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!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Before the Rain

Mile Marker 610:

When I drive into the rehab parking lot, PT Deb is waiting for me under the overhang.  

“Thought you’d come by boat!” she calls, as I maneuver my body out of the car.

It’s raining torrentially.  Water rushes into the sewer grates.  My instinct is to run, but I step gingerly through the puddles.  Slowly, so each step's secure.

I’m about 3 minutes late which, it turns out, isn’t so bad.  The gym is practically empty.

My friend Dan wheels up in his chair.   “I had to wait 20 minutes before I could even get out of my truck,” he says.   His wheelchair got soaked, but the seat cushion stayed dry.  A small victory.


Rewind a few hours.  As I'm getting out of bed that morning, I hear we're in for 2 days of rainstorms.  Ugh.

I don't rue the rain.  It waters the garden, saving me precious time and energy.

But as I peer out the window, the sky’s losing its optimism.  Humidity gathers in little droplets on the telephone wire.  

I have to get out there before it starts.  All at once, I have a desire to BEAT this storm.

By the time I get ready and step out the front door, light sprinkles are already falling.   

I can make it around the block, I tell myself.

Walking with an umbrella is a balancing act, but I open it anyway.  My Genium shouldn't get wet.  Spots of water dot the gray sidewalk.

A guy on a bike rides down the middle of the street, dark hair blowing – helmetless - in a t-shirt and jeans.  He’s carrying a cup of coffee in one hand; a bag slung over his opposite shoulder.  He’s oblivious to this light drizzle.  Unaware of how an oil slick (or a swerving driver) could cause his thin tires to skid out from under him.

There’s a tiny part of me that’s envious. 

But mostly, I see RISK written all over him.  He’s carefree now, but his life could change in one second.


I liked your comments about Do It Now, the slogan from the previous blog post.  I agree -- it is about Zen and Carpe Diem and finding joy in each moment.  But I've been thinking, and to me, there’s a corollary to it:

Do It Now because you never know what’s going to happen next.

Over the past two years, I’ve been caught unaware just a few times too many.

Doing It Now helps me feel more prepared.

It’s an illusion, of course.  Just because you’ve washed the dishes, and finished the laundry, and packed a bag, doesn’t mean you’ll be READY for a midnight trip to the ER.  But somehow, it's just a tad easier to face. 

If you know me, you know that the desire to be prepared runs deep in my blood.  (Even after 19 units of replacement blood, I haven't lost it!)   

It's genetic, I think.  In September 1969, when my mom went into labor with me, her first instinct was to clean the oven.  No kidding.  Her sister – my Aunt Candy – stood in the kitchen, arms crossed in panic. “Don’t you think we should go to the hospital?!” she cried.

Well, like mother like daughter.  Mom was just fitting in one last thing before that storm -- a.k.a. ME!


This week, I walked between the raindrops, stealing a stroll whenever I could.  Block after block without straying far from my house or parked car.

I watched the clouds darken till I couldn't tell the difference between the buildings and the sky.  


But there were lighter moments, too.  After a doctor's appointment, I met up with friend Deb for a quick chai.


And later as the sky opened up, I ducked into Garces Trading Company with Shawn.


When the sun finally returned, I walked (and talked) “long distance” with Bosco in Delaware, Marla in Illinois, and Brett in Arizona.
Cousin Brett's cameo
"appearance"!


I guess when your life’s yanked out from under you, it's only natural to try to fasten it securely in place.  Batten down the hatches for next time.  Build an ark BEFORE the rain comes.

After all, even the lightest drizzle could turn into a hurricane.  Or worse. 

But these past few miles, I was surprised to discover there's life DURING the rain, too.

And AFTER.

2 comments:

  1. this post reminds me of the quote:
    "Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet."

    Of course, your genium puts a limit on how much time you can literally be in the rain, but I love the metaphor this quote evokes. You are living this quote. You've been dealt some mighty intense storms, and yet you walk on, soaking it all in and learning and persevering from every storm.
    It's interesting to read your rain-themed post, because ever since my Mom and I went to see Barry Manilow a few weeks ago, I have yet to get his song "I Made it Through the Rain" out of my head..... You are making it through the rain, every single day (even the sunny ones) :o)
    And everyone reading this blog is learning from your example.

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  2. P.S.: I LOVE that photo of you as a stormin' toddler! And that's so funny about your Mom cleaning the oven right before you were born--my Mom also talks about how the morning of my birth, she knew what was coming (me), but she cleaned the whole house before telling my Dad they needed to go to the hospital. Maybe that's why in college I always had to vacuum before I could concentrate on studying! :o)

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