Monday, June 24, 2013

Carpe Diem

When I realized I wouldn't be able to ride a bicycle during our upcoming vacation in France, my husband searched the Internet and found the TravelScoot, a collapsible electric tricycle. Problem solved, I thought. When my fellow travelers take their bikes off the canal boat to cycle into the nearest village, I'll be able to join them. But further research revealed that the TravelScoot relies on hand brakes — one for each rear tire — and I can't operate a hand brake with my affected hand.

How about a tandem bike? An adult tricycle? Neither is available for rent. I reconciled myself to quiet hours alone on the boat.

Then my husband found the EV Rider Transport — a mobility scooter like you see old men riding along the sidewalk … except this one collapses into a compact unit that can be wheeled like a piece of luggage. It's exactly the kind of disability-related purchase I've been resisting for three years.

I tell my husband: "I don't want to spend a couple grand on something I won't use when I get better." 

"We need to do what works for you now," he counters.

"But it's not even fast enough to keep up with a bike," I argue.

"I'll walk with you," he says.

Good point. I hadn't even considered the fact that I can't keep up on walks — much less bike rides.  

We bought a Transport, and I've discovered other uses for it besides taking it to France. I now take my dog for walks. I race through obstacle courses with my niece and nephew, who ditch their own scooters and take mine because it's "more fun."

My Transport is fun. I call her "Francine." She reminds me not to put my life on hold while I recover. 

Nate and Abby take Francine for a test drive.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Problems with Goals

In January I set three goals to be finished by the end of June. I'm not going to achieve any of them. 

The first goal was something I thought I should do but realized I didn't want to do. I crossed it off my list. The stroke has taught me not to waste time on things I don't want to do.

I put the second goal on hold because another project came along that is equally important, but more time sensitive. Pre-stroke my solution to having multiple projects was to try harder and work longer. Post-stroke I don't have the stamina. Deadlines are now guidelines; stuff comes up, priorities shift.

My third goal was to re-learn how to ride a bicycle in preparation for an upcoming trip. I added training wheels to my bike and practiced pedaling at the gym. I improved, but I'm not ready. I now realize there is nothing I could have done to get the result I wanted in the timeframe allotted.

Expecting to regain a particular function within a particular period of time goes against my experience of stroke recovery. Muscles heal only so fast. Nerves grow only so fast. It's important to have goals. They get me out of bed and into action. But I need to be smart about the goals I set. When my goal is specific, I need to avoid deadlines. When there is a deadline, I need to frame the goal broadly, allowing for a variety of solutions.

The better goal for me is: By the end of June, figure out how to join my fellow travelers as they cycle through the French countryside.

Oh yeah — and, some day, learn to ride a bike … if I really want to.