what I’m going through.
Labor Day weekend Saturday. Headed to Jersey. My friend Wade has been trying, for the last few years, to get me to visit the beach house that he’s rented every summer for the last 13 years. I never made i down. He really wanted me to go down this weekend. He even reached out to C.R.A.B (Citizens’ Right to Access Beaches) and reserved a beach wheelchair for me. So, I finally made it. Myself, my prosthetics, my walker, my crutches, my wheelchair leg rests all made it. Oh, my cousin’s husband (Danny) and my husband (Ben) came along as well. I currently need to travel with an entourage in order to carry all my accessories. Hah. Big thanks to Danny for doing the driving and taking the video of me playing paddle ball on the beach (another first!). I had a really good time at Point Pleasant Beach. Thanks to the 1904 peeps for being so nice and welcoming..and for cooking an awesome dinner! See pics and video.

Me in my "monster truck" of a beach wheelchair. Thanks Wade!

Me in my “monster truck” of a beach wheelchair. Thanks Wade!

Me and Ben
Teah, Me, Wade

Teah, Me, Wade

The weekend came and went and it’s been 5 days since I’ve had the legs home. I’ve put them on everyday since I’ve brought them home, as I’m supposed to, and some days I do more walking than others, depending on my level of pain. But, most importantly, I have them to put on everyday. Even though these prosthetics are my legs, they still seem like a chore to put on. But, just like everything thing else in this recovery process, things start off slow and difficult, but eventually become habit. They’re also still very heavy to lug around. Don’t get me wrong, they are heavy, but with time and strength build-up, they’ll become and feel more a part of me. That’s the hope and goal anyway.
Next “lesson”…I think stairs. Yikes.
Hopefully in my next post, I’ll take some more pics of my legs and give a breakdown of what’s what.

8 months and 1 day…

First and foremost, my company is going to cover the overage for my computerized knee that insurance will not. After what seemed like a lifetime, I finally received the news last week. It was definitely a major source of stress (on top of the everyday stresses and frustrations I face). It had been a rough few weeks. My left eye had started twitching last week and literally was twitching all week up until a couple of days ago. So, now that the overage has been approved, logistics still have to be worked out. So close, yet so far. It’s really frustrating. It’s not like we’re waiting to hear back on financing so that we can get a new car or something. I NEED LEGS SO THAT I CAN WALK!!! I need these legs so I can learn how to walk, become independent again, and live a “normal” life. I need these legs so that I can live my life, the life that I was meant to live before the accident. Hopefully, there will be some progress before the the holiday…
Multi-tasking. The extent of my multi-tasking is now limited to: watching TV while on the computer, playing Candy Crush or checking emails on my phone while sitting on the toilet, or using my iPad while I’m laying/stretching out on my massage table. I loved multi-tasking. Queen of multi-tasking. Only doing one thing at a time…pshhh..so inefficient. But nowadays, as long as I’m wheeling myself, I can’t really do anything else. Of course, someone else can wheel/push me so that I can drink a beverage or talk on my phone, but then I feel like I’m being chauffeured around. The accident has changed my life in so many ways, but taking away my independence is up there. It’s #2 to losing my legs, which is obviously #1. I realize that I NEED the help now, but it’s still really difficult for me to come to terms with it. And now that I’m learning and practicing walking, I can barely walk and talk at the same time. Yup. I can’t walk and talk at the same time. I’m so focused and need to concentrate on so many things when I’m walking that it’s really hard to carry a conversation as well. Maybe the next time I go to therapy I’ll try walking and chewing gum and then once I master that then I’ll move onto walking and talking.
Always having to rely on someone else just so I can leave the apartment, also extremely hard to deal with. If it’s not within walking distance, I need to find a ride, and sometimes that means finding a ride to the destination and then finding another back home. And forget about making plans that require traveling. How am I supposed to make plans if I require a ride anywhere? Yes, if it’s with my husband or family, then it’s not really an issue. I’m not going to call up a friend and say, “Hey! I feel like going/doing (insert place or activity), you wouldn’t be interested in going (to said place) or doing (said activity) would you?..since I’ll need you to be my ride as well.” And at the risk of coming off as a whiner or complainer…I pretty much just leave my apartment to go to rehab or wait around for people to make plans with me or ask me to go somewhere so that I can escape cabin fever.
And even if it is within walking distance, I still need someone to accompany me on the “trip”. Even a trip to Rite Aid, which is only 2 blocks away, isn’t easy. The walk over to Rite Aid alone means encountering several uneven sidewalk slabs. Now granted, I’m much better at using my wheelchair now but it’s still hard to navigate NYC streets in a wheelchair when I don’t have prosthetics to help ground me and “center” my center of gravity. Although I’m no longer an amateur at wheelchair driving, I’m definitely not a pro at popping wheelies. Then once I arrive at Rite Aid, there’s a whole new set of problems. Something I need could be out of my reach (too high or too low). If I need more than one item or if I can’t carry it on my lap, then I’ll need assistance, because I can’t carry a basket or push a shopping cart and wheel myself around the store. And of course, if I can’t carry the items while I’m in the store, I certainly won’t be able to lug them back home. There’s a ton of other obstacles that I could encounter during an outing: what if they don’t have an automatic door, what if their ramp is too steep, what if they don’t have a ramp, what if there isn’t a proper curb ramp at the sidewalk, etc. So, basically, I can’t even run a simple errand by myself.
I know I’m not fully independent, but I can definitely do more on my own now then I could when I first came home from the hospital. I no longer need someone to be home with me 24/7. I no longer NEED, but it’s nice to have company when I’m stuck at home all day. I can shower on my own. I can dress myself. I can do the dishes (to a certain extent). I can pick things up off the floor with a bit more ease now than I could before. I can manage when I’m in the confines of my own home. Independent, but only when at home.
Next up…bringing the prosthetics home with me. I’ll still be in the wheelchair most of the time, but I’ll be in the wheelchair with the prosthetics. Until then, I’ll continue to practice walking.
And if anyone has free time and wants to be my ride to and from A Step Ahead…feel free to let me know…Just putting it out there! =)

