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!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

In Training


Mile Marker 288:
Wanted: 
Talented, tireless team of trainers for “WILL-BE” walker/ runner/ biker/ skater. Bionically-equipped.  Ready, willing, and (usually) able….


I’ve been trying to write this blog post for almost a week.

Since last Monday, to be exact.  That was the day I woke up bolstered by a case of the "I WILL"s:

I WILL WALK.
I WILL RUN.
I WILL BIKE.
I WILL SKATE.

I WILL move beyond baby steps.

I WILL leave my car behind to take back the life that used to be mine.



You see, last weekend I read Matt Long’s book, The Long Run, cover to cover.

With his inspiring story, Matt Long convinced me that all these things are possible.


So early Tuesday morning, I put on my sneakers determined to walk for 15 minutes before work. 

Unfortunately, on Wednesday morning it took me 3 hours just to don my prosthesis.  I spent the rest of the day at Prosthetic Innovations.

Thursday opened with reborn positivity and a brand new socket to try.  Surprisingly, I walked smoother and faster!   

Then came Friday.  Yesterday.  No comfort to be found.  At all.  The whole day long.


I do believe I will walk, run, bike, and skate again.  But for the life of me, I cannot imagine HOW.
 


How can I move forward when one day of pain plows me over?  

When "I WILL" turns so easily into WILL I?


Matt Long is a New York City firefighter, marathon runner, and Ironman. 

One cold morning in December 2005, he was riding his bike to work when he was run over by a 20-ton bus making a right turn. 

His body became entangled with his bike.  A team of surgeons rebuilt him from shoulder to abdomen to toe.

No, Matt did not physically lose a limb.  But his injuries were so severe, their effects so lasting, that he's traveled a similar journey.

In his second year of therapy -- while still struggling to walk -- Matt decides he WILL run again. 

Last Saturday afternoon, I read Chapter 15 of The Long Run.  And witnessed Matt's first mile.

Afterward, I got up off the couch and walked to South Street and back.  Two miles exactly.   In 70 minutes.

It used to be my quick errand jaunt -- to grab birthday cards, or Greek food, or frozen yogurt.  It now stands as my LONGEST walk so far.

I took a rest stop when I ran into some friends in Queen Village.  Then paused briefly for coffee on the way back.

An hour passed.  I continued to push through the throbbing pain inside my socket.  I limped those last few blocks over the crooked South Philly sidewalks.  I stopped at each curb to breathe.  I crossed each street searching for steadier footing.  It didn’t make a difference by then.  I’d simply walked myself out.

But as I fumbled along, I pictured Matt finishing that first mile – taking uneven steps, sliding his left leg behind him, flanked by his therapists on both sides. 

And so I kept putting one foot in front of the other.

And when I finally reached home, I decided this:
I am tired of recovering.  Of being exhausted after 10 minutes on the treadmill.  After a day at work.  After a walk around the block.  Like Matt, I want to DO MORE.

So I will condition my body to fight harder and go farther, despite its new shortcomings.

And that brings me to Monday morning when I announced in my kitchen, "As of today, I am officially IN TRAINING."

It was all uphill from there.

How do I train myself to go farther when each step is a risk?   When some days my leg is so sensitive I stop the treadmill after only 5 minutes?    When I feel like crying because my muscles are so tight? 

I massage, I stretch, I lift weights. I follow my prescribed program. 

But what do I do with this pain and uncertainty?  With this body that aches, and the frustration that floods my mind? 

I’ve been thinking about it all week.  And I've decided that Matt Long’s story spoke to these questions, too.  

It showed me that something needs to give.   That I cannot go this ALONE.

Matt mobilized his team.  And thankfully, we have that in common.

I, too, have an excellent team behind me.


Walkers, runners, skaters, and bikers.

Hikers, shoppers, strollers, and dog walkers.

PTs and OTs.  Doctors and nurses.  Prosthetists.  Engineers.  Athletic trainers.  And fellow amputees.


It occurs to me that everyone I need to help me get back into shape is only a phone call or e-mail away.



So with this post, I’m calling my team back together.


Yes, I am officially IN TRAINING.

Wanted: 
Talented, tireless team of trainers for “WILL-BE” walker/runner/biker/skater.  Bionically-equipped.  Ready, willing, and (usually) able….

...Interested?



Special thanks to PT Julie for turning me on to The Long Run.  You can find out more about Matt Long and his "I WILL Foundation" here:




13 comments:

  1. Sign me up, count me in! Walker, hiker, and dare I say - skater?!?! - looking for "Will-Be" walker/hiker/skater (bionically equipped preferred) for long miles, rewarding treks, and forwarded movement at whatever pace. First available opening is a hike On Sunday, four-legged trail guide is already booked. Call, text, or email...

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  2. WE WILL be available for walking every Saturday and Sunday... your choice of time, outside or inside (malls might work if weather is an issue), beginning today:) We will be there... and, yes, YOU WILL!
    Mom and Dad

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  3. I WILL be your Sunday skate partner. I am looking for ready, willing and able skate partners. YOU WILL be skating Kelly Drive again soon. I can walk and bike with you too! We will have longer daylight soon. Yay!!

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    1. You got it! Rec Roll here I come :)

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  4. Count me in too! Being in Chicago means I can't walk with you in person, but I CAN walk with you from afar....if you're ever walking alone don't hesitate to call and I can walk and talk with you by phone. :)

    Love that picture you included of us at Bike the Drive.....I have visions of riding Bike the Drive with you again, and I know it will happen some day. If you're feeling up to it this year I will do anything and everything to make it happen. And you know all of Chicago will cheer you on (http://bikethedrive.com)(NO PRESSURE at all of course! Just a thought when you're ready.) Even if we just rode a portion of it I know it would be a blast....and we could take a taxi to Le Peep. :o)

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    1. Very, very VERY tempting!!! I'll keep practicing and keep you posted...

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  5. Hi Rebecca!

    This was an awesome post and I'm so glad you're getting back into sports! The Long Run book sounds awesome, and I definitely want to read it soon! I just finished another great book, Iron Heart by Brian Boyle, about a car accident victim who trumped his injuries and also became an Ironman triathlete. If you're looking for more inspiration, check it out!

    Good luck!
    Michelle K

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    1. I will definitely check it out! Hope swimming and school are both going well! Happy New Year :)

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  6. Ok, so ya don't know me from Adam (or Eve for that matter) but I've been following your blog and you blow me away with your attitude! Should you ever decide to try a walk in the pines over in NJ...holla! Matt Longs feature in Running got me thru my marathon training (and the marathon!). I have some foot issues and asthma, and I would just picture his problems, and suddenly that wicked little whiney voice in my head would shut up in awe! A truly amazing athlete. So are you.

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  7. Count me in! Biking, walking, hiking - you can call me anytime!

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  8. I'm in, I could use YOUR help inspiring to get me movin more! Anytime-let me know!

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  9. You overcome so many things that we take for granted. I'll be glad to ride/walk/skate with you. I hope that I keep up!

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  10. As you done for so many, you've inspired me as well. I rarely get off the couch and haven't been on a dog walk in months (years?). When you're ready, come to Vermont and we'll wander the woods with the rest of the 20+ pack. I'll be by your side every step (assuming you brought treats).

    Turtle Moon

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