Keeping Love and Respect in the Partner/Caregiver Relationship

When a couple gets married, they commit to love their partner “in sickness and in health.” However, major illness or injury, such as amputation, can have a big toll even in the strongest relationships. No matter what the cause, limb loss can affect mobility, opportunities, activities, comfort level, and mood. But keeping good practices in a relationship can help keep it healthy.

Listen. Good communication starts with good listening. Practice listening actively to your partner, focusing on his or her words, body language, and voice tone. Practice listening, where you repeat back to your partner what you just heard from him or her. This, along with asking clarifying questions, will help ensure that you understand each other.

Know yourself. You are the best judge of your own internal experiences. Before you ask for what you need, pause and think. Ty to identify your true feelings and needs accurately. For example, try to differentiate between whether you are physically uncomfortable or emotionally distressed. This will help you ask for what you need more precisely.

Make requests, not demands. If you value the person who is helping you, you can do this very powerfully by using the most basic manners. Statements like “Please, would you help me with …” and “Thank you very much” are amazing in a relationship.

Be specific. When making a request of your partner, try to be as specific as possible. A common problem in almost every relationship is expecting our partner to be able to read our mind. Many problems can be avoided by simply saying exactly what you need. For example, “Would you be able to give me a ride to my doctor’s appointment tomorrow, please? We would need to leave the house by 9:30.”

Recognize the person as a partner first and then a caregiver. It happens, but we sometimes slip into taking our partners for granted. When experiencing a major health problem, it can be easy to regard our partner as a personal attendant, responsible for meeting our every single need. And it is often difficult for both individuals to recall that their relationship is foremost a partnership. My suggestion is to set aside “couples” time every week when you and your partner can interact as a couple, not as a patient and caregiver.

Give back. When ill or injured, you may need a little extra help and care from your partner. One of the ways to ease this situation for both partners, though, is to remain mindful that it is both possible and necessary to give back to your partner, even if you are injured. Think about ways you can take care of them. This might include providing companionship like playing games or doing social activities together. Emotional support such as listening to your partner or expressing gratitude for their care and empathy for all their experiences. Honestly, the best way to find out what your partner-caregiver needs is to ask and listen! 🙂

Love your partner as your caregiver, and love your caregiver as your partner!

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6 Ways to Make Your First Date With an Amputee Your Last

I don’t know about you, but I think first dates often make for great party stories. And if you throw a disability into the mix, the awkward things people say increase tenfold. Since Valentine’s Day is less than a month away, and maybe you’re going on your first date with someone who has an amputation, here are some things that would probably be better for you not to say… well, unless you want to be the laughing stock at their next social gathering.

  1. ‘No offence, but this is probably your first date ever, right?’

Ummm, have you looked at how awesome I am? Do you really think you’re doing your social service for the week by taking me out? Quit assuming I haven’t dated before just because I’m wearing prosthetic legs.

2. ‘No offence, but I’m going to ask a slightly awkward question… Do you keep your prosthetic legs on while having an intimate relationship?’

Oh boy, looks like you missed the class on Discretion 101. Don’t people normally talk about hobbies or their favorite movies on first dates? To your credit, you did realize that this was an awkward question. However, you’d probably have found out the answer if only you’d kept your mouth shut for just a little longer.

3. ‘No offence, but can you just tell me if you can feel this?’ *Touches prosthetic leg*

Ummm. Seeing as how you understand that it would be inappropriate for you to touch any part of my body without my permission, it’s slightly weird that you think it is okay to touch this one. No thank you!

4. ‘No offence, but could you show it to me? I want to see the mechanics of the thing.’

Hello. My face is up here. My idea of the perfect first date does not involve me rolling up one pant leg, my date kneeling beside me, and then flicking the socket of my prosthetic leg. Thanks for remarking on its quality, but the other guests at the restaurant are staring and wondering what is going on. Wow!!

5. ‘No offence, but can you run and play sports and stuff?’

I don’t know if you’ve heard about it, but there’s this whole sporting event called the Paralympics. The athletes with prosthetic limbs ‘run and play sports and stuff.’ Personally, I run marathons. Can you, though?

6. . ‘No offence, but you’re really inspirational. I wish I could do half as much as you. After all, what’s my excuse?’

Excuse me? Here I am, trying to live my life as normally as I can, and you force me onto a pedestal and make me your inspiration? Please – I’m not here to inspire you. All I wanted tonight was some delicious steak and maybe a goodnight kiss.

Sorry. This is where I make my exit, boy. Bye, and please don’t call me again. And for goodness sake, stop starting all your sentences with ‘no offence’! 😉

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How to Help Children Deal When A Parent Loses A Limb?

