How do we move forward?

My road came to an unexpected halt on November 9, 2010.

That morning, I was bicycling to work when a garbage truck turned across a city bike lane. I was in that bike lane.

I was critically injured in the accident. A team of trauma surgeons saved my life, but they had to amputate my left leg. I had a long road ahead of me, physically and emotionally, yet I was grateful to be alive.

An ending can be a beginning too. I started over.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.

Gradually I learned to walk again. So I began counting steps. Then miles.

Over time, that journey turned a corner. It became less about my own recovery and more about resilience -- the connection we all share.

Ten years later, I still take one step at a time. Yes, there are bumps in the road, but each step means rising to new challenges, adapting to change, and moving forward with hope.

Are you on your own journey?


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Gotta Run - Part 2

Mile Marker 1280:

At night, I dream of RUNNING.

I know it's a dream because
1.  I can't run.  (Neither can my Genium.)
2.  I'm barefoot. (I can barely walk barefoot.)
3.  It's easy.  (And nothing is easy!)

At 3 a.m. I lie in bed, giddy with excitement.  Running is more than just movement.  It's confidence, grace, and freedom.

Half-awake, half-asleep, my mind runs through a slideshow of possibilities:
a c-shaped running blade, a mud run, an obstacle course.  I bounce through it all -- fast and agile -- like an American Ninja Warrior.

Knee-deep in the fantasy, my alarm goes off.  5:30 a.m.  The real world is about to hit hard. 

You’ve already read about Underdog mornings, so I’ll spare you the details.  Suffice to say, by 8:30, I've bargained away my athletic aspirations.  My prosthetic liner is too tight.  My socket's poking.  Who needs to RUN anyway?  At this point, I’d give anything to WALK comfortably.  (Or SIT, for that matter!)

Grumpy already, I head off to work.

The kindergarten hallway is as close as I get to an obstacle course.  I step carefully around bookbags and lunchboxes.  My prosthesis feels heavy and clumsy as if I'm not quite sure where my feet are.

A little girl stops me as I pass her cubby.  “You still have your robot leg?” she asks.  

“Yes, I still have it.  See?”  To her delight, my robot leg is on display.  I’m wearing a dress.

She scrunches her nose, pushes up her wire-rimmed glasses.  The wheels are turning, I can tell.

“When are you getting your real leg back?” she asks.

Hey, when am I getting my real leg back??  I want to shout her question to the powers-that-be.

But before I can respond, a little boy walks over.  My Genium attracts kids like flies.

He looks the prosthesis up and down.  “There’s no bones in there,” he says.

Right again.  No bones about it.

Usually I get a kick out of these conversations, but this morning I'm RUNNING ON EMPTY.

The next day I lace up my new yellow sneakers.  They’re feathery light, and they glide easily over bumps in the sidewalk.  As I venture out, I pretend they'll cushion my sore leg, too.

A woman walks by me on the street.  “Nice shoes!” she calls, glancing back.   If she notices what's attached, she doesn't let on.

At least I look like a RUNNER!

Who needs bright shoes?
Jen had a better idea!

I can't run in the traditional sense, but as the week unfolds, I do get some "running" in.

First, I RUN errands with friend and fellow amputee Jen.   The supermarket aisles become our training ground, complete with u-turns, weight shifts, and long reaches for potato chips.  A walking adventure can happen anywhere!

Next, I RUN into Phillies Manager Ryne Sandberg at the Magee inpatient gym.  His surprise visit adds a burst of energy to the patients' rehab -- and to my volunteer shift!

Finally, over the weekend, I catch up with cousins Betsy, Cory, and Zak.  Although we're barely moving, little Zak gives my Genium a RUN for its money!

Call it boot camp...

Prosthetically speaking, the last few weeks have been a pretty TOUGH RUN.

But for all its trouble, Tim says this new socket is the key to moving forward.  Running is high impact, and the silicone liner will protect my leg better than my old socket.  It's like driving a car with better shocks.

So far, however, it's only made me feel like RUNNING AWAY.  I'll concede it's a work in progress.

Still, a girl can dream. 

One evening before I take off my socket, I sneak a look back at the 5 components of running I learned at the CAF running clinic last year.

I set a full-length mirror up against the wall.  Then I close the blinds.

In the privacy of my apartment, I pace up and down the hallway, practicing the running techniques one by one.  Leap onto the prosthesis, pull back against the socket, roll off the toe, pump the arms, reach with the right leg...

I fire muscles.  Count steps.  Try to find some kind of rhythm in the clatter.  I stumble but stay on my feet.  The Genium's not made for running, but it keeps me off the ground!

The result?  It looks like a limping power walk but feels like a RUN.

Whatever it is, it's a baseline to build on --  

It's not exactly running. (Yet.)
I'm not barefoot. (I might never be.)
And it's anything but easy.  (What did you expect?)

But at least tonight, it's more than just a dream.

If you missed the original "Gotta Run," click here.