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!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Come Sail Away

Mile Marker 25:

I’m no sailor, but I know you should catch a good wind when you can.

After our boat ride, I fell into a mellow rhythm -- the relaxing kind that usually comes just as your vacation winds to a close. 

We spent our last day in Maine buoyed along by the lobster, clams, and scallops of Kennebunkport.  Perhaps the quality of a lobster roll, like so many other things, is only a state of mind.  Mine put me in Happy Town.

After a stroll around the beachy shops, we drove inland, bound for New Hampshire.  Smooth sailing.

But a rainstorm blew in.  And, contrary to its name, my C-Leg does not like to get wet!   I stayed afloat largely to the credit of my two crewmates -- Jen and Polly.  Door-to-door service...just another perk of having one leg!  But really, throughout the trip, they helped me navigate steep hills, brick sidewalks, and heavy luggage.  They gave me time to rest when I was overheated, exhausted, and uncomfortable.  And more important, they gently nudged me forward, patient by my side as I stepped into unchartered waters.  

So have many others.    Wind is invisible and a tough thing to measure.   There are so many people that have kept my sail open, pushed me ahead.  Many of them -- family, friends, co-workers, professionals (and, yes, even blog followers) -- don’t even realize what a difference they’ve made.

Last Friday morning, before I left for this trip, I received an e-mail from a very special nurse, someone I met in the hospital but now consider a friend.  Coincidentally, her name is Deb, just like my PT. 

Despite the bustle of the hospital unit, Deb always watched out for me there.   She’d come to my room to discuss concerns, answer questions, or just chat about the book I was reading.  When I was re-admitted in January, she appeared in my doorway shaking her head.  Although dismayed that I was sick again, she was thrilled to see me with crutches.  That is, until I stood up.   My hospital gown was so long it dragged on the floor.   Instinctively, she reached out for me.  “You’re going to fall in that thing!” she said.   Then, of course, she had a solution.  She ran a recon mission to pediatrics and scored me a whole bag of child-sized gowns.  They were soft, fleece-like shirts that fit perfectly.  As usual, she’d found me a safe harbor.

In her recent e-mail, Deb wrote, Smile and keep walking….One step at a time!   

I scribbled down those words and stuck them in my pocket just minutes before we left for the trip.  Each morning when I woke up, I transferred the note into the pocket of a new pair of shorts.  Those words formed a solid rigging for my sail.  The paper never left my pocket, but in moments I felt adrift, I fingered its edges and repeated those words to myself.  Then, well, I smiled and kept walking.  One step at a time, I told myself, like a whispering breeze.

Before our long drive home, Jen, Polly and I took a morning walk around the tiny town of Portsmouth.  We discovered some crafty shops and an earthy café.  On an overcast morning, a great cup of coffee can be more powerful than a nor’easter. 

We rerouted ourselves, abandoning I-95 for smoother waters.  A tailwind, it seemed, moved us faster.  We rolled down the windows to watch Massachusetts and Connecticut blow by. 

And finally last night, when I was securely anchored at home, there was an unexpected knock at the door.  It was my brother Mark, inviting me on a quick supermarket trip.  Why not?   I've heard there are gusts (a.k.a. brothers) so strong they can even carry your grocery bags!

Some days you’re just cruisin’.

So, who puts the wind in your sails?


  1. Once again, another though-provoking and inspiring blog post from you!
    I was thinking a lot about wind yesterday--on my bike the wind can be a friend at my back....or, when coming straight at me, a "challenge". I used to think of headwinds as the enemy, but it's better to think of it as a "challenge". On my bike commute yesterday morning, I was battling quite a headwind on the bike path on Lake Michigan.... and found myself audibly swearing at it. I thought a little swearing would release my tension, but it actually made it worse. It only got easier when I made peace with the reality of that wind, and changed my frame of thinking--a headwind isn't an enemy, it's a good workout making me stronger. And then after work, I found myself with a glorious tailwind for most of my commute back home. I was exhausted at the end of the day, and really needed a tailwind. The universe often gives you just what you need. :o) For my next tailwind, I'll remember to smile and keep pedaling, one stroke at a time.
    Walk on Ricki! You rock!

  2. We've been on enough lakeshore rides together for me to feel that headwind right along with you, Shell! But I have to say that you (and your paper hug and little candles...) got me through too many tough moments to count! You're a wind in my sail, too. Always have been!!

  3. I'm so happy to read about your trip to Maine--all the ups and even the downs. You are an Amazon!

    I'm so glad you went on an adventure. And I hope soon I can go on one with you! I miss you, but I love catching up with you here on the blog. Zak and I are figuring out when we can visit you soon so we can help with chores. :)


  4. I'm figuring maybe we can attach the hose to Zak's belt-loop and let him water the garden! But if he doesn't feel like working for his keep, we can just take him for a walk around the neighborhood! Would love to see ya soon!

  5. You put the wind in my sails every time I visit your blog... You are amazing!

    The Deb in Oregon...