It was around 3 weeks after my surgery. Another beautifully sunny afternoon. Another day of me missing out on doing the things I loved, as Neil had gone out on a club bike ride and I was stay in the garden, resting…
When he got home, Neil left his bike in the garden, and I gazed at it, thinking back to how I used to enjoy us both heading out on the local cycle paths and greenways, stopping off to grab a coffee and cake.
I had been told that riding a bike would be very difficult, if not impossible after surgery due to my vestibular nerve being sacrificed in order to have better access to the tumour and lessen the risk of permanent damage to my facial nerve.
But I couldn’t help but wonder, what if…? What if I could I could ride it? What would it feel like now I have no balance? I walked over to the bike.
I don’t quite remember how the conversation went, but it ended with Neil lowering the seat on his bike was low as it would go. I sat on the seat and tried to find my balance.
It was strange. Just like that first time I got out of bed and tried to walk, it felt like I’d never ridden a bike before.
Gripping onto the handlebars, I pushed myself along, not even venturing near the pedals. And then, as I began to get used to the feel of the bike, I put one foot on a pedal, then the other.
I was off. I spent about 20 minutes riding slowly up and down the patio. It felt weird and unnatural, but I was doing that which a few months earlier I didn’t think I’d be able to do ever again, and certainly not this soon!
The following week we took the bikes to a quiet track and again, with the seat as low as it would go, we rode up and down. This was far more challenging, as the surface was broken up and uneven, and the hedgerows at either side overgrown with nettles and brambles, a visible enemy waiting to pounce during a moment of weakness.
But this worked to my advantage. The thought of a prickly, stingy landing was just the encouragement I needed to stay in the saddle!
For half an hour, I cycled up and down that track. It still felt alien to me, and didn’t come naturally at all, as it once had before this.
I am determined not to be defined by what has happened to me though, at least not in a negative away, and so despite the difficulties and the fatigue I kept going.
A week later (5 weeks post op I think), I rode 10 miles to the small cafe I used to enjoy riding to do much.
The following week, having informed my somewhat surprised consultants at my 6 week check up of my progress on two wheels, I cycled 30 miles, once again with coffee and cake being my motivating factors!
Everything can seem impossible until it’s done. However, if you can learn to keep a positive mindset, and focus not only on your goal or destination, but each tiny bit of progress you make along the way and just keep building on it, then absolutely anything is possible.