Back in the days before I was a mother and I had a lot more free time, I used to enjoy riding my beach cruiser around our neighborhood. It was a fun, relaxing way for me to get some exercise. But after my son was born, I was too tired from working and mothering to think of getting myself on a bike. My bike became this object that just took up space. So I got rid of it.
Then, after my son’s second birthday I started to consider the possibility of managing our time so that once or twice a week I could go out for a bike ride again. I just needed a bike. I had seen a pink beach cruiser that caught my eye, but I hesitated on purchasing it. Would I really use it? Or, would the demands of reality turn the new bike into a wasted purchase? Before I could take the leap and buy the bike, I wound up in the hospital with my mysterious swollen left calf. And because so many of my necessary daily activities caused pain, riding a bike didn’t seem possible.
Last fall, when I participated in the chronic pain group, my physical therapist and I discussed the ways in which I exercised. The list was short. He asked me about the activities I used to do for exercise. I mentioned my bike rides, and he encouraged me to try it again. I explained my hesitations, my fears. Would I be able to ride again? Would bike riding increase my level of pain? My physical therapist was extremely encouraging, reminding me that it didn’t matter how far I went or how long I rode. Five minutes or to the end of the block and back. All that mattered was that I rode. And that bike riding made me happy.
So almost four years after my hospitalization, I bought myself a bike. I’ve been looking and comparison shopping but nothing seemed quite right until last week when all the pieces came together and I found a reasonably priced bike in a color I like.
Shortly after my birthday in March, I had written about the year to come, about my desire to do new things, things for me. (http://wendykennar.blogspot.com/2014/03/birthday-musings.html) Purchasing a bike was one of them.
My longest bike ride, so far, has been ten minutes around my neighborhood. But it’s still me on my bike for ten minutes. And when I’m riding, I experience a sense of joy and wonder. I feel like shouting out, “Look what I can do!” Most of the time, I tend to look at my illness in terms of what I cannot do any more. My new bike isn’t just giving me an opportunity to exercise or to participate when my son is riding his bike. My new bike is changing my perspective.