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Thank you Johnny! We will definitely look into this! Lauren had an intense day of therapy today, and she's coming along well. It's looking like they will begin to teach her some basics for feeding herself late next week - She is definitely excited about that, as having to be fed like a baby is one of the hardest parts of her injuries. The therapy team has really focused on building up strength and dexterity in the torso and in her legs/feet. Lauren has made some very good progress in using her toes to pick things up (like a pencil, etc), which is going to be a crucial skill for her future. The therapist was telling us today that many arm amputees often like to continue to use their feet even with prosthetics.

Tonight, Lauren has some friends from college over, which is great. She's certainly trying to go about her life!

Best,

Marion

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Hi Everyone,

I hope you all had a great weekend.

We are going to be traveling during the Footprints program..But it sounds amazing. Our entire family is going to be headed to the Bahamas for a few days that week for some much needed R&R. I think it will be good for Lauren to get away, as she always loved to travel, and it will be one more step towards making her feel like her life is still normal. I am a bit worried about how she's going to do with being on the beach, in a bathing suit, etc, but I think she'll adapt. We're really trying to make her feel like she's still beautiful (because she is!), but I know that she's struggling to accept her new body. The therapist that my husband and I are seeing (to help us deal with all of this) says that this is totally and completely normal at this stage of the game.

This weekend was a rough one for Lauren. I think part of it is because she's just physically tired from all the rehab and therapy. As you know, she's been using muscles in a way that she's never had to use them for before her amputations, and I think it's just catching up to her. Her legs and feet are sore and achey and she's been complaining about that. We've been massaging them, and stretching them, and that should help. The weather here this weekend was magnificent, and she did get to spend some time in Central Park with her friends, which was good, but she came home in absolute tears because she just physically can't do the things that her friends can and that were always second nature for her - Things like throwing a frisbee, for example. As she's always been so active (tennis placer, yogi, cheerleader in high school, etc), I can only imagine how tough it must be for her. For me, the hardest part is seeing my child struggle and seeing her question her faith and her worth. How do you cope with this?

I will say that I am extremely lucky to have such supportive friends and family, and my husband (Michael) and I are in total alignment in putting our lives on hold for Lauren and her rehabilitation. Michael is the CEO of a public company, and I know how much pressure he's feeling on all fronts, but he's doing an amazing job of keeping me sane.

I'm sorry for the rambling nature of this posting, but there's just so much going on in my head!

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You're certainly entitled to ramble a little, Marion! Don't worry about it.......

I can understand Lauren's frustration...while I can just about guarantee that she'll ultimately find alternative ways to do some of those things she's "always been able to do," I'm sure she's still finding it all overwhelming. She's had an awful lot to try to adjust to, physically, mentally, and emotionally...some times it just seems like it's all "too much."

Faith can be a good thing...but I'll admit that it can take some real effort to look for "the reason" for having to go through such a life-altering experience. It may be years before Lauren can think in terms of "a reason"...and it may be only a partially satisfying reason, at that. But, after all, if you have faith you also need to remember that everyone out there has been granted a "free will"...and some of those folks abuse that free will in ways that will impact other folks in thoughtless and sometimes terrifying ways. Faith can help you to focus on what good you might be able to draw from that terrifying situation. That's about all I can say about it...I know that we have some other, more theologically inclined members who might be able to put it better, and I hope they do so for you.

As for worth...well, Lauren's worth is not, and never was, in her arms. Mind, heart, soul, personality...that's where a person's worth lies. The strength and courage to get on with living in the face of daunting circumstances...that's of the greatest worth to society. Lauren, please, do not doubt your worth...you are going to impact the world around you in ways none of us can predict...but it will be special!

I'm not going to try and compare my situation with Lauren's...my own amputation is more of an inconvenience than any major challenge to my life. But I will say that losing my leg was a major learning experience for me! I learned more than I ever expected to about myself, about resilience, about friendship, and the need for both independence and dependence. I learned how to do things I never thought I could...and that included learning how to admit when I needed help from my family and friends. I was 50 when I lost my leg...which means that I was 50 when I really got around to growing up. I won't claim that Lauren would ever feel this way (given a chance, I'm sure she'd want at least one arm back), but I will say that, given that chance, if I were to be told that I could have my leg back, but I'd lose all the knowledge, experiences, and friends I've gained along the way...well...I think I'd pass on having the leg back.

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Marion,

I am in Colorado right now beginning our Footprints Adventure for adults. I told the Executive Director about you and Lauren and said there was a conflict with your schedule to attend this years camp adventure.so she told me about another program that I know you would very interested. It's called Skills for Life and can be found through http://armdynamics.com

I hope that this helps.

