The reasons for biking are endless: to have fun, see new places, socialize or to get fit. Some ride their bikes to commute to work, run errands, train for a race, or just to enjoy the outdoors on a nice day. But how about biking to regain lost mobility?
Four months ago, while walking in a park in Phoenix, Arizona, with her son and grandson, my friend, Deb stepped into an unmarked hole. She broke both ankles in that sudden, unforeseeable drop. Unable to stand, walk or do any weight-bearing activity for eight weeks, she began her grueling recovery process from a hospital bed. Through physical therapy, pool therapy and hours of exercises, she has regained some of her ability to get around, including limited walking. While she is grateful to be back on her feet, she feels unstable and hesitant now and has a great fear of falling. Her ongoing pain, along with her concerns of traversing uneven surfaces and of passersby bumping into her, are just a few of the challenges that test her resolve to get around, run errands, shop or meet a friend for coffee. She is currently able to walk about a half mile.
John, her husband of forty-one years and an avid cyclist, was thinking of ways Deb could increase her mobility. He wanted something that would be safe and help her to move more confidently through her day. A traditional bicycle was not an option, given the need to bear full body weight on one leg as the bike comes to a stop. He asked himself, “What would I want if I couldn’t bike on two wheels?” And the answer came to him: a tricycle!
Deb thought it was a great idea and together they set out to select and purchase a three-wheeled solution. Initially, she didn’t know how people would react to seeing an adult riding a trike but was pleasantly surprised; “People look at me and they smile, and I think, they want one.”
Deb is thrilled with her new mobility. The trike gives her a freedom that she has not enjoyed since that fateful day in March. She has worked up to riding a couple miles to a community pool where she continues her recovery regimen. She also rides simply for her own enjoyment along a river trail in her rural neighborhood. “It is amazing! I can pedal better than I can walk. I am starting to feel like Debbie again because I can do things I did before.”
She has named her trike, “Sachi” (pronounced, “Sah-chee”), a female name of Japanese origin that means joy or happiness.
With ongoing therapy and exercises, Deb is hopeful to realize increased mobility and independence, but at this point her prognosis is not fully known. Recovery may take a year or more. As a woman of faith, Deb endeavors to view life as a glass half full, but she is quick to admit that some days the glass appears more empty. I know she would appreciate your thoughts, prayers and well wishes as she and Sachi roll along the path of recovery together.
A special note to you, Deb: Thank you for letting me share your story, my friend. I think it will inspire and encourage RLAG Cycling readers. Should you and Sachi ever find yourself back in Portland, Ride Like A Girl Cycling (along with a band of girlfriends) would be honored to host you on a ride along the Portland Waterfront to celebrate your hard work, remarkable recovery to date and to affirm that you are not rolling alone.