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, February 11, 2016

Happy Walking Day 2016!

Mile Marker 3660(?):

It's been 5 YEARS since I took my first steps on a prosthesis!

On February 11, 2011, Prosthetist Tim propped me up between the parallel bars and uttered those words I'll never forget... Big step with the right.  Small step with the left.

I was off!

The road hasn't always been smooth, but I'm grateful every day to be moving.

Today, 5 years later, I'm away at a state educational conference in Hershey, PA.  It's an accomplishment -- traveling here on my own -- but it also means that I'm SITTING most of the day.

By 5 p.m., I'm itching to celebrate.  Just in time for a brilliant sunset, I escape outside TO WALK.

One mile.  24 degrees.  In the parking lot of the convention center.  (There are no sidewalks in sight!)

It's too cold to check my Fitbit, and my face nearly freezes off, but I'm determined to capture the day.  And to take you -- my friends, family, blog followers, support team, and pit crew -- along with me!

Here's what I come up with...


I'll never be a "vlogger," but I do have fun :)

Happy Walking Day!
Thanks for 5 years and so much more!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Overcoming

Mile Marker 3640:

At 4:35 a.m. I wake up bewildered.  Ripped from sleep.  My heart spasms with panic.

A loud horn blasts through my bedroom.  Flashing orange lights blink through the closed blinds.

Is it a fire alarm??  Do I have time to put my leg on??  Where is it coming from??

In a rush of adrenaline, my body knows the drill...

EMERGENCY!
FIGHT!  FLIGHT!
DANGER!
GO!!!

It's not the fire alarm.

Within seconds, I realize the noise is coming from the street outside, where a line of giant bulldozers idle like army tanks below my window.

I should have known.

For the past few months, my apartment has been surrounded by construction zones.  Dishes rattle in the kitchen cabinets.  My windows are coated with dust.

But in the predawn darkness, the piercing noise sends me careening into high alert.

I leave the light on, but I can't go back to sleep.  Gradually, my heartbeat slows to a dull flutter.  I curl under the covers, trying to relax my muscles.  Hours later, dressed and ready for work, I'm shaken and angry but not afraid anymore.

What does it mean to "overcome" a trauma?

To me, it's like bobbing in the middle of a vast ocean.  There are periods of calm water, spurts of confidence.  Stability.  Independence.  Direction.  Joy.

Then another wave hits.  The water gets rough, but I've learned what to do.  Aim forward.  Focus on the here and now.  Breathe.  Work my way through it.  From the outside, you might not even notice the struggle.  We might be walking together as a car turns in the street behind us.  Or talking as a truck thunders off a nearby curb.

There are waves everywhere, but I've become a decent swimmer.  Most of the time, I stay afloat.

I seek out predictable currents and stay on guard, yet some waves still take me by surprise -- when they're bigger, or stronger, or LOUDER than I'm ready for.  Their force pulls me under when I least expect it, like a line of bulldozers at 4 a.m.

Oversimplified, but you get the idea...
Trauma changes one's innermost workings.  There's something about that shock and pain, our own powerlessness in the face of adversity.  It runs so deep it rewires us from head to toe.

I wonder about that word I hear so often:  OVERCOMING.  We use it to mean "putting something difficult behind us," but does it really ever happen that way?

OVER can mean above or surpassed.  But it can also mean repeating, as in over and over again...

And COMING?  Well, I guess that implies we're not quite there yet.

(Interestingly, I almost never hear the word used in the past tense:  She overcame many obstacles.)

That's because overcoming is an ongoing, moment-to-moment process.  It takes purpose, and concentration, and lots and lots of energy.  Paddle hard and fast.  Keep your head up.  Plant your feet whenever you can.  Push through the next wave, and believe that calmer waters are ahead.

As a wise fish once learned...


And when all else fails, leave the bedroom light on.