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 18, 2011

Taking Off

Mile Marker 126

“I wanna get ME one of those.”

I turn around.  In the midst of the lunch crowd at the corner of 15th and JFK, there's a hulk-like guy behind me marveling at my Genium, eyes wide and eyebrows raised. 

“Nah, you don’t,” Tyl quips back.

We step off the curb, heading over to her car before it gets a parking ticket.  

"But mine's gonna be an arm!” he calls after us excitedly.  “It's gonna start right here!”   He points to the middle of his bicep and makes a slicing motion with his finger.

“No," Tyl says seriously.  "You really DON'T want one.” 

We’re near the LOVE Statue, but this guy’s showing a little too much love.

We climb into the car, and Tyl starts the engine.

Only then do the words come to me.  “Start saving up,” I say.  “They're expensive.”


Mile 126 found me hiking around the city with Tyl from Prosthetic Innovations.  We filmed a video about me and my new leg -- the Genium.  How it gets me through the day from PT, to the supermarket, to my favorite spots in Center City:  Penn Center, my school, and -- of course -- Starbucks. 

My Genium and I were stars!   By the end of the day, TIRED stars!  (That goes for at least one of us, anyway....)

But you know in Hollywood, how there’s always a narrow hallway of dressing rooms, each one with a star on its door?

Well, it's like a few of those doors have opened for me lately.

No, I haven't signed a big movie deal or anything.   But tomorrow, I'm helping out as Prosthetic Innovations hosts a clinic for physical therapy students.  It'll be cool to ANSWER some questions, instead always asking them!

And next week, I'll try out volunteering at my rehab hospital.  The place where I first tasted FREEDOM last December -- in a wheelchair.  My Genium doesn't remember those days;  it was before our time together. But now we have a chance to go back in a different capacity!

To add to that excitement, my amazing nurses from the 7 Center Unit -- the ones who cared for me for over 2 months -- are planning a special WALK with me!  After all this time, they're still cheering me on!

And to top it all, I’m flying to CHICAGO this weekend!

We’re taking off in all directions, my Genium and me.   Finding our stride, new socket and all. 

But we're still “training those muscles,” as my prosthetist Tim says.    And yes Tim, trying to remember to stretch too!   It’s hard with so many new things (a.k.a. LIFE) happening around us!

Still, ahead lies a runway of new skills to master.  There's a “swipe” maneuver to go up stairs and step over obstacles on the ground.   There's weight-shifting and standing on one leg – the Genium's side of course!   And if I really want to shake things up, there's balancing on a BENT knee for inline skating mode!

Step by step, my Genium and I must learn to work as a team. 


But last night, I dreamed of flying.

Not on a plane.  I just slid open my bedroom window and floated out above the street as if Peter Pan were leading me.

In the dream, I wasn’t wearing my Genium.


I had my real leg back.


Among prostheses, my Genium IS a star.  It’s the first of its kind in Pennsylvania.   The newest prosthetic technology in the world!

Still, it is NOT MY REAL LEG

Tyl tried to explain that to the guy on the corner.


I’m determined to reach a time when I stop thinking about my leg as a separate being.  When running simple errands doesn't feel like stepping off a cliff.

Tim tells me that day will come.


This weekend will be a start.   I’ll test my wings at the airport with co-pilots Mom and Dad by my side.

My Genium is charged.  And my suitcase is open -- at least to any possibility that'll fit in a Ziploc bag.

So no more procrastinating....It's time to get packin’!

To quote Mark's last blog comment:   THE SKY'S THE LIMIT!

I want to believe him.


My Genium and I thank Tyl for her awesome pics!

8 comments:

  1. Oh, the Places You Will Go. You have come so far in such a short amount of time. First your C leg had you rock climbing and now your Genium leg has you in-line skating like a star. I can’t wait for your beach leg so you can walk in the sand and the ocean. With whatever leg you have, you are going places one step at a time. The sky is the limit.

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  2. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us today at Prosthetic Innovations! As a future PT, I know I really appreciate hearing about your struggle and your amazing optimism - it is absolutely inspiring and gives so much more meaning behind the profession I am getting into. You are an incredible person, and I'm excited to follow your journey to 1000 miles!

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  3. It was so nice meeting you today! You are such an inspiration to my classmates and me. Cannot wait to hear about all of your adventures. You will have to keep us updated on the new water leg!
    Best of luck, hope to see you cruising around Philly!

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  4. Can't wait to walk with you in the Windy City!

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  5. Have fun in Chicago! Remember when we all went to Harry Caray's? The bartender from Philly had a Cubs jersey on, but underneath he revealed his loyalty to the Phillies with a Phillies tee shirt. It was like Clark Kent opening his shirt to reveal his Superman "S". It was a fitting unveiling since the Phillies were closer to his heart. It was a great moment. So, fly like Superman (Superwoman).

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  6. Thanks everybody!! Can't wait to TAKE OFF this afternoon :)

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  7. I hope you have a fabulous time in Chicago. I just spent the last 1/2 hour catching up on your blogs, and even though they bring mixed emotions, the emotion that overpowered was happiness...happiness for having you in my life....happiness thinking about our past and future trips....happiness that you are volunteering at Magee...and happiness for each and every day. I think about you often, and whenever I need that extra push, I channel your strength, courage, and indomitable spirit. Keep making that lemonade! Love ya- Jen

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  8. I had a comment all typed up and lost it ... fooey. I'll work on it again and maybe save it for your next post, which I am really looking forward to!

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