Regards,

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Thank you Johnny! I will definitely check that out. I have been on that site before - It's a great resource for arm amputees. I really appreciate you thinking of us.

Cheryl, you're so right - Lauren definitely is still in "overload" mode. It's all so new to her and every day presents a new challenge. She is definitely resourceful, though, and she's starting to make progress. Though small so far, the progress is exciting. Seeing her change the channels on the TV with the remote in her feet, for example, is exciting - As it's something she flat out could not do when she first came home. We look forward to celebrating more achievements in both the short and long term.

Deep down, I think Lauren knows that she isn't and never has been defined by her arms or her lack of them, but with it being so new, and with so many challenges in front of her, I think it becomes something for her to dwell on.

In other news, I have made contact with her college. They seem very willing to assist Lauren in any way! There is still the question of timing. If you were to ask Lauren, she'd tell you that she'd absolutely want to go back next semester, but to be honest, I think it's probably a bit too soon, especially as she's working so hard in rehab and focusing on learning new ways to do things. I have mixed feelings - On the one hand, I love the fact that she wants to get back to life, but on the other hand, she's undergone major, major physical and emotional trauma and I feel that she needs to focus on her rehab. If she does go back sooner rather than later, naturally the plan would be for aid to be with her - As she definitely needs help with basic tasks. It's something that we're going to have to decide soon though.

Thank you, all, for your continued support and advice - It is very much appreciated!

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Hi All,

I hope everyone is getting ready for the 4th of July!

Things here are going as well as they can be. Lauren is continuing to make progress, and in fact, they've started to teach her the basics of how to feed herself using her feet! It's going to take quite some time for her to get it, but at least the process is in motion! She's very, very happy about this, as having to be fed (and dressed, for that matter) is one of the hardest parts of her injuries for her to deal with. I will say that it's been amazing to watch her learning to adapt - She's moving her toes in ways that I never thought were possible! Things like picking up a pen, for example, seemed all but impossible just a few weeks ago, and now she's not only doing that but even starting to learn write with her feet. It's exciting.

I still absolutely battle with the fact that my daughter's life has changed so drastically, and that things that she didn't think about now require so much effort and help, but it is getting a little better.

We are still figuring out the school situation. Lauren really wants to go back ASAP. I am beyond thrilled that she feels comfortable enough with her new body image to want to return. Logistically, she would have a full time aid, and we have already made contact with a team of therapists nearby who would be working with her on her rehabilitation and recovery. Is it too early though?

Lauren did have a little bit of a breakdown about dating. It's especially hard as many of her friends are getting into semi serious relationships, and attracting boys was never an issue at all for her. She's in the "who will want me like this" phase, which is heartbreaking for us. She's made comments like she can't even hold hands with a boy at a movie, let alone give a hug. We keep telling her that she will find a guy that can see past her disability, and that it will come with time, but it's obviously very upsetting to hear, and i know she's sad about it.

I hope you all have a great holiday!

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Hi, Marion...

Glad to hear that Lauren's continuing to make good progress! You know, I'm one of those folks who think that, when you lose one ability/sense, what remains becomes that much stronger...if only because "what's left" becomes so much more necessary to you. Case in point: When I broke the foot that led to my amputation, I had recently had some really massive surgery to rebuild my other foot. Situation: Right foot (recovering from surgery) was "bad" foot...Left foot (unbroken) was "good" foot. After the fracture, though, instantly, Left Foot became my "poor sick baby" and Right Foot suddenly realized that it was long enough after that surgery and I really should start using it now! Now I know that was just my mind-set, but it was astonishing (and more than a little funny) just how quickly my mind-set changed. In Lauren's condition, I can imagine discovering that toes are ever-so-much-more useful than one had ever considered before.

Now for the dating issue........that's another tough one, usually more so for the women than for male amputees. A guy can feel "tough" or "macho" about his missing part(s)...and a guy also tends not to think so much about his desirability being based on his physical state. It can be different for us gals....and even more so for a young woman...and (just speculating on this one) probably really tough for a young woman who's had a lot of her public identity caught up with physical pursuits such as sports and cheerleading. You're on the right track, though....there are plenty of young men out there who truly will not care about Lauren's "disability." They'll care about Lauren the person, and they'll admire how she's learned to cope with her situation. We have a good number of happily married amputees here...some who met their mates before amputation and some who lost limbs afterward. It's the people who matter, not the limb count.

