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!

Friday, November 23, 2012

The View From Above

Mile Marker 792:

"Get the phone!"  Deb yells.

But nothing is ringing.  Unless you count my heart which, at this moment, sounds a lot like a fire alarm.

I glance down -- probably 30 feet -- to where my PT Deb stands, pointing upward.  On the wall above me, a rock juts out.  It's green and shaped like a telephone.

But between me and that rock, there's an arch-shaped scoop in the wall.  I have NO IDEA how to climb through it.

Hanging in the harness, I look down again.

"You can get up there!" Deb shouts.  "Use those glutes!"

So I tighten everything.  I lift my right leg higher, till it hits a rock closer to the indentation.  Then I swing my left arm up.  And finally, I hoist up my Genium.  Amazingly, it lands where it's supposed to.

Victory!
With one more reach, I grab that green phone with my right hand!





Eight weeks have passed since my last surgery, and I'm ready to strengthen my abs again.  I've lost muscle but gained perspective.  It's like I'm peering out the window of an airplane.  The days are still dotted with socket rubs and fatigue, but I'm beginning to get my life back.

At the rehab gym, Deb rigs up a chest harness and I strap on my skates.  Attached to the ceiling, I slip and slide across the room like a puppy whose paws are too big for its body.  If nothing else, I hope I'm FUNNY enough to entertain my fellow patients!

A few days later, Prosthetic Innovations hosts a rock climbing clinic.  Can you believe the last one was back at Mile Marker 44?!

This time, I'm cheered on by pals
Rocco,








Susan,

and Mischa.








PT Deb is there, too.  She knows what I can do and never lets me take the easy way out!


We watch in awe as two other above-knee amputees, Miles and Tom, climb the walls without their prostheses.

Talk about super-human strength!


Hey, who left their
leg over here?!

My own prosthesis stays firmly attached with an elastic power belt.

When it's my turn to climb, I pull with my arms and brace my abs.  I plant my Genium's foot on each rock and fire those glute muscles like crazy.

But that's only a small piece of what propels me upward.  Most of it rises from the ground BELOW -- encouragement from a team that boosts me with their voices!

At the end of the 700's, I feel HIGHER than when I started.  And my Genium has battle scars to prove it!



Mile Marker 800:

I launch the 800's on the set of Channel 10 News.

Next to me is Byron, a prosthetist from Ottobock, the company that created the Genium.  And on my other side sits Lori Wilson, a newscaster whose smile calms my nerves.

We're promoting an event called Ottobock Live, happening in Philly that evening.   I'm jittery but ready.  I've even smoothed the Genium's rock-climbing wounds with Vaseline!

I'm prepared to talk about my PT goals, how I'm trying to run and skate again.  I'm prepared to thank my therapists at Magee and my team at Prosthetic Innovations.  I'm even prepared to describe the health struggles and socket challenges that have plagued me these past 2 years.

But these are not the questions Lori Wilson asks.

Instead she asks what I was thinking when this all happened.  How I felt when I learned I lost my leg.

Even 2 years later, those words don't come easily.  The feelings won't fit in the space of a sentence or two.

Still, I'm glad she asks.

Lying on that cold pavement -- staring helplessly into the faces of paramedics and bystanders -- I could never have imagined the vantage point I have today.

How grateful I am to the doctors and nurses who gave me endless doses of compassion and skill.  How thankful to the therapists and prosthetists who day after day equip me with the steps for success.  How indebted to the family and friends who walk alongside me.

I could never have predicted how far I've come.  Or how far I still have to go.

On the ground, it's easy to miss.

But when I look down from above, I can see it all.  800 miles and I'm still reaching HIGHER.


Especially when my team shouts up from below!


Happy Thanksgiving Weekend!

THANKS for continuing to walk (and climb) with me!


To see the Channel 10 News clip, click here.


3 comments:

  1. Good day! Did you somehow complete all the options of this blog on your own or you got professional help?

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    1. I'm glad you like it! I was able to figure out all the options on my own. The blogger formats make it pretty easy -- I'm not especially computer inclined :)

      If you have questions, feel free to e-mail me. Contact info is in the left column.

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    2. (Oops! I mean the right column!)

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