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, October 11, 2011

Fabulous Firsts

Mile Marker 111:

I remember waking up in the ICU and uttering my first words.  I remember venturing out into the hospital hallway using a walker for the very first time.   And I remember spending the very first night back in my own home.
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A trauma resets your life. 

In what felt like one morning (but was actually a week), I found myself at the starting line again, with a world of “firsts” waiting to be discovered.

VICTORY!
Let's do it again!
Check out Mom's face during
MY FIRST RIDE DOWN
AN ESCALATOR!













Last Friday was my FIRST THREE-MILE DAY.

A “first” implies that there’s more ahead.  Good thing.  Because it's hope that drives me forward.

A “first” also implies that, although it’s a milestone in this journey, it is still very far from the finish line.

Take last November 9th, for example.    If the day had gone according to plan, I would have biked to and from school, a total of 9 miles.   I would have hiked almost 2 miles up and down the school hallways.  And later that evening, I would have rushed to meet friends for a quick 15-mile skate before bed.  It would have been a 26 mile day

Really, you say?   Ok, not quite.  Let's be truthful here….  A day like that would definitely require an afternoon Starbucks run ~ .2 mile.

There.  26.2 miles.  A marathon.  A typical Tuesday.

Instead, as you know, November 9th turned out to be only a half-mile day.  Maybe a full mile if you count the ambulance ride.

So now, a three-mile day is progress!  From home to the mailbox.  On the treadmill at PT.  On the walking path at Prosthetic Innovations.  In the aisles of Shop-Rite.   

My steps on Friday measured three physical miles. 

But something even more important happened on my INSIDE.

See, most days aren't that smooth.   The night before that three-mile day, I’d put myself on the injured reserve list.  I was exhausted and uncomfortable.  Even before dinner, I retired upstairs with my crutches, "ankle-blades," and other painful friends.

That night, I fell apart on the phone with my good friend Bosco.  But she encouraged me.  ASK FOR HELP!  she said.  People need to know.

So, my three-mile day started with just that.  I told my PT Kate how my new socket was harder to walk in.  How I didn’t think my muscles were strong enough to operate it.  How I got tired after only walking to the mailbox.  She worked with me on strengthening and stretching.  With pacing on the treadmill.

FIRST ROAD-RASH
(proudly earned while
skating, of course!)
And in the afternoon, I moved those same concerns to my prosthetist Tim.  He did some all-important leg-tweaking (and attitude-tweaking!).  Then under his watchful gaze, I headed outside to walk again.  And even to skate.  


And that night, when I arrived home PUMPED UP but very hungry, I called my fellow foodie friend Jen.  And she drove to Shop-Rite with me – just to keep me company!  (She spotted the "111" label in the meat department too!)

MY FIRST HOMEMADE
CRANBERRY-CRUSTED
 SALMON :)

It was like a pep rally with the best trainers and coaches and cheerleaders money could buy. They propelled me forward with their ideas and support.  With the goal of getting my body back to center.  With visions of weight-shifting on my skates.  And with a very delicious dinner.

I traded in my fatigue for motivation and momentum – the energy that would push me to go just a little bit farther.  To jump another few hurdles.

If “firsts” could be bottled up, our nation’s fuel crisis would be over!
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In case you’re wondering, the first words I remember saying in the ICU were, “We’re being monitored today” (referring to the school’s special education audit we’d been working toward for months).  

And on the day I first hopped forward with that walker, I found myself awed by the bustling hospital hallways outside of Room 7206.  

And, on that first night back in my own home…. Well -- even with a sewer pipe leak -- there’s nothing quite like INDEPENDENCE!

Each "first" has welcomed me back to my life.  Like a doorway into that busy, fast-paced, world that used to be mine.  The one where I could focus my energy outward as much as inward. 

The one that enabled me to watch where I was going, rather than where to place my feet. 

That world where -- without even trying -- I’d do a marathon on a typical Tuesday.

3 x 9 = 27,  I tell myself.  So, just 9 three-mile days will surpass a marathon.

FIRST SKATE WITH BOSCO
(and first attempt at using the
 camera's timer with my skates on!)
That'll be ONE Tuesday down.  And many more “firsts” to go!

6 comments:

  1. Let us be the FIRST to tell you how much we love, appreciate and admire you... your indomitable spirit in the face of monumental challenges, your inherent goodness and generosity, your infectious optimism, your insight and intelligence, your angry cookies and lemonade, and your blog... which so meaningfully shares all of the above with all of us. You are not where you had been, you are not where you are going, but you are most definitely on your way! And we are running along beside you, trying to keep up, cheering you on, and looking forward to celebrating the many more FIRSTS yet to come! Love from Mom and Dad

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  2. Your current daily mileage is pretty impressive and (in contrast to the days before) just goes to show again how much change you've had to adapt to. One of my biggest challenges in life is to consistently chip away at a goal... ANY goal! I don't have the "stick-to-it-ive-ness" to get to the other side of many challenges. To read each post here and see how many goals you are steadily conquering, day by day, it really encourages me. I don't know how you do it all each day and still have the energy to recap things here; especially during all the "firsts". These have to be exhuasting times... not that I'd ever think that from your posts. No, but from watching my infant daughter try so hard each day to start crawling (she sure can move backwards like a champ!) or try to pick up Cheerios and actually get them into her mouth... she needs a nap every few hours to recharge. Words cannot describe the feelings inside when I see her big eyes light up and her grimmacing mouth turn into a smile when she has succeeded in her mission. Here's to your future moments of pure satisfaction as you reach every goal of yours. I hope you pause to celebrate and fill us in! (Maybe even sneak a little power nap in) :o)

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  3. Ricki - I love your blog and the pictures that each one paints. It is so clear that sometimes while reading them I forget that I am not right there with you (physically). And, Mom Lev, I love your comment too. And for me, I can't wait for your first plane ride where you come visit me:) When you have to do things over again, firsts can be frustrating. But, sometimes firsts are exciting. I am wishing you many of those exciting firsts.

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  4. Ricki- a book in the making. I know I keep saying the same thing, but your blog is so inspirational. Maybe you can convince Mom Lev to get on those skates with you. :). Dorothy will trail behind on her motorcycle.

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  5. Rebecca,
    Here's to many "firsts" and knowing the strong woman that you are I know that you were confront them with all the enthusiasm and positive energy that you have. I'm thrilled to be able to share our many "first" moments at work that really matter...like special lunches, coffee breaks, shopping outings...etc:)

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  6. "Typical" may no longer hold true and old "should be's" will fade. Love, will always come in new forms and is undying... Wishing you endless love my friend. And lots & lots of pumpkins.

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