OK.......now for a warning.......and I don't know how much you would want to know about this little "sub-culture" I'm going to tell you about, or how much you'd want to talk with Lauren about it in these early days......but there are some folks out there who would be attracted to Lauren because she is an amputee. Not because she is a fine person who is handling her amputations well, but specifically because of her amputations. They are known as "devotees," and they get sexual pleasure of various sorts from amputees. There are various reactions to them among the amputee community, and it's something that I think each individual amputee has to decide for themselves, but a lot of what I've heard of them indicates that many of them treat their amputee "obsessions" not as human beings but more like a collection of missing limb(s). Just be aware of that.....and let Lauren know about that possibility in the best way you know how. (Heaving sigh of relief as I move on to other matters...........)

In a strange sort of way, Lauren's particular set of amputations may actually help her with one of the major quandaries for amputees in the dating scene....specifically, "when do I tell my date about my amputation?" For a leg amp that can be a serious question...some of us wear pretty realistic-looking prostheses, or we wear slacks or long skirts....in other words, it's easy to overlook a leg amp's amputation. "When do I tell" can be a big deal. In Lauren's case, well, people are going to notice...and once she's adjusted to that "being noticed" business, it will be a good way for her to discover just who is superficial enough to be bothered by dating an amputee and who is someone worth spending her time on.

She's also likely to become very good at expressing her romantic interest and affection in ways other than holding hands or hugging! (I'm expressing it humorously, but, honestly, I think she'll likely become a "master" at playing "footsie," snuggling on a fellow's lap, casting flirtatious glances, blowing in his ear.........you get the picture.......... :wink: ) So remind her of that, gently, if you wish...........

OK, school! I think you'll all be surprised at how accommodating a university can be. My own work background was in an administrative office for K-12 education, where I spent several years involved with my district's special education programs. (Please note that "special education" can indeed mean "perfectly intelligent but physically disabled." Some folks have a problem grasping that, and I apologize if I've insulted you, there! :smile: ) "Accommodation and accesability" are the watchwords of modern education, and Lauren will be in a perfect position to benefit from that. I'll venture my own opinion here, for what it's worth......sooner is better than later. You can work and work to make sure that every possible problem has been addressed, but you'll never truly succeed at that. Some completely unexpected situation will eventually turn up......same as raising any other child. If Lauren's eager to get back at it, meet with the staff at her school on the accommodation issues, do what you can to be supportive, and let her see what she can accomplish! If she does find that there are still skills she needs to master, she always has the option of withdrawing from classes and going back to working full-time on those issues. (It might be good if she's at the point where "eating and dressing" are relatively independent actions, but beyond that....................................)

Hang in there, Marion...you're all going to get through this. Have a nice Fourth yourself!

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Hi Marion

Am really pleased that Lauren is continuing to make good progress and doing so well, it sounds like she is having an excellent rehab programme which is going to help her tremendously.

I echo a lot of what Cheryl has posted, Lauren will almost certainly have days when it all gets a bit much, she will still be adjusting to her new situation and the therapy itself is probably very hard and tiring for her, right now, she is also having to get used to complete changes in her everyday life. I think also questioning her faith etc., is very normal and something many people do at times like this. I know I did and I still remember asking my mum some very tough questions in the early days, so as a mum myself now I can understand how hard it must be for you to see Lauren struggle and question things. I can't really remember the answers I got from my mum at that time, but they must have been the right ones, and in answer to your question about 'how do you cope with this', I think you just probably do what mums do and just be there for them. But be easy on yourself too Marion, because as her mum you will also have experienced loss, her dad too, not physically in the same way as Lauren, but you are having to adjust too and probably had certain hopes and dreams, expectations for Lauren, etc., that at the moment, probably seem distant, but they will return, and I am sure Lauren will continue to amaze you with everything she achieves in her life.

I guess boyfriends are more of an issue to Lauren at her age than were to me at the age I was, so she will be thinking about it but its probably good she is able to talk to you about it. My amputations with the legs are very different to Laurens, with different issues, but personally I didn't really have any problems regards that and I think once your Lauren adjusts and builds up her confidence, it won't be a problem for her either. I have been married for many years now and we have three grown up children.

What used to be difficult for me in the early years was some of the reactions I got from people, mainly actually older people, who used to make it really obvious how terrible they thought it all was etc. etc., though society has changed an awful lot now for the better, so hopefully Lauren doesn't experience this too much, I still get the odd comment, though have learned to deal with it. Only last week a elderly lady was asking me about my legs and how long it had been etc. etc., and said "I was so unlucky", I could tell the look on her face, so I just smiled and said, "no, I have been really lucky, I survived and have a great life"!

