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… 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 “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…

Catching up…

Well, I had a stomach ache the other day and realized a couple of things while sitting on the toilet. (Apologies for the TMI.) So, we all know that sitting on the toilet for an extended period of time, legs or no legs, is no fun. But, sitting on the toilet for a long time without having legs that touch the ground…not pleasant at all. ALL your weight is put into your booty. It’s not enough to have a stomach ache (and let’s not forget no legs), but my bum and back have to hurt as well. Wonderful. Secondly, when you have no legs and are experiencing stomach pains while on the toilet, you can’t really hold your stomach and bend over. Why? Well, doing that may cause me to fall over and off the toilet. No legs, remember? Bending forward without having legs to ground me, leads to disaster. Hopefully pooping with prosthesis will be easier!…It’s the little things…

Been learning/practicing how to walk. I’ve put on the prosthesis and practiced walking about 7 different times now, for about an hour each session. It’s been a lot of work. My entire body is sore after each session. Standing up and walking requires me to use ALL of my upper body. My arms, my shoulders, my back, it’s all sore. But, with each time, it gets better. And I’ll take being sore/achy from walking over being sore/achy from sitting in a wheelchair any day.

I’ve been having a not so positive experience with my insurance company. They’re not approving my computerized knee for my right leg. They’ve denied it and have told my prosthetic facility that I can do with a more “cost effective” leg and that the computerized knee is “too advanced” for me. Meanwhile, that’s that leg I’ve been practicing walking on. This is still being looked into but so far it hasn’t been going well. F***ERS. Update when I get new info regarding status of my legs. I just want to get some legs of my own so I can walk. Stop being haters, people.

LA Trip 2014

This was my (our) first “adventure” since my accident. I was heading out there for a work team building outing and my mom, brother, and Ben flew out with me.
My brother, mom, Ben, and I flew out to LA on 7/22/14. I was beyond paranoid about this flight. What would going through security be like? How uncomfortable am I going to be during the 5-6 hour flight? Would I need to use the bathroom during the flight? Is my wheelchair going to be damaged? And so much more…
Naturally, I did a lot of research prior to the flight. I found out that the planes have aisle chairs on board so that passengers with disabilities can transfer to and from in order to use the bathroom. Ok, a little less worried about that. Bigger planes also have to accommodate room in the closet to store your wheelchair if it can collapse/fold. Whew, ok…my new $4,000 custom wheelchair won’t get damaged. I still had to worry about going through security and the actual plane ride. Thankfully, Capitol Records/Universal Music flew me business class so the flight was quite pleasant. Seats with leg rests was a BIG help to my left leg. And I didn’t have to pee on the NY >>> LA leg, so I didn’t have to worry about that scenario.
We arrived safely at LAX Tuesday evening and headed to pick up our rental car. While the agent was taking us to our car, she says to me, “Will you be doing any driving?” Uhm, no..(as I point to my lack of legs and feet). But I guess I cut her off before she finished because she continued to say, “I can see if we have some modified vehicles available.” I had no idea that rental car agencies had cars with hand controls available to rent. I declined, though. Too soon. And I didn’t like driving in LA when I had my legs!…
Wednesday’s schedule consisted of going to a morning presentation at the Arclight Theater followed by a party in the parking lot of the Tower (The LA office building). Sam Smith performed at the morning presentation and that was pretty awesome! After the presentations we went back to the hotel to change and then headed over to the Tower. On our walk over to the Tower we had our first “incident”. I almost fell out of my wheelchair. We were crossing the street and when we reached the curb the street must’ve had a minor pothole or something. I felt the jolt and immediately grabbed on for dear life to the handle bars of my wheelchair and simultaneously screamed, “Moooooom!” – as she was the one pushing. I think I screamed loud enough for all of Hollywood Blvd. to hear me. I held onto my handlebars and was suspended in air for a few seconds. Luckily, Ben and my brother were right there to help my mom get a grip of the chair and me get back into in it. I think both mom and I needed an alcoholic beverage after that!
Thursday’s schedule consisted of softball in the park and then showcases at the Troubadour. Sitting in the park watching everyone play softball was fun but a little hard to watch. It was hard watching and not being able to participate in the games. After sitting in the hot sun we went back to the hotel to freshen up and head out to dinner, my birthday dinner. We headed over to The Palms in West Hollywood, which was only a couple of block from the Troubadour. As we were getting out of the car, I noticed a guy walking by with prosthetics on both of his legs. My first sighting outside of A Step Ahead! It was pretty awesome. It made me feel not so alone. I haven’t seen anyone in NY, outside of A Step Ahead, with prosthetics. I guess when you’re in California and everyone’s in shorts all the time there’s a higher likelihood of a “sighting”.
After dinner, we headed over to the Troubadour. We caught the second half of the showcases and then headed out shortly after. Ben went to get the car and we waited for him outside of the Troubadour. My phone rang and I figured it was Ben calling to let us know where he was waiting with the car. Wrong. It was him calling to say that our rental car had been towed. And so Incident #2 begins. Why’d it get towed? Where’d it get towed to and what do we need to do to get it back?!? As these thoughts were going through my head, I noticed I stayed pretty calm. Normally, that would not have been my demeanor. I would’ve been all stressed out. But, I think I realized I couldn’t do anything about it without the help of others, unfortunately. Ok, car’s been towed. Let’s figure out where it’s been towed to and how we can get it back. Stressing over it and freaking out isn’t going to change anything and it’s not going to help us get the car back any faster. Ben found out where it had been towed to, we figured out the transportation situation, got the paperwork from the hotel, and then headed over to pick up the car. All in all, it probably took about an hour or so. Not the end of the world. We all headed back to the hotel and had a drink and everything was fine. Not how I expected the night to go, but hey, at least I didn’t get run over by a train…
The next day, Friday afternoon, we headed out to Universal Studios. Naturally, I checked their website and called the Universal hotline prior to this outing. I wasn’t going to spend the money or bother going there if it wasn’t handicap accessible or if I wasn’t going to be able to get on the rides. We get to the park, buy the tickets, and stop by guest relations to make sure we were all good and that I didn’t need a special pass or anything. This was my first trip to a theme park post accident. Everything was cool. My wheelchair was my “pass”. Ok, sweet. We head on over to meet my friends at the Mummy ride. Get ready for incident #3. We head to the front of the line and as the ride car was pulling up and we’re getting ready to board, the ride attendant says to me, “You need at least one leg to ride this ride and you only have half, so you can’t get on the ride.” Yes, that’s what she said to me. Very nonchalantly and very matter of factly, as if she was telling me I didn’t meet the height requirement or something. I was so shocked and in disbelief by her words that all I was able to utter out was, “Oh, uh…ok.” Well, ok then..I guess I’m not getting on this ride. I then find out that I basically wouldn’t be going on any of the rides because apparently you need at least 1 “natural or prosthetic lower extremity” to go on about 90% of the rides. (Not what I was told from the hotline rep or the website.) That’s when we decided it was time to go back to guest relations and get our money back. We went to guest relations and explained the situation and ended up getting refunds for everyone’s ticket. (I sent them an email once I got home explaining the situation as well, so that a fellow handicapped person in my situation would not have to go through the same thing. Not cool at all.)
On Saturday, 7/26/14, we flew home. All in all, it was a good trip and a good first post accident travel experiences. Other than our 3 incidents, 2 of which (almost falling and car being towed) could’ve happened here in NY, it was a fairly smooth “adventure”. This doesn’t mean I won’t be paranoid for my next trip. But, that’s just me being me.

