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!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

New Frontiers

Mile Marker 39:

Sometimes signs come wrapped in strange packaging.

On Thursday night, my dad and I honored our Ruby Tuesday tradition with two special guests: my Uncle Steve and Aunt Gail. 

It was Uncle Steve’s birthday, but he gave me a gift – a piece of his BACON-WRAPPED SHRIMP. 

If Mile 40 is the "new 30,” then bacon-wrapped shrimp is definitely the new bacon!  (See Mile Marker 30 for the backstory…)

I should have known!  Uncle Steve had launched me toward my 40th mile.  

What new frontier lay ahead?




Mile Marker 40:

Yesterday morning, perhaps inspired by the bacon-wrapped shrimp, I made a critical change to my routine.

I was going where no C-Leg had gone before.   

I left my car behind and set out, ON FOOT, to physical therapy.

If you don’t have a Google Maps App at your fingertips, you might inhale a gasp of suspense here.  Please do!   It’ll make the story so much more exciting!

But if you are a techno-geek, or if you just happen to know where I live, you’ll realize--

Ok.  So it was only 3 blocks, but they were BIG ones.  Bigger than bacon.  Bigger than bacon-wrapped shrimp. 

This journey was not for the faint of heart.

It was the perfect storm.  Sunny, cloudless skies.  Low humidity.  A temperature of 68 degrees, the likes of which hadn’t graced Philly since mid-May.   It was even a good hair-day. 

Before I could change my mind, I locked up the house and crossed the first street.  The sidewalk was flat, and half shadowed by the low morning sun.  I rolled heel-to-toe.  I stayed on my prosthesis.  I walked with an even, solid gait.

But then, maybe one minute into the trip, I realized I’d forgotten something.

TO BREATHE.

In a panic, I glanced behind me at the ground I’d covered.  Maybe this was all a mistake.  This would not be a good place to pass out!  I could go back.  But the sidewalk was so long; my house, so far away.   It seemed hopeless.  I faced forward again.  I could see the rehab center ahead in the distance. 

I was halfway there.

My memory flashed back to all those early mornings on my bike.  I never knew what would happen in the middle of the ride.  Come rain, sleet, or wind, there was no choice but to move ahead -- I had to get to work. 

And today, I had to get to PT.

I pushed onward, counting backwards from 100.  It calmed my mind and forced me to breathe. 95, 94, 93, 92…  It evened out my steps.

The final street had lanes in every direction with cars crossing randomly from 4-way stop signs.  No pedestrian in the history of South Philly had EVER waited for traffic to clear on all sides!  Until this moment.

80, 79, 78…  I stepped off the curb carefully.  And crossed.  Looking left, then right, then left again.  My elementary school teachers would have been proud.  73, 72, 71…

69, 68, 67…  At 64, I could see the parking lot ahead.  And there, like a bright sunrise on the horizon, my friend Dean’s fiery-red convertible.  And better yet – Dean himself!

We’d been buddies since the beginning of our therapy. I reached his car, my heart still palpitating.  I told him what I’d done.

“That’s a big step!” he said.  And then we both laughed because it was true.  Several big steps actually.

Inside the building, therapists congratulated me.  I felt like I’d completed an Ironman! 

My PT Colleen put me on the treadmill at a 3% incline.  Then on the stairs without the railing.  She put a two pound weight in my backpack and had me walk the downhill ramp.  

Small steps for mankind.  Big ones for me.  

Bacon-wrapped shrimp?   New frontiers?   We do what we have to do.

But some steps are bigger than others.

Mileage so far:  41.36

9 comments:

  1. It is so cool that you walked to PT yesterday!! Then, the added reward of croissants! New frontiers have been crossed and crossing that crazy intersection by the rehab center is a HUGE accomplishment. Awesome!

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  2. Congratulations on such a milestone! I love the bravery and honesty you show with your blog. Awesome!

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  3. Remember: The Bacon Wrapped Shrimp was at no additional charge.

    Having dinner with you on my birthday and sharing our stories together was very special to me.

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  4. I have to say that surrounding the moment with bacon-wrapped shrimp and croissants only made it sweeter!

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  5. And yes, Uncle Steve -- That is an interesting quirk of Ruby Tuesday's! I think if the bacon had been wrapped around sweet potato fries it would have cost $1.00 extra :)

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  6. Great job ricki! I am so proud of you!!!

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  7. Jim and I have started writing the screen-play of your life with you, of course, as creative consultant. Who would you like to play yourself in the movie? Who would play Tray? Mom? Dad? The possibilities are endless, the sky is the limit.
    keep walking...

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  8. In the screen-play, I'd like George Clooney to play me, if I can get a part. Maybe an extra. No, George would never be an extra. BTW, you are a brave one chancing the "South Philly Slide" through the Slow signs.

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  9. Good question!

    George Clooney is perfect for Rocco, but the question is...Can he skate??

    As for me, I'm thinkin' Ginnifer Goodwin (from He's Just Not That Into You), but I'm open to suggestions!

    For my mom, Florence Henderson, and for my dad, any one of those detectives in suits from NCIS or NYPD :)

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