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!

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Other Side

Mile Marker 12:

I got the news today that someone very important to me was hurt in an accident.

With this news, I felt myself falling -- flying through space, really – and landing on unfamiliar ground. The other side.

When I studied filmmaking in college, one of the hard and fast rules of camerawork was not to cross 180 degrees. If a camera shot shifted 180 degrees, the viewers would be confused. They’d see a mirror image of what they’d seen before.

This is exactly where I’ve landed. My viewpoint has shifted over that line. I’m no longer the victim. Instead, I’m suddenly the person who cares, the person who can’t figure out what to do to help.

What does one do in this situation? Go about the normal daily routine? Get coffee. Pay bills. Get a haircut? The business of things, which felt so important and demanding before, feels so bare and meaningless on the other side of this line.

I talked to my good friend Bosco about it tonight. “When I heard what happened to you,” she said, “I felt exactly the same way.” She said it was late afternoon when my brother called her with the news of my accident. When she hung up the phone, she didn’t know what to do. His words echoed in her mind while she debated, “Do I sit back down and do my work?” And now, 8 months later, she can’t remember what she actually did; she says the rest of that work day is a blur. She does remember that evening, however, taking a walk with her sister. Talking it all through. Trying to make sense of it.

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When I woke up in the ICU, I already had flowers. They were from Matt, Dan, Debbie, Heidi and Carl -- friends near and far. I wasn’t sure how the news had traveled, but then cards started coming. Packages, too. Tokens from all the people who cared about me, but didn’t know what to do.

What these people (and maybe YOU) didn’t know at that time, was that these small tokens and thoughts colored my room and filled my heart every moment of every day. I looked forward to tearing open your envelopes! We used surgical tape to hang your cards and photos on the walls and sides of my bed. Your flowers and plants turned my window ledge into a garden. Battery-operated candles from my friend Shelley offered hope when my room was dark. A huge teddy bear in a Landskaters t-shirt took up permanent residence at the bottom of my bed, on the side where my left foot would have been.

What you probably didn’t realize is that your thoughts and wishes became the air that I breathed every day.

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Fortunately, today’s news was that my friend is going to be ok. That’s really all that’s important, and I'm truly thankful for that.

Still, here I am on unfamiliar ground. I care so much, but feel utterly powerless. I want to help, but even with my experience behind me, I can’t think of a single thing to do.

So I’m going to follow YOUR lead. I'm going to send my thoughts and prayers and wishes, and believe that they will make a difference. Here, on the other side.

4 comments:

  1. Well said, Ricki! That's exactly what it felt like, all the way here in Chicago, last November. I wandered around, stood, sat, tried to work, cried. Felt completely helpless. It's such a hard thing, and I'm at least grateful that the cards and pictures helped in some way, big or small. Again, love everything you are doing here! Amazing. (Do you know if there's anyway I can get notifications when you update? I can't seem to figure it out...)

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  2. True dat, Rebecca! I remember being dazed by the news of your accident and injuries, and even though I knew there wasn't anything that I could do for you at the time, I felt that I should be doing SOMETHING for someone who - truth again - just didn't deserve to be hurt! I prayed a lot; for you and your family, you were constantly on my mind, and I anxiously awaited word of your progress. After every update, more prayers, thankful ones. Anyone who says 'storming heaven' doesn't work, just doesn't get it (imho)! You go, girl!

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  3. I felt the same way when I heard the news of your accident. It was the first news I heard when I checked my phone after leaving customs. I didn't know what to do. So I did the only thing I knew - cried. I am grateful that you have so many loving friends and family in your life and that your room at the hospital showed that love. I truly believe the positive vibes we send to those we love really do work!

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  4. I echo all these comments completely. When I got a message from your cousin that "Ricki was is a bad accident, please call my cell", my heart sank to the floor. And after talking to her I was just numb. One of the first things I did was reach out to a bunch of people I know here (many who have never met you) to ask them to send positive energy your way. We want to DO something, but sometimes the only thing we can to is rustle up the positive energy of the universe and try to channel it to those who need it. I like to think that focusing positive energy (some might call it praying) is doing something. So glad to hear your friend will be okay, and I have no doubt that your journey will be a huge inspiration for them in their recovery.

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