Tuesday, November 9, 2010 arrived with a clear early morning that promised to become a chilly, sunny, and typically autumn day. I zipped my coat, buckled my helmet strap, unlocked my bike, and headed off to work. A few minutes later, a garbage truck crossed a bike lane to make a right turn. I was in that bike lane. The tires of the truck crushed my left leg and caused other internal injuries. An amazing team of trauma surgeons saved my life, but they had to amputate my leg to do so.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Confucius.

In July 2011, I set off to walk a thousand miles as an above-knee amputee in my new prosthesis. The journey has held more twists, turns, and detours than I ever imagined.

I reached Mile 1000 on March 30, 2013.

But of course, that wasn't the end.

I'll keep walking!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Baby Steps

Mile Marker 6:

Yesterday, on the treadmill at Magee. I increased my half-mile time from 15 minutes to just short of 12 minutes. But I can’t take all the credit. My awesome therapist, Deb, has turned up the speed! I’m now walking at 2.7 – 3.0 mph. I practice letting my arms swing by my side. As long as I keep my eyes straight ahead, I’m fine. Just don’t distract me J

Mile Marker 7:

With friends and family, I ventured onto Kelly Drive and down the shore.

Today, reality hits. I’m walking to the mailbox. ALONE. Who would have thought that two blocks could be so daunting?

I channel my inner Bob. “Baby steps to the mailbox,” I tell myself. Remember Bill Murray’s character who tentatively stepped onto the bus, goldfish bowl securely fastened around his neck?

That’s me as I step out the door today. But instead of a goldfish, I carry my cell phone. Cautiously, I take a water bottle, too. It’s a short walk, but you never know.

I examine every crack in the sidewalk. Every curb cut. Every littered napkin and crushed soda can poses a tripping hazard.

I hear the words of my brilliant therapists and teachers.

“Big step with your right, small step with your left,” says Tim, my amazing prosthetist.

“Stay on it,” says Deb, my ever-confident cheerleader and PT.

“BREATHE!” They both echo!

So much to remember with each step.

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Rewind to February. Between the parallel bars at Prosthetic Innovations, I first stood up on the C-Leg. Pushing through the knee’s resistance felt like stepping through mud, but I didn’t care. I was walking!

Rewind to last December. I used crutches, and before that, a walker, both under careful supervision. Outside the therapy gym, I was in a wheelchair. But even that was independence.

And before that, in late November, I learned to pivot on one foot to transfer from my bed to a chair. A huge accomplishment. Like the king piece in a chess set, I could take one step in any direction. A blur of weeks spent in yellow hospital socks, lined with white no-slip treads.

And then there was BEFORE. My other life -- the one with two legs.

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After crossing one street, I pass a neighbor out on his step. “Morning,” I say.

“Gonna be hot,” he says. “They say it’s gettin’ to 100.”

I nod and continue on. Even this slight glance to the side has broken my rhythm. “Stay on it,” I say to myself to even out my gait.

And then…Land Ho! I see the corner up ahead where the mailbox should be. But wait! Where is it? It’s been 8 months, maybe it moved. The sidewalk looks freshly paved. Oh no!

“Recalculating! Recalculating!” says my inner GPS. Where’s the next closest one? And do I dare continue on?

I finally round the corner and, with GREAT RELIEF, see that the mailbox is there -- about 4 yards west of where I remember it, but probably where it’s always been.

I drop my envelopes in and head back. My job here is done.

When I reach my house again, I’m refreshed by the air conditioning as well as my small victory. I’m hungry – I feel like making a sandwich – but I realize that I’ve been gone only 7 minutes. How appropriate for Mile Marker 7.

As I said, baby steps.

Mileage so far: 7.34

2 comments:

  1. No one said it would be an easy journey. Mom & I will be with you on each step of the way.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I don't doubt that... You were my first walking buddy, Dad! This year and 41 years ago! Love to you and Mom xoxo

    ReplyDelete