Kids are always curious and want to know the “hows” and “whys,” especially when it comes to missing limbs. The most common questions that children might ask are: “What happened to your leg or arm?” and “Did it break off?” Be prepared to help the child with an answer that is appropriate for his or her age, and of course developmental level.

Below are some suggestions to help you navigate this new territory.

  • Avoid giving children too much information, such as details about a complicated disease or the amputation surgery.
  • Help them understand that limb loss is not a punishment. However, if it’s the result of an accident, you may want to talk about safety issues at an appropriate time.
  • Make sure children understand that the parent is still a mommy or daddy regardless of the limb difference. Talk about what is important – Daddy can still read a bedtime story and Mommy will still brush your hair.
  • You may also want to discuss which things may be different. Mom may have to learn a new way to bake chocolate chip cookies; Dad may not be able to walk the dog for a few weeks.
  • Explain the new words: prosthesis, limb, residual limb, prosthetist, etc. If possible, make it fun by making a game out of spelling or pronunciation of these words.
  • Focus on the similarities, but prepare gently for the differences.
  • If possible, have the child talk with other children whose parents have lost a limb. It will help them understand that their parents aren’t the only ones dealing with limb loss.
  • And finally, encourage the child to express his or her feelings through drawing, poetry, or telling and writing a story.

By helping children cope with limb loss, they will eventually ask fewer questions and be more accepting of these, as well as other differences that people may have.

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Tips For Your Success As A User Of Prosthetics

Be compliant – That means you should properly clean the inside of your liners after wearing them. Check your residual limbs each day to be sure you don’t have any issues that need to be addressed – like skin breakdowns. When needed, wear prosthetic Soft Socks to enhance your socket fit.

Don’t procrastinate  – If you have an issue with socket fit, like comfort or prosthetic function, immediately schedule an appointment to see your prosthetist. Don’t let what seems like a small issue grow into a major one, especially if you have diabetes or other skin issues.

Establish personal goals – Set some goals involving physical activities that gradually increase your prostheses use as time goes by. Don’t be satisfied with today’s level of activity. Constantly stretch yourself and strive to achieve more each day while being safe.

Wear and use your prosthesis every day – As a new amputee, you may wonder how long you should wear your prosthesis each day. A standard answer would be, “as much as possible for your comfort level.” If your prosthesis fits comfortably, you should be able to put it on in the morning and wear it until you go to bed at night. Also, by wearing it all day, you will be more inclined to use it more regularly. Your prosthesis will not do you any good if it is sitting in a closet collecting dust.

Accept and embrace your situation – Everyone deals with amputation in his or her own way – some more smoothly than others. The sooner you can come to grips with the fact that you’re an amputee and that your life has not ended, the better. Most amputees are able to return to full lifestyles after they become accustomed to using their prostheses. It is important to understand that being a successful prostheses-user can be as dependent on dealing successfully with mental adjustments as physical ones.

Focus on the future – Don’t be misled; not every day as an amputee will be a walk in the park. Often, you’ll need to exhibit an enormous amount of patience and perseverance. However, if you focus on the positives in life versus the negatives, with sincere effort and determination, you should be able to live a long, fulfilling life as a prostheses user.

You’ve got this!

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Reasonable 2019 Resolutions

Every year people with very good intentions think of a list of New Year’s resolutions – usually consisting of some lofty goals like “I will never touch fast food again;” or “I will get back in shape;” or “I will be a more patient parent.”

But there’s a reason why most of these resolutions have been broken by January 2nd… honestly, they’re just too unreasonable!

So this year, I’ve decided to cut myself some slack, and just sort of give myself some “suggestions” which I believe, if followed, could lead to personal greatness… but, if not, well, no biggie.

Here they are:

  • Stop believing every ad for miracle wrinkle creams will work as well as Botox. With all the money we save, we can get more Botox! Ha-ha!
  • Try harder to quit after the second bowl of low-fat granola. Memo to self: Once you’re on the third bowl, it’s no longer a healthy snack.
  • Be more patient when people stare at my prosthetic legs. They are just curious, well, most of them!
  • No more buying US Weekly and People at the same time, no matter how great the covers look. They are redundant.
  • There is no need to sign up for every 5K race.
  • Drink at least three glasses of water a day. (Diet Cherry Dr. Pepper doesn’t count as water.)
  • Before my next Target run, ask myself, “Do I really need anything?”
  • Use less toilet paper. LOL!
  • Check my FB and IG 10% less often.
  • Use more bullet points.
  • Wash my prosthetic silicone a little more often. 😉
  • Read more books and less news.

There. I feel better already! I have my whole year mapped out for myself. It helps to throw yourself a bone like that to get started right away. And it’s not cheating; it’s just giving yourself a boost.

Good luck to everyone with everything they want to accomplish this year! Happy 2019!

