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!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Backtrackin' - Part I

Mile Marker 621:

If you merge the classic hit of 1976 with the catchiest tune from 2012, you’d get "BORN TO RUN, MAYBE" – which pretty much captures my work in PT these days. 

Learning to run is a lot tougher than it looks.  I trip and stumble more often than I rock and roll.  In Bruce Springsteen terms, my gait lies somewhere between THUNDER ROAD and TENTH AVENUE FREEZE-OUT.

It's a good time to backtrack.

To retrace my steps to August 16 -- Mile 621 -- that trip to the Constitution Center.  A story that got preempted by a hospital visit, but still deserves to make it into the history books!

That day, friends Cécile and Thelma ambled with me through the Springsteen exhibit. 

We checked out the guitars, t-shirts and bandannas used by the Boss.  We examined lyrics scribbled in his own handwriting. We watched him sing in venues as small as the Stone Pony and as large as Central Park.  We stood on specially-constructed “boardwalks” to give us the true Jersey Shore experience.

Afterward, Thelma suggested staying for the multi-media show, We The People.  It’s a cool installation – part live, part film, and part slide show – a 15-minute synopsis of the nation’s history.  It makes you proud to be BORN IN THE USA.

Finally, in Signers’ Hall, I met my soul mate from '76.   1776, to be exact.

As we browsed the statues of constitutional gentlemen, he caught my eye.  An unmatched set of legs.  One rigid and narrow; the other, curvy and muscular.

“There’s somebody here with a wooden leg!” I called.  My voice echoed in the hushed, high-ceiling room.  I repeated myself in a whisper as Thelma and Cécile rushed over.

Turns out, somebody was named Gouverneur Morris.   (Kudos to Facebook guessers -- Karen, George, and Philo!)

In a prominent spot next to Ben Franklin, I stared at this colonial guy with one leg.

An amputee signed the Constitution?!   How had I missed this in history class?

I went home with renewed pride for our country.

That night, I did some quick research.  At 28 years old, Gouverneur Morris shattered his left leg in an accident.  Publicly, it was said to be a carriage accident.  However, this guy was quite the ladies' man.  Some say he injured his leg jumping from a window to escape a jealous husband.  Hmmm…

But despite the scandal, he was well-respected -- a diplomat in London and an Ambassador to Paris during the French Revolution.  He laid out the grid pattern for Manhattan and helped plan the Erie Canal. 

He’s even credited with writing the Constitution’s Preamble – those famous "lyrics" all middle schoolers struggle to memorize.

And I’d say his sense of humor also withstood the test of time.  When his friends suggested that the pain and struggle of losing a leg would build character, he responded with this:

 “You point out so clearly the advantages of being without legs that I’m tempted to part with the other.”

Who knows how Gouverneur Morris's leg would match up with my Genium in a road race? ...Especially before electricity.  

But one thing’s for sure -- if anyone was DANCING IN THE DARK back then, it was this signer with his wooden leg!

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