Ok, the school situation, you are in a different country to me so things are probably done different, but for me at the age I was, going back to school with my friends was probably the key to getting back to normality. However, I was in a different situation to Lauren, different amputations and I had spent almost five months in hospital, with a large part of that spent on rehabilitating me, so by the time I came out of hospital I was pretty independent, although still obviously had mobility restrictions, though very little was put in place for me regards help, which wouldn't be how things are today here, but in a way it pushed me to do more because I wanted to do what my friends were doing.

Like Cheryl says Marion, "hang in there", it will get more normal for you all.

I don't live in US so don't celebrate 4th July, but hope everyone on your side of the pond has a great day.

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Hi Everyone,

I hope those who celebrated had a wonderful 4th of July weekend! We had a very relaxing weekend, and spent quite a bit of time at our pool (our building has one on the roof) just enjoying the nice weather. Lauren got to spend time with some friends, and got to really spend time with her sister. We all got very tan! Lauren actually put on a bathing suit and went into the pool for a few minutes (in shallow water, obviously), which was great! This was the first time she's really exposed her arms and shoulders since the amputations. I know she was definitely uncomfortable at first, but the crowd was really very minimal and I think she had a good time. It's great to see her starting to feel more comfortable with her body and not let it get in the way of a good time. With the weather being so warm lately, she's been wearing short sleeved tops that just cover the top of her shoulders, and she's been dealing well with it. She even said to me that hopefully soon she'll feel comfortable enough to wear tank tops, but that she's not there yet. Again, I know it will come with time. Where she continues to struggle is with seeing people who she hasn't seen or who didn't know about her injuries. Between having to go thru the story and then dealing with the "I can't believe it" reaction, it's very, very tough for her.

Cheryl, you're absolutely correct about the dating issue. With her injuries, it will be very difficult to "hide" her amputations, so she will find guys who are attracted to her for who she is. I know that the pool will be limited (unfortunately), but I firmly believe that there's someone out there for everyone, and I know Lauren has so much to offer someone beyond her limbs - And yes, with the way that she's learning to use her feet, I have no doubt she'll make some lucky guy very happy with them :) I did come across the "devotee" issue in some of my online research - How repulsive! I can't believe that people would actually want to see others suffer, and be attracted to them because of their suffering. I have not yet mentioned this to Lauren, but will engage in a light discussion when the time feels right.

Tomorrow, we go back to the prosthetist for the next appointment on her cosmetic arms. She's excited to get them, as they'll definitely help her feel more confident, even if they aren't really functional. We will keep you posted!

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Hi, Marion...Sounds like you all had a good weekend! I'm thrilled to hear that Lauren is getting more comfortable with her body...that's going to serve her better than just about any other adjustment she'll make over the years! By the way...I have no idea just how hard it is to do, but I do know of folks who swim armless...if she's feeling adventurous she might want to give it a try. (I'd suggest having someone around to help her out while she's figuring it all out, but it is a possibility for her. I know that, in my case, it took me a bit of time to stop "swimming in circles" with my one short leg, but just being in the water was sooooo relaxing!)

It's true that Lauren will be telling her "arm story" many, many times for a while. Almost everyone who asks her will be genuinely interested and concerned and sympathetic, etc., etc......but it can get on one's nerves after a while. (When I still had a cosmetic cover on my prosthesis, I became positively frustrated and sometimes angry whenever someone I didn't know would see the only "odd" thing about my leg -- the suspension sleeve that held it on -- and would come up and want to talk about my "knee surgery"...sometimes it took a lot to not say "it's not knee surgery - it's an amputation," and just walk away from them.) Anyway, Lauren does have a choice in the matter...if she really does not feel like telling the story and answering the questions yet again, it is very much within her rights to say something like "I'm tired of talking about all that...what's up with you?" or something similar. Again, most folks will understand. (There is also a very popular amputee t-shirt that says "Arm Story: $10.00"................... :laugh: )

Eventually, the word about her situation will have made the rounds of everyone in her circle of family and friends, and the questions and comments will subside...I promise. Also, in time, she's going to figure out the best way to communicate, "Accident. Double amputation. Doing fine." quickly and without tapping into any traumatic memories. That will help her too!

I hope the cosmetic prostheses will be a good fit!

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Hi Cheryl,

It was a good weekend indeed! I have no doubts that Lauren will learn to swim again - Like everything else, it's just going to take time. I don't know if she's getting more comfortable with how she looks, so much as she is accepting the fact that this is her new reality and that despite what we all wish, her arms aren't going to grow back. She definitely struggles and is pained by her body image daily, but it's starting to become a new normal I think, which is an important step.

