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!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Every Day

Mile Marker 1080:

Every day, it's tough to get started.

I used to be surprised when I woke up in the morning.  I'd see my crutches stacked against the wall, my prosthesis plugged in under the window.  Still??  I used to think.  I could hardly believe it.

Not anymore.  I'm used to it now.  I expect to see them.

But still, every day, there are a few moments when it just seems like TOO MUCH.

So I tell myself this:  Anything can happen today.

It's usually enough to get me out of bed.  I unplug my Genium, and it beeps to life.  One short blip if it's ready to go.  Or a long string of beeping complaints, like a tiny car alarm -- re-boot, re-calibrate, and try again.

"I know," I say.  "I don't like mornings either."

Every day, this routine weighs me down.  I massage my leg, apply various lotions.  Pull on the pull-bag.  Tug myself in.  First thing in the morning, my prosthesis feels heaviest.

But once I get moving, anything does happen.

Fearless leader
Chase goes first!
At school, the 6th graders are rappelling, and our team decides to join them.

I climb out on a ledge 3 stories above the street.   Heels in the air, I clutch the harness with both hands.

“This thing is secure, right?” I ask the belayers over and over.  They assure me I'm "double-belayed."  As a triple safeguard, they say, the rope is looped around the school’s rooftop air conditioner.  This third fact convinces me.  I cannot drag down an air conditioner!

Legs locked straight, I pivot over the edge.  As the weight shifts, my Genium collapses into the stucco. I hear a collective gasp from above, but I knew this would happen.  It always goes into "free swing" when I sit.

“Straighten your right leg!” the belayers yell down.  And I do.  

It's hard to say no
when kids are watching!
I hop along the wall, slackening the rope with each step.  By the end, I'm actually getting the hang of it.

I wish the building were taller!

A few days later anything happens again.

With Mary and Chris, I ride a loop around Kelly Drive.

It's fun but hard work.  On the first go-round, we pass a biker whose handlebars have come loose.  “Anyone have a wrench?” she calls out.

We put on the brakes.  (I've pretty much mastered stopping now!)  I hand my Allen wrench to Chris.  Turns out, it's handy for more than just my ANKLE!

The following weekend, I ride again with Susan, Rocco, and Mark.

Rocco gives us a lesson on the "fish ladder," a lock system that lets river life swim upstream over the waterfall.

Hey, learn something new every day...

All those miles push me further into my socket.  I spend several afternoons and evenings without my leg on.  Finally, I get a MAJOR tune-up from Prothestist Tim.

But even when I'm not moving, anything continues to happen.   Every day, I spy someone doing something amazing--

Robert takes his LONGEST walk ever.  Almost a mile in 2 1/2 hours!

Check the t-shirt...
Click to enlarge!
Dane learns to RUN!  He was the beginner amputee in Something to Chase.

And in the far reaches of Vermont, Baby Brennan starts to CRAWL!  Well, sort of.  (We're not picky on this blog!)

This morning isn't like every other day.   I wake up eagerly.  My Genium beeps without protest.  I prop my crutches against the wall.

It's Mother's Day, and Mom and I are stepping back into a tradition we left behind in 2010.  Anything is going to happen.  We are doing a 5K -- Race for the Cure!

The street is a sea of pink courage.

Zita cheers us on at
Mile One!
We walk and walk and walk.  The miles seem farther apart than ever.

We stop once to rest my leg, twice for photos.

It takes us 1 hour and 37 minutes to cross the finish line, but this year any time is our new personal best!

When the morning is over, we've covered more than 4 miles together!  Like so many moments these days, it's both an ending and a beginning.

There's no telling what tomorrow will bring.  So far, it looks like a normal workday.
A day like every other.
But you just never know.


  1. A lot of good stories in this blog. Rappelling. Riding 2 loops. The progress of Robert and Dane. Brennan's crawl. And Mother's Day - Race for the Cure. When reading, sometimes certain phrases jump out at me. This time it absolutely was, "I wish the building were taller!" Yep!
    Have to mention Mark's comment about the otter/duck family we spotted on the river. He called it the Schuylkill-ness monster. OK, I thought it was funny.
    Special event this week: The Ride of Silence is Wednesday night at 6:45 at the bottom of the Art Museum steps. http://blog.bicyclecoalition.org/2013/04/ride-of-silence-happening-wednesday-may.html

  2. Wow! Nothing else to say because nothing can convey the amazingness of your everyday life. You are incredible, thanks for sharing your stories!

  3. Love reading your blog..Not because I love you.
    But,because you are an Inspiration to so many people..not to mention a very good writer..
    You still owe me a walk on the steps of the Art museum.
    Done have any of those accounts so I'm anonymous Zita..lol