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!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Back in the Saddle... Again!

Mile Marker 211:

I’d better keep moving.   

I did the math this week.  To reach my goal, I need to walk 2.6 miles per day – that’s 18 miles per week.  Gotta pick up the PACE to reach Mile 1000 by next November!


“Am I winning the race for Most Annoying Client?” I asked my prosthetist Tim on Monday.

He just smiled and reminded me (yet again) that it’s normal for your leg to get smaller during the first year in a prosthesis.

“Maybe I should eat more BACON?”

He laughed and took my socket back into the workshop for some major padding.


If there’s anything I’ve learned from the last 10 miles, it’s that happiness is a snug-fitting socket!  Limping around with a loose leg is disconcerting – and quite painful!

Now, after a tune-up, I’m back in the saddle – er, socket.  A tightly padded one at that.   

Yesterday at work, Mile 211 saw me through two meetings.   Two "usuals" of my old life.   

I sat around the table with colleagues.  I listened.  I tossed out ideas.  I took notes.   I made it to the end of each meeting without thinking (too much) about my leg.  It was GOOD to be back!

Like other daily occurrences, I used to take those meetings for granted.  Once in a while, I even complained about them.  But yesterday, they felt like a privilege.  A quiet sanctuary.  An hour when my thoughts returned to where they used to be.


Arriving home at dusk -- tired, but bolstered with confidence -- I decided to finish off Mile 211.

Slippery sidewalks?  Check.
Drizzly rain? Check.
Scattered leaves?  Check.
Impending darkness?  Check.

All my rehab training told me not to go.


But it's a rare moment when my FEAR recedes.   I had to take advantage. 

I will be careful.  I will walk slowly.  I will make it around the block.

And off I went.  I mean off MY FRONT STEP. 

My left foot touched the pavement gingerly.   

With weight on my prosthesis, I only feel pressure.  I don’t feel the surface of the ground.   I can’t detect if it’s smooth or rough, wet or icy.

So I walked stiffly.   My muscles tightened and ached.  I stopped to rest.

I pretended I was taking a photography class.  I snapped the reds, golds, and greens hanging in my neighbors' windows.

Halfway down the street, a man passed on my left side, and I felt a tug around my right ankle.   His Yorkie had wrapped its flexi-leash around both of my legs. 

“Uh-oh!”  I stood stock still on two feet.

The man turned around.  “Oh, sorry!”   With one quick motion, he freed me.

We both proceeded down the sidewalk.  They faded into the distance as I took my first few steps. 

Going slowly doesn’t keep you dry.   But it does reveal your reflection deep in puddles.  Your shadow flung against brick walls.   

It lets you see the latticework on gates and the amber lighting of warm living rooms.

A half-hour later, I unlocked my front door.  I’d walked four blocks.  My hair looked like I’d gone swimming, and the cuffs of my pants were soaked.  

But I was back.


Last weekend,  I figured I’d need to set up a RELAY to finish my 1000 miles in time.   I’d line up family, friends, doctors, nurses, and therapists so we could hand off the pedometer like a baton!

Well, the saddle's fixed.  For the time being, anyway....

And it’s good to be BACK.

6 comments:

  1. Hi Rebecca!
    I read your entire blog today!! Thank you so much for sharing. I want you to know that I helped you out today by taking a very rainy 1 mile walk to pick up my son from daycare and another wetter 1 mile walk back to my office. The walk back included navigating a stroller filled with bags past puddles and over curbs with one hand while carrying a very sleepy and cranky toddler with the other leaving no room for umbrella coverage and therefore blinded by my very wet glasses. It was quite a spectacle! You inspire me and whenever I feel too tired to walk all the way home I will think of you and suck it up.

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  2. I think that living in South Philly is a treat around the holidays. I love to see the decorated (and over-decorated) houses. If you have to walk on a wet, leaf-covered sidewalk, it helps to be in South Philly. The lights look better when its dark too.

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  3. I was wondering how the Genium would survive during that rain storm. Going slower is not a bad thing. It’s amazing the sights you see along the way. These are sights that you might not have noticed while rushing from place to place.

    Susan V

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  4. Hi Rebecca!
    I'm so glad you're back again too! I share your fears about slipperyness with the leaves, rain, and the snow that I'm sure will be coming. I might end up using my cane again when it gets icy (remember our matching blue canes!?), but I don't like the idea of going 'backwards' after not having used a cane in so long. If it avoids a fall, though, then it's worth it!
    I love the quote your doctor said about "Don't think about now, think about a year from now," and I often remind myself of how far I've come and how much more progress I'll make in a year. Thanks so much for being such an inspiration!
    Michelle K

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