I love your idea of the T-Shirt too! :)

The meeting with the prosthetist went well, and the cosmetics will be ready in about 2 weeks. They did tell us that in the summer especially, they are going to be very hot, and that most amputees actually elect not to wear their cosmetics on a daily basis for this reason, and use them more for special occasions and such. I think Lauren will have to give them a try and decide for herself how and when she wishes to wear them. He also told us that many double arm amputees find that they get in the way. Nevertheless, Lauren is excited to get them - I think they'll go a long way towards helping her feel normal.

After the prosthetist, we went for a nice lunch and did what any mother/daughter combo would like to do - Went shopping and went to the salon! We're definitely finding that there are certain styles of clothing that fit her new form better now that her torso is so slim and that make her more confident. Good news for Lauren, bad news for my wallet!

All the best,

Marion

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Hi Everyone,

Hopefully everyone had a good weekend!

Everything here is good - We had beautiful weather and Lauren went with a bunch of her friends for a day of lunch and hanging out in Central Park here in the city on Saturday. It was a great day for her, and her core group of friends continue to be amazing as they treat her just as they did before her amputations, which is, of course, what she wants. Her friends have definitely adapted to helping her, and they have no qualms about having to feed her and be her hands. Lauren did of course tell me about all the stares in her direction, but I just told her that they're staring because she's so beautiful... Obviously, she knows I'm trying to make her feel good, but I think she is getting used to it. Her cosmetics will definitely help.

Lauren had a great morning in therapy today. She's getting really good at writing (holding the pen with her toes), and has started to learn the basics of how to feed herself. She's able to manipulate the fork quite well, but using a knife still gives her trouble. They estimate that within the next week or two she'll be able to feed herself food that we've cut up - Again, good progress, and I know she'll definitely look forward to not having to rely on us for every meal. I know it will take time for her to get the courage to use her feet to eat in public (at restaurants and such), but she's making strides. Once she's mastered those skills, she'll go on to starting to learn how to get dressed. It's going to be interesting and fascinating to see!

Lauren has been very much enjoying getting back to using the computer. She uses a mouthstick as well as voice dictation software (Dragon), and she's had a blast surfing the web, Facebook-ing, etc. I told her she should come online to this forum! She did make contact with another girl here in the city who is a few years older who suffered a forequarter amputation on her left side 3 years ago. While I know the injuries are quite different, it's been good for Lauren to hear from someone in somewhat of a similar situation on the psychological side of being an amputee. The other girl has a job and is in an active relationship, which I think is definitely helping Lauren's self confidence and outlook for the future.

As I said before, the road is an extremely long and winding one, but we are moving in the right direction.

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We would love to have Lauren join us here on the forum. And a lot of us, not all of us, are active on facebook as well.

Thank you for the update !

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Sounds like some good things are happening, Marion. And I'll echo Johnny...if Lauren is getting good at internet-surfing, it would be great to see her getting involved with some of the many amputee forums out there.......ours included! The more contact she can make with folks who can relate to what she's facing, the better. I'm really glad to hear that she's made contact with someone of around her age and in a somewhat similar situation who is out there and living a full life.

Okay...another story from my past........ All during the time I was recovering, I spent a lot of time wondering just how much I was going to be able to do once I got my prosthesis. I was very good at racing around town in my wheelchair and, like Lauren, I treasured it when I could get out with my friends and just live for a while. But the only actual below-knee amputees I was aware of were either the much older folks I'd been in rehab with (many of whom had health problems far beyond amputation) and the "super-amps" who tended to be featured in news stories for having done something amazing like scaling a mountain or the like. I didn't fit in either of those categories, so I couldn't quite figure out what I was supposed to "be."

During the fitting of my first leg, I met my first "actual active amputee." He was the technician who was building my leg. He was close to my age, he was extremely agile and active, and he was working in a demanding job. He also had a great way of encouraging/challenging me to take this new life and run with it as far and fast as I could. Just being able to see how much he was able to do convinced me that "if he can do that, so can I." Meeting him was the thing I needed to be able to figure out how to live with one leg! I hope that Lauren is fortunate enough to find her own mentor...it can make a tremendous difference!

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Hi Marion, I am glad Lauren is making such good progress. Its good she has made contact with someone of her own age and in a somewhat similar position, but it might be she needs time to get her own head around things and might not want to get involved with amputee forums or groups at the moment. No doubt she will in time, but maybe not yet and needs to do it on her terms, if she's back on the internet she will probably do a bit of investigating at some point.

