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, May 9, 2012

My Other Half

Mile Marker 428:

I’m searching for a pair of matched socks.

But my sock drawer is a sea of white.  A clutter of cotton, dotted here and there with stripes and pom-poms.

The socks have gotten used to flying solo.

So have I.


But my Genium's back.

When I look down, I’m shockingly DOUBLED.

I'm surprised to see two feet.  Two sneakers.  Two knees -- although not a matched pair.

This week has been tough.  I imagined it would be easier to begin walking again. 

Five weeks ago, my prosthesis and I were like an old married couple.  Now, it's a partner my body barely remembers.


Still, it is refreshing to see another shoe down there…
so I retrace our steps an hour at a time. 

My first indulgence:  making lunch.   With a cane, I hobble around the kitchen collecting items from the fridge and pantry:  an avocado, a bag of spinach, a container of nuts.  I relish my new freedom as I pass the food from one hand to the other.  Just the day before, both hands were busy with crutches!

For better or for worse, is how the vow goes.  And so does the week.

The next day, I wear my prosthesis for two hours.   It is NOT comfortable, and my back aches from walking unevenly.  But I'm hopeful things’ll improve. 

On the third day, Mom and Dad take me out to an early dinner.  Hoisting my leg into the car, the 10-pound prosthesis feels much, much heavier.  The parking lot is a steep hill.  The restaurant floor is just a little too slippery.  And when I sit down, my foot gets stuck on the table leg.

On the way out, I catch my reflection in the window.  With each step, my shoulder droops and my hip juts out.  It's how I walked LAST May.

“I’m just deconditioned,” I say to my parents, trying to hide my discouragement.   I want to believe it.   

In sickness and in health, I guess.

I remind myself of the good times I've had with my Genium.   On the Boardwalk.   Kelly Drive.  The Wissahickon Trail.   How we showed off our expertise in front of kids, doctors, nurses, and therapists.  How -- after months of practice -- we walked together like a well-oiled pair. 

For richer or for poorer.   I convince myself that, with hard work, more fun lies ahead.  

After all, it was only last Wednesday that I stepped back into my socket.  Sweat glued my hands to the parallel bars.  Limping along, I touched my Genium's foot to the ground.  I couldn't even put weight on the left side.  Finally, Prosthetist Tim decided I was safe enough to go home using crutches.

Now I'm cautiously navigating around the house -- past Mile Marker 428.


Every relationship has its ups and downs. 

But pain shatters this one like glass.  Heat and ankle-blades reverberate through the socket, wiping clean the small successes of the week.

“Wear it little by little,” says Dr. L at the rehab hospital.  “You need time to heal.”

She'd make a good a marriage counselor.


This morning I take a deep breath.  Once again, I slide up the pull-bag and wince into my prosthesis.

The first steps are the worst.  The socket pinches and pulls.  I want to yell, GET WITH THE PROGRAM!   I want to take it off.

But instead, I set up a full-length mirror on the edge of the dining room table.  Cane in hand, I pace back and forth across the kitchen floor.   I squeeze my adductors against the frame of the socket.  I tighten my glutes and core.  I swing my arms and rotate my hips to imitate a natural gait.  

To have and to hold from this day forward.  
I watch as my Genium and I become a team again.

We're still getting reacquainted.  Searching for our rhythm like a pair of mismatched socks.

Rekindling our spark the only way we know how.

One step at a time.

7 comments:

  1. Great post....and for someone that hasn't been married, you seem to have a keen understanding how hard that is too. Keep up the great work. Look at how far you've come in a year! Attitude is half the battle and yours is amazing! Love and miss you.

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  2. Keep going Rebecca,you are one strong and awesome woman..Did I say strong?

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  3. My comment said anonymous....lol

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  4. Keep on going and remember.......

    "Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness" ~Rev Martin Luther King

    You certainly embody this quote, Peace to you!

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  5. And another thing, Your posts are always a light that brightens my day......

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  6. Hope the "re-unification" consists of more good days than bad. You may have to play catch-up for a while, but I know you'll be forging ahead in no time. When you're ready to hit the trails again, Jack and I will be there!

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  7. I'm thrilled that Genium is back. I'll be doing the "Ride of Silence" tonight in your honor. The purpose of the Ride of Silence is to honor bicyclists killed or injured in motor vehicle related accidents and to raise awareness about the rights of cyclists to ride the roads. It starts tonight (5/16) at 7:00 from the bottom of the Art Museum steps if anyone else can make it. Sorry for the late notice.

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