All posts by Peggy Chenoweth

I am a soon-to-be middle aged below knee amputee. I am also the Mommy to a very active little boy, and expecting my second child. I have learned that being a parent with a disability can create some unusual and sometimes humorous situations. I've lost my leg, but certainly not my courage and love of life!

Thinking Outside the Basket

As I was cleaning the house yesterday, I started thinking about the small changes in my life since I’ve become an amputee. Without really thinking about it, my amputation has influenced most of the decisions I’ve made. I tend to adapt and accommodate naturally, making my reliance upon a prosthetic as inconsequential as possible.

My ability to adapt has been gradual. For the first few years after my amputation I was wary of stairs, particularly carrying items up and down the steps.  Since my laundry room is downstairs, this apprehension was particularly inconvenient.

Holding a heavy basket in front of me with two hands while maneuvering down two flights of steps made me nervous. I was worried about missing a step and falling.  Instead of trying to come up with a solution, I enlisted the assistance from my husband with each load.

Needless to say, I grew tired of being reliant upon my husband to help with the laundry, and I knew that I needed to come up with a solution. Not only was waiting for him to carry the basket inconvenient, I detested being dependent upon somebody else. I knew that there had to be a way for me to achieve laundry independence. Walking through a box store one afternoon, I saw a product and had a Eureka moment. I was tackling my laundry basket woes from the wrong angle. I needed to ditch the basket altogether.

I found a pop-up fabric hamper which featured a zipper top. Instead of trying to carry the heavy and cumbersome basket up and down the stairs, I could fill the hamper, secure the top and toss it over the landing. When descending the steps, my hands were free to hold onto the handrail, allowing me to remain both safe and comfortable. Of course, I must stress the importance of remembering to zip the top of the bag before tossing it down the stairs. One time (or two if you are a busy Mom like me) of having to pick up all of the dirty laundry scattered at the bottom of the stairs will confirm this importance step.

In order to carry the laundry hamper up the stairs, I simply zip the cover and drag it behind me. Since it is a soft fabric, I don’t worry about the floors being scuffed or damaged. Problem easily solved, and my laundry independence was regained!

All of the traditional laundry baskets have been replaced with fabric hampers. The nominal investment has allowed me to be completely independent in terms of laundry. Of course, if I could come up with a solution to help fold it and put it away I would be elated!

Resuming my daily activities, no matter how mundane, has been liberating. I am delighted that my laundry woes were solved with such a simple product. I did not need to find a high priced specialty basket to help; I just needed to find the right product. I have discovered that many times the best solution is the simplest, and I look forward to tackling more of the everyday issues in the coming blogs!

Sandals on a Prosthetic? My Easy Solution!

With the weather slowly warming, I finally took the plunge and moved the heavy sweaters into storage to make room for my more carefree (and less bulky) summer wardrobe. I love the fashion freedom that is found during the hotter months. Not having to contend with my pant leg becoming bound by in my prosthetic socket, creating an unsightly and many times uncomfortable crease, is liberating. Of course, dressing for summer is not without its issues.

In full disclosure, I was not much of a shoe connoisseur before I became an amputee. The fact that I am living without my biological leg and reliant upon a prosthesis has simply exacerbated my hatred of the shoe store. Trying to find a shoe that fits onto the plastic foot shell while its mate comfortably fits my biological foot is an exercise in frustration. Typically I stick with an athletic type shoe, but in the summer I like to wear sandals.

Finding the right sandal for a prosthesis offers another layer of confusion to the quest. Flip flops are immediately eliminated from the list of possibilities because the plastic toes are all molded together. I also lack the ability to grip the foot with my toes, so I need to make sure that I have another means of securing the shoe in place.

After years of shoe frustration I had an epiphany: VELCRO!

I bought industrial strength Velcro because I require the strongest hold between the foot shell and the bed of the sandal.  I would recommend paying the dollar extra for industrial strength in this situation.  After all, it is not only embarrassing, but also dangerous to walk out of your shoe.

Before applying the Velcro, I thoroughly scrub the foot shell with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to remove the stains and dirt that have accumulated during the winter.  (I have found the Magic Eraser to be the easiest and most efficient way to clean the plastic without causing discoloration.) After cleaning the bottom of the foot shell, I apply the soft side of the Velcro. I keep the Velcro on my foot shell permanently. It doesn’t interfere with socks and other shoes, so I have found no reason to remove it.

I feel compelled to offer one word of caution. Walking directly on the Velcro i.e. barefoot can increase the possibility of slipping. When walking without a shoe on a prosthetic foot, walk with caution. I have tile floors in my kitchen which, when clean, tend to be quite slick against the Velcro.

I put the hook side of the Velcro (the rough side) on the inside of the sandal I want to wear. I use two pieces, one up towards the toe and one close to heel. After placing the shoe onto the foot shell and pressing firmly, I am ready to go!

I was initially unnerved by the “ripping” sounds I heard as I took my first few steps. It can be annoying, but it goes away after you walk for a few minutes. So go ahead, paint those toenails and wear cute sandals. Just don’t forget the Velcro!

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