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, April 1, 2012

How Lucky

Mile Marker 413:

It seems like a long time ago that Dr. J sat by the side of my bed and told me his lucky number was 13.  

At that time, on the morning before my 13th surgery, I knew he was just reassuring me.   Urging me gently forward.  Toward a procedure so necessary, I had about as much control over it as I did over the stormy weather outside. 

I never thought I’d consider 13 my lucky number, too.

But on Friday night, as the Mega Millions Jackpot was drawn, I passed Mile Marker 413.   

In Atlantic City.

Before you get all excited, I did not win big at the slots.  Or the roulette table.  Or at blackjack.

But I did win an honor all my own.   

At the Hot Topics in Trauma conference, I was the patient selected for the case review presentation.

Late in the afternoon, a crowd of 150 -- paramedics, EMTs, fire rescue captains, nurses, doctors, and therapists -- gathered to hear the specifics of my accident, injuries, complications, and recovery.

I chose to wait out in the hall. 

I have my own memories, and I wasn't quite ready to embellish them with new details.

Still, I learned a few things.  How important it was that the ambulances (two of them!) arrived on the scene and transported me quickly.  How carefully and quantitatively my surgeons weighed the options before deciding to amputate my leg. 

And how, after many, many hours in the Operating Room, they just had to STOP.  My body had simply been through enough.

After the presentation, I had the chance to tell the story from my own angle.  And to say thank you.  Not just to my team but to EVERYONE in the room.  

To all these helpers and healers who rescue people like me every single day.   

Later that night, a paramedic named Pat told me that when he arrives on a scene, he often tells the patient, “I’m not a stranger.  I’m just a friend you haven’t met yet.”

Over the last 16 months, my medical team has become more than friends.  They've become family!  

With a traumatic injury, you don’t get to make choices.  And as much as you try to hang on, there’s a point when you realize that the outcome just isn’t in YOUR control.    

Surrounded by my amazing team!
Dr. M, Deb, Julie,
Elly, and Dr. Josh
That you have to depend on others.

But hopefully there’s also a point when you realize how very, very LUCKY you are.

Mile Marker 413 was that point for me.


I’ve met many people along this journey who didn’t have a choice about what happened to them.  Victims of fires, or explosions, or terrible highway accidents.  People who were living their lives one moment, and critically injured the next.

You could say luck of the draw.

But the ones I know are ALL fighters.  They’ve become experts in a world that was not of their own choosing.  They push so hard every day to make the most of their lives.  

And in that way, they do have a choice.  At each difficult moment, they DECIDE to do more than just get through.

How lucky I am to have landed among such inspiring peers.


With surgery number 14 scheduled for early tomorrow morning, I turn to my teammates once again.

ALL OF THEM. 

For guidance.  For inspiration.  For the strength to push ahead.

Especially at times like this.  When the road before me is rough and hard to navigate.

Dr. M tells me not to worry.
Nurse Deb reminds me I have all their support.

Prosthetist Tim says he thinks this'll be my last speedbump for a very long time.

Friends and family call to wish me luck.

ALL of their words encourage me forward.


I heard there were three winners in the Mega Millions Jackpot.  And 100 million players. 

Tough odds.

I didn’t even buy a ticket.  

Because I know....
When the real-life numbers are drawn, I've already got the LUCKY ONES covered.


Special thanks to my "Jeff team" for making me feel like a WINNER this weekend (and always)!


Want to see a few of my courageous teammates?  
Check out this new video from Team Prolimb -- and spread the word!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1yAYZ69_jM&feature=youtu.be

4 comments:

  1. Ricki: sending you positive vibes for tomorrow. You're in good hands. May you have a speedy recovery and know that we are all behind you. XXOO

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  2. All my good wishes and positive vibes are with you. But I do feel that you are in good hands. I'll be visiting when you're ready.

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  3. Lots of healing thoughts heading your way, Rick. Hopefully this will be the last surgery -- EVER! :-)

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  4. Best of luck to you tomorrow! Keep on smiling!

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