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, April 19, 2013

Miles Down, Miles to Go

Mile Marker 1040:

Back in December 2010, Zach and I were both new to this amputee business.  From our wheelchairs, we said "hi" between therapy sessions and played a wicked game of Pictionary.   One night, our nurse Pam warned me that Zach kept a monster-size Super Soaker water gun in his room.  I'd just met him, but I wasn't surprised!

More than 2 years have passed since then.

I’ve had detours.   
Zach has had ROADBLOCKS.

I’ve gotten a new leg.  
Zach’s gotten TWO legs and an arm.

He even has me beat in the surgery department.
(Let’s just say we share a vicious aversion to NG tubes!)

Zach's legs
get a boost!
Yet through it all, Zach posts hospital humor on Facebook.   He grows an awesome beard practically overnight.   He gets an apartment, trains a new puppy, and grills dinner outside.   He takes a vacation cruise… and even braves mass transit – long before I do.

The horrific tragedy this week in Boston has created a lot of talk about new amputees.  "What's the recovery like?" the news anchors ask.  "How long until they're up and walking again?"

As if it just happens.

But I understand.  We all want justice.  We want people not to be hurt.

And, of course, we want it to be EASY.

So we talk about technology and bionics and medical advances.  We reassure OURSELVES that the injured will get back the lives they deserve.

I, too, feel like racing up to Boston.  To sit by their bedsides.  To tell them that everything will be all right.

But there'll be time for that.  Trauma runs deep, both physically and emotionally.   These victims are at a starting line that was not of their own choosing, and they're headed into an uphill climb.  Healing is the long road ahead.  It's mired with obstacles that will take every ounce of courage, persistence, and grit they can muster.

For as much as we'd like to believe it, there are no simple solutions.  To succeed requires support and hard work for the long haul.

There's no predicting the ups and downs.  Each survival story -- like each limb -- is unique.  I only know there will be many moments when PATIENCE goes farther than a prosthesis.

At Mile Marker 1040, I catch up with Zach and his buddy Kishan at Prosthetic Innovations.   

And I witness some WELL-DESERVED steps forward.  Check 'em out.

No parallel bars!  No walker!  No cane!  Just two dudes holding hands…    (Zach's words, not mine...)

Zach, you're amazing  -- Here’s to many, many more miles!!

And for those in Boston just embarking on this journey, I wish for you what you'll need.  Health, courage, and strength.  Technology and a good team.  The vision to see your new horizon.  

And most of all, a SMOOTH ROAD AHEAD.


  1. Great to see Zach doing so well too!

  2. Ricki, You inspire. Zach inspires. Thanks for sharing this beautiful story,
    Karen Wish

  3. Amazing video. I played it 3 times to believe what I was seeing. Your wish for all that others will need covers it all. I hope that the technology available these days also helps with their vision (and yours).

  4. As always , a well written blog. And a great story on Zach. Being sports minded [ biking] I feel for him and I hope he meets his goals and does not let his situation ever keep him from persuing his dreams. I hope my order of his T-shirt helps him.