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, October 31, 2012

Oh Sandy!

Mile Marker 764:

Some piled sandbags.  I piled BOXES.

At my house, Hurricane Sandy began with a flurry of preparation.  Jen, Mary, and Chris dismantled the garden.  

Rocco and Susan carted off the patio table and chairs.  

Mom bunked in for the weekend.  As Sandy tossed the Atlantic, we tossed my belongings into cardboard cartons.

No extra points
for altitude!
But packing, I quickly discovered, requires endless standing.  Yet it accumulates NO MILEAGE at all!

As the winds speed up, the miles slow down.

Mom and I spend the days bubble-wrapping, padding with newspaper, and unearthing ancient souvenirs from the basement. 
Like the hat?
Never know what you'll dig up
when you're packing!

I discover a talent with the industrial-sized tape dispenser.  But Mom's the jigsaw expert.  As we stare into an almost filled box, she exclaims, “I know just the thing to fill that space!”  Then she descends 2 flights of stairs to retrieve a knickknack we noticed 6 hours ago.

By Sunday morning, as the rain and wind increase, we find ourselves in crisis.  Sandy hasn't even made landfall, but we’ve run out of newspaper and bubble-wrap!  We need to venture out.  But as a South Philadelphian, I've learned better than to give up my parking space before a storm.   

We’ll have to go on foot.

So we pull on hats and raincoats.   Mom changes her shoes, and I make sure my Genium’s water-tight.  Umbrellas in hand, we shove the screen door into the gusty wind.

In less than a block, our umbrellas flip inside out.  The rain’s flying sideways, swinging the tree branches above.  My balance isn't what it used to be.  When we cross the street, Mom grabs my arm.  Old habits die hard.

To protect against the wind, we flatten ourselves along the wall of rowhouses like secret agents.

Wawa, the local go-to convenience store, rises in the distance.  But we’ve yet to face our biggest obstacle.  Huddled against the side of a carwash, we look out into a parking lot of windswept rain, flowing puddles, and – yes -- distracted South Philly drivers. 

Mom clutches my upper arm.  I clutch the side of the building.  Together, we analyze the mess with all our secret agent power.   We giggle with giddiness and fear.

“Ok,” we both say.  “Go!”

In tandem, we march across the blacktop, transformed from secret agents to three-legged racers in a matter of seconds.  I watch the ground; Mom keeps us out of deep water.  We avoid the cars, but the rain drives directly into our faces.

Finally, we step up on the curb.  Relief.  A kind soul holds the door open for us, and we slip inside. 

WET FLOOR!  WET FLOOR!  My inner alarm system sounds.  But then I realize – it’s nothing compared to what we’ve just been through.  Oh, Sandy!

The store’s jam-packed with folks desperate for last-minute supplies.  Hoagies and cigarettes.  Crackers, milk, and ice cream.  A woman balances an infant in one hand and three paper cups of coffee in the other.  I expect a frenzy, but instead there’s excitement in the air.  A warmth and merriment like the night before Christmas.

We join the throng.  Grab a sack of ground coffee and a pile of newspaper.  A package of butter, some Cheez-Its, and a bag of goldfish crackers. The cashier takes one look at our soaking jackets and hands us extra plastic bags for the trip home!

We brace ourselves for the walk back.  But we’re wiser now.  While rain pours off the store’s awning, we plot our route.  It’s an epiphany – we’ll go UNDERCOVER!

That's I-95 ABOVE us!
 I-95 leads almost directly from the shopping center to my door.  Does it seem strange to take the interstate when you’re traveling less than a half-mile?  Let’s just say we stay under the radar…

At home, we peel off our wet clothes, proud of our mission impossible.  

Of course, as the storm progressed, we learned our adventure was nothing compared to what others wrestled with.  My brother Stephen’s apartment lost power, so he cooked eggs on his balcony barbecue.  My brother Mark timed dog-walks between green blobs on the weather map.   

In the suburbs, my dad fought off TREES that toppled like dominoes.

And many faced damage much, much worse.

But in my neck of the woods, Mom and I had it pretty good.  For 3 more days, we crumbled newspaper and sipped hot coffee.  The house proved as water-tight as my Genium.  And our cars remained steadfastly parked along the street.  

We’d beaten Sandy in our own little way.  And had a STORM of boxes to prove it!

Thanks to my team of storm-preppers and all-weather photographers (a.k.a. friends and family).  

And to Jon and Nancy for the endless supply of boxes!


  1. Hey, was that you knocking at my door? I ask because at 763 miles, sometime this week you passed the point where you have essentially walked all the way from your front door to my house here in Chicago! (If you go to googlemaps and enter in our addresses, and then click on the "walking directions" option, you get this www.TinyURL.com/8df86s7

  2. Oops, that should have been 750 miles from your house to mine :o)

    1. Yes, but of course I would have stopped for pizza at Gino's East along the way!

      Pretty cool, the idea of WALKING to Chicago... I love the Google warning about lack of sidewalks along the way!