When I was a new amp, a bit younger than her, I had no contact with amputees of my own age, let alone bilateral amputees, there wasn't the internet etc. then, but people did try and encourage me to join local disability groups which I didn't feel I identified with, so I was quite against joining anything like that and even at that age it annoyed me that people would think they knew what I needed. What will be important to her though is her friends and peer group and like Cheryl says "you get to treasure when you can get out with your friends and just live for a while", for me my friends were the key to getting back to a normal life and now all these years on I am really appreciative of them for that.

Your location might be very different from mine, which is slightly remote, but I imagine there are not that many bilateral arm amps, and when you are young, unless like Cheryl's experience, you get to meet 'an actual active amputee' who has similar levels to you, it can almost have the opposite effect.

As a mum myself, I can imagine you are on a bit of a journey too Marion, but it does sound like Lauren is doing really well and that you are all definitely, as you say, moving in the right direction.

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Hi All,

Hope everyone has having a great weekend! Yesterday, Lauren spent the day with my husband in the city, and I think it was good "father daughter" time. As he works long hours during the week, he rarely gets to spend time with Lauren alone, and I think they both had a really good day. He told me that he was surprised at how tired he was after the day - And indeed, Lauren does require a lot of help, but he thoroughly enjoyed it all and he also surprised at the progress that she's making emotionally. Lauren told me that it's definitely an adjustment to need her dad to help her in the restroom and such, but she's starting to accept it. While she does definitely have quite a bit of sadness, she's not nearly as weepy as she was just a few weeks ago - And it's amazing to see her smile.

It's true, Ann... Her friends really are helping her get thru this. They are really treating her as they always did, albeit with some extra help. I can't believe how much they really care about Lauren, and I know she's so appreciative.

Now for the big news - It looks like Lauren is going to be returning to school for the Fall semester! It was a big decision, but Lauren really wants to get back to living her life, and while my husband and I do definitely have our trepidations, we both agreed that we're not going to do anything that will delay Lauren's emotional progress on this whole journey. She just wants to get back to her friends, her studies, and the things that every girl loves about college! She will have 24/7 assistance, and will also be continuing all of her therapy while at school. Lauren knows that it isn't going to be easy at all, but she seems up for the challenge, and we know that if there's anyone who can make this work, it's Lauren. Classes begin on August 25th, but we're going to go down a week early to get her all settled and into the swing of things. The school has been amazing to work with, and they really seem to be onboard with getting Lauren everything she needs to succeed. So I guess that I am nervous, but obviously elated that she wants to take this step. Part of my concern is that she's not really close to being self sufficient yet, but as my therapist told me, I need to put faith in the fact that Lauren is a smart girl, and that she has a great support system between her friends, advisors, aide, etc.

In other news, we are excited for her to receive the cosmetic arms - She's really looking forward to getting them! Though it remains to be seen how often she'll actually wear them, I know that she's just so excited to look at herself in the mirror and see her sleeves filled again. Physically, Lauren is healing well, and the scars on her stumps are fading. We have an appointment this week for a check-up.

I will keep everyone posted!

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Well I think those are some lovely developments! I know that you have some concerns about wanting Lauren to be fully self-sufficient, Marion, but do try to keep in mind that she wasn't "fully self-sufficient" when she set out for college pre-accident either. This entire time in her life is about that "becoming fully self-sufficient"...she just happens to have an additional challenge to master. If she is feeling strong enough to give it a go, she's also very likely to sort out what to do and/or who to call if she does run into a difficulty that's beyond her present abilities. The more independent she can be, the better! If she has a good caregiver working with her, they'll no doubt be able to figure things out between them........ :smile:

I'm not only glad that Lauren and her dad got some nice "together time," I'm happy that you got a chance to just step back a bit and have a few minutes to think about things...or not think about things, whichever you most needed! Sometimes it seems that a situation like this can be harder for the parents than for the amputee. The person actually going through the recovery truly knows what's happening, what it feels like physically, how it affects them emotionally......their family and friends have to just guess at all that. Take your cues from Lauren...while you're all learning about the "technical" parts of being an arm amp together, she is the ultimate authority on her body, mind, and emotions. It sounds like you're doing your best to be supportive, so remember that granting Lauren that authority over herself is a major way to support her!

Do keep us posted....this is an exciting time in a new amputee's progress and there are many of us pulling for Lauren!

