Saturday, August 25, 2007

First Post-Operative Bike Ride

Yesterday I took my first bike ride since the surgery. Of course I wore a bike helmet, which served the dual role of protecting my head and protecting those I meet along the way from having to view my punk hairstyle underneath... I am happy to report I had no falls whatsoever, so its first role was untested.

Our neighborhood has lots of beautiful street with minimal traffic, just right for bike riding. Despite this, I set as my goal the Starbucks on Fair Oaks Blvd., just north of California Blvd. Maybe this is due to some mental deficit, or maybe I just wanted a good cup of Jo...

Anyway, after practicing getting on and off a bit in our driveway, I set out at about 6 am up our street to California, then right on California to Orange Grove Blvd., where the light was red. I managed to successfully negotiate getting off, walking the bike in the crosswalk, and getting back on on the other side. I rode on the sidewalk, figuring that my extenuating circumstances justified this minor violation of traffic laws.

My next stop was Huntington Hospital. I felt like it has been my "home away from home," so I rode up the main entry road, past the entrance, and then back out to California Blvd. I thought I might see someone I know, but I didn't, so onward to Starbucks...

When I got to Fair Oaks Blvd., I had to get off to cross the road. I walked the bike across Fair Oaks, and then when the light changed, across California. On the sidewalk outside Boston Market, I mounted the bike again, and rode the last few feet to Starbucks, where I dismounted, leaned the bike up against the window of Starbucks near an outdoor table, and went it to join the line of early-morning Starbucks customers.

I do have some distinct balance issues, although I found it quite easy to ride the bike. Much more difficult is walking on my two feet. By using the bike as a big two-wheel "cane," I was able to walk outside pretty well. But inside Starbucks, I didn't have my bike for support, so I leaned on the various tables or displays along the way to the counter. I did get a few strange looks. There were 2 guys dressed in hospital garb that suggested to me that they worked at Huntington in some capacity. I saw them looking at each other as if to say "who let that guy out?"

Anyway, I finally made it up to the counter in my lunging way, and ordered a Grande Coffee and an Apple Fritter. The latter is probably disallowed on an anti-cancer diet, but i figured one couldn't do too much harm, and it sure would taste good. So after I paid, I reversed my path, like a billiard ball bouncing off obstacles, until I made it over the the milk/cream/spoon station, where I added non-fat milk (see? I can be good too!).

Then it was just a few short hops and richochets out the door to the table by my bike. I let myself down into the chair, and enjoyed the coffee and fritter. About 10 minutes later, I was finished, so it was time to hit the road (figuratively). I headed out with my two-wheel Trek 15-speed walking cane. I walked all the way to the Vons parking lot (across the street from Huntington Hospital), where I mounted and did a few laps around the parking lot. Satisfied with my bike riding abilities, I decided to walk home, in order to practice walking.

I find that if I don't think about it, I often put my foot (especially on the left) down incorrectly, making contact at the front first. This is a long-term, Parkinson's-related characteristic, but now post-surgery this tendency is a little bit stronger. Maybe (hopefully) it is only a temporary deficit.

So as I walked my bike back home, I consciously worked on getting my leg out in front, and making contact with the ground with my heel first. Once I got into the rythm, it went fine.

So my "bike ride" ended up mostly as a walk. But it was very valuable for me to see what balance issues I do have, and maybe the practice will begin the process of my brain rewiring some circuits to take over control of balance, to replace ones that were damaged at some point by the tumor. I plan to go out for a ride/walk with my Trek 2-wheel walking cane most days. As they say, practice makes perfect.

1 comment:

Verma G said...

I am glad to hear that you are persevering and not letting your "short hops and ricochetting" hinder you from reaching your goal of a Grande Coffee and an Apple Fritter.

I will credit your perseverance to your inheritance from your grandmother who persevered to 103 years. I will have to credit your succumbing to the Apple Fritter to myself. I am sure you are otherwise sticking to the anti-cancer diet.

Good work on practicing correct leg and foot placement with your Trek 2-wheel walking cane. Keep it up.