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 19, 2011

Taking Our Time

Mile Marker 15:

Sometime life presents you with “aha” moments, sparkles of brilliance, and sure signs that you’ve hit the big time.  But more often changes are subtle, only revealing themselves when you look back and realize how far you’ve actually come.

Mile 15 was the slowest mile so far.  But also the sweetest.

Last December, my sister and brother-in-law sneaked my baby niece into the hospital to surprise me.   What was even more surprising was that they’d driven 500 miles from Vermont to do it!

At the time, Riley Cate was still pretty bald, was just learning to sit up by herself, and played a mean game of Peek-A-Boo with my bedsheets.  Smiling toothlessly, she easily convinced the nurses to let her stay a while.   We made bets about who would walk first, me or Riley.

I won, but only by a hair.

Last weekend, Riley Cate accompanied me on my 15th mile.  And, as easy as 1-2-3, she taught me how she operates!

1.     Take time to stop and smell the flowers. ..and pick up sticks…and dig in the dirt….and look at leaves…  Riley Cate keeps busy.   She toddles around quickly, but she also stops A LOT.  She likes to examine things – see them, touch them, and of course, taste them!  And while I’m pretty sure I’ll never go back to chewing on nature-y stuff, I’ve been starting to take notice of things in a new way.   These months of recovery have forced me to be still.  When I returned home from the hospital, I marveled at the vibrant colors around me.  I watched the seasons transform my parents’ backyard from winter to spring to summer in a way I never noticed during my 18+ years of growing up there.  Now, I notice beauty even in the most unlikely places.  Cute kids, funny-looking dogs, flowering gardens....They’re really everywhere!

2.     Fall down.  Get back up.   Repeat.  Riley Cate is the poster-child for working toward mastery.  During our walk together, she bottomed out no fewer than three times for every ten steps.  The grass was uneven and crunchy.  Curb cuts were like climbing and descending small mountains.  Brick pathways formed obstacle courses.  I felt her pain!  But she is a determined little thing.  Let me do it myself or I’ll never learn!  She screeched when we tried to help her.  Now, with each new activity and exercise, I'll strive to match Riley’s persistence.  Whenever I learn a new skill, my PT Deb says, “Ok, get ready to do some PROBLEM-SOLVING.”  Her belief, and Riley’s also, is that there are no tasks that can’t be done, only those that haven’t been puzzled out yet!

3.    Know when to say when.  Riley and I are both still working on this one.  As a toddler, Riley gets crabby and puts up a fight when the adults know she really just needs a nap.  In a way, I do the same thing.  I’ve always been on the move.  Relaxing does not come easily.  Maybe Riley’s got some of my genes.  I’m tempted to plunge full speed ahead into my “normal” lifestyle, when sometimes even getting dressed pushes me to the point of exhaustion.  Riley’s pint-sized tantrums remind me that my body’s still in recovery mode.  I need to get used to a new speed -- one that includes rest time.  We scoop Riley up and put her in the stroller.  I need to do this for myself.

When I think back to where Riley and I were last winter, we’ve come a long way.  Progress has been gradual, and we’ve both still got a long way to go.   But that’s ok.  We’ve got time.


  1. Rebecca,

    Every family has a story.... ours will be your love and strength.

    Uncle Steve

  2. I am addicted to your blog! Sam has kept me updated with how far you've come in your recovery but this entry and the pics of you and Riley really touched my heart the most so far. Riley is blessed with all aspects of her family life but I'm guessing you two already share quite a unique bond; one that will only deepen as the years pass. Another thing I find totally inspiring is your ability to very open and honest about the trials and accomplishments of this journey. I feel like I've gotten to know a lot about you already in these first 15 miles! I'm happy to be walking with you here and maybe someday, in VT with Riley and her pack.

  3. We loved walking with you on mile 15 and know we will walk miles more with you in the months and years to come. You inspire us and we love you more than you know! You were there when Riley was born, the days that followed, and for my meltdown at our arrival home for the first time. You are the best sister, aunt, and friend we could ever imagine! Love you!

  4. I return to Mile 15 over and over again. It provides a "teachable moment" for all of us. Riley and Rebecca... what a team! Who would have imagined that a 20 pound bundle of wonder and energy could impart so many life lessons, or that an 87 pound bundle of optimism and determination could continually inspire us with her wisdom, strength and courage. Riley is so fortunate to have her Aunt Ricki to walk beside her as she learns to navigate the joys and challenges that lie ahead. There's not a better teacher to be found.