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Thanks Cheryl! It's true what you say about Lauren not being self sufficient even before the accident, and it's always important to keep that in perspective. I have no doubts that between her, her friends, and her caretaker, she'll make it work. Yes, there will be highs and lows, but if anyone can succeed, I know for sure it's Lauren. She's the toughest cookie I've ever met!

You're right in that the time to myself was great and was needed... I've been going basically 24/7 for Lauren since she was in the accident. I'm not complaining about it at all, but it has definitely worn me down! The time alone was great, and much needed... I spent the day reading and just relaxing. It was a good recharge. My husband (David) is an amazing help when he's home and is completely, 100% devoted to helping out whenever he's not at work, but during the day he is often at the office and earning a salary that lets us live the life we want to live. When he's home though, he's home... And that's been amazing. Our marriage has always been incredible, but Lauren's accident has made it even stronger.

Tomorrow morning, I'll be taking Lauren to a podiatrist. She's been getting bad pain and cramps in her feet the last few weeks, and they've gotten worse. It is likely the result of all of the extra demands placed on them since her amputations, but as they are now work to become her hands, we want to make sure that everything is good. Lauren has been basically only wearing flip flops (even before her amputations in the warmer weather!) since she got home, and I'm sure that's part of it as well. Around the house, she usually goes barefoot, but flip flops do make it easy for her to just slip her feet in and out. So we'll get it checked out. After that, Lauren has an afternoon of therapy and I'll be spending one-on-one time with my younger daughter, Alison. She's been amazing, but i know that she needs our attention too - So it will be good to spend time with her alone!

Have a great night!

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Hi Everyone,

It has been a busy week! Lauren got her cosmetic arms earlier this week, and they look really good! They did an amazing job of matching her skin color, and Lauren is extremely happy with how she looks with them on - From a distance, you'd have no clue that she was a double amputee. Of course, they're not functional and do remain stiff at her sides, but Lauren is obviously really excited to look and feel normal with them on. She did say that they are hot and quite heavy (as we suspected and were warned about), so she's definitely not going to wear them 24/7... Especially as they do get in the way as she continues to learn to use her feet. I am going to load up all the pictures at some point this weekend.

The appointment with the podiatrist went well. It turns out that Lauren has Plantar Fasciitis, and that's the primary reason for the pain she's been getting in her feet (in addition to using them in ways that they've never been used before). They gave her cortisone shots, and she has to go back for 2 more shots over the next 2 weeks. Hopefully that helps!

Lauren continues to make progress, and yesterday she was even able to brush her teeth using her feet, after we applied toothpaste to the brush for her. She propped herself up near the basin of the sink and used her feet to move the brush. It was incredible to see her do something semi independently again. She continues to make progress with feeding herself when food is cut up for her, and she's making progress on using a knife as well. She's getting there.

More to come this weekend!

Best,

Marion

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Aside from the Plantar Fasciitis, which I hope can be successfully treated, it sounds like Lauren is making fabulous progress! She'll be able to build more and more on the abilities she's mastered and expand them into other parts of her life...and she'll be able to start figuring out what sort of special "tools" might prove to be actually useful for her and what is "more trouble than it's worth."

That sort of thing depends in large part on each individual amputee's feelings. Obviously, I'm coming at this from a "one-legged" perspective...but I've seen all sorts of various "jigs" and "holders" and "reachers" and wall-mounted "gadgets" for arm amps, and that sort of thing may provide Lauren with more independence, or it may just clutter up her world. But now that she's starting to develop her own skills, at least she'll be able to evaluate any tool that comes her way in terms of her own needs. (Ask me about the walker tray that a therapist insisted that I would need in order too be able to simply survive on my own at home -- I used it exactly once. Or the shower bench that simply had to have a backrest and cost mucho bucks -- that backrest was also gone after one usage. I have not the slightest idea where either of those items went...they were just way too much trouble to deal with and I wanted them gone!)

That's a major life goal for amputees: how can I live as fully, as simply, and as unencumbered by "gear" as possible. It's harder for some than others...Lauren will have many more challenges to figure out than I did with my single below-knee amputation, but she'll sort it out as she goes along. Glad to hear that the cosmetic arms are a good match and that Lauren is pleased with the result...she may eventually find that they're a "now and then" item, for specific "dress-up" situations (especially if a functional prosthesis can eventually be fitted), but that's just fine!

Looking forward to updates...all the best to you, Lauren, and the rest of the family!

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Hi Marion and Lauren,

The picture is fantastic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and what is greater Lauren is how you are learning to use your feet--you are one spunky young lady.!! I hope the foot problem gets better. You and your mom are an inspiration!!