See below for some pics.

How I got these headphones... Me: So, how do I get myself a pair of those headphones? What do I have to do?...lose a leg...or 2? Guy: Silence for a sec followed by, "What color do you want them in?"

How I got these headphones…
Me: So, how do I get myself a pair of those headphones? What do I have to do?…lose a leg…or 2?
Guy: Silence for a sec followed by, “What color do you want them in?”

Mom & Beer

Capitol & Palm Trees


Me & Wiggim


So, this happened today…

First, a little back story. My prosthetist asked that I bring in a pair of my sneakers so he could look at them and deem them appropriate or inappropriate for walking. On Tuesday, I brought him my customized Nike “Free” kicks that I had bought a couple of years back and he said that they were fine to start off with but that a brand new pair would be better. I said, “Not a problem. I’ve already started customizing a pair of Nike Air Maxes.” So, he took my Frees to the lab and disappeared with them. I thought, “Oh, you’re holding on to them?” And then I thought to myself, “Well, I guess it doesn’t matter. It’s not like I’ll be needing them.”
Cut to today. I had an appointment at A Step Ahead for some PT and a fitting. Fitting first. I show up and he tells me that we’re going to be getting up on the parallel bars today. “We are?!? I thought that was next week?? Ok…” I wheel myself over to the parallel bars and the next thing I know, I see him coming out of the lab with a pair of legs with my sneakers on them! Weird. (These aren’t “my” legs and I won’t be going home with them. These are just the ones that we’re working with so he can see how I look standing up on my sockets. By standing up, he can see how the sockets fit me, my alignment, and what adjustments he’ll have to make. This way, when my legs come in, we can rock and roll.) So, he puts on the left first and then the right. Ok, not too bad. Then he tells me I’m going to stand up in them. Uhm, ok. Super nervous. Not something I can just do anymore, needs to be thought out before I even make the attempt. I pick my butt off my wheelchair, put weight in my “feet”, push my hips out, pull the rest of myself up with my arms (which are holding onto the parallel bars), and then pull my shoulder back. Ok, I’m up…and this thing is digging into my butt and other areas of me that things should not be digging into. Ouch. Stand a little, get used to the feeling, try to center yourself, and don’t look down, look at me (Oh, like in Dirty Dancing. Hehe). Ok, now sit down. Ouch some more. Erik then takes the socket back into the lab to make some adjustments.
Adjustments made. Time to go again. He puts them back on me and I have to stand up again. Ok, think about process again and then go. I’m up. Ahh…not digging into me so much this time. Still now the most comfortable, but manageable, for now. I stand for a bit and then I sit back down. He needs to go back and make another adjustment. We do this a few times.
This time, when he comes back out with the legs it’s a little different. We go through the process of him putting the legs on me and me standing up again. Then he asks, shall we try walking?!? Uh, what? Did you say walking?!? I just put on prosthetics for the first time and stood up for the first time in over 6 months! He says, “Yea, let’s try taking a few steps.” F*** it. Ok, let’s give it a try. Now, this requires even more thinking before hand. And, the “instructions” for my left leg are not the same as the instructions for my right leg. I listened to his instructions (trying to not cut him off too much..I get anxious…) and then I went for it. I walked. I walked!!! See pics and videos below.
Left leg

