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, November 13, 2012

Better Things

Mile Marker 775:

The second anniversary is different.

Last year, the arrival of November haunted me.  The pain was still raw, anxiety-ridden.  I faced November 1st with disbelief.  Could life really go on?

This year I slip into November like the old Mizuno sneakers I put on each morning.  Their bright orange and silver stripes have faded into a wishy-washy gray.  (After all, they've walked almost 800 miles.)  They are not as strong or shiny as they once were.  The sole treads are flattened, and the inside lining is torn.  Still they take one step after another.

This is what the calendar change feels like to me this year.

November blows in with a hurricane and a nor'easter.  But it's wearing a happy disguise.  On November 4th, friends Jen and Polly organize a huge benefit party jam-packed with games, prizes, music, and of course WALKING!

For a solid 4 hours, I'm swept up into a reunion of family, camp friends, students, co-workers, and skaters.

They mingle with my pals from Prosthetic Innovations (who feel like family too!).

And just like that -- over cupcakes and cotton candy -- the gray November day turns into a carnival of color!

Best of all, we raise over $2,000 for Philadelphia Limb Foundation, with more donations still rolling in!

When Jen and Polly first told me their benefit idea, I loved it immediately.  Over the past 2 years, I've wanted to turn my focus outward -- to make this journey more than just my OWN.

But each time the momentum gets going, it seems there's another setback -- leg pain, surgery, more time in the hospital.  I pull into my shell like a turtle.  Seek shelter till the rough times pass.

"But what if I'm in the hospital?" I asked Polly when she called me back in September to discuss the party details.

"We'll have it anyway," she said, "in your honor."

It was little consolation.   I ended up in the Operating Room just 2 weeks later.

This journey's been wrought with hills and valleys.  Not the gentle rolling kind you see from the highways of Vermont.

The kind you feel when you ride an old wooden roller coaster.  They whip your head around and make your stomach lurch.  They leave you spinning long after the motion has ended.

But finally at this 2-year-mark, we hit the target Jen and Polly were aiming for.  This journey was finally going to reach OTHERS.

And there's something else:  As rickety and frightening as those roller coaster rides may be, they're not necessarily bad for the carnival.  In fact, they might be the part that you end up talking about years later.

Thanks to everyone who joined our carnival November 4th!   In walking with me or donating to the cause, you've given me more reasons to put those old sneakers back on.  (They've got at least 200 more miles in 'em!)  

Better things ahead!

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