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 19, 2013

Snow Daze

Mile Marker 1460 (Snowstorm #1):

When the first flakes come tumbling down, I look up.

But what I see isn't the gray sky; it's a concrete wall spotted with rocks and tape.  I'm at the climbing gym, learning to belay.

It may be cold outside, but here at Go Vertical, things are HEATING UP  -- which might explain why half a foot of snow piles up before I even notice!

Through the fogged-up glass doors, I see my brother Mark drive up.  I wish he could get out and help me walk to the car, but there's nowhere to park.  So he idles in the street, engine running, waiting for me.  I cautiously step out into the new white blanket.

Gripping the metal railing, I descend 4 stairs from the gym to the sidewalk.  Then, I've got no choice but to let go.

One small step at a time, I insert each foot into the snow.  Nervously, I put gentle weight on my Genium.  But the fresh powder gives unexpected traction.  It isn't nearly slippery as I feared!

In fact, the drive home turns out to be much worse!  The roads are terrible, traffic is crawling, and we skid at nearly every stoplight.

But the whole way, I'm warmed by a strange new energy --  I'd rather be WALKING in the snow!

Mile Marker 1461 (Snowstorm #2):

"This is great guys!  Isn't this great?!"   I call out.

Ian and Dave trudge ahead of me.  With each step, their footprints fill up like little ponds.

It is Storm #2 -- two days later -- and the snow is TWICE as wet.

Luckily when I arrived at the rehab gym, I caught Trainer Ian heading out to lunch.

"Can I walk with you?" I asked excitedly.  "I want to practice walking in the snow!"

"Of course," he said.  Ian is always up for a challenge.  (Just last week, he taught me T.O.'s touchdown dance, but that's another story....)

My usual workout goes on hold, and we set out on the 2-block journey to Wawa.  Dave, a co-worker, catches up with us.  He's getting lunch, too.

In hiking boots, I follow Ian and Dave as they step off curbs into slush-filled puddles.  In soccer and boat shoes, they're not quite as enthralled with the weather as I am.

I step into snow banks as deep as my ankle.  I practice sliding down curb cuts, holding the sleeve of Ian's coat.  With Ian and Dave along, I'm not afraid to take chances.  If I happen to fall, we'd just laugh anyway.  It'd be nothing like falling alone.

The cold, moist air smells like an ice skating rink.  I breathe it in deep.  Slippery or not, this is FREEDOM.

In the last storm, I learned the rule:  Where there's snow, there's traction.  On this walk, I add a corollary:  Where there's slush, there's slippage.
... wet floors!
When we arrive at Wawa, a sign warns me of the worst danger of all...

Ian and Dave order their sandwiches.  I'm tempted to celebrate with the season's newest beverage -- peppermint hot chocolate -- but I hold off.  Really, I haven't even worked out yet!

On the way back, the guys are anxious to dry out their shoes and eat their lunches before they have to return to work.  But they're also excellent sports.  They stand by patiently while I try big steps and small steps, spot the tracks of a baby bird, and bury my boots in yet another pile of snow.

They even pose for a selfie  :)

By the time we reach the rehab parking lot, there's only one thing left to do...

The wind-up...
...Direct hit!

First snowball in 3 years -- and I'm just WARMING UP!

Mile Marker 1471 (Snowstorm #3):

When the third snowstorm hits, I don't set foot outside.  (In fact, I don't even put on my shoes!)

My upstairs neighbors and I gather for the biggest cookie event of the season...


Six friends.  Two ovens.  A ridiculous number of ingredients.

Nine hours of measuring and stirring and rolling.

TEN amazingly different cookies!

Donna sets up an ingredient station, a work station, and a cooling station.  She somehow keeps the sink from piling up with dishes.  And through it all, she bakes chocolate chip walnut, chocolate chip peanut butter, and chocolate mint chip cookies.

Rupesh bakes 4 huge loaves of almond biscotti.

Jasmine bakes thumbprint cookies with four kinds of jam.  Then she stirs up pecan tassies, which look and taste like mini-pecan pies.

Helen goes hi-tech with online recipes for gingerbread and sugar cookies.

I try 2 recipes I picked up in France:  palmiers aux noisettes and alumettes aux fromage.  (Anything French reminds me of summer!)  Then I add some oatmeal heath bar cookies for good measure.

Ready for a true apocalypse!

We even have a coffee bar, thanks to Mike, our official "taster."

Little Sahil is a big help, too.  And why not?  He loves cookies!

Mark stops by for a taste

Apparently the aroma reaches all the way to Northern Liberties!

When the flakes settle, Snowstorm #3 produces nearly A THOUSAND COOKIES.

And what's more?  Walking from apartment to apartment, from bowl to oven, I log more than TWO MILES -- in socks!

Go team!
In case you can't tell, there's not an Angry Cookie in the house.

Three snowstorms in one week??  Whew!

Philly's in a SNOW DAZE, all right.

Summer may be miles away, but with the right mixture of friends, flakes, and footprints to follow, there are lots of ways to keep WARM!


  1. Winter starts tomorrow with a 70 degree day. Much better to take a walk in warm weather.

    1. I totally agree! Maybe I'm being overly optimistic, but my boots are back in the closet... for now anyway :)

  2. How do you guys do that climbing? I can't do that. my leg is off 4 inches above the Knee and I hurt all the time at the top of the fitting. I fall a lot also and can not wear shoes with heels, I also lose my fitting.

    1. Hey, sorry to hear you're struggling. Like most amputees, I'm still working on fit also. There are lots of days that I get irritation around the top of the socket. I know it's a case of fine-tuning, but some days are definitely WORSE than others.

      When I climb or bike, I wear a harness that attaches the prosthesis around my waist. The brand name is "Power Belt." It's not the most comfortable thing, but at least if I lose suction in my socket, the whole leg doesn't fall off!

      I don't wear shoes with heels although I've met some above-knee amputees who do. There is an adjustable foot that's available, but I haven't tried it.

      Hang in there! I hope with more adjustments, your comfort and activity will improve over time. Keep me posted!
      Happy New Year!