Left leg2

Right leg close up

Standing & aligning




So, how did it feel? What was it like? It was a little painful, a little uncomfortable, and very unknown. I know unknown isn’t exactly a feeling…but that’s what it is. It’s very weird to be standing up but not being able to feel the floor beneath you. Keep in mind, I don’t have full sensation/feeling back in both of my legs yet so I don’t feel everything that’s going on as I’m standing or walking either, which makes it even more weird. Some words to describe the experience: weird, uncomfortable, new, amazing, scary, nerve wrecking, tiring, hard. It’s hard to do something that used to be natural and effortless. When you walk, you don’t think about all the things you have to do just to move one leg and then the other. Now I do. I know it will eventually become second nature but for now, it’s a lot of work. But, as expected. It’s also hard to be learning something that you didn’t actually “learn” to do. Yea, as babies we crawl, then stand, and then walk. But it’s not like your mom or dad actually taught you how to walk…you just kind of figured it out.
Today was amazing. Did I cry? No. But, I think that’s because I didn’t actually get to experience it as I was doing it since I had so much I had to concentrate and focus on, but when I got home and looked at the pictures and videos, it was pretty awesome.
Another fitting next week and maybe more walking. Stay tuned…
Have a happy and safe 4th everyone!

Opinions are like a**holes…everyone has one.

Some people are just assholes. Back when I was in the hospital, I would look at all the online articles about my accident to get a better sense of what happened that night. Since I fainted/blacked out, I didn’t remember anything after feeling light-headed and leaning myself against the back of a staircase wall. Looking at the articles was informative; that is, until I reached the comments section of the articles…tying back to my point of some people are just assholes. Seeing some of those comments made me irate. Who do you think you are?!? I really wanted to respond but I realized I needed to focus my energy on healing back then. So, I let it be.
I’m all for people expressing their opinions and all, but what makes you think you know better or are better than the person you’re commenting about? In my opinion (feel free to let me know if I’m being an asshole here), be a little respectful in your comments if/when you’re commenting on something that involves someone’s life/health (i.e. knowing if someone is alive, dead, or injured), especially if you don’t know the entire story. I take that back. Even if you do know the entire story, you should show some respect…and class. See below for a sampling of the comments that were made about my incident and my responses to them. (Note: I didn’t actually respond…only here.)

anon_coward • 6 months ago (
i’m sure leaning over made the train arrive faster

Oh I’m sorry, were you there? I wasn’t leaning over, but thanks for your insight, asshole.

Jay Myers185 days ago (
Stay AWAY from the edge!!! What is wrong with people, are they that stupid? I’ve lived here and ridden the subways over 20 years and have never stood near the edge! I stand back by the walls and watch the fools at the edge just waiting for someone to fall in for whatever reason, not understanding why they are so very dumb.

Oh, so you like to stand back so you can wait and watch for someone to fall? That’s lovely.

Nancy Diamond185 days ago (
If she wasn’t feeling well why was she standing so close to the edge of the platform. MOVE BACK.
Sorry many of these accidents are the fault of people doing silly things or just not being smart.
You must’ve been there that night with anon-coward. I guess I was stupid for not feeling well.

Daisy Gonzalez184 days ago (
My pre kindergarten’s could spin a better story! Aggggg

I’m not really sure what you’re trying to say here. Are you saying that the “story” of someone getting hit by the #7 train and losing both her legs should’ve been more entertaining or interesting for your reading pleasure? – please take note…Next time something tragic like this happens, please make the article more interesting for Daisy Gonzalez184.

Moving on to my next topic. I don’t know which I “prefer”, those that are super nice to me upon seeing the “condition” that I’m in or those that seem to be oblivious to the fact that I’m in a wheelchair with barely a full leg, when combined. I like the super nice as long as it’s not patronizing. But, I do realize it can be hard for someone to know/realize if they are being patronizing, especially if it’s the first time you’re dealing with the situation. To those that are oblivious, part of me thinks, “Oh, ok. They don’t see anything wrong with me.” but then the other part of me thinks, “Uhm, hello?!? Do you not see that I’m in a wheelchair with no legs. Why are you so comfortable standing so close to me??” It’s silly. I know. #Newlifeproblems

July 4th is a few days away. People are going away, having BBQs, going to the beach, etc. I’m not traveling, bbq’ing (can’t sit out in the sun too long b/c it gets too hot and shouldn’t have my legs exposed to the sun), or going to the beach/pool (can’t soak my legs yet). And, I think Ben has to work. Any suggestions?..that don’t involve me sitting at home by myself?