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!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Breaking It In

Mile Marker 369:

Do you make New Year’s Resolutions?

I do. 

Oh, I don’t usually bother making them in January.  At that time they’re overpopulated (and kinda overrated) anyway.

Instead, mine creep in with the early morning hours.  With my cheek to the pillow, my sleepy mind dreams up socket solutions, exercise routines, ways to truly RUN. 

Before the day begins, anything seems possible. 

By the time I stretch my muscles and climb out of bed, I am RESOLVED to have a better day.


Mile Marker 369 was a good example.

After a particularly tough Thursday, I awoke Friday morning with a new resolution.  And even though I saw out my window the fresh green of spring, it was like New Year’s all over again.   

I WILL BREAK IN THIS SOCKET, I thought.

Well, it seemed logical enough at 6 a.m. 

After all, the socket’s made of plastic and carbon-fiber.  How could I expect it to fit perfectly right away? 

The first few miles in new hiking boots are always uncomfortable…. Why not a new socket, too??


There’s a back story here, of course.  Resolutions always lift you highest when you’re spiraling low.

Thursday began at Prosthetic Innovations.  As usual.   In fact, I’d been there so often that Christine, who works in their office, joked that I should be an employee.  She has a point.  For the past three weeks, I’ve spent more hours at PI than at my own job! 

But this was important.   We had more socket-tinkering to do.  I couldn’t sit down without the socket's stiff edge pressing sharply into the back of my leg.  Prosthetist Tim got down to business.  He cut down the socket's rim and padded it with a silicone gel cushion.  In a few short hours -- sweet success!  I could SIT again! 

The car ride back to the city was the most pleasant drive I've had in weeks.

But as I settled back into the workday, the pain poked through.  It was slightly different – half-tugging, half-burning – but there just the same. 

Maybe this chair isn’t right, I thought.  Maybe I should add a pillow?  A phone book?  A booster seat?   I raised my chair and lowered it again.  I pulled it closer to the desk and pushed it away.  I angled my leg and clicked the rotator above my knee.   Finally, I gave up and found an excuse to walk to the copier.

In the car on the way home, I shifted and squirmed through rush hour traffic.

At last, in my bedroom, I unscrewed the socket valve. 

Yowwwch!  

Where I should have felt an easy, loosening relief, the suction’s grip grew even stronger.  I was STUCK to my socket!

Slowly, slowly, I peeled it away from my body like a super sticky Band-Aid.

And then I saw what had happened.  The silicone pad Tim applied that morning had come unglued -- from the socket frame, that is.  

It was now firmly glued to the back of my thigh!

I let out a laugh-groan.

The resulting red, chaffed circle on my skin wasn’t pretty.  But in these days of mysterious nerve pain, I was overjoyed to find such an OBVIOUS reason for all that suffering!


As I said, no matter how difficult each night ends, I tend to wake up in the morning brimming with HOPE. 

So when day dawns on Mile Marker 369, that is exactly what happens.  

I come up with my newest resolution:

I WILL BREAK IN THIS SOCKET.

With renewed energy, my leg and I kick off our morning pep-rally.

Get ready for a comfortable day, I tell it.  Today will be better!  We can do this!

I can’t explain it.  Despite the stickiness of the night before, I am LOOKING FORWARD to putting my prosthesis on again (without the gel padding, of course).

“It’s a new socket,” I say aloud.  “I just have to break it in.”

I roll on the pull-bag and begin.

Ouch, ouch…  

Ok, well... Leg's still a little sore.  But better.

Two hours later, I am at the rehab gym.  I walk on the treadmill for 10 minutes.  

TEN MINUTES! 

That’s 10 minutes more than I’ve walked in a long time.


This is just the beginning.

I am BREAKING IT IN.

This new resolution grants me patience.  Relieves me from the constant pressure of expecting a quick fix.   And reminds me that this process takes time.

Of course, as with all New Year’s Resolutions, I can’t promise how long this one’ll last. 

But look at it this way:  it’s already March. 

I figure that’s a pretty good start.

7 comments:

  1. Go Rebecca! Keep up the good work! You are an inspiration each day.

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  2. I can't tell you how much I look forward to your blogs. Keep the faith and I hope you have easier days ahead!

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  3. You are amazing! I hope your days get easier as well. Hang in there!

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  4. I am sorry you have been struggling so much lately. Your strength and attitude are amazing. I hope easier days come soon.

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  5. I know that you will eventually break in your socket and find your comfortable place through perseverence, strength, and a positive attitude. I hope it's very soon.

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  6. Thanks everybody! You don't know how much it HELPS to read these comments. Some days it's so hard to keep the big picture in mind!

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  7. I'm glad to know that Tim never stops trying new sockets and adjustments with you but more importantly that you never give up. Keep going to BREAK IN that new socket. What doesn't work today may work tomorrow.

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