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!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Love the Ride

Mile Marker 417: 

I know we’ll be fine when we learn to love the ride....

I don't.  (Love the ride, I mean.)

But I do love the TV series, United States of Tara.

One week post-surgery, and this show's catchy theme song runs through my head day and night.

It's my newest Netflix addiction.  The story of a sweet, quirky family trying to keep up with their mother’s dissociative identity disorder.  As Tara transitions through various personalities, her husband and kids scramble along, maintaining a "normal" life the best they can.

I’ll tell you, it makes standing on one leg seem pretty darn simple!


Your vote for wheelchair miles was overwhelming.  I have to say, I'm flattered by the support.   But I'm not quite ready to count them.  Not yet, anyway.

On Monday, I finally reached Mile Marker 417.
FAIR AND SQUARE.

Yes, it's slow on crutches.  My Genium sleeps against the bedroom wall as I hobble through the house, hop by hop.

Dad pushes me around the block in the wheelchair.   Mom drives me to the local CVS.

Lots of riding. 
Not much walking.


From the shelves of CVS...
I'm moving, but like traffic on the Schuylkill. 

The bumper-to-bumper kind where you can't find a good song on the radio, and you can't see the wreck up ahead.  When all you can think about is how stuck you are and how late you're going to be.


This week my surgical pain receded.

And those old familars -- Ankle-Blades and the Stone Sandal -- bounded back like restless siblings home from sleepaway camp.

New sensations arrived with them.  A bent knee.  A clenched muscle.  Pulling.

I can’t tell if they're from the sutures or here to stay.  They arise sleepily each morning.  By evening, they throb.

In bed, I sink into another episode of Tara.  My favorite distraction.  I join their ride and forget about mine.


On Sunday afternoon, I found an hour of peace in the sunshine of my parents' back patio.

Across the yard, the huge willow tree caught my eye.  Its branches hovered above the roof of the house.  Its green-yellow leaves flapped against the sky.

It had grown so TALL!

At 7 years old, I went with my dad to fetch that tree from our local nursery.  On the ride home, I was relegated to the back seat.  The tiny willow rode shotgun; its dense ball of roots rested against the floor mat.  Its thin trunk stretched out the passenger window like the neck of a baby giraffe.

As we drove, I watched its delicate branches gust violently in the wind.  I was nervous about it, and told my dad so.

He joked with me.  “It must be weeping!” he said.  (Ha ha -- weeping willow.  A "dad joke," I know...)

But we repeated it over and over.   As long as we kept laughing, I knew that tree would be ok.

From my seat on the patio, I squint upward and recall that happy ride.


But these days, I've been thinking mostly about the months I spent here LAST YEAR, recovering from the accident.  The nights of sleeplessness and pain.  The days of crying, worry, and adjustment.

Three frightening rides to the Emergency Room.

These are the rides that haunt me most.  They weigh me down with their heaviness.  And when I try to push them away, they push back.

They shove aside all those other rides -- family road trips, carpools, rides to school -- that belonged to this house for years and years.

They make me forget how far I’ve come.

So that now, when I wake up in the shadow of my brother’s old bedroom, this is what I do:

I fix the covers, flip over my pillow, and turn on the next episode of Tara.

I get lost in it.


I am trying to love the ride.  

To make the most of these slow days.  Even if I can't get out of the house.  Even if sitting or lying down is easiest.

It's ok.

I catch up on e-mail.  Do schoolwork.  Read novels I wouldn't usually have time for.

I soak up the cheerful energy of my nieces (although they're exhausting!).

I coast along on the strength of a family that anticipates my every need.



I think about WALKING again.

Problem-solving.   Balancing.  Watching my step.  Measuring each movement.  Searching the sidewalk for obstacles and traps.

In some ways, riding is harder.  I have to be STILL.  


I know United States of Tara is fiction.  But more and more, I identify with those characters.

For as much as their theme song promotes it, they haven’t yet learned to LOVE THE RIDE. 

They've learned to ACCEPT it.

Fast or slow, rough or smooth.  No matter who's driving.

Now there’s something to aim for.


Here's the theme song:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zlBBkKyM_g
Watch out... You'll be singing it, too!

3 comments:

  1. Ricki, I hope you continue to heal well and I hope the trauma conference went well. Know that your bat mitzvah card was received with much appreciation (and it's a 'cool' card noted both Sarah and Abbey). We really do hope to see you soon. Is a trip to NJ in the later spring summer a possibility. We want to be part of your 1,000 miles... there are some beautiful spots. Or, do we come to you? Love, Karen Wish

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Takin' it day by day right now, but I would LOVE to walk with you guys! (Once I'm walking again, that is...) xo

      Delete
  2. I tried to post a comment the other night...clearly it was an unsuccessful attempt. Great post! I am a huge believer in Reality TV. It is all I watch these days. I love escaping my everyday world and watching someone else's. I will have to check out your favorite. These days, my go to is Bethenny on Bravo. Love her. Love you too. Hope each day is better.

    ReplyDelete