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!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

One Fine Day

Mile Marker 645:

I left the hospital last week in a shadow of discouragement.  There weren't any answers.  No reassurance that things would turn out differently than last month.  Yes, the obstruction had cleared for now.  But it could reoccur at any time. 

“We’d like to see you gain some weight,” Dr. K advised.  He thought that with additional fat stores around my intestines, the scar tissue may be less likely to interfere.  It was a long shot.

Plus, gaining weight is tough when you can’t digest food.

I was tempted to scribble See ya next month! on my discharge papers.

My good friend Shelley is a dietitian.  Since July, we'd been e-mailing back and forth with theories about digestion, breaking down adhesions, and preventing bowel obstructions.  She’d even posted the question to her dietitian listserve.  Apparently, there's no easy solution.

When I told her about Dr. K's latest suggestion, she sent me a clip from Barack Obama’s speech in 2008.  (Kinda timely with the DNC tonight!)

It wasn't medical advice, but the words hit home:

We’ve been warned against offering the people of this nation false hope.  But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope.

Granted, my intestines are not as complex as the American economy.  But I have to admire my surgeons.  Even when options are scarce, they refuse to send me home empty-handed.  

There's nothing false about hope.

At Mile Marker 645,  I head over to the rehab gym for my “wellness” workout.   Sort of ironic because I’ve been feeling anything but well

PT Deb isn't surprised.  “For every day in the hospital, you lose 5%,” she tells me.  Energy, stamina, strength.

With a 9-day hospital stay, I figure I've lost 45% of that special something.

But I try my workout anyway.  I walk 20 minutes on the treadmill.  Lift 4-pound weights with my arms.  Strap a 10-pound cuff weight to my right ankle and power it up with my knee.

Across from me is Dan.  He's in a contraption called a stander.  Using a system of bands and Velcro, it supports people with paralysis so they can maintain an upright position.

Dan and I chat it up while we both lift -- and he stands.  He tells me about a litter of 13 American Bulldog puppies he's raising.  He shows me pictures and videos on his iPhone.

My fatigue from the hospital gets farther away.  After I’ve changed position several times, I ask him, “How long are you standing in there today?”

“An hour or two,” he says.  “But I could do it all day.   It just feels so great to STAND.”

His words hype me up more than steroids.

When I get home, Jen calls.  She’s a guidance counselor, debating how to spend her precious time before the first day of school.  Do I want her to visit? 

“Let’s go to Parc,” I tell her, shocking even myself.  I've been on solid food for less than a week, and I'm still bracing for the pain to strike -- anyplace, anytime.

“Really?!” she says.

Beats clear liquids!
"I’m eating for the moment," I say.  “We’ve gotta make the most of it!”

So we set out for an early dinner/dessert combo.   We split a sandwich -- mainly to justify the decadent carmelized apple tart and fromage blanc cheesecake that follow!

A good sign!
As we eat, we discuss Jen’s options for a home exchange next summer in Australia.  

We people-watch on the square.  

We sit across from a wide-eyed kindergartner who’s never seen a robot leg before.  (And his little sis who's more impressed by my painted toenails!)

All in all, a fine day.

At home that evening, my thoughts drift back to the week before, when nurse Lucy wrapped up my IV port so I could take a shower. 

Lucy knows me well.  In November 2010, she was my first nurse on 7 Center.  I was frenzied from the ICU, but she embraced me with her calm capability.  I could relax.  I didn’t have to worry when Lucy was there.

This time around, my needs weren’t quite as dire.  But somehow my newest discouragement showed through.

Lucy offered me some words of wisdom:

"Good things don’t last forever," she said.  "But neither do bad things."

It takes just ONE FINE DAY to convince me she's right.

See, there's a flip-side to excruciating abdominal pain.  It makes a day without pain feel like pure bliss.

It puts me in a rare, thankful place.  A place where each moment passes like a tiny wrapped gift -- with HOPE inside.

One fine second.
One fine minute.
One fine hour.
One fine day.


  1. Beautiful, touching, inspiring

  2. Hi Rebecca,
    I love her wise words, "Good things don’t last forever," But neither do bad things." I live by them....it reminds me to saver the good times and know that the bad times will change. I think of you often and pray for lots and lots of GREAT times in your near future. That food looks delicious!!!!!!!

  3. I know that my small story could never compare to your journey, but something you said sparked a memory that I can share. When I was coaching ice hockey for pre-teens, occasionally there would be an injury. I mentioned that sometimes in sports there is some pain. But the absence of pain is pleasure. I added that if you didn't experience some physical pain, you wouldn't enjoy the absence of it as much. They looked at me like I was a nut. Oh well, I tried. Still reading.