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!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Thoughts at 4000

Mile Marker 4000:

My contact lenses are dry.  The lights in the Healing Garden need new batteries.  I could really use an iced green tea...

These are my thoughts -- in no particular order -- on the day I hit Mile 4000.

It's a beautifully uneventful day.  The rain has stopped.  There's a gusty breeze.  The sky is bright blue and the air smells leafy green.


I woke up this morning thinking of a post I wrote way back in the beginning.  Mile Marker 28:  The Usual.   It's about how trauma has its own landscape, and how the ordinary world somehow keeps turning while we're away.

I've found my way back, but I still marvel at the "normal" stuff I used to do.  Now when I make dinner and wash the dishes, my foot aches.  My socket rubs after a workday.  Mail piles up on the table.  The floor gathers crumbs.  I've never been so exhausted.  Yet I can't deny it.  I'm super happy to be here.

This morning, I take my usual walk for coffee.  Drink it on the balcony.  Then I meet with a colleague.  Go to a doctor's appointment.  Tend to the Healing Garden at Jefferson.  On Walnut Street, I sweat out of my socket mid-stride and discover that Peet's Coffee has a spiffy bathroom.   Just a typical day in amputee-land.

When I get home, I'm at Mile 3999.69.  So close!

Leg freshly fastened, I decide to walk around the block.  No fanfare.  Nothing fancy.  I just feel fortunate to make the trip.

I head south toward Market Street, over the bricks and cobblestones, dodging construction zones and crumbling curbs.

Artwork pops up unexpectedly.

Along with Philly-style inspiration...
Yo Adrienne!

Trucks rumble past.  Cars make turns.  From somewhere distant, I hear rap music.  And beyond that, birds.

My feet keep moving and my mind does too.  I've got a shopping list a mile long for CVS.  Up the street, there's a baby gift I need to get.  And across from that, there's a store where I want to order new glasses frames.

It's Mile 4000.  But it's also just a Monday.

No errands today.  I stay focused on each step.  Walking is a privilege, and this lap deserves attention all its own.

These feet have walked 4000 miles!

It's hard to believe how fast it's gone.  My first thousand miles took nearly two years to complete.  This last thousand took only 10 months!

As I round the last corner toward home, I run into my neighbor Faye.  Faye is 81 years old.  She wants me to take her rock climbing.

Welcome to my world.

Here's to normal.
And here's to everything that lies outside of it.

In other words...
Here's to the next thousand!


  1. Normal=Wonderful........I love normal......

  2. Four thousand miles... what a journey! I felt so privileged to walk along beside you for those first 1000 miles, and now I watch in awe as you solo your way through your days, mile after mile, creating "normal" from what anyone else would consider completely extraordinary. I'm with Becca on this one: here's to the next normal, uneventful and completely wonderful 1000 miles:)

  3. i always knew that your daughter was extraordinary "Mom Lev". and so she is!!

  4. Rick, you walked enough miles to pass my house in San Diego....you're in the ocean now. Make sure to stop by on your next 1000