Sunday, November 27, 2011

Improvement (a kind of Thanksgiving)

I am getting better.
Whether I am actually healing, or just getting better at dealing with symptoms, or maybe a combination of the two... there seem to be more days without headaches and fatigue.

In September, I was able to go for my first bike ride in well over 2 years. A route was picked, and I made sure that G had a copy of the route with all of the possible shortcuts I might take (just in case...).  Maps, cellphone, RoadID, GPS, water, spare tubes, tool kit, and snack were carefully packed. Bicycle tires were pumped up. I wore a neon color so that drivers could see me.

My backpack is filled with stuff like this... always be prepared. Flickr photo by ICBondurant

I took one last look at the map to make sure I knew where I was going. And I promptly had a panic attack. I didn't know where Weston Road was. What would happen if I got lost? What happens when I get tired because of riding? (answer- my cognitive abilities dissipate..and I might get lost.. or make a wrong decision and get hit by a car).... Where would I be then? I grew more terrified of all of the things that could go wrong. What happens if I get hit? What happens if I get hit and it makes my brain injury worse???? Haven't I already gone through enough?? Maybe I'll just stay home and take a nap.....

This went on for an hour.
I managed to slightly convince myself that everything would be ok, and if it wasn't, I could call G and he could pick me up.  Talking myself down took some effort.  I had to remember all the times that groups of riders would pass by our house, and I was sad that I couldn't join them... it was too dangerous for someone like me to be on a little bicycle around cars.

After putting my helmet and cycling shoes on, I took "Sparky" (my red bicycle) out the door, and sat in the driveway a minute or two.  It was very much like standing on the edge of a cliff, and convincing myself that my rappelling gear would hold me if I went over..

Rolling from the driveway onto the road was scary.
For the first two or so miles, I was nothing but nerves. Terrified.  Even though I had picked a quiet day, there were cars... and traffic was a quick reminder to keep my head swiveling, be alert. 

I don't know when comfort settled in. Maybe it was Weston Road, with it's quiet leafy dips and hills. Maybe it was the familiar turning of the crank, the shifting.

What I do know is that I felt a sense of freedom, finally. I could get to a place without being a passenger. And I didn't end up taking any shortcuts.
Quaint Cafe on Main Street
One of my favorite places to go in Concord MA, photo by Ms. Jen on Flickr

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