Friday, August 31, 2012

My Mother's Death

Today is the seventeenth anniversary of my mother's death. It is hard to believe it has been so long. It is funny how as time goes by, and even though you have a lot of memories of the people whom you have loved, it almost becomes like a dream.

The longer you have been seperated from someone because of their death, your memories become more and more hazy. I hate that.

I remember seventeen years ago when my youngest sister, Delpha, called me to tell me our mother had passed away in her sleep, it was a Thursday. At first I didn't believe what she was telling me was true, not because I actually thought she wasn't telling the truth, but rather that she was mistaken.

My disbelief was so strong I asked to speak to the EMT who was still there at their apartment, to ask whether what my sister told me was true.

After I hung up the phone I collapsed on the floor crying hysterically for quite a while, I was in  shock and disbelief. My Mom was not in the best of health but I had just talked to her two days before and  I had no indication that she was in any  imminent health crisis.

As it turned out I was in Indianapolis for the Labor Day holiday weekend, I had not been home for a visit for two years. I called my Mom on a Tuesday to tell her I was in town and that I was planning a pool party at my friend Mark's house on Saturday. I asked her to come to Mark's for the party, of course I offered to pick her up and bring her back home afterward.

On the day I had originally planned the pool party, we buried my Mother.

As I have stated in other blog posts I keep a picture of my parents hanging on the wall in my bedroom. I talk to the picture all the time.

I know in my heart my Mother is still with me but I can't physically see or hear her in our physical plane. I am grateful that neither one of my parents lived long enough to see me go through the loss of both of my legs, I know how hard if would have been for them and all of the subsequent worry that would have ensued.

My Mother lived a difficult life, the loss of a child, two divorces, numerous medical and mental issues, and I have known for quite some time that she is in a happier place, free from the constraints and hardships of this life.

I just wanted to take the time to acknowledge her death and to voice how much I miss her.

Mom, wherever you are I know you are always watching over me with loving eyes and loving thoughts.
Thank you for contributing to the kind of person I am today, I hope I make you proud.


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Monday, August 27, 2012

It Is All In How You Look At It

Last week was packed full of medical and other types of appointments.

Monday I had to have blood drawn at the lab at Rush University Medical Center Professional Building immediately followed by an appointment with my Rehabilition Doctor. There are now more strigent requirements being placed on patients and healthcare providers by MediCare, resulting in more actual doctor appointments. Effective immediately MediCare will no longer accept any other healthcare provider's notes as criteria for reimbursement for services provided, this includes prosthetists and physical therapists.

What does all of this mean? It means more trips to the doctor, longer waiting periods for treatment and longer wait periods for receipt of prescribed medical devices.

Tuesday I had an appointment with my prothetist, Jason. I was supposed to receive my new right "short" leg but of course it could not be completed because of the aforementioned new procedures being implemented by MediCare.

Wednesday, I had my usual physical therapy appointment with Chris.

Friday I had an appointment with my caseworker, Lisa, here at my home, followed by an appointment with a prospective roommate, who incidentally cancelled.

You may be thinking who cares? The reason I am writing this is because I want those who are new to the amputation and prosthetic arena to get used to these appointments. Not only get used to them but also welcome them into your new reality. Being an amputee means, among a lot of other things, being relegated to seeing healthcare professionals on a regular basis, most likely for the rest of your life.

The physical therapist will probably be the healthcare professional you will see most often, especially at the beginning. This is especially true  if you are like me, and desire to learn to use your prothesis to the best of its intended advantage. Believe it or not, I have had at least one PT appointment every week for the last year.

Because I am a bilateral above knee amputee, I am in a somewhat unique position. First, there are not a lot of bilateral AK amputees who are capable and or willing to put forth the work necessary to regain their mobility and secondly, learning to walk without the benefit of either knee component is a daunting task, to say the least.

It may seem strange for you to hear me say that if you have only lost one leg you are lucky. Moreover, you are even luckier if on that one leg you have lost, you have been able to retain your knee component. The advantage to having one remaining natural leg is endless, compared to losing both legs and these disadvantages are multiplied ten fold if you include the loss of both of your knees.

Those who have been able to keep one leg, can expect your PT session period to be shortened a great deal over those who have lost more. Speaking from my own personal experience, you can lead a fairly normal and certainly productive life with one natural leg and one prosthetic leg. Things become dramatically more complicated and difficult with the loss of both legs, particularly if that includes the loss of both knees, some, if not most, will find walking impossible.

I have touched upon in past blog posts about the important role the prosthetist plays in an amputee's life. As an amputee, you can expect to see your prosthetist several times a year. As a rule of thumb, the earlier you are in your adjustment to living with a prothesis, the more frequently you will see your prothetist. After a certain period of time, your visits may become less frequent, however, you will be seeing the prothetist for as long as you actively use a prothesis.

If you are going to live a happy and fulfilling life, you must learn to accept that your new reality will be one that involves seeing healthcare professionals, like the rehab doctor, the physical therapist, and the prosthetist.

The outlook you choose to take with regard to those whom you will meet at regular intrevals can determine not only the results you receive but also how happy or unhappy you make your life.

I would advise not to dread your upcoming appointments but to realize the benefit you derive from having such dedicated professionals involved in your life. It is all in how you look at it.

You can choose dread regarding your appointments or you can appreciate the help that is being offered to you. I, of course, choose the latter, it has served me well.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Hang On For One More Day

When a person has been through a devastating loss, as I have, through the loss of my legs, a lot of things change in your life. Not just the obvious inability to walk, but more often than not you are unable to perform the job you were doing before your loss. This is not always true but in my instance it is, as my work was very physically demanding.

