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, August 9, 2011

A Bump in the Road

Mile Marker 37:

I've been an inline skater for years.  When you hit obstacles, you yell out, "Rough road!" to warn the skaters behind you.

Doctors, I learned, have their own lingo – A bump in the road.

The first time I heard this catchy phrase was in early January.  Only 5 days after my discharge, I’d landed back in the ER.

I was sprawled out on a cold, metal table in the CT scan room.  Warm dye pulsed through my body.  My intestines were getting ready to glow in the dark.

Suddenly, a surprise visitor pulled up a wheelie stool next to me.  It was my surgeon Dr. J.

I looked over at him warily.  Over the past two months, we’d become old buds.  But it was the middle of the night, and I was trying to juggle stomach pains, nausea, and vomiting.  In my hand, I clutched a blue sickness bag.

“Ok!” he said confidently.  “It’s one of two things.  It’s either a bowel obstruction or the stomach flu.  Let's hope it's the stomach flu.  My dad has it right now, and he’s really in bad shape.”

The stomach flu?  I thought.  But strangely, at this moment, it stood out as the better option.

He gave a reassuring nod.  "Either way, it’s just a bump in the road.” 

What followed was five days with an NG tube down my throat.  A BUMP IN THE ROAD???  Maybe a collapse of I-95, complete with broken pylons and a slow descent into the Delaware River, would have been more accurate.  

I couldn’t eat or drink and could barely talk.  The constant slurp of the suction machine made it impossible to sleep or even focus on TV.  And when they took the tube out, I breathed a huge sigh of relief, but my symptoms persisted.  If this was a bump in the road, it was a BIG one!

And let’s just say for the next two months, the road continued to be extremely bumpy.  We could have used an ATV to plow us through to surgery #13 in March.
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Now, thinking back to that time, I feel guilty for even proposing that miles 35, 36, and 37 have been difficult.   But in a small day-to-day way, they have.


Clothes that won't fit.  Trouble getting into my socket.  Daily challenges like carrying groceries, cooking, doing household chores.  With each mile, I’m testing my strength and realizing my losses.  And sometimes my body  fights back with raw exhaustion. 

The words a bump in the road have become a little joke between me and my family.   We figure if a bowel obstruction is a bump in the road, then this stuff is no more than GRAVEL or PEBBLES!

But that phrase doesn't minimalize the struggle.  It actually does the opposite.

It takes me back to one of my bleakest, scariest moments. 

At that moment, Dr. J was really saying, We’ll get through this.  You’re going to be okay.  Better days are ahead. 

So a bump in the road tucks my day-to-day troubles into their proper place -- just a little more rough terrain.

I'm not skating yet, but my skater instincts must be kicking back in.  A bump in the road would make me call “Rough road!” for all the skaters behind me.  And, as most skaters know, once you call it out, you're through it and you can leave it in the dust.


Mileage so far:  37.35

7 comments:

  1. I love you, your blog and your amazing attitude! It was great to chat with you yesterday! I check this site everyday anxious to read about the next mile. It is like a guilty pleasure summer read...the kind where all responsibilities wait until the chapter is finished.

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  2. Love the shot of you & KO with the antennae! You're getting by daily "bumps in the road", for sure, but you, Rebecca, remind me of a Weeble - and Weebles wobble, but they don't fall down!!!! (I'm showing my age for remembering the original Weebles advertising jingle).

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  3. I love reading your blog, Rebecca! It's so inspiring to see what you've done and so exciting to see what wonderful things are in store for you next. :) Thanks for sharing. Leah

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  4. I love your interpretation of the bump in the road! You can either allow yourself to get "bumped" and do nothing or go on as you always have done. We're going to have to add that phrase this school year....maybe even make a bumper sticker....keep smiling:)

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  5. I like the idea of a bumper sticker! Each day you accomplish something new and it is truly inspiring!

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  6. Yes! Yes! Bumper stickers about bumps in the road.... I love the idea :)

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  7. Looking forward to the day you will be on 8 wheels again. I'm sure with your attitude and determination, it will be soon.

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