Current Happenings

Plains & Pastures Bike Tour (2013)

I'm so proud to live here! Fredericton folks are just AMAZING!!!  Thank you one and all!!  My team raised over $2000.  The support was humbling.  What a great place to be!!!

Mind you, the journey isn't about me - it's about people who fight this horrible disease on a daily basis.  If you're reading this now, I hope you'll come back and sponsor me in the ride next time. 


Bike for Breath

Many thanks to everyone and their generosity.  The amazing people in my life supported me to the tune of $377.  Some days it is just great to be here!   (Fall 2012)


Entries in Motorcycles (2)


The Joy of Movement

Social niceties are entertaining sometimes.  Unless they're incredibly ignorant, most people just don't make comments about your excess weight (at least to your face).  But when you start losing it, then all of a sudden you hear this chorus of "You MUST feel so much BETTER now!!"  It seems like it's the only safe thing people can think of while scraping their jaw off the floor..... 

In truth, No, I don't consciously feel better.  It's the absences that are significant. It's the absence of pain and the freedom to move.  It's something that takes you by surprise when you're right in the middle of it.

Movement is something you take for granted when you're healthy.  For the most part I was able to move even at heavy weight.  It was no big deal for me to walk 8-10 blocks downtown to the drugstore at lunchtime.  Mid-day heat might stop me as I've never been a good lizard, but the walk itself wouldn't have put me off.  I have pretty much been able to do whatever I tried for most of my life.  Horses, motorcycles, even elephants were all adventures to be enjoyed.

Everything cascaded from a simple knee injury hopping off a truck.  The "good" knee couldn't take the extra strain, plantar fasciitis kicked in, knees seized up, back hurt all the time - really bad.  Mobility vanished: when I got off the crutches there was no normal to go back to.

Various bits of movement came back slowly, in small steps.  I remember being in the changeroom and having to put on my socks.  Without thinking I just bent my leg and put my foot on the bench.  YAHOO!!!!  I needed to go downstairs for something - half way down I realized that I was just walking normally - NOT crab hopping one leg first at each tread.  YEEHA!!!

Gradually without noticing the length of my stride has improved, I can get on my bike without lowering it almost to the ground like before, I've even quasi-jogged a couple dozen paces to make it to the intersection in time for the pedestrian walk signal.  It's not obvious, but you don't notice when you don't hurt.

In a really strange sort of way, it feels like I'm multiple people.  The younger me took movement for granted and just did things.  There have been times in the pool when I've got my stroke just right and things are all clicking together that I actually feel like that person again.  It's not a conscious thought - more like a warmth as the joy of movement just washes over you.  The feeling doesn't generally last long.  The euphoria usually means you forget what you're doing and end up with a mouth full of water.  But for those split seconds, it's almost like a different me is in the water. 

Maybe that's what I should answer instead of "Yes I feel so much better".  No, I don't feel better: I feel like me.  I'd forgotten what that felt like.  It's kind of like a toothache: you don't notice when it's gone!

I remember the first time I rode a Trials Motorbike.  It belonged to my friend Mike and was one of his prized possessions.  He was really good at it - zipping over log bridges & jumping off rocks long before it was a cool hobby.  He let me ride it around and around his house in Vermillion.  (Yeah I'm sure the neighbours loved us!)  It was a total blast.  Impossible to sit down on the thing - you had to stand which meant you had to have control of yourself as well as the bike.  No mean feat considering it was nothing like a horse!!  I even managed to win a certain amount of respect since I didn't stall it or dump it or run into anything.  Mike's wife Marilyn (the photographer) wasn't all that fond of the thing.  She much preferred sitting on the back of the big Honda and taking pictures without a car window in the way.  She got some incredible ones on their honeymoon.  But I digress......

I have a whole shopping list of goals for myself when I "get healthy" again.  Most of them include something active.  I'd love to get another motorcycle for zipping around on a hot day.  I plan on digging out my cross-country ski's this winter.  I saw a tv special on "The Iron Man" about a month after I took out the Y membership.  That would be awesome.  Could you imagine?  Lose 200 pounds and finish an Iron Man?  Now there's a stretch goal and then some. 

