Determination from a Survivor
"By Lisa - Walkablock Member"

Here's my story: 10 years ago, a fall down a flight of stairs left me unable to walk for two years. At the lowest point, I was paralyzed and doctors were telling me that I might need both feet amputated as a result of nerve damage. Nobody knew how to heal my feet and legs. The nerve damage is in my brainstem. Well, after suffering through 2 years of narcotic painkillers, multiple anti-depressants, physical therapy on dead legs,psychological counseling, hypnosis, numerous nerve block procedures, pain clinics and wheelchairs, I finally decided to take matters into my own hands. I stopped ALL my medication and grabbed an old stick. Everyday, I forced myself to try to walk. Every single day, until one day I was able to walk a few steps, and then a few more, and then ultimately, I walked the country road I lived on every single day, building time and distance and endurance step by step - literally. Doctors had told me I might never walk again, which I never accepted. I'm stubborn. The choice for me became to either USE my feet or lose them. I've been an avid walker ever since. I use my legs and feet so I don't lose them.

6 months ago, I decided to begin walking to work every day. This is a 3.5 mile journey which takes me along paved streets,and includes a 1/4 mile natural trail, then takes me through a section of woods, up a few hills, through a park, and back on narrow, winding paved roads. I decided to begin this regular walking routine in order to build up my leg strength, increase my fitness level, develop more self-discipline, manage my weight more efficiently, and save money on transportation. It also doesn't hurt that I do not add to earth pollution by doing this. Walking to work saves me $200. per month in cabfare, provided I walk 5 days per week, which I do almost 100% of the time.

I've calculated how much I walk while at work - just over 5 miles. On most days, I walk partway home, 1 1/2 miles. Some days, I walk the entire reverse route home, which is 3.5 miles. So currently for me, an average day sees me walking 10-12 miles, 5 days a week, at a swift, brisk pace. I walk extra miles on the weekends, depending upon how tired I am..:-) I am a fast walker by nature. I can't help it. My feet just fly along. Walking makes me feel WONDERFUL. It clears my head and has given me an incredible sense of personal accomplishment. Remember, I couldn't walk at all for two years and was in a wheelchair being told my feet needed to be cut off. I'll be 44 in April.

In 2009, I decided to push myself a little harder and see what I'm made of. I began walking back and forth to work in late June 2009. In the last 115 days,I've walked 1175 miles on varied terrain, in ALL kinds of weather. I've walked to work in heat that threatened to melt me, pouring rain, FREEZING rain, and in 12 degrees with blowing snow. I wouldn't say this has been "cakewalk" easy, but it's been worth it. I can't describe how great it makes me feel every day to know I walked AGAIN. The miles keep adding up and my body is reshaping itself into a leaner, more toned version of its former self. I'm likin' it.

I have found a few things that help make the walk more comfortable. I bought a good pair of trail walking shoes, number one. Very comfortable, good support, and breathable.

I've also invested in a sturdy walking stick which provides me better stability in wet or winter walking conditions, on hills, trails, woods and roads. I carry a couple of good flashlights with multi-LED lights and dress in appropriate layers for cold weather walking. My morning walks take place in the dark (prior to 5 am), and I didn't realize how much I would enjoy walking at that time of day, even though I was a bit anxious at first. Walking in wooded areas in the dark is something that kind of creeped me out a bit at first...Another tool that has helped me tremendously is, I bought a pair of Yaktrax, which are like snow chains for my shoes or boots. They enable me to walk my regular pace - or nearly so - in snow and on ice. This is especially important because I walk in places that never see a snow plow, and on hills that could break your neck in a fall. The Yaktrax have already saved me from one bad fall. They are invaluable to me and now I no longer worry about how I'll be able to continue walking in winter. If you walk in winter weather, I highly recommend Yaktrax pro (no, I don't work for them).

The down side to all of this is, I cannot seem to get the people I know into walking. I've tried to motivate friends and co-workers and, despite the fact that I've grown stronger and noticeably lost weight and it's working positive changes upon me, the people around me just aren't interested in walking. What I'm seeing is a lot of laziness, more than anything else. I see people thinking they can lead sedentary lives and eat junk and somehow lose weight and maintain good health. No one around me wants to walk like I want to walk. I don't think they realize what they're missing. Now, I feel GUILTY if I don't walk. My co-workers think I'm crazy to do all this walking, especially now that it's wintertime.

So basically, I walk by myself. Maybe down the road, I'll meet somebody who likes to walk as much as I do, but for now, I'm happy just being able to do it. People tell me I shouldn't push myself. I strongly disagree. Especially as we get older, I think it's critical to keep pushing ourselves. You never know what you'll be able to accomplish. It just takes determination and perseverence.

I keep challenging myself, and in turn, I keep surprising myself...:-) Walking has been a saving grace in my life, and I thank you for promoting it on your website, and in your lives.

You never know who you'll inspire.

Me, I'm workin' on my next thousand miles....


State College, Pa. ...