It’s Workout Wednesday time! It’s a chance for me to post about my progress with fitness. I’ve had M.E. (Myalgic Encephalomyelities or incorrectly titled Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) since 2005. When it first began I was in the 5-10% ability range – bedridden, unable to sleep, unable to tolerate noise, unable to do much of anything except lie inert in a dark room.
As you can imagine, muscle wasting occurred and then I developed a blood clot. This blood clot went unnoticed until it travelled into my lungs and split into three blood clots. Such fun! The pulmonary embolism prompted me to get my body moving and now I’ve been building my strength back up, one workout session at a time.
This post is a little bit of a story so I have divided it in half and part two will be going up next Wednesday!
When I was younger I loved my bike. I loved riding down my street, I loved careening down a hill with the wind swooshing past my body, and I loved the freedom of movement and speed.
There was a large chunk of my life when I didn’t ride a bike. When my family moved to another suburb, one where we lived on a main road as opposed to a cul-de-sac, my bike riding time dwindled. I was twelve then and beginning high school; riding my bike around with abandon wasn’t my top priority. Life happened, depression hit, anxiety occurred, and I only remember a handful of times when I rode a bike from then on.
When I got hit with ME the idea of riding a bike was the furthest from my mind. It was hard enough trying to figure out what was going on with my body, how I was going to get from room to room, and not losing my grip on reality. That takes up a lot of mental energy, why on Earth would I consider riding a bike?
Give it time of course, when your body and finally your mind begins to adjust to doing close to nothing, and you eventually think about these things. I remembered riding my bike. Of course I did. My memories would crop up every now and then and I’d mourn the freedom. I admit it, I never thought I’d be able to ride a bike (amongst a million other activities) again.
Well fuck you ME because I got a bike! Yeah. Suck it.
The first time I went bike riding post-ME was with my partner at Bicentennial park. We hired a bike for me, my partner has an awesome bike already, and I was wracked with nerves. I had a panic attack when we crossed a road, almost had another one when I veered into a railing on a foot bridge, and my body was tingling from anxiety for ninety-nine percent of the time.
I felt ridiculous. I used to have so much confidence with cycling, but I’ve lost it all. Thanks to the ME too, my limbs and brain are a little off with co-ordination and spatial awareness. You know how people say you never forget how to ride a bike? Sure you don’t forget, the fundamentals at least, but if you go for long enough you still have to re-learn certain things.
For instance; gears. Currently I am struggling with them. I need reminding they exist and which gear is best for what condition every time I go riding. I forget about the breaks, I’ve lost the ability to perform a decent turn, I become startled easily, I veer off course when there’s abrupt changes to the landscape, I forget about the kickstand (looking like a newb when I come off the wrong side and push the kickstand down with my hand), I’m unable to stand on the pedals, I struggle with getting my helmet on (it’s true, I’m an uncoordinated dork), and I’ve forgotten the technique of actually getting on and off the bike!
I decided to get a bike for myself anyway. No lack of skills and issues with re-learning to bike ride at thirty was going to stop me. The new plan was to ride my bike in quiet areas and not where children, animals, or people really, are until I got the hang of it again.
The second time we went out riding was to the oval and tennis courts down the end of my road. Its pretty awesome so we decided to ride our bikes down and kick the ball around. I was very excited about the idea, but extremely anxious about being anywhere near roads. Trying to keep my balance is one thing, but trying to keep my balance while being mindful of cars is something I don’t trust myself with.