Sunday, August 13, 2017

Out of Control

As Miss Jackson says, "'s all about control." I've talked about that before. We control what we can, and we choose what we try to control. Because it's also all about choice. When things don't go according to plan, we can instinctively rant and rave about how reality isn't matching the picture we'd painted in our heads, or we can choose to paint a new picture with the supplies available.

Speaking of not so pretty pictures, over the past seven years I've gained a fair amount of weight -- possibly from a sedentary lifestyle, a diet of "everything in moderation," fatigue, or various prescription med side effects. Of course, I lean toward the latter (lattest?) two; because they're most out of my control and least point to me as a fat, lazy slob.

But blame is lame, so I've tried to get myself in a bonafide exercise routine this summer. Yes, I've passed my cardiac stress tests with no effort whatsoever; but chemically racing my heart rate every two years is no more a legitimate workout than when I used to tell myself that sixty sit-ups a year (during the President's Physical Fitness Test) was all I needed to do to keep in shape. That's perfectly sound logic when you're ten, but not so much when you're pushing 50.

So with my recumbent tricycle stored in the back of my station wagon -- at the ready for Maine Adaptive excursions around Back Cove in Portland -- I've also been able to ride around the campus at work on my lunch breaks.

Generally, that's gone very well. I've done multiple, four+mile rides with Maine Adaptive and tackled some challenging hills at work, even finding that I can now climb hills in a higher gear than when I started (something I didn't know was an indication of progress, having never ridden a cycle with gears before now).

And then, a couple weeks ago, I had an "incident" while riding at work: I had trouble negotiating a tight turn, went up an angled curb and embankment, and tipped over. It was very much a, "Well, this is happening..." moment, only occurring to me later that perhaps I could have shifted my weight and prevented the fall altogether. At the time it was fairly pleasant to just let gravity take me, knowing I was wearing a helmet and falling gradually about a foot and a half at most (recumbent tricycles don't sit high off the ground).

Once I was on the ground, it was also nice to just lie there and take it all in. I like to think I would have eventually gotten around to getting up, but a very nice man who happened to be out for his own mid-day constitutional stopped to check on me, get me righted, and send be back on my way. As I was waiting for the trike to be ready, I noticed something novel I don't often feel -- pain on my left arm. Generally, the stroke hasn't affected sensation on my left side, except in subtle ways. But this was nevertheless unique. When you're a kid, skinned knees and elbows are fairly commonplace, but as an adult -- especially one who expends a disproportionate amount of energy focused on safety and slow, intentional movement -- bumps and bruises are unusual.So when I touched the pain on my left elbow with my right hand to find it wet with blood, I was somewhat tickled by the seeming normalcy of this abnormal event.

As my "road rash" has healed, it's been received with an odd mix of concern and kudos. Some see it as a badge of honor. Mostly, I like that it feels ordinary. Otherwise, it's one more time that a mishap can act as a lesson. I'm not going to let it stop me from getting out there and feeling the wind in my face.

Speaking of which, with the annual Maine Brain Aneurysm Walk coming up, I may ride the full 5K instead of walking the mile and a half. Sometimes it's just nice going fast, as long as I'm in control.

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