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!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Hyvaa Joulua

Mile Marker 1490:

"Hyvaa Joulua, everyone!  Hyvaa Joulua!"

My workout pal Greg, in a Scandinavian sweater and red felt hat, looks downright Finnish.  Today he is the Mayor of Turku, reading the Declaration of Christmas Peace.

A sea of townspeople -- therapists, judges, and patients -- all wearing red, respond enthusiastically, "Hyvaa Joulua!"  Merry Christmas!

Of course, we have no idea if we’re pronouncing it correctly.  But today in the rehab gym anything goes.  What happens in Finland stays in Finland!

Each year, Magee Rehabilitation Hospital has a holiday decorating contest in which the campuses and floors compete against each other.  This year’s theme is “Holidays around the World.”  At the Riverfront Center, my rehab gym, we've adopted Finland.

Ignore the linoleum floors and exercise gear.  Turn on your imagination.  You're on a winter street in a charming Finnish town, walking among wooden street signs and drifting snow. 

with her less famous
therapy dog  :)
The hallways are lined with silhouettes of reindeer.  The therapists serve plates of sweet bread.  PT Colleen illuminates the room as St. Lucia.

There's even a makeshift sauna.  Mischievous elves add cold spray to a tank of heating pads, and the room fills up with a thick cloud of steam!

Elves know all the tricks!

In the Locomotor Training room, there’s a life-size cottage.

And the Day Therapy room becomes a busy toy workshop.

Every Finnish kid knows
Santa lives in the mountains of Lapland

But the best part of this year's festivities  -- in my opinion -- happens in the Wellness Center.  

At one end of the room, my work-out buddies are ice fishing.
At the other end, Trainer Ian has taped off a hockey rink, complete with blue lines, face-off circles, and goals.

  Go Team Finland!!

PT Jeff and I lace up our skates for a shoot-out

Even Santa takes a shot.

it's not me!

One of us wipes out....

For someone who doesn't really celebrate Christmas, I get way into the spirit.

I love wearing skates.  I love hanging with my team.  

And I love saying Hyvaa Joulua.  Even if I'm mispronouncing it!

When we were kids, my parents wrapped Hanukkah gifts late into the night, carefully numbering them for nights 1-8.  They stacked them into a huge pile in the corner of the living room.  We lit the candles and sang prayers with GUSTO.  We chipped away at that pile of presents one night at a time!

But unlike Christmas, Hanukkah is a moving target.  Businesses don't close.  Schools don't let out.  As we got older, our traditions faded behind busy work schedules and cross-country distances.   We still celebrated, but we had to be flexible and creative about it.

Today our tradition is a lot less... well, traditional.  

In early February, as football season wraps up, you'll find our family gathering for our annual HANUKKAH-SUPERBOWL PARTY.

Gifts are the halftime show.

Halftime snacks, anyone?
As far as I can tell, it's a one-of-a-kind event.  But the more you think about it, the more it makes sense: cheaper airline tickets, post-holiday sales, and much better food.  Who says burgers and latkes don't go together?

Over the years, we realized that it's not when, or even what you celebrate that matters.  It's HOW.  It's about pushing limits and innovation until you find a way for everyone to participate.  

No one understands this better than the therapists, staff, and patients at Magee!

So I hope this holiday season fills you with...
the PEACE of a Finnish sauna, 
the HAPPINESS of a miniature ice rink, 
the COMMUNITY of friends and family,
the EXCITEMENT of Superbowl Sunday,

and the MAGIC of resilience!

Hyvaa Joulua, everybody!  
However you choose to celebrate!

(Thanks to "Hockey Jim" for the early Xmas gift -- a hockey stick cut down to my size!)


  1. Very interesting...looks like you had a great time!

  2. It is great to see you on skates again.

    I noticed the Bobby Clarke "sweater" too. Many years ago the company I worked for added motivating inserts to our paychecks (before direct deposit). I saved one of them. It is titled "How To Be A Winner". They used Bobby Clarke (a diabetic) as an example of an athlete with a winning attitude; saying, "Bobby Clarke could have probably have succeeded at anything he tried."

    Keep that Bobby Clarke winner attitude!

    1. Everyone told Bobby Clarke he could never go pro because of his diabetes. He's been one of my idols since I was a kid!!! Thanks Rocco :)