Peace, Beth Marie

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Thanks BethMarie! She definitely is a spunky gal for sure!

She is definitely making progress, but it is a slow, slow process indeed. We're learning to really celebrate every victory to keep Lauren's spirits high and to encourage her. I know she's going to thrive - Even without her arms! She does definitely have moments of deep sadness, but we know it's going to get better as she gains even more independence. While I was initially very apprehensive about her returning to school so quickly, I do think it's going to be great for her. She'll be in the environment she's supposed to be in at this time in her life - Just with some help.

Cheryl, you are right in that there are some cool gadgets and gizmos out there. At the recommendation of Lauren's doctors, we've been looking into some of them. Interestingly (and intelligently, I might add!) they've pointed us in the direction of companies that make assistive aids for quadriplegics (who don't have us of their arms either). We've found a device called a feeder that could be a good option for Lauren - http://www.pattersonmedical.com/app.aspx?cmd=getProduct&key=IF_46883. We've even found devices that would allow her to use a computer using her eyes! She's been using voice recognition software thus far, but that is also something that we're considering for down the right. Our (and Lauren's) natural preference is for her to use her feet for as much as possible, but it's great to know that there are options out there. It is simply amazing how quickly technology is advancing.

You're right that the cosmetic arms really aren't going to be for everyday use. As I mentioned, they're rather heavy and hot, and as per Lauren, definitely not comfortable. I'm sure they'll get a little better as she gets used to them, but they will really be for special occasions. She's been wearing them quite a bit this weekend, but I think it's just out of excitement. They do definitely get in the way for both Lauren when she's using her feet, as well as for us when we need to assist.

Lauren's feet have been giving her pain, so she's been relaxing them a bit, and we've been doing a bit more for her (like brushing her teeth, feeding her with a fork, etc) so that she can hopefully feel better. At the recommendation of the podiatrist, we're looking into different shoe options for her. She generally wears flip flops because they're so easy for her to slip out of (and because she loves how they look), but they really do lack support, which could be contributing to the issue. She does have regular athletic sneakers, but they're almost impossible for her to get on and off independently, so I've been trying to encourage her to wear her Tom's, Sperrys, or Flats, as they'd also be easy for her to get on and off so that she can use her feet. These also help us, as we regularly wash her feet (just as we wash her hands) to keep things as sanitary as possible.

Later today, Alison is taking Lauren to a yoga class! The studio that Alison goes to actually has an adaptive yoga class for people with disabilities. Lauren is extremely excited, as she loved yoga before her amputations. The studio has never dealt with an arm amputee (it's mostly for folks in wheelchairs), so we'll see how it goes. It'll be good for both Lauren and Alison to spend some one-on-one time together doing something that they would have been doing before the accident, and David and I are just thrilled that she's willing to go out and try new things, rather than just staying home and being sad. I'll definitely let you know how it goes.

Enjoy the day!

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The adaptive yoga class went very well! Lauren really had a good time, and told Alison that doing something that she always used to do made her feel normal. While it is a definite change from the way she used to do yoga, at least she was able to participate and enjoy herself! I'm also glad that this is a way for her to stay physically active. The girls had a great time together, and Alison is being amazing - Always willing to help her sister with anything and everything.

In other news, Lauren's feet are feeling a bit better thankfully - And we are going back to the podiatrist tomorrow for the next round of shots. Also, her scars are beginning to fade a bit, which is very good news!

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Sorry I've been away so long...just a combination of a hectic life and a summer cold.......

That all sounds good, Marion! I'm so pleased that Lauren is continuing to branch out and get back to more "normal life" activities! It's all going to come together for her, I'm sure.....

Take care, all of you!

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sorry, I have been away too Marion, having a revision op on one of my legs, but glad to hear that Lauren is continuing to do well and things are getting a bit easier for you all. It is still early days for Lauren and you all but I am sure Lauren will continue to surprise you with everything she does as it all gradually becomes more normal for her.

I don't know anything really about prosthetic arms, but I do know that prosthetics generally usually feel uncomfortable and heavy when you first use them, the body has to adapt to them, with prosthetic legs I have always only worn them for short periods to start with, about an hour or so first day and then build up gradually every day, mine have never been comfortable at first especially first ones after surgery, so as I say no idea about arms, but it doesn't work for me to wear them and then not wear them, I have to do it every day, even if they are not comfortable, but do it very gently. So I dont know if this is helpful to you or not, especially if the prosthetics get in the way of her using her feet, but I guess she will get used to doing what is best for her.

Really glad all is going so well though.

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