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, August 5, 2011

If The Socket Fits...

Mile Marker 34: 

A dose of “retail-therapy” always gives me a boost. 

On a shopping expedition yesterday with my school pals -- Chase, Shawn, and Elvira – I marked Mile 34.  We trekked around Center City, weaving between the busy bulldozers on Market Street and the cliff-like curbs on Chestnut.  All three friends lent me a hand, or elbow, when I needed one.

Starbucks marked the beginning of our trip.   To perk up my hospital days, Elvira had sent me cheery text messages like, Hi Sunshine!  Thinking of you.  Soon we’ll be getting a Starbucks Special!  And now, here we were, drinking our Caramel Lite Frappaccinos together like we were takin’ a break on a school day.  But even better, we had a happy hour of shopping ahead!

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I’m still getting used to my new body and all its accessories.  Most importantly, the SOCKET of my prosthesis. It’s the top part, the part that fits snuggly and seals in my little leg.  Socket fit is key, but also complicated.

You see, my leg keeps shrinking as the swelling goes down.  So my socket, casted way back in February, has become roomy and loose.   When the shrinking’s over, I’ll get a new and more permanent socket.  But until then I fill this one up with SOCKS.   They come in different thicknesses (called plys) and look like sweatsocks with holes at both ends. 

Getting dressed is a process of trial and error, that can take anywhere from 5 minutes to 4 hours.  Like a 2nd grader working on math facts, I combine socks of different thicknesses until I get just the right fit.  Today I’m wearing 10 plys. 

Makes shopping for clothes look like child’s play.
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Fueled up by Starbucks, we hiked over to the Gap Outlet and a few second-hand shops. Browsing for pants that would fit over my prosthesis, I grabbed a few possibilities, but didn’t venture into the fitting room.  Trying on pants involves taking off my leg, a process best done at home!

After sampling around, we decided to lunch at MAMA’s, a tiny vegetarian place that serves huge falafel sandwiches with laughs and sarcasm on the side.  Mmmm. 

Later at home, I dredged up a last bit of energy to try on my new pants.  Not surprisingly, they didn’t fit over my socket and its 10 sock plys.  Oh well. 

I took off my leg for a rest.

But on crutches, I found myself at my bureau, fingering the necklaces and earrings I hadn’t touched for months.  Then, balancing on one foot in the bathroom, I started experimenting with make-up colors. 

It reminded me of last spring.  I'd spent months in hospital gowns, t-shirts, and sweatpants.  But one night, struck by the warm weather, my mom helped me try on some of my REAL clothes – capris, shorts, and blouses.  We both almost cried.  “I look like myself!” I said.  And from the waist up, I really did.

Our shopping trip yesterday gave me that same kind of hope.  A glimpse of my old confident self, and somewhere in there, the promise of dressing up again -- new leg and all. 

For the first time in a long time, I looked in the mirror and saw, not what was missing, but what was still there.  My own shape.  My own colors.  Me.

As the (slightly modified) saying goes, If the socket fits, wear it.   I hope to wear mine well.

Mileage so far:  35.30

8 comments:

  1. I always knew that the real you was there through it all, but what's most important is that you feel like you... Your blog post is making me smile ear to ear.
    Can't wait to do a little more retail therapy with you here in Chicago, fueled first by a stop at Argo Tea, of course. :o)

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  2. The real you - your old confident self, your shape, your colors, your outer beauty and your inner generosity of spirit, your loving heart, your zest for life - is not to be found in your closet. I have caught glimpses of her parts as these months have passed, determinedly finding their way through more pain and obstacles and challeges than anyone should ever have to endure. And yesterday, there she was, the real you in her complete package, decked out in an adorable dress, ready for a long day of errands. Retail therapy is great, and necessary right now, but the real you is becoming more and more visible... and a wonderful welcome sight... no matter what she wears!

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  3. Loved reading about your day out with your friends. With each mile you gain momentum despite the bumps in the road. I always knew that you would find your way back to yourself. Keep on truckin!

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  4. That was so much fun! I say shopping and snacks anytime you want. Sorry the pants didn't fit, I am always available for returns and tasty pickled delights.

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  5. Agreed! What a good time with the gals. I must say that our little jaunt around the city was such a breath of fresh air. I am looking forward to hangin with you again soon!!! :)Maybe next time we can actually get some treats at Scoop De-Ville...Mmmmm...Mmmmm!

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  6. Well...how can you go wrong when you start out at Starbucks and you spend time shopping, laughing, and eating with good friends! I agree with what your mom beautifully wrote, your inner and outer beauty has always been there..but it's great that You are seeing it now! I think we need to do this on a monthly basis...it's good for us all:)

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  7. You never stopped being you through all of this.

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  8. Rebecca, if ANY-body wears it well, it certainly is YOU!!!! hugs to you1

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