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?


Sunday, June 5, 2022

10 Blocks Away

Hello from Mile Marker 10,544...

It's a beautiful morning in Philly.

The neighborhood is quiet.  A young couple snaps wedding photos in the sunlight.  When I walk by Old Christ Church, a choir sings on the breeze. 

My new foot feels especially springy.  

People smile.  Say good morning.  Breathe the fresh air.

The humidity has somehow vanished overnight.

Also overnight, my phone tinged with this text message:

2 AM:  There was a shooting incident in the vicinity of 4th and South Streets.  The Center City ED has received multiple victims.  There is significant police presence around the emergency department.  The ED is on divert.

I get these texts from time to time.  I'm an employee of the hospital, but my job isn't clinical, so they don't usually involve me directly.

So at that moment, at 2 AM, here's what I thought:

It's not a family emergency.
I'm home safe in bed.  (And besides, I'm never out that late.)
4th and South is a whole 10 blocks away.

Just another shooting incident.   In our city.  In our country.  I'm always concerned on some level, but I guess not enough.

At 2 AM, with barely a toss or turn, I drift swiftly back to sleep.

Five hours later when the sun streams through my blinds, I wake up and read that text again.  

This time the idea hits closer to home. 

Who's taking care of all those victims in that ER? 
How bad does it have to be to "divert" to other hospitals?
I, too, was on a city sidewalk yesterday.  Could this have happened to me?

I feel the need to learn more, so I Google,  "4th and South."

The story pops up immediately.  Three killed.  At least 11 wounded.  They are calling it a mass shooting.  I pour over the images from The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Wait -- that's the sidewalk in front of my Rita's Water Ice.

That's the entrance to my Emergency Room.

I think of the victims arriving in the trauma bay.  I think of the families and friends gathered outside. And I think of my trauma team, inside, taking care of all of them.

And then I think of something my trauma surgeon, Dr. J., once said during a presentation:

For every trauma patient that arrives in the ER, two family members arrive soon after.

That's TWO loved ones for every single victim.  And that's just on average.  

Traumatic events ripple outward.  Eventually they reach all of us.

I'm not a trauma surgeon.  Or a first responder.  And while I sign all the petitions and fully support gun safety legislation, I'm not an activist in any formal way.

But I know trauma. 

I know the exact gurney where those victims landed.

And I know the fear they must have felt -- and the vulnerability that will be part of their lives forever.  I know the powerlessness of their families waiting outside.  And I know the energy, dedication, and compassion of their health care team inside.

My heart goes out to each one of them.  But I know it's not enough.

At Mile 10,544 -- as I take a walk on this beautiful "morning after" -- I think of other walks.  Recent ones.

Walks that took me across that sidewalk where those bullets flew.

Walks to Rita's.

Walks to South Street.

This morning, as I stop for coffee, and hear church music, and greet neighbors on the sidewalk, I think how life goes on despite what's still happening at this moment, for many, at the hospital.

Despite the tragedy that is not yet cleaned up, just 10 blocks away.

The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.  So, I think, we shouldn't take comfort in distance.

10 blocks is not that far.

I'm not sure what my responsibility is -- what action I might take that could make a difference.  

I usually tread more carefully, think things through before putting my thoughts out there for all to see.  But I wanted to write about this.  To do something, anything.  Now.  No matter how small. 

I know there's a lot more to say, but I'm going to press "send" anyway.

On this beautiful morning, maybe that's a place to start.

Walk on,