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 21, 2012

My Upstairs Life

Mile Marker 305:

I am STAYING IN this weekend.

Not only because of the snow.  If it were just that, I'd call around for someone to pick me up.  To hang tight to my arm as I plant unsteady steps on the sidewalk.

I'd even try out those ice cleats from friends Davey and Carol.

No, the real reason I'm home are TWO RED LINES running along the bottom of my leg.

They look like a child's darkly painted lips after she digs through her mother's make-up kit.  But when I roll my socket on, I feel them.  And they are not lipstick.  They're fiery tire tracks!

It's a socket rub gone wild.

So for the past two days, I've been resting inside -- LEG OFF -- as my Genium recharges against the bedroom wall.

I've barely set foot off the second floor of my house.

Since Thursday night, I've worn my prosthesis fewer than four hours and walked only half a mile.  I am trying to heal.

I've saturated those red lines in antibiotic ointment, slathered them with magic cream from the dermatologist, and washed them gently with soap and water.   When I must put on my socket, I wrap the end of my leg with Saran Wrap -- my own bandage creation!   Not quite endorsed by prosthetist Tim, but it's doing the trick for now.

I expected there'd be days like these.  "Leg-off" days when I'd think about the places I'd go if I weren't sitting still.  The miles I'd log if I could walk comfortably.  If crutches weren't my vehicle of transport.  And if it weren't slippery and slushy outside.

This morning, I tied up the left leg of my jeans like I did last winter BEFORE I got my prosthesis.  Denim didn't knot too well, so I used a hairband.  The first time my niece Brianna saw it, she asked, "Why do your jeans have a ponytail?"

It's been a while though.  I forgot how hard it is to balance on one leg while you tuck your shirt in.  Or how many HOPS it takes to make your bed.

And the stairs of my house are downright treacherous on crutches!  Without the extra railings my friends Robert and Jim built, I wouldn't be able to go downstairs at all.

Even with banisters, the open-slatted stairs to the basement are strictly off limits.  So laundry stays down there in the dryer until I put my prosthesis back on.

Mostly, I stay upstairs.

But don't get me wrong.  The second floor of my house isn't a bad place to be.  It has all the luxuries -- TV, computer, even a mini-fridge and microwave.  When I returned home last summer, my family made sure I had everything I needed.

We anticipated UPSTAIRS DAYS ahead.

"Why not go out anyway?" my friend Jen asked last night over a plate of take-out sushi.  She told me she knew a girl who got around on crutches and one leg just fine.

It's true.  I've seen people do amazing, difficult things.

But I thought about how hard it is to get my crutches in and out of the car.  How impossible it is to push a shopping cart or carry a bag.

And I remembered how, last February, my crutch skidded across a wet spot on the smooth floor of a building lobby.  I fell down hard and fast.  Right on my little leg.  My mom had just dropped me off for an appointment.  I was alone.  And embarrassed.  And hurt.  And scared.    In a split second, I felt back at the scene of the accident.

The truth is, I'm AFRAID to go out without my prosthesis.

In just nine short months, it's become a part of me.  Sure, it drives me crazy sometimes, but in the way of a best friend, or a big brother, or a mom.

To be independent, I NEED my leg.

Without it -- like now -- I'm upstairs.

Up here, there are books to read, movies to watch, e-mail to answer, and bills to pay.  There are cookies, and crackers, and mugs of tea.

It's a cozy place to be on a snowy, icy day.  But I don't want to make it a habit.

700 miles in 10 months is a lot more ground to cover.

So I'm hoping for speedy healing tonight.

And I'm keeping plenty of Saran Wrap on hand for tomorrow.

Sending healing thoughts to friends and family tonight, too.   xo


  1. I wish I was closer. I would happily csmp out with you upstairs. We all sometimes need a break from the "real world", but never want to have to take a break. Hope you are feeling better soon.

  2. Indoor time can be cozy and satisfying - but it helps if it's a choice. I'm hoping that you heal soon and that the choice is yours.

  3. Sending some healing Karma. Let us know when you feel like getting out. The snow will be melting and the sun will be out this week.

  4. Rebecca, sending healing vibes your way - hope you are soon up & attem (and the temps outside will be above freezing, much more conducive to outdoor activity, too!)

  5. stopping and resting is so very challenging. I get caught up in thinking that life is about moving forward, achieving goals....progress. And then I miss the moments. Life is moments....right where I am, where-ever that is. Soak it all in. Sounds so simple and easy, but it's not. Just *being* is so very hard for me...I learned a little bit about how hard during my surgery recuperations (which were nothing in comparison to all you've been through)...but being forced to take it so easy and be on medical leave, I learned how hard it can be to rest and heal--I would have thought I would savor the time after being so crazy busy so much of the time, but it's harder to rest than to be crazy-busy. I think I'm rambling now, but your post really resonated with me. Healing thoughts coming at ya, along with a hope for peace and contentment in the rest times.