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, November 4, 2011

Circling Forward

Mile Marker 146:

To my surprise, the sun poured into my bedroom on Tuesday morning.

November’s door had opened, and all was well…so far.

The day went well at work, too.   So well that my friend Chase and I decided to round out Mile 146 at the Gap Outlet on our way home.  

As we're parking on Chestnut Street, we see an older man lying on the sidewalk.  A young guy with a backpack is trying to help him up.  Chase hops out of the car to lend a hand while I finish parking.   When I walk over, they’ve got the man propped precariously on some cement steps.  He’s wobbling back and forth.   The three of us ask his name, where he was going, what happened.   He mumbles incoherently.   The young guy calls 911.

“It’s ok,” we tell the old man.  “Don’t worry.  Someone’s coming to help you.”

I offer him some water.  Chase picks up his broken glasses from the sidewalk.  The young guy supports his back so he doesn’t fall over.

Passers-by look at us.  Some of them ask if we’re ok.  If WE need help.

I’m looking into the old man’s wandering eyes.  What is he thinking?   Is he scared?  Confused?  Hurt?

Already, on DAY ONE, November has me circling back.  

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Last week, a friend asked me about the scene of MY accident.  So, I took her back to the beginning.

I described how a pedestrian on the sidewalk called 911.  And how I told him my mom's phone number, and he called her too.   I described how the driver and passenger of the truck got out and stood in the street a few feet away from my head.   And then I described how quiet it was as we all waited for help to arrive.   How my weak cries hung in the air like raspy moans.   And how my questions floated there, too.  “Where ARE they?” I asked.  “Is the ambulance coming?” “How much longer?”

“Didn’t anyone kneel down next to you or hold your hand?” my friend asked.  “Didn’t anyone tell you that you were going to be ok?”

No.   Everyone watched.  I guess they didn't know what to do.

In my mind, I go back to that scene way too often.  I feel the bystanders at a distance from me.  I feel every last ounce of power knocked out of me.  I feel the fright, helplessness, and loneliness of those long moments.  Waiting.

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Chase and I stayed with that man on Chestnut Street until the fire-rescue truck arrived.  For those long  moments, he wasn't alone.
   
It may not be possible to change the past.  But if Mile 146 is any indication, it IS possible to change the future.


Next Wednesday is November 9.  The first anniversary of my accident.

On that day, I’ll be circling back to the hospital.  Again.

But not for medical reasons. 

My nurses and doctors are going to WALK WITH ME! 

A year ago, they rescued and reassembled me.  They carried me through surgeries and pain, through bandage changes and sleepless nights.

And this year, by their simple invitation to WALK, they are helping me through yet another difficult day.

I find myself looking FORWARD to celebrating with them!

After all, if there's one thing I learned this year, it’s that I'm part of something much bigger.

That I'm really NOT ALONE.


I want this to be a year of circling forward.  Of putting a new spin on things -- one step at a time.

Mile 146 was a good start.

Will YOU join me, too??


Walk forward with me.  One step at a time. 

14 comments:

  1. Thinking of you this week; my family and I will walk a mile on 11/9 and 11/12 up here in VT. It's still unbelievable, how far you've come and how much you've accomplished in one year. This is cause for a major celebration!

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  2. I'll be there... as always! You can count on it!

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  3. My family will be walking too and I am so sad that the walk won't be in Philadelphia with you.

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  4. I will be there with you in spirit and will walk in San Diego in your honor.

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  5. I wish that I could on Saturday, but I am working at Magee. I will think of you. I may be able to join you on Thursday if that is OK. Does it start at Jefferson?

    That is awesome that you stayed with that man and I am sure he will rememeber your kindness.

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  6. This entry has touched my heart. I will be at a soccer tourney with my son but I will walk 1 mile around the fields in your honor.

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  7. Can't wait until Saturday! Gregg, Riley, and I wouldn't miss it (and Pants too)! Love you!

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  8. It breaks my heart to think that no one knelt to hold your hand after your accident...and how the bystanders were doing just that: standing. by. A simple touch is so healing and soothing, especially in times of crisis, and I'm sure that guy you helped will never forget the kindness of three strangers. Please know that even though you and I are many miles apart, I am always with you in spirit, as are so many other people. Your amazing spirit lifts me up all the time--your energy travels across an entire time zone it seems. I just wish I could have been there that morning to hold your hand. I am excited to follow all the amazing new milestones and memories that you will make this year to erase the difficult memories from last year (and "difficult" is a huge understatement). Walk on rock star!

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  9. Rebecca, I spent last night and today reading all of your blogs. I cant believe its been a year already. Although Sandi has kept me up to date on your progress, you amaze me. You are truly an inspiration. I am looking forward to following you on your 1000 mile journey.
    Stacy

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  10. Rebecca, I've been thinking of you and will walk with you in spirit on Saturday. You continue to be inspiring and I can't wait to hear what this upcoming year holds for you. Keep walking!!! Leah

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  11. my sister admires you so much. She sends me all kinds of things about you, your blog, your gallant recovery. I was there the day you got to eat green jello, and made a joke about being happy for bad food. I am going through stuff myself, but with two legs. Of the two of us, you have the better attitude. I wish the best for you, and as I walk, I will think of you.

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