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, December 2, 2011

Still

Mile Marker 200**

Still??

That was my first thought of the day.   Probably not a strong beginning.

Yet each morning it happens.  Fresh from dreamland, I open my eyes and see them.

Crutches. 

Stacked against the bedroom wall.   Waiting for me.

Believe it or not, they surprise me.  I mean the fact that they're still there.  Almost every morning I have a true GROUNDHOG DAY moment.

Again?  I think.  Still??

It hardly seems possible.


Last weekend as I stumbled and slipped along the hiking trail, I had this inner dialogue going:  Why am I doing this?  A person with a broken leg wouldn’t go hiking.  A person on crutches wouldn’t go hiking.

And then the response:   But this is FOREVER.

So I made a decision.

I took the next step on that rocky trail.  I hung onto my friend Bosco’s backpack and to my brother’s hand.  I braced myself when canine Jack plowed by me.

I tried not to fall.


I’m learning to control my new leg.  Getting my gait down, at least when the ground is smooth.

And I strive every day -- every moment -- to look even BETTER.

Still, the paradox of looking better is that people FORGET.

They forget the energy it takes for 9 inches of leg to lift 9 pounds of prosthesis. 

They forget how hard it is to hold a conversation while you're trying not to trip on the sidewalk.  Or walk into traffic....

And they forget what it’s like in the evening.  When the laundry piles up and the groceries never quite get unpacked.   When you're too exhausted to even return a phone call.

It’s an uncomfortable place to be.   I don’t like to dwell there either.

So I work to improve.  Try to make things look EASY.  I even convince myself sometimes!

But many mornings, like yesterday, there’s no convincing anyone.  

I couldn’t get the socket fit right.  I took my leg on and off five times.  I tripped so often in my own living room that I changed my shoes…twice.  And then I moved the car closer to the house just so I could carry out my belongings.

It’s small stuff,  I told myself, relieved to be on my way to work.  Finally.

A kindergartner passed me in the school hallway.   He glanced down at my black pants.  “Do you still have your robot leg?”

“Yep,” I replied.  “I ALWAYS have it.”

Sometimes the small stuff piles up. 
Sometimes it's hard to take even one more step.

That's the thing about always.  It means forever.
In a way, it makes my choice easy.

Another step.   Another mile.

But still….


**(You guessed it – more Angry Cookies at Mile 200)

9 comments:

  1. What a great post. I know that in the time we spent together, as much planning as we did to try to make things easier, you were you. Our time at the mall was similar to many of our "before" trips to the mall - except this time was maybe a little shorter. But, you do such an amazing job trying to do a good job, that we don't realize how hard it is. I mean, we all understand that it is hard, and that it is forever, and we still can't believe that you will be using your crutches everyday, but maybe like you, we would all like to pretend it isn't real and when you make it look easy, we carry on - hoping that for you, it is as easy as you are making it look. Thanks for sharing and please let us know what we can do to help.

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  2. Hi.....I'm an LBK from San Diego. I've been an amputee for six years on the 27th of this month. Reading your blog has brought back a flood of memories. I thought some of the same exact things you wrote....I had a really hard time going by my accident scene but needed closure on it....
    Good luck to you and thanks for sharing your story.

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  3. I think Most of us would agree with Marla's sentiments. I would only add 2 things - Don't hesitate to remind us when the extra effort is taking its toll on you; and I am available to help eat angry cookies.

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  4. I have been reading your blog since I received your email a few days ago. I remember years ago when we worked together you often spoke of writing a book. I believe you could turn this blog into that book. What an inspiration it would be to others that have gone through something similar or anyone who needs an "inspirational lift"! Peace to you......and I have to say, You humble me every day.

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  5. Rebecca, you may not realize it, but you've got lots & lots of 'invisible hands' - your friends & family - who are always available to hold you up, both physically and mentally, whenever you need it. I am continually buoyed at your strength, your courage and your smile, and if you need anything at all - and I can be of help, just whistle.

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  6. I think I told you this when I saw you, but when I see an email come in that tells me you have a new post, I almost always stop whatever I'm doing to read it. And almost every post leaves me with tears in my eyes, experiencing your joys and your heartaches, and this one was no different. So just imagine every time I'm reading your post, in the grocery store line, at work, on the train, wherever...and how many times I've explained to the random person next to me why I'm crying. ALL THOSE PEOPLE are pulling for you too. Forever sucks, I get that. But you are not alone.

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  7. When I first opened this post and saw the cookies in the photo at the top, my first thought was--those look delicious, but I suspect they may be angry cookies. Baking=therapy for me. And I think the emotion you put into those angry cookies probably make them taste even better.
    Waking every morning to the sight of crutches would push a lot of people to just stay in bed--but you forge on, one step in front of the other. There are a lot of us who don't have to deal with crutches and multiple socket adjustments every morning and yet still struggle to get out of bed and take each step, and for me seeing your perseverance pushes me on.
    I cannot thank you enough for sharing your journey in your blog. Your writing is just beautiful....and real.....your voice is so powerful. There is definitely a book forming here.
    PS: 200 MILES!!!!!! High fives and woo-hoos all around! You have now walked all the way to New York City and back to Philly!

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  8. Reading this on Sunday night. The Oregon Diner is good therapy. Just wish we had some grits! I try not to forget the small stuff that you have to deal with every day.

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  9. I don’t think any of us will ever know the struggles you have to deal with everyday. When I am with you, I hope, if just for a moment, that we (you) can forget about those struggles. I ditto Mark’s sentiments, you need to remind us because I never had a friend with a prosthesis and let us know if you need help eating those cookies :)

    Susan V

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