Things I miss, am jealous of, and are different…

As I go about my days, there are certain things I realize that I miss…and yes, obviously, my legs are one (or two) of those things.
In no particular order:

-I miss being able to hover over the toilet in public bathrooms in order to pee. Yes, it sounds silly, but having to sit down on a public toilet is just all kinds of wrong and it’s inconvenient. Of course, toilet paper or a liner is always put over the toilet before I transfer myself from my wheelchair over to my toilet, but it’s still gross. Luckily, I haven’t been in to a public bathroom that I’ve had to “walk away” from for being utterly disgusting. Gone are the days of a quick trip to the bathroom to hover pee, all while trying to touch as few surfaces as possible.
-I’m jealous of amputees who still have at least one good leg. They can hop around, walking on prosthetics is easier, and they can use their full residual limb to mirror the skin of their prosthesis, for cosmesis purposes. And funny enough, when I asked one of the other patients at A Step Ahead, who is an above the knee amputee but still has one good leg, if it was wrong for me to be jealous of those that still have one good leg. She said no. She said she’s jealous of those that are below the knee amputees. I guess someone’s always got it “easier”. But then again, someone’s always worse off too.
-I miss 90%-95% of my wardrobe. Since the accident, my choice of clothing is based on ease, comfort, and length, when it comes to bottoms. Clothes/outfits that looked good before don’t necessarily anymore. Reason? Apparently, certain outfits don’t look as good when you’re constantly in a seated position. Beyond annoying. My wardrobe has been limited to: clothes I wear to practice walking in (yoga shorts and tanks/tees), bottoms that I’m able to pull on and off, from my wheelchair, with a certain amount of ease (for when I need to go to the bathroom), bottoms that aren’t too short (so as not to make people feel uncomfortable) but also not too long…
Basically, I rotate about the same 10 – 20 items of my wardrobe. Yes, I realize this is vane and silly but just because I lost my legs and am stuck in this wheelchair doesn’t mean I don’t want to wear the items in my closet. It’s part of getting back to “normal”. And when I can’t wear my own clothing, it sucks…
I also don’t really wear any of my accessories (bracelets, rings, watches, etc.) anymore. As I stated before, certain things don’t look so good when you’re always in a seated position. But also, rings, bracelets, and watches, will all bang against my wheelchair. Every time I need to move, I’ll bang those accessories against the wheelchair.
-And shoes. I’ll never really “try on” a pair of shoes again. Yes, this might seem like a “Duh?!?” comment to all of you but let me explain. About a month ago, I ordered a new pair of custom Nikes that I designed. My prosthetist had said that a brand new pair of sneakers would be better to learn to walk on that the sneakers I had given him. When the new sneakers arrived a couple of weeks ago, I opened up the box, took out the sneakers, but wasn’t able to put them on and walk around the apartment in them. Very anticlimactic. I had my mom put them on just so I could see what they looked like “on”. I’ll never have that feeling of putting on a new pair of shoes and walking around in them indoors after bringing them home. When I brought them into A Step Ahead the next day, they were put onto my prosthetics. Once I put the prosthetics on I could see what the sneakers looked like on me, but it’ll never be same. But, on the other hand, I guess my feet will never hurt again from wearing uncomfortable shoes or from being in them all day long.

My new, custom-designed sneakers. Glow in the dark soles!
New Kicks2

New Kicks

-Going out to places with a lot of people can be daunting. An enclosed space with a lot of people that requires one to mingle, so difficult. I can’t just walk around a room holding a drink in one hand and mingling with people. It’s just not possible right now. I have to use both hands to maneuver the wheelchair (one hand means I’m going around in a circle), which means if I do have a drink in my hand, I’m sitting still. I can’t wheel and mingle because if I’m moving about in a room I have to watch the floor to see where I’m going and not run over people’s feet (at least they still have them to be run over!). I have to watch my leg and make sure people don’t accidentally bump into it (I don’t have full range of motion in my knee yet so it kinda sticks out). Basically, I can’t wheel and talk at the same time, unless someone else is pushing me, but then it’s like I’m making someone be my wheelchair chauffeur. And now, let’s say I have a drink in my hand, have found a spot to “park” and am now chatting with people..my “problems” aren’t over yet. I’ll probably have a few people around me (since people know it’s a hassle for me to go to and fro so they’ll come to me) and I’ll have to look up to talk to all of them, for obvious reasons; I’m down here and they’re up there. It starts to feel very claustrophobic and as if everyone is hovering over me. My solution? I try and find a comfortable spot to sit (out of my wheelchair), get comfy, and if people are mingling and see me, they can sit down and chat with me. Part of me feels like this may seem a little obnoxious, but as with a lot of other things nowadays, it’s the least of the concerns that I have to worry about in my life.
Apologies if this post came off as whiny or full of complaints! It is what it is….
Next time…update on walking, back to work (from home), and cabin fever…