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, December 20, 2012

Moving Days


Mile Marker 836:

If I told you my computer’s been buried at the bottom of a box, would you believe me?

For 2 weeks now, I’ve unpacked box after box of neatly wrapped surprises.  They’re nestled in newspaper and bound with bubble wrap.  And when I open them here – in the new apartment – they’re like tiny presents.

I’ve got many more to go.  But even among the chaos, this place is bright.

There are no stairs to climb.  The washer and dryer are not in the basement.   When I tie up a trash bag, it drops neatly into a chute at the end of the hall.  And when I head out for the day, I ride the elevator down to the car, waiting in a heated garage.  (Hear what I'm sayin', fellow city dwellers?!)

Everything is on one level.  Nothing is off-limits to crutches.  My Upstairs Life is over.

“It’s just so EASY,” I tell my friend Bosco.  “Everything’s so SIMPLE here.”

“It’s been a long time since you've used those words,” she says.

She's right.


But moving is never easy.

My last day at Jeff...
Andy and Mark
help me get packed up!
Exactly 2 years ago this week, I was transferred from Jefferson Hospital to Magee Rehab Hospital.

When I found out I'd go by ambulance, I overflowed with tears of PANIC.  At that time, less than 7 weeks after the accident, the tiniest thought or sound or sensation sent me careening back to that moment of impact -- my body against the truck.  And all the frightening moments that came after.

I feared that being in an ambulance again would release a flood of those flashbacks.

When the paramedics arrived at my room with the stretcher, I tried to hold it together.  I made them promise not to turn on the siren.  They agreed.

"Can my brother ride with me?" I asked.  

Mark stood by the stretcher.  Even if they'd said no, he couldn't have left my side.  I had a death-grip on his hand!

They said he could ride up front, and I started to protest.

But at that instant, it seemed every nurse on the unit stepped into the hallway.  They clapped their hands.  They wished me well and waved goodbye as the paramedics wheeled me out.  A standing ovation.  What a farewell!

Outside, I inhaled my first breath of December air.   With a few smooth movements, I was loaded into the back of the ambulance.  

Then I saw the paramedic give a quick, almost imperceptible nod to Mark.  He jumped in the back with me.

I gripped his hand all the way to the rehab hospital.


The move to this new apartment was nowhere near as traumatic, but it was difficult in its own way.  

Brother Steve to the
rescue!
There were weeks of packing, cleaning, and organizing that involved the entire family.


Then, there were days of stumbling over half-filled boxes.

  

Yes, that's a dresser
going out a window...

And finally, there was a morning of furniture-moving that resembled an epic performance of Cirque du Soleil.

Bravo!  Bravo!

But the hardest part was saying goodbye.

Once the house was empty, I stood out in the garden, the only part of the place that still seemed alive.  I thought about how much I loved my home.  How I'd painted its walls and arranged its rooms.  How I'd planted flowers and herbs.  How I'd imagined a future here.

This was where I started out on November 9th -- the morning everything changed.  It's where I showered and dressed.  Where I buckled my bike helmet.  Where I unlocked my bike and put my backpack in the saddlebag.

In my mind, it will always be the last place I was WHOLE.


Some people say tomorrow, December 21, 2012, will bring the end of the world.  

But in an article I just read, a modern-day Mayan says we're missing the point.  It's not the end of the world, he explains.  It's the end of an era.  He says he's looking forward to seeing what the next era will bring.

So am I.

I'm now 16 blocks north, in the oldest part of the city.  

Yet it feels like a new world.

I can walk to restaurants and shops.  Even go out for an evening stroll!

Like my neighbor Betsy's
holiday decorations?

Yes, it's the start of a new era -- complete with an elevator and indoor parking.  (Maybe not for the Mayans, but for me!)

And, of course, there's no telling what's inside the next box....

4 comments:

  1. Loved your post. I know how hard it was to move on and I am so proud of you. Can't wait to catch up. Miss you my friend.
    Love, Marla

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  2. Lovely! Can't wait to see what adventures you (and we) are in for in 2013!!!

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  3. It is the end of an era on many levels. While change is good, sometimes it can be uncomfortable. There are so many memories from the past era, good and not so good. There are more memories to be made during this new era and in your new home. Good luck in your new home and can’t wait to meet your new neighbor Betsy :)

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  4. I told u so...one level gives you a freedom that is well worth the effort. I stayed on Camphill for years. It was my home. I toiled over every inch of space, placed every electrical outlet
    and decorated it with love and raised my kids there. But a time finally came that I knew it was time to leave. What surprised me was
    that once I placed my things in this home, Camphill became just a memory. I cried so as I drove here that day. But I realized home is
    where your things are. The picture looks great of the kitchen. Let me know when I can visit.
    Aunt R

    ReplyDelete