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!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Tire Tracks

Mile Marker 462:

“I just get so tired!”  I told Prosthetist Tim last week.  

There's loosely defined trail along the outskirts of Prosthetic Innovations.  It’s grassy on one side, paved on the other.  At the far end of the loop, the two paths meet at a foot bridge with stairs on either side.  It's not long, or well-worn, or formally marked.  But it’s an all-terrain route to take your prosthesis for a test drive.  And best of all, your prosthetist can watch you from the window.

I’d done one loop when I told Tim how tired I was.

“What kind of tired?” he asked.  “Muscles?  Socket?  New foot?   Not enough sleep last night?”

I wasn't sure.  Who knew there were so many kinds of TIRED?!

“Sometimes you just have to work through it,” he told me.

So 4 laps, a new foot, and a slightly longer leg later, I went home to work through it.

And I did.  I worked through it.  All weekend long.

See the plane?
On Friday, Mary, Chris, and I headed over to the John Heinz Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum -- a quiet cove of nature, just a stone's throw from Philly's airport.  

It's a land of serene ponds, water birds, and woodsy trails.

We ambled along in the dirt, sifting through mica deposits and rocks striped with sediment and sand.  Chris pointed out an oriole – shiny black with a band of orange along its wing.   

Wild fruit grew along the edge of the woods  ("South Philadelphia Death Berries," was our best guess.) 

Sandal adjustments...
I loved the hike, but my new foot made even the softest trails feel like solid rock.  After less than a mile, I was ready to head home.

Lions and tigers and ... ??

The following day, my mom and I rounded out Mile 462 with a stroll through the neighborhood.    

Along the way, dogs and cats peered out at us through open doors and bay windows.    

Halfway through, we powered up with homemade iced tea and French macaroons from nearby Philadelphia Java Company.

Then on a colorful block of rowhouses, we met Christopher, relaxing on his front steps.  By that time, I was tired.  My lower back ached from swinging the heavier foot and longer leg over the ruts in the sidewalk.  

But new friends are fuel.  And my Genium -- I’m quickly learning -- is the world’s best conversation starter!   

Refreshed, we pounded the pavement homeward.

Mile Marker 464:

Sunday morning my pedometer reached its own level of exhaustion. 

It froze at Mile 463 and refused to push on any farther.  On the verge of panic, I scrolled through its various functions – mileage, time of day, calories, elapsed exercise time....  I stopped when I saw the numbers 999999 fill the screen.  This little machine, I realized, could literally not take another STEP!

With a sigh of relief, I recorded the number 463 and then pressed the reset button.  Back to zero across all modes.  Ready to walk again!  (If only rejuvenating were really that easy!)

Just in time.  My pedometer and I had a new trail to blaze...

A few hours later I joined my dad, brother Joe, and niece Brianna at Citizens Bank Park for Brianna's -- and my Genium's -- first Phillies game.   

We (nearly) caught 3 foul balls.  We scrambled out of our seats during 2 rainstorms.  And we saw 4 home runs blasted over the back wall.  Unfortunately they were all ALL scored by the Marlins!  

I wobbled off-balance as we shoved our way through the crowded concourse.  I held my breath as I descended the wide concrete steps toward our seats.

But through it all, I taught Brianna about innings, and runs, and rally caps.  I helped her munch her way through hot dogs, ice cream, peanuts, and cotton candy.   

Then we SMILED BIG as our faces were broadcast on the super-huge Phantavision screen!

Click to see...
For many Phillies fans, I’m sure it was a just another day at the ballpark.  Not for us.  It's a powerful thing to look back at where you've been.

At home that night, I was overjoyed with the accomplishment of a "normal" weekend.

I was also beyond BEAT.   

I threw some dinner into a Tupperware container and dragged it up the stairs to my bedroom.  I peeled my leg out of its sweaty socket.  I practically crawled into the shower.  By 8:00, I’d collapsed into bed.

The next morning, I returned to Prosthetic Innovations.  

I told Tim I had worked on it.  And I was ready to get my OLD foot back.  Not my old old foot, of course, but the next best thing.

I never get TIRED of PI's return policy!


  1. Only fair that Genie gets to see a game too- Marina enjoyed one last August with us!

  2. I'm glad that you had such a fun weekend. Sounds like I would have even been tired after that one.

  3. Wow! What a weekend! I would love for you to tell me how to get to the reserve!

    1. Jen B,
      It's so easy from South Philly. Just off the Platt Bridge near the airport. (I think Island Ave. or Bartram Ave.) Or there's an exit off 95....see Rocco's memory below... You can probably bike there too, thru the depths of Southwest Philly, but take a few friends!

  4. I once hiked the Heinz Wildlife Refuge as a boy scout. I've wanting to go back since. I used to live near it too This is my motivation. I think there is one access point from I-95 South - south of the airport. Its the Rt. 420 (West,I think)exit. Its the 1st 420 exit. On the right there is a parking lot almost as soon as you get on 420. I think that is an access point.

    I loved the photo of the sandal adjustment.

    1. Thanks! Glad you liked my trick. It's the one thing my leg can do that others CAN'T! :)