With the loss of your job of course comes the loss of income and on it goes. Currently I feel as though I am being barraged by a multitude of circumstances that seem to be out of my control.

First of all, I have been trying for the last two months to find a roommate to help share living expenses, specifically the mortgage payment. One would think that this would not be a difficult endeavor, however, it has proved to be most challenging.

My experiences have gone from people promising to come over at a specified time and not showing up or even bothering to call, to others who reveal irrelevant details about their lives and ask me to do them favors, even though I have never actually laid eyes upon them. I have also had two people and their dog asking me to let them move in for 4-6 months,  when my ad states I am looking  for one person, no pets, and a year lease. I don't get it.

Meanwhile I have been trying to get a loan modification through my lousy mortgage company, CitiMortgage, for the past 6 months and it has been a complete runaround. On numerous occasions I have provided  to them at their  the endless requests, tons of paperwork and documentation  and a week before the decision is alledgedly going to be made, they request more senseless paperwork, thus prolonging the decision yet another month. This has happened at least 5 times.

While all of these things are going on simultaneously, I am trying to stay focussed on my disability and all that that entails. Needless to say my stress level is at an all time high.

Normally I would not write a blog post while in this state of mind and yet I feel it is necessary to express my level of concern about my life and my well being.

Try as I may, through prayer, postitive statements to myself, being thankful for what is and counting the many blessings I do have in my life, I  just cannot seem to make any progress toward solving any of my concerns at this time.

It is so easy to allow yourself to become overwhelmed by so many problems happening all at the same time. I realize that the best way to approach problems is to solve each problem one at a time. This is my normal system of resolving multiple issues but there seem to be so many things  over which I have little or no control.

What am I going to do? I am going to put the burden on God's shoulders, I am going to let go and let God show me the solution to all of these circumstances.

When you feel you have done all that you can do, you must let it go and quiet  your mind and body, then listen to that still small voice inside of you. A voice so faint it is barely audible but if you listen intently you receive the guidance you seek.

It is now three days later since I began writing this particular blog post and I feel a little better today, even though since I began this writing, I did receive written notice from my mortgage company and they are NOT going to modify my mortgage. Surprise. Surprise.

I have had a couple of conversations with friends about my various predictments and have received some reassurance, which made me feel better. No concrete solutions were found but talking about things to my friends have made me feel better.

Even though many people have told me how strong they think I am, occasionally I have real feelings of discouragement and weakness. Generally I don't like to show my weakness and vulnerability but we are, after all, only human and as much as we might try to disguise our self-doubt and an inability to cope, if only slightly and  temporarily, it is a comfort to know you have others to turn to for support.

All of the things I have mentioned are solvable, there are solutions to be found, maybe not right this minute or even today but things will be resloved one way or the other.

As my dear friend, Ruthie, pointed out to me, you have so many people who love and care about you, no real harm will happen, no one is going to idolly stand by and let you lose your home. Ruthie says when she has one of those days she just says, "I'm done" then she either pours herself a cocktail or goes to bed or both.

Not a bad idea...... tomorrow is another day.

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Saturday, August 11, 2012

Why Bother?

Life would be so much easier if....

Sometimes I think to myself my life would have been so much easier if I had not lost my legs, however, that is not what happened.

It may be easy to fall into a trap of wishing things were different than they actually are. I think about how hard I work to regain my mobility, to get into my car, to change clothes, the list goes on and on. Occasionally I wonder why I bother to do anything at all. Why do I lift weights or struggle to pay my mortgage or even take a shower?

We as human beings want our lives to have meaning and purpose. We want to feel as if our existance on this planet postively affected someone to some degree.We want to better ourselves in whatever way we can so that we have some level of self-satisfaction and know we have made a difference to other people and to ourselves.

We want to effectively affect the lives of those whom we love or to help others live happier and more fulfilling lives,  without this type of purpose or reason our lives can become meaningless. We become empty shells going through the motion of  livng life aimlessly.

We bother to do the things we do because it is important and meaningful and what we have done or what we will do affects other people who are around us. When we leave this planet for good, at least in this lifetime, we want our legacy to have been one of honor and hopefully one of inspiration.

I for one do not want to live a life of quiet desperation, as Henry David Thoreau has pointed out, not bothering to search my soul and find purpose for my existance.

Introspection can be a scary thing. It can be scary because of what we find when we look inside ourselves or when we look back on the things we have said or done. Hopefully upon examining our lives we will find that we have learned from our mistakes and have grown while on our journey through life.

We bother to do things because the alternative, doing nothing, leaves us worse off than we would be if we had not tried to the best of our ability to accomplish goals, be autonomous individuals and seek fulfillment and happiness.

Is it a bother for me to climb 22 steps to reach the sundeck in my building? Of course it is a bother, but after that, I can enjoy being outside, listening to an audio book, write posts for my blog and have a change of scenery.

It is not selfish for us to do things simply because doing them makes us feel alive. We could have a bother- free life if we just sat and did nothing but there is no challenge in that nor is it a healthy way to exist.

Mere existance is devoid of challlenge, excitement, fulfillment and ultimately happiness. Sometimes I do wonder why I bother to do the things I do, but then I remember without bother there would be nothing to challenge me and that lack of challenge would be the bane of my existance.

Who would want that? Not me.

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