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Monday, August 22, 2011

Trusting That Gut Feeling

It’s obviously been quite a while since I wrote something for Page 2. The last time I posted was about a week before I had a cycling accident while tandeming.

I hate riding tandems.

No, not because I ended up going to an urgent care center or had to have my “good” arm in a sling for several days. And when I refer to my good arm, it’s not just that I’m right-handed. My left arm is extremely spastic, so while I can actually workout on Nautilus-type equipment, use it to stabilize my right arm, and other things where pressure of some kind pushes against the spasticity, using it to feed myself or brush my teeth or even pull on a pair of pants would have been akin to self mutilation.

Luckily, I only needed the sling for a few days. However, the level of frustration quickly started to rise. I told my mom to take me out back and shoot me if I ever broke my right arm. Six to eight weeks in a cast would have been torture for both of us. While I’m not 100% independent, I can essentially get by for a week at a time on my own if necessary. So, my needing help every couple hours even for a short time got old for both of us quite quickly. I’m pretty sure she was kidding when she agreed to my request. (I’m joking, of course.)

So, following through on my idea of posting a positive thought on a regular basis took a bit of a back seat. I’ve also had more ailments since November than I have ever had in such a short time in my life. I haven’t had anything major, just a seemingly unending string of minor things just strong enough or annoying enough to knock me off my “game.” This time last year I was in the best shape of my life preparing for the first day of the MS Ride. Now, I’m just hoping to string together a few weeks of solid workouts.

But none of that is why I hate riding my bike as a tandem. I hate doing it because of all the things I love about riding my bike on my own. The freedom I feel in doing it that I don’t get from doing anything else in my life. The workout it gives me. The sense of being a part of the city as I ride around the Schuylkill.

I didn’t trust my instincts enough to say “no” to a request to tandem. I didn’t want to do it, but I also didn’t want to upset the person asking me to ride with them. I had said no several times, and thought a quick ride would satisfy the person for a while. As the weaker and rear rider, I gave up control and ended up paying for it with an up close and personal meeting with the asphalt as my partner took a curve way too fast.

It was a not-so-gentle reminder to trust what I feel. I think it’s one of the hardest things to truly learn in life, and I will say that I think it’s even harder with a disability – at least for me. I haven’t had as many experiences as my friends and family. They tend to feel a need to guide me, and I tend to seek out that guidance even as I approach the age of 40. As the song goes, it’s a hard habit to break, and not one that I necessarily think should be broken in one foul swoop.

But there’s nothing wrong with trusting gut instincts. Now and then, it might cost me an experience I should have grabbed. Yet, missing out on a good experience or even tumbling to the ground in a bad one is always easier when I know I went with my own instincts to begin with.

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