I've kept my mouth shut about that goal though.  Who's going to believe someone weighing 350 pounds when she says she's going to take up triathlon?  No.  Just think it - don't say it.  Well - that's just a bad idea.  I found this "Blog of Impossible Things" by a guy named Joel Runyon.  Basically he got sick of being ordinary and has started doing things.  Crazy things.  Things that ordinary people think are impossible.  He's got a list and he's slowly crossing them off as he gets them done, one by one.  There's a role model.  My friend Laura is another one.  She ran a half-marathon in Prague to raise money for Arthritis last year.  Next year she's doing a full one in Rome, again to raise money for Arthritis.  She's encouraging me to start running too.  You know what Laura?  I'm still too fat to fly, but I'm going to do what I can do next summer.  That's a promise. 


Old wounds come a'haunting.....

One really good thing I've done for myself lately is to visit an orthotics specialist.  My knees are SO much happier.   In the measuring process he notes that one leg is shorter than the other by about a quarter inch.  He assures me this is quite common (and I'm remembering all the hassles I've had with the other leg turning out - now I know it was the body's way of compensating for the difference).  Sigh.

My supportive child says "Well yeah - the smaller one."  (Note that "dumbass" is implicit by her tone.)  My only possible response was "Huh?"  So she huffs, puffs, mutters and measures both my legs.  Yes, it is indeed 3/4" smaller in diameter.  Then she makes me test it on the machines at the Y.  It turns out that the strength capacity of the left & smaller leg is 20-25 pounds less than the right leg. 

Wow!  I remember a bike reference saying that differences in leg strength is common too: usually one leg does pretty much all of the work.  You should try cycling with only one leg on the pedal and see which one is the dominant leg.  I test that theory: lo and behold the left leg is definitely NOT pulling it's weight!! (LOL!) 

How can this be?  Then I remember my motorcycle misadventures in Vanuatu. 

I had a colleague visiting from Samoa and I wanted to show her the view of Port Vila from the top of Mele mountain.  I wasn't speeding, wasn't doing anything foolish, just puttering actually since in Vanuatu you never know when there's going to be a kid chasing a soccerball across the road.  I never even saw it coming.  This freakin' huge German Shepherd comes roaring out of the bush and tries to bite the front tire (better the tire than my leg I was thinking!).  Next thing I know we've run the front tire over the dog, popped the front of the bike in the air, Peggy falls off the back of the bike and the bike lands on me.  The dog, Peggy, and the bike are fine.  Me well, not so much.

I spent the night in hospital which was an experience.  Think huge airy ward/room with ineffective ceiling fans at the top and I'm closeted in a corner (think office cubicle but walls only slightly taller).  Some "kindly" soul has donated a vcr to the hospital for the patients to watch.  It is on the wall next to my "room".  It turns out the accident ward was mostly full of men, and ni-Vanuatu men like to watch car chases, gun fights, fist fights and general mayhem.  I didn't get much sleep and the painkillers weren't doing much either.  In the wee hours of the morning I wobble-hobble on hospital crutches (6 inches too short) down to the nursing station for directions to the bathroom.  (I figure it's faster & easier than trying to find them on my own.)  The nurse looked at me like I had three heads.  As it turns out, white people were ALWAYS given a private room, and private rooms had toilets!  HOW was I supposed to know???  Private?  It was in what I had thought was a cupboard, backing onto the the vcr machine on the other side of the cubicle wall.  Private???  I waited for a seriously loud part of the video.....

That cast put a serious cramp in the scuba diving for several weeks.  It was however a "walking cast" which mean that ultimately I hacked the block of wood off the bottom so I could cram a shoe on, then I just tied the single crutch I used onto the front handlebars of the bike, and away I went.  Believe me when I say that a cast in the tropics gets itchy as hell!!

The next incident was a rookie mistake, but still my fault.  It was dark and I was on my way to a house I'd not visited before.  I didn't see the loose gravel in the intersection and the back of the bike skidded out on me as I went around the corner.  Again, luckily I was going slow.  This time there was no way I was going to get trapped under the bike again so I whipped my leg up and out of danger.  Sort of.  My bike was sensibly an "Agriculture" model - meaning it had this extra rollbar-type pipe cage around the front handlebars to protect your hands from getting smacked with branches and things as you went through bush.  Unfortunately, I sliced my knee open on a bolt on the safety bar.  Oh crap.  Another major gap appeared in the dive log!!!!!!

There was no such thing as physiotherapy in Vanautu.  I was back in the water diving as soon as I could go.  I do remember my dive buddies laughing at me because I had trouble swimming straight lines for the first little while, but eventually it all worked out and I forgot about it.  Until now!!!!