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 21, 2011

The Human Touch

Mile Marker 17:

If you saw two women pushing a cat in a stroller on Monday night, don’t think you’re crazy.  But don’t think they’re crazy either!

The cat, Moe, belongs to my good friends Mary and Chris.   I’ve heard people say, “My cat thinks he’s a dog,” but I’ve never seen a cat quite like Moe.  You see, Moe thinks he’s HUMAN.

At dinner that night, Moe ate in the kitchen while we ate in the dining room.  But Moe didn’t actually eat.  Have you ever seen a 23-pound cat refuse food?  But Moe stared and stared at us.  Hello.  I’m here.  I’m really one of you.   Finally, Chris sighed.  He got up and moved Moe’s food to the dining room floor by our feet.  “Don’t ask,” he said, shaking his head warily.

So when Mary and I decided to go for a walk later, it was only natural to take Moe with us.  He hopped into his stroller (yes, his stroller), ready to go!

Chris carried Moe’s stroller down the front steps like a city dad carrying his child's stroller to the subway.  Mary and I took over from there.  We were off!

As you might expect, we were stopped by a few neighbors.   “There’s a cat in there?!” exclaimed a kid on a bike.  But after a few more questions, he pedaled off.   Just another night in South Philly.

The thing is, it was just another night.  But being human is more powerful than you think.  Of course, we do it every day.  But I mean really being human.  Some call them Random Acts of Kindness; others call it Karma.  And I've experienced it over and over again these past 8 months.

Each day during rounds in the hospital, my surgeon Dr. J stopped by.  “What’s up, Levenberg?” he’d snap.  I couldn’t help but smile.  It didn’t matter if I had an oozing wound on my leg or retention sutures across my stomach.  I felt like joking along with him.  I felt human.

One night, after my parents had left, my nurse Fran came in to check on me.  She asked how my day went, and I told her not so well.  “I had a meltdown,” I said, which is how I referred to my moments of disaster, crying, and generally letting it all out.  “Me too!” she said.  “This afternoon I was so tired.  I knew I had to work tonight, and I just lost it.”  We talked a bit more, and then she left to perform her other duties.  But a few hours later, she stuck her head into my room.  “Rebecca,” she called, “I’m goin’ over to Starbucks.  You want anything?”  It was late and I didn’t have much of an appetite, but my heart just soared!  I felt human!

Hello.  I’m here.  I’m really one of you.   Belonging is important, and Moe knows it.  He looks out from his stroller at the busy world around him.  He feels like a part of it all.

My doctors and nurses didn't realize that their small gestures would make such a difference.  But they did in my world.  Being human is more than what’s measured when they take your vital signs.  It’s what happens in between.

3 comments:

  1. Moe wants to know when you will be back to walk with him again! He has been looking at his stroller every night, but it has been way too hot to take him out! He has you penciled in on his calendar!

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  2. We will have to try this with Lancelot! Feel free to suggest where we should walk with him and you!

    Aunt Patti

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  3. I gotta do it! JUST SAY MOE!

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