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, November 8, 2011

About Time

Mile Marker 157:

People always say, Live each day as if it’s your last.   Or something like that.

One year ago today – November 8 – was the last day of my OLD life.

What did I do on that day?

I don’t remember.

It was a Monday.   So I was at work, for sure.   Aside from that, I can’t conjure up even a single moment.

Today, I noticed everything.  

I noticed how I left my desk  – papers piled and post-it notes lined up – ready for the next workday.  It felt strange leaving work today.  Last year, my piles were a lot higher.  And they didn't move for a long time.

I noticed the cars heading home.   An OTTO BOCK truck (the company that makes my Genium knee), a Magee Rehab van (with its bold-lettered slogan: BELIEVE!), and a car sporting a LIFE IS GOOD sticker.  Traffic, it seemed, was stacked up just for me.

Pulling up to my house, I noticed the long-awaited and freshly paved sidewalk!  And better yet, the unique opportunity to practice a favorite PT trick!  Hope I did my therapist Deb proud!

Later my brother Steve came over to rehang some backyard lights.  And my friend Jen dropped by with a little gift – a funny book about traveling in France. 

This year I remember EVERYTHING from November 8.  

Last year, nothing.

But the question weighing on my mind isn’t really what I DID last year on November 8.  It’s what I WOULD HAVE DONE.

I would have gone on a long, hard run.  Bounding up and down sidewalks and curbs, leaping over potholes, and splashing through puddles.  I would have pushed my body through the night air till my legs ached and my lungs burned.

Then I would have soaked my tired feet in the hot shower, slathered them with lavender body wash, massaged them with a cozy towel, and rubbed them with lemon-peppermint lotion...

...if I knew it was my last day with two legs. 


As I closed the front door tonight, my neighbor Michael walked by.  His mother Eleanor lived two houses down and spent the evenings sitting outside with her little dog Yoshi.  Eleanor passed away two weeks ago.

Michael held Yoshi's leash as the two of them checked out my new sidewalk.

“Finally finished,” I called from my doorway.

Michael nodded.  “Moving forward,” he said.

“How’s Yoshi doing?” I asked.

“He’s moving forward, too.”


I guess it’s about time.
For me too, I mean.

It’s hard to live each day like it’s our last because each day ISN’T our last. 

Most of the time, it’s just a Monday.

14 comments:

  1. Great post as always. I think I remember that Sam told me that she spoke with you last year - on November 8th. I also think we are all so busy "living life" and it marches on so quickly that we don't take time to appreciate - or even notice what we are doing to make the time go by. When the boys were small and I stayed home there were some really long days. And even with those long days, I remember saying that the days are long but the weeks, months and years are short. And then they all become a blur and it is hard to remember anything. That is why I love pictures. It makes time stand still. It helps me see the life that I live - the one I often forget to pay attention to while it is happening. Last November 8th may have been the last day of your "old" life, but you seem to be living your new life with the same great spirt and sense of humor that you always had and have showed the world that inside your little body is one of the biggest fighters and strongest people I've ever met. Keep on living and enjoy the smell of the flowers as you continue down this game of life. I love you.

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  2. Thinking of you.....even though in many ways today will be just another Wednesday.....it is an important mile-marker in your journey to wellness. Hope that it will be a day of looking forward, as well as backward, and that you will see the opened road ahead as full of wonderful possibilities. Have a good walk with your team today. See you Friday. Love you.......

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  3. Marla is right, we did talk on 11/8. I have no idea what we talked about or for even how long. I DO remember though that we talked. When Dad called me on 11/9 and told me the news of the accident that was the first thing I said to him... "but I just talked to her last night." And he said "I'm glad." So this 11/9 I am also SO glad to say I talked to you last night AND this morning! Love you and can't wait to see you this weekend!

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  4. November 8th is a special day for me too. It is my dad's birthday. He would have been 85. I'll surely never forget November 9th even without dad's birthday. Each year I take out a photo of him and say,"Happy Birthday Dad". And then, on November 9th, I'm "Moving Forward". I'm sure that you are too.

