Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Not like riding a bicycle

When my legs hurt, I say: "Shut up legs! Do what I tell you to do!” 
--Jens Voigt, German cyclist and former professional racer

After writing last week about being in pieces, my body and mind at loggerheads in the aftermath of knee surgery, today I sit on a bicycle for the first time in several weeks. The bicycle is stationary; I am in physical therapy.

In my new worldview, this connotes progress. (This is the same worldview where fetching the mail feels like 40 days wandering the desert. Needless to say, I now take new pleasure in pushing small envelopes.) Progress here means completing one full pedal stroke after several false starts and even more backwards rotations, which (the physical therapist assures me) are actually easier. The crux move is at the top of the pedal stroke; get past that, and the indoor world becomes one's cycling oyster. My slow rotation slows even further as my repaired knee approaches the pedaling apex for at least the fifth time. I feel pinching, either my reconstructed ligament bumping against its own envelope or swelling and scar tissue impinging on the action. For a split second, I wince and wonder if I should keep going; then my knee is over the top and on its way.


I go 30 more seconds, which leaves me in a clammy sweat. Never has so little felt so good. Turns out riding a bicycle is not necessarily as easy as riding a bicycle, not when my left leg has the fortitude of a droopy noodle.


13 comments:

  1. Ouch! I read this to my husband because one day he is looking at knee surgery. Sounds like you are doing great, even though it might not feel like you are.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Definitely in the process of recalibrating what "doing great" means :)

      Delete
  2. It will come, promise. My daughter just broke her leg a few months ago, near the knee, with a pulling away of the tendon. She struggled with the bike for a while, now is on to using a cane, at least for long walks. You described your plight wonderfully, making me wince as I traveled "over the hump" with you. Sounds like progress, nonetheless.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Brian, you are reminding me of my total knee replacement almost 4 years ago. When I was placed on the bike, my foot pedaled past the top to the drop and out I went-almost fainted and needed to be laid out flat to rethink the pain. Big ouch! I know how it feels when it hurts and when you are so proud of yourself.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Carol. Definitely helpful to hear the long view from you and others who have been down similar tunnels and eventually emerged.

      Delete
  4. We are all in your corner, Brian. Can you feel it? It must be so hard to stay positive, but sending you my most positive vibes and a big thanks for your supportive comments to me.
    Bonnie K.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do feel it, Bonnie. At least a thimbleful of catharsis in the writing and big ladles of encouragement in the responding -- take two of those and call me in the morning :) Those are dynamics with which you can identify, too, I imagine.

      Delete
  5. I can feel your determination and frustration too! I am totally confident you'll be back to extreme frisbee before you know it! I love the line:"Never had so little felt so good."

    ReplyDelete
  6. Vivid description of the pain of your recovery. It sounds so hard! But, you also sound very determined. This too shall pass.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Yikes, makes me want to run to the ortho . . . Great descriptions, great humor . . . well to us anyway! Work hard, it will be over soon . . .

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thank goodness for physical therapy! I am going now twice a week for a return bout of spinal stenosis which has been making it difficult for me to walk. When I am at PT and see all the patients, like you, going through their programs, I always think about earlier times when people did not have PT to help them get over these humps. It must have been awful. We are so lucky, really.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Amen, Barbara This thought has occurred to me more than once. Thanks for putting it into words, and best for your own efforts to smooth out rough edges caused by spinal condition.

      Delete
  9. Your description is as close as I want to get to get to knee surgery. I see that these small steps are actually huge in the great scheme of things, but I really hope I never have to endure it after reading this.

    ReplyDelete