You may not know this about me, but I have a nasty spinal problem in my neck, caused by an injury a decade and a half ago. If you look carefully at this self-portrait, you can see a pretty big scar on my throat. That’s from a surgery to try to repair the damage. The surgery failed. There’s tissue now impinging on my spinal cord, causing me pain and numbness in my arms and legs, and it’s only getting worse. Add to that a cascading disc failure and degenerative arthritis, and the prognosis is that I’ll eventually wind up in a wheelchair, unable to walk at all, and in constant, debilitating pain.
The injury makes it hard for me to do a lot of things, and I pay dearly later for any sort of physical activity. I live on pain killers during events I shoot, and spend days in bed, or at best hobbling around the house, afterward.
I have no goddamned business on a bicycle.
But here I am, on doctor’s orders.
I went to the doctor awhile back, and among other things, he had my blood tested for all the usual stuff. When he called me with the results, he had one concern: my cholesterol is through the fucking roof. I’ve had to make adjustments to my diet, I’m on medication (which he’s since doubled), and he insisted I start getting regular exercise. Regular long-distance walking isn’t enough, and it’s too high-impact, and I can’t do it anyway, so this last time I saw him he pushed the idea of biking. Biking scares the shit out of me.
I expressed my concerns to him, explaining that I was terrified that if I should fall, I’d find myself in that wheelchair. He expressed his concerns to me, explaining that if I didn’t get on that bicycle, I wouldn’t live long enough to find myself in that wheelchair.
So here I am, on doctor’s orders.
I can’t ride very far or for very long, but the doctor says to go easy and just get on the infernal machine as frequently and for as long as I can take it.
I’d recently received a thank you gift from an event I shot, in the form of a $100 Amazon gift card, and I used it to best advantage on Friday for some gear. That’s my new bike helmet, and you can see the top of my new camera vest that allows me to clip in one of my cameras on my chest and another on my hip. That should take care of some of the shoulder strain when I’m shooting events and such, and allows me quick access when I’m out biking. Jez is lending me her mountain bike. The fatter tires should make it more stable for me than a road bike, and the more upright body position is easier on my neck. I got a phone holder for the handlebars (from whence comes this shot), and a headlight and tail light for it while I was at it. I’m trying to make it as safe as I can possibly make it. I haven’t yet found an airbag to install.
I don’t want to die of a heart attack at 49 years old, y’know? But I also don’t want to wind up in that wheelchair anytime soon. When they put me in that damned thing, they’re going to have to pry me into it with a crowbar. I’m still fighting that as hard as I can.
It’s a battle I’m going to lose. But not today.
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