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Three Helpful Knit-Rite and Therafirm Products For Pregnancy

The final countdown is on!!! With less than 5 weeks until my due date, I thought I would share a few of the things that have helped me get through this pregnancy, well, almost! Now, let me say, every pregnancy and person is SO different.  Some mommies don’t swell while others don’t have pelvic pain. These have been two of my biggest issues.

Below are the three items that made a difference in my pregnancy and I would definitely recommend them to my amputee preggo mommies. (And, I have even included equivalents for my non-amputee mommies.)

  1. Soft Sock. Well, I actually needed this product before I even got pregnant. Soft socks are used like any other socks.

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You wear your socks under your shoes; I wear my soft socks under my socket. Soft Sock fibers wick moisture away from the skin and inhibit odor. The best part is that they feel soft and cuddly worn next to my skin. For me, this is very important, since my skin is much more sensitive now that I am pregnant.

And for my non-amputee mommies, SmartKnit socks are made from similar materials for all those same wonderful reasons.

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2. Shrinkers. Like most pregnant women, I’ve gained weight during this pregnancy. Duhh, this is the only time in my life where it is acceptable and expected!!! I am going to do it, guys. Happy Holidays! LOL! But more than anything, I swelled, a lot! I stopped wearing my wedding ring, and my limbs inside my prostheses were definitely more than snug. Unfortunately, I can’t just buy bigger clothes to fit or wear compression tights/socks to help with the swelling. After talking with my prosthetist, he suggested that I wear Knit-Rite shrinkers.

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No lies here – I wore the shrinker all night like I was told. The next day I was able to fit into my socket without forcing myself into it. I was sooo happy! It’s not pleasant when you can’t fit into your walking legs – trust me!!! The compression prosthetic shrinker is usually used for control or prevention of edema following amputation surgery, for limb volumetric maintenance, to minimize hypertrophic scarring and to give compressive support for pain relief. But in my case, it definitely helped with my pregnancy swelling and I hope it will continue for the last 5 weeks!

As for my non-amputee mommies, I recommend Preggers maternity support leggings and our Core-Spun socks! They will give you the same effect as the shrinkers while looking fabulous. Aren’t you lucky? 😉

 

3. Preggers Maternity Support Bands. This is one we can all use!

Since I didn’t gain THAT much weight during this pregnancy, I didn’t think I would have too many back or pelvis issues. Boy, was I wrong. When I was about 33 weeks pregnant, I woke up with so much pelvic pain that I could barely make it to work. I kept thinking something was wrong with me, and I ended up visiting my OB/GYN . She said that this is a normal pregnancy issue, and I just need to wear a belly band to support my belly and hips. There are many types of belly bands out there, but of course I wore a Preggers by Therafirm Maternity Support Band.

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This seamless garment is made from super stretchy fibers and expands during the varying stages of pregnancy. The supportive band helps ease back discomfort and provide active moms additional abdominal support. And yes, after wearing one of these maternity support bands for a few days, my pain started to go away! It’s amazing how a simple material that supports just a tiny bit of your belly can relieve pain from your back and pelvis.

I can’t imagine finishing the last 5 weeks of my pregnancy without all of these products. Like I said earlier, every pregnancy is different and not all of these products are right for everyone. But they are right for me, and they might be right for you too! Give them a try!

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More than just a family…

The holidays are basically here! For some, they can be stressful, exhausting and just overwhelming. For others, it is the best time of the year because it is the season to indulge in all the goodies, do lots of holiday decorating and see all the family and friends!

Speaking of family! Since I moved to the US 10 years ago, I haven’t seen my birth family since then (Though I am thankful for Skype!) That makes the Holidays difficult, because I don’t have them close by. However, I am so grateful for my little Trimborn family at my house.

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My little Trimborn family

 

But, I also have three American families here in Kansas City who treat me like their own daughter. Trust me, I don’t have to worry about spending my holidays by myself – ever!

Lastly, I have a work family – Knit-Rite! I am very fortunate to work for them because they treat me and all employees with so much love and respect! This week we had our annual Christmas party where we all got together and celebrated.

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Seems like a simple event but very thoughtful and so full of laughter, joy and love. This event brings back many past employees who have made a huge impact on the culture of the company.

Family to Knit-Rite means more than just people in the building. It’s also extended to our customers and distributors – like Cascade who recently was affected by the devastating fires in Paradise, California.

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Knit-Rite visiting Cascade during fires in Paradise, California

 

Family also extends to our community, where we volunteer at the local charitable organization, Crosslines, and raise money to contribute to their Christmas store.

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All these goodies went to Crosslines for their annual Christmas store 

 

Family is who you make it – and mine is made up of every aspect of my life. And it is the best all around!

Happy Holidays!

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