Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The First Day of the Rest of My Life.

I'm the last of the baby boomer generation, and like most of us, never thought I'd get old. Other people get old, but not me. That is, I thought that way until this year. I'm 51, my knees, one hip, and one shoulder are shot, I have osteoporosis, and continuing Candida problems. I look in the mirror and see a fat, older woman, who is beginning to gray.

I'm supposed to be walking 30 minutes every day along with weight-bearing exercises and a prescription of Fosomax, and this is supposed to stop the osteoporosis and even repair some of the damage. I don't like the thought of taking a prescription medication for the rest of my life, but I really dislike the thought of becoming a hunched over old lady with broken hips, so I walk, or at least I walk sometimes. Walking isn't doing anything for my weight; if anything, I've gained weight. Either that, or there really does exist that strange phenomenom of a clothes-shrinking-closet.

Enter the Schwinn Sprint. This is a bicycle we bought when our youngest started college. However, she soon found that the narrow tires didn't work with the brick roads and grooved pavement on campus, so she traded it for a mountain bike. We were going to sell the Sprint, but I got on it and took a spin around the driveway and decided to keep it. That was just about this time of year two years ago. I rode it several days a week and was just beginning to get the hang of it when I went back to work.

Fast forward to this year. My temporary job ended, I got the osteoporosis diagnosis, can't lift my right knee more than nine inches off the floor, and was told that that noise in my knees that sounded like gravel rubbing together was the bones in my knees grinding against each other. My doctor told me to walk at least 30 minutes a day and an hour of low-impact exercise like an exercise bike or swimming. I didn't do any of it, in fact, I slipped into a pretty deep funk and stayed that way for months.

Then, last Sunday I needed to know what a bicycle part was called and went out to the garage to look at the Sprint. It's tires were both flat so I aired them up to keep them from cracking, and then went back to my research. But it was a pretty day and I thought of going for a walk, then decided to go for a ride. I had forgotten how smooth that bicycle is. I rode down to the end of the block, around the corner and down the hill. It was like flying with the wind in my face; definitely more fun than I had had in a long time. Well, until I had to go back up the hill. I finally had to get off and walk up. It's pretty bad when I can walk faster than I can ride. My legs were trembling and I could barely get off the bike when I got home. Oh crap I'm out of shape!

The bad thing is, I can't remember when or why to change gears, or where the seat and handlebars should be adjusted. I found the bike forum I had registered at two years ago when I needed information, and started reading posts so I could see what other riders do. It's interesting, but I need a beginner's guide before I can even understand most of what they are saying.

Monday morning I woke up and sat up in bed. Yee-ouch! I think I bruised my bum. I don't know if that's possible, but sure what it feels like. My leg muscles were stiff and sore, but my rump just plain hurt. I wondered if I could even sit on the seat. Yes, believe it or not, I wasn't going to wimp out and skip riding. I am tired of seeing that old woman in the mirror, and I'd just as soon not have to get rid of all the mirrors.

I lowered the seat all the way down so I could get off the bike easier and took off. I don't know if the seat was too low or if it was my sore legs, but pedaling was much harder and I only went .2 of a mile before I had to turn around and come home. There are some repaved potholes and humps in the road made by big trucks. Going out, I stood up on the pedals but coming back my legs had turned to mush and I couldn't get off the seat. Another Yee-ouch!

Just before noon I decided that if I am going to change my life, I'd better keep track of it. So I got out the scale and weighed in. Two pounds less than when I was at the doctor's office last week, but that was after eating lunch. I think if I can remember to weigh without my tennis shoes on, I can lose another pound. Just kidding. Well, no, I'm not.

Today, Tuesday Sept. 19. I got out of bed and the bum didn't hurt quite as much. I did my usual garden chores and thought briefly of skipping the ride. Had a few moments of thinking it won't do any good, I'll never be able to ride more than .2 of a mile. Then I got a grip on myself and thought if I don't ride, I might not be able to do .2 next year. So I raised the seat an inch and took off. I looked for the driveway that marks the .2 point and wondered if I would even be able to make it that far. I just kept my eye on the driveway until I made it there and could turn around. Then I headed the Sprint, that torture device created by Satan himself, toward home. When I came across the big humps in the road, I cheated and rode in the grass. Still hurt.

Until next time, may you have blessings and easy riding,

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