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  5. Some of us at Elwyn were remembering the significance of tomorrow for you. It's great that you are basically taking back the day just like you've taken back so much of your life since the accident. Thinking of you lots and reading your blog avidly. Not sure yet if I can join the walk this weekend, but I'll surely be thinking of you!

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  6. My body felt a sensation move through it as I read about what you would've done on 11/8/10, had you known about the following day. I sit here, nursing and rocking my baby girl each evening, checking your blog with my legs crossed or stretching them out to feel the cool wood floor under my feet. To really put myself in that frame of mind, to think about what I would do if I knew it was my last day with two legs... it puts a heavy weight in my chest. Even the passing thought is just overwhelming. Then I remembered all of the pictures of you smiling here, doing all sorts of activities, going to work, traveling, walking a plank! You are remarkable and I am anxious to see what the coming year will bring since you've conquered so much in this first one. Not quite sure how a person can experience all that you have and just keep moving forward at such a fast pace.

    Cheers to a big milestone today and thank you for talking us along on your journey.

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  7. Sam - I think if I remember correctly, one thing that you and Ricki spoke about was Riley's cold. I think Ricki had a cold over Halloween and Riley got sick soon after. I could be wrong...but I think I remember that.

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  8. I thought of you all day today and your post really moved me. We move through life so quickly sometimes and we often forget to notice what is around us. Today, I was more aware of everything around me than I have been in a while. Thank you for reminding me.

    I went back to my old emails (yes I save emails from friends - kind of like letters in a shoebox - weird, but true). I remembered that you had sent me an email on the morning of November 9th welcoming us back to Philly and planning our Veteran's Day croissant plans. I will show it to you when I see you next.

    You are a strong and brave person and you are loved dearly! I am looking forward to the walk on Saturday!

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  9. I am so proud of everything you have accomplished this year. Your attitude and perspective on life is so inspiring. You have garnered such good insight through this process, while maintaining such a positive attitude. You exude sunshine, and I feel blessed to have met you this year!

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  10. I remember we got a postcard from you right after your accident -- I think it came on the 11th -- the day Andy called me to tell me about what had happened. It was one of those response cards from a magazine fundraiser Emma did. You had bought a magazine about France and sent us the little postcard back (which is so typically thoughtful of you). When I got home from work that day -- all emotional and worried -- and then found that postcard from you I thought that maybe you had sent it on the 8th, the day before. Maybe besides talking to your sister about Riley's cold you stopped by a mailbox? Funny ... the people that love you and interacted with you on the 8th might be able to piece together your day for you. :-)

    Anyway, it was amazing to see you on the news -- you continue to inspire and awe me, Rick!

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  11. Wow...that's all I can say! Love your writting and looking forward to this journey. I think it's going to be amazing. Buen Camino, Karin

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  12. Ricki, I am so glad to read your Blog. I am glad to be a part of it and I am inspired by your progress and outlook. The Wish's are thinking of you and are watching your journey. We would love to see you...

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  13. Hi, found your website after a friend saw your news clip on Channel 6 and told me about it. Congrats on your recovery so far ... hope the next year and the 1000 steps are a meaningful and healing experience.

    I identify with so much of this post. I have an unwanted anniversary of my own, when I always think back to what I would have done, if only I had known.

    On May 20, 2004, I was severely injured in an accident and when I woke up 12 days later, I learned that I had almost died, due to blood loss from major fractures and severe soft tissue wounds on both my legs. Doctors didn't know if I would ever walk again.

    Thankfully I walked 3 months later, but I have ongoing pain, limitations and a deformed leg from all my injuries.

    I sat around anger at the world for about two years, but then I decided I only have one life to live, so I should do what I can. I had some additional surgeries and more physical therapy and finally 4 years post-accident I ran again. ( I had been a runner for 10 years before I got hurt)

    So I greatly admire your strength, determination and your goal for the coming year. I live about 40 miles west of Philly and would love to meet you sometime when I'm in the city and walk some of your 1000 steps with you!

    Hoping to connect more :)

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  14. Love this post Iris! It's one of my favorites. Looking forward to walking with you as you continue your journey of a 1000 miles : )

    Bosco

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