I think I might have to make this my title page video.
I took my front fork in to the bike shop yesterday in order to have some routine maintenance done on it. By routine I mean that I have neglected to ever do any maintenance on it. I grew up on a fully rigid Shogun “Prairie Breaker II” so when I first got suspension I guess I figured that they took care of themselves like the steel fork of my youth.
I proceeded to the shop part of the store and asked the guy up front who was replacing some tubes if they could work on the fork.
“Sure, let me go talk to one of our mechanics and I will be right with you” He said.
As I was waiting I wandered around the store noticing all the brand new bikes in the store. My friend Dave and I swapped bikes back in 2007, he got my road bike and I got his full suspension mountain bike. As it turned out I hated road riding and Dave decided that mountain biking was not a venture that he should be taking on with one arm. Dave does everything else that you can imagine with one arm, but mountain biking is not one of them anymore. Road biking, however, was something that he could do and I was more than happy to get rid of the one that I had bought brand new and was not getting any joy out of. That bike was an attempt on my part to adapt to living in eastern South Dakota, it didn’t take.
So needless to say (but I guess I will anyway) my bike is getting old. The Diamondback Full-Suspension bike is I would guess almost 15 years old now. I tried to take care of it as best I could but it is starting to nickel and dime me. I looked at the new Cannondale full-suspension 27.5″ and 29″ wheel bikes and realized how old the components and technology on my bike were. I lusted. I thought about starting a “Go Fund Me” campaign to buy a new bike, then I realized that those campaigns are for noble reasons. I just wanted a new bike.
So the guy that took my fork back into the shop brought it back out and was accompanied by the most merciful mechanic I have ever seen. He looked at me as a doctor would if they had to give me some bad news.
“You look like the doctor that is about to tell me that my dog just died” I said. I had intended to say “you look like the doctor that is about to tell me that my child died” but that seemed a bit harsh for the moment. Instead, halfway through my quip I changed direction and “dog” came out.
He looked shocked (hey, I made a pun), then he smile and said “yeah” looking at my shock “your dog just died”.
“They don’t make parts for that shock anymore, and we can’t fix it”.
So I spent the next ten minutes working with the “merciful mechanic” on finding a shock that works for an old mountain bike that has 26″ tires and V-brakes. For those of you that do not know what that means, I am riding a dinosaur.
Thank you to Silverdale Cyclery for your impeccable bedside manner, as a pastor I know that no one likes bad news. You gently allowed me my moment to mourn and helped me move on.
The answer: Very carefully.
About twenty years ago I was staying at a friends house on a weekend trip away from college. His parents seemed to love having me stay at their house, the even dubbed the room I stayed in as “Bart’s Room”. It was an honorary title I am sure, I think they let other people stay in there. They certainly didn’t ask me if other people could stay in my room.
This bedroom had its own bathroom with a bathtub. For those of you that have two legs, this is not the greatest scenario for a one-legged person. I used to hop out if there was good traction, but if the traction was not good, I would support myself by holding on to the shower door.
Fun Fact: Shower doors are not supposed to hold a persons body weight.
I managed to put the handle back in place after I had almost broke it. I cannot honestly remember if I told them about it or not. I might not have because I would usually get pretty embarrassed anytime I did something that would show me to be a one-legged person (I think they might have figured it out though).
Since then I have had a few shower slips that are mostly pretty painful, I refuse to sit down. Well I did until I was forty, then I found a shower chair on Craigslist and decided it was time to be comfortable when I was taking up all the hot water.
I broke it.
So now I am back to standing in the shower, which is not a big deal unless you have just arrived back at your house after a 12 mile bike ride. Usually I would get in and stand under the hot water. Occasionally I bike enough that standing up on a leg that has been doing roughly 80% of the bike work is just not an option. I had made the decision before I even went downstairs to take a shower (upstairs, perilous bath tub; downstairs, nice big shower stall) that I was going to just sit on the floor of the shower and soak for awhile. So I did, and it was great except for the fact that it is hard to reach anything when you are sitting on the floor of the shower.
Sometimes I don’t care about the difference between me and two-legged people. Many times that moment is preceded by an event that has fatigued me to the point that my pride says”okay, I get it”. Even though I have been an amputee for 25 years now (is that the silver anniversary?) I still compare my accomplishments to people that have two legs. If I wasn’t able to keep up on the bike ride, it was because I was fat or out or shape or sick. The people on the ride still say that they admire me for what I can do, and I usually try to tell them that I would be able to keep up if I was in shape. That may or may not be true, but at least if I am out of shape I still maintain that there is a version of me, that is possible to attain, that can keep up with you.
