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, October 22, 2014

Cleveland Rocks (and so does my new socket!)

Mile Marker 2155:

In a rest-stop parking lot on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, I sandwich myself between the front and back doors of my mom's Honda Pilot.  I tug down my gym pants (there are shorts underneath!), remove my outer socket, and release the valve from the inner one.  Balancing on my right foot, I toss 10 pounds of prosthetics into the backseat.   Finally, I hoist myself in too.

In the car next to us, two little girls peer out the window, gaping and wide-eyed.   If you've never seen anyone take off their leg, it's a pretty good show!

At Mile Marker 2155, I'm not in the new socket yet.  And my current one, while sort of comfortable, is riddled with inconvenience.  You've heard the stories:  I can't hike; I can't reach for grocery items on the top shelf; and now, I can't even climb into Mom's car without losing suspension.

So on and off my leg goes at every rest-stop, diner, and gas station across western PA.

(Flat Stanley comes too!)

Seven hours later we reach Cleveland where, thankfully, we park the car and walk.  Andy and Nina arrive from Chicago to join us.

Together, we make our way toward the lakefront, dotted with football tailgaters and crisp white sailboats.  Socket angst or not, I get swept up by it all!

We spy the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a glass pyramid that reminds me of the Louvre.

A tribute to one
of my favorite rockers!

Outside the museum, we amble along the dedicated bricks.

Inside is a journey through music.  Many, many miles of it....

Tickets: $1.25 
From the Civil War to early jazz and blues.  Billie Holiday, T-Bone Walker, Muddy Waters -- folks I recognize from my grandparents' old record collection.  A poster advertises the Reverend C. L. Franklin and, in smaller letters below, his lesser-known daughter Aretha.

Museums are tough terrain for me.  The floors are hard, and we spend most of our time standing still.  Within minutes, my right leg aches as much as my left.  But the Rock Hall has a cool solution.  Tucked away in each corner are small, darkened theaters with cushioned movie seats.  Mom and I duck inside one to watch the evolution of American Bandstand.

When the movie ends, she tells me how as a teen, she and her friends actually saw the show live in person.  I'm impressed!

"Who performed?" I ask her.

"I don't remember," she says. "But it was in the afternoon, so we had to cut school to go."   (This last part she whispers, as if a truancy officer might be within earshot.)

My dad parks himself on a bench in front of a Beatles video.  For a half-hour, he follows their bumpy road to stardom.  (The next day, when we stop to eat at Ruby Tuesday, he gives us a lesson in Beatles history.)

The museum's collection is so massive, comprehensive, and REAL, I can hardly believe it.  We find bluegrass and banjos.  Elvis and the E-Street Band.  Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin.  Along the way, my musical taste expands like a loose guitar string.

Check out John Lennon's high school report card from 1956:
"He has too many of the wrong ambitions
and his energy is too often misplaced,"
writes the Headmaster.

A carton of "Bruce Juice"

Artifacts are everywhere.

Remains from Otis Redding's plane

Johnny Cash's tour bus

Even Kurt Cobain's death certificate
(which curiously displays his SSN!)

On a wall outside the restroom, I discover sheets of handwritten lyrics from "Purple Haze" and "Born in the U.S.A."   Both were carried by astronauts to the international space station and back.

Now that's mileage!

Topped off with
Finally I leave to meet college friends, John and Kris, whom I haven't seen in 13 years.  They arrive with their 3 boys, William, Christopher, and Matthew.  I brace my prosthesis and climb carefully into their minivan.  By some small miracle, my leg stays fastened!  We head out for burgers at a local Cleveland haunt, the B-Spot.  Our night rocks as much as the museum!

We're only here for one day, but it's a great show.


Mile Marker 2170:

Good news.  The new socket is ready.  Over the course of a few days, Prosthetist Tim tinkers out the kinks, and I begin breaking it in.  I've learned not to expect too much right away, but this one seems to have potential!

On Saturday morning, Mom and I meet up with friends Arnold and Mo for what turns out to be another great show -- the Limbs in Motion 5K.  The event benefits Walking Tall Charities, which helps uninsured or under-insured amputees get the prosthetics they need.

Arnold, an "above-knee" amputee like me, has been learning to use a running leg.  Neither one of us is ready for a 5K, but luckily there's a one-mile fun walk that's a good trial run.

Rockin' our new gear!

We're in Arnold's neck of the woods, and today his team is definitely in the house -- PTs, friends, and even a few nurses!  I just know he's gonna rock it!

As for me, I'm happy to do some of the walk with some comfort.  To hang with Mom and Mo.  And to cheer on Arnold as he rocks out in his new blade.

I'm just a groupie, but I hope someday to join his band!

As time rolls on, who knows what the new socket will bring?   I haven't yet tried hiking.  Or skating.  Or biking.  Or even climbing into Mom's Honda Pilot.  In my experience, socket fit can be as fleeting as a Top 40 Hit.   But if it's true that rock and roll is here to stay, then maybe, just maybe, things are looking up...

For today anyway, my new socket ROCKS.

Rock on, everybody!

Watch Arnold run -- with music from my favorite Hall of Famer!  (If you can't see it, click here to watch.)

1 comment:

  1. Ricki,
    Thanks for sharing this powerful experience. You give new perspective with every blog post. And, as always, thought-provoking and powerful.