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!

Meet Rebecca

Rebecca Levenberg is a teacher, writer, and speaker from Philadelphia.

She is also a survivor, learning to live again after a traumatic accident changed her body and her life.

In November 2010, while bicycling to work, Rebecca was struck and run over by a garbage truck as it made a right turn across the bike lane.  The truck’s tires crushed her left leg and caused serious internal injuries.  Fortunately, Rebecca was wearing a bike helmet and sustained no head injury.

Rebecca was rescued by paramedics and transported by ambulance to the nearest trauma center, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.  There, trauma surgeons saved her life, but had to amputate her left leg to do so.

She is now a transfemoral (above knee) amputee.

After multiple surgeries, complications, and hospital stays, Rebecca was fitted with a prosthetic leg.  In February 2011, she took her first steps as an amputee. 

That wasn’t the end of the journey.  It was just the beginning. 

Shortly after the accident, Rebecca received a package from her aunt and uncle.  Inside was a necklace inscribed with a quote from Confucius:

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.


She strapped on a pedometer and began documenting – on this blog -- the progress, challenges, and memories contained within each mile.

The journey encompassed much more than walking.  It required both physical therapy and emotional adjustment.  Rebecca relearned many skills including how to live on her own, navigate city sidewalks, skate, bike, and dodge kids in the school hallways!

Rebecca received her B.S. in Communication Sciences and Disorders, and M.A. in Learning Disabilities from Northwestern University.  She has taught elementary, middle, and high school students in public, private, and charter schools.  She has also conducted early intervention evaluations and coordinated school-wide special education programs.

In August 2011, Rebecca returned to teaching on a part-time basis.  Today, she works with middle and high school students with learning differences.

Rebecca is part of a large, supportive family, the oldest of 6 siblings and many cousins.  Her family continues to jump in at a moment's notice whenever she needs them.

As an amputee, Rebecca has discovered a passion for rock climbing.  On Sundays you can find her at the rock gym!

Rebecca is a certified amputee peer mentor, visiting new amputees at local hospitals, and offering support to them and their families.  She also volunteers with patients in the therapy gym at Magee Rehabilitation Hospital. 

To celebrate Mile 1000, Rebecca built A Thousand Miles Healing Garden at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.  She continues to cultivate the garden and deliver plants to hospital patients.

Rebecca has shared her story at Trauma and EMS conferences, Surgery Grand Rounds, medical school classes, and physical therapy programs.

She presents trauma from a patient and family perspective.  She relates her experience as a patient, an amputee, and an individual adjusting to a new normal.   She focuses on resilience -- on the factors and support that have enabled her not only to survive, but to thrive. 

Sometimes they walk a mile too!
Rebecca also talks with school groups about prosthetics, goal-setting, disabilities, and the importance of wearing bike helmets.

Rebecca’s story is a step-by-step journey which she always tells from the perspective of someone who is still on her way. 

No comments:

Post a Comment