I estimate that in the next five years I will have squelched that voice because my body won’t allow me to listen to it anymore.
So about 30 years ago when I lost my leg I also lost my right latisimus dorsi (lat) and my right abdominus rectus (think 3 pack instead of 6). I also lost some skin off my thighs and a couple veins out of my left calf. Most people only see the scar on the back side of my left leg. Funny story: my wife’s best friend knew about my leg before I met her so when she actually met me she said “your leg!” to which I said “Yeah, I lost it in a motorcycle accident”. To which she replied “I knew that, I was talking about your other leg; its huge”.
The point is, as I have stated before in regards to the title of my blog is that I am severely lopsided. Which is why a few years ago I jumped at the opportunity for a friend of mine to give me some chiropractic adjustments. Thankfully I have a very large bone structure (He’s just big boned) so a don’t have to worry about getting out-of-whack as much as some. But since I know lots of people that have had back surgery that did not have as many pre-existing issues as me, I felt like I should take this issue seriously.
The cynical part of me always wondered if chiropractic care was just a matter of making sure that the person could get your body to “pop”. Then you would feel as though they had done something, and they could insure that they accomplished a result and you would come back. I gotta tell you though that it feels really good when my body crackles and then it feels even better when I start walking around and feel my body move a little easier.
Something tells me that I am going to be a pretty crippled up when I get older but I am not choosing to think about that much right now. How many of you have ever though about the long term implications of the actions of your youth? A couple years ago when I went flying about 20 feet over my handle bars of my mountain bike my only thought was…well it was not a clean word. I definitely did not see my life flash before my eyes. That sentiment is a lie, in my opinion unless you are falling far enough that you have run out of other choice words. I am more cautious than I was when I was younger, but I think that is because I am fatter and my reaction time is slower.
Thinking about long-term implications, I think, is a learned trait rather than an inherent trait. Usually it comes when there is something to lose, in this case I am supposed to come home to my wife and kids. What is the horizon that you look over? Is it just your next personal or professional goal? Is it the legacy that you leave before you die? Or is it the path that you will take into eternity? Some don’t believe in thinking beyond what happens here on earth. For me, that is the only long-range planning that I have really nailed down. My body isn’t taking me much farther, every joint from my hips down to my toes pops before 9 am and I am only 41.
For those of you looking for an intelligent quasi-political commentary like yesterday this may not be it. So I went to the YMCA yesterday with my family so that my kids could complete their swimming lessons. During that time I went to the treadmill to run. I have become keenly aware over the years that when I get on a treadmill I am not just another person that is running on the treadmill. I am “did you see that one-legged guy running on the treadmill!”
When I first lost my leg I had all sorts of insecurities but the biggest one of all (and please remember that I was 16) was sex appeal. I was truly afraid that I would no longer be attractive by the opposite sex. Honestly as a 16 year old boy I believed that this would have a very adverse effect on any sort of sex life. Later on in life my insecurities about what people thought waned. When I was in college I stripped off all the cosmetic stuff of my leg because it wasn’t fooling anyone. It just delayed people’s awareness that I had one leg. Getting married to my beautiful wife was a tremendous boost in confidence because it was such a concern for me.
So back to the Y. After I ran on the treadmill for awhile I went to sit in the hot tub with my wife. Since I was a swimmer in high school I stopped being so self conscious about taking my leg off to get in the pool. But back when I was a swimmer I was a skinny guy with one leg. Here is the funny part of the story. In my twisted mind, because I am getting old and out of shape, I somehow thought people were looking at my gut. That is when this one-legged, scarred up from surgery, prosthesis resting on the wall, guy realized that maybe my gut was the last thing that was on people’s mind when they looked at me. That, I was okay with because I have been getting stared at because of that for years.
This post I would like to hand over to my father. Apparently one of the stories about my high school days made it into the paper in my home town the other day.
People seem to find stories about my leg interesting, here is one that I posted a while back that many people did not read. I thought it would be good to re-post it.
I have been volunteering to go and tutor at Pearson Elementary for the last couple months. This last Monday as I was leaving the office I heard the sound of metal rolling across concrete. Then I looked down and realized that I was standing on one foot and my other foot was behind me. The collar between my foot and my socket just snapped in half. This is not too uncommon for me as many of you know I believe myself to be a bit of a legend when it comes to breaking legs.
What is more normal than I would like it be is downright bewildering for other people. There was a woman that came walking up behind me as I was collecting my various leg parts. She seemed to take a moment to process what she was seeing, then to her credit she offered to help. When she…
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