Thursday, June 30, 2016

the art of listening to your body

I got home a few days ago from my annual teaching residency in the midwest.
All month long, I'd had flashes of arthritis-like joint and muscle pain, sometimes so debilitating I could not sleep at night. I somehow managed to crawl through the three-and-a-half week gig with help from tylenol, coffee and friends who made sure I didn't overtax my knees by riding too much or too hard. And then I came home and saw my Primary care physician.

I'd been in touch with my GI doc, asking if these symptoms might have anything to do with Crohn's. He finally answered by saying, yes, probably; and go see your regular doc for followup since I basically just deal with your gut. So I saw my PCP. She then conferred with my GI doc, and now I'm being told that I will want a referral to see a rheumatologist because this may be a thing going forward -- a result of both Crohn's and aging.

Today I felt painfree enough to ride my bike on errands. My right knee twinged a little so I stayed in low gears the whole way and pedaled gently. By the time I got home my elbow was beginning to hurt again too, and I could feel a hint of joint stiffness coming on along with some fatigue.

Still, it was nice to be able to ride.

My only bummer is that, as I get slower and stiffer, I may not be able to enjoy organized events anymore; and I'll be back at square one -- where I began when I founded Slug Velo in 2003.
And I'd be fine riding at a slow, sociable pace with folks -- but I don't want to be responsible for leading any rides anymore. I just want to go riding with friends now and then, period. No leadership, no waivers, no responsibility, and no helmet wars. Toss a sack lunch in my basket and some coffee in my thermos and ride to a park with friends.

Velo Cult has encouraged me to host a Slug-styled ride and offer it to the Velo Cult "Team". I've agreed and so I'll invite folks to come garage sale riding with me later in July.

But the fatigue and tiredness -- not to mention the ten pounds I've put on from the meds and less physical activity -- is compelling me to change my approach to bicycling. I struggle with this because I really want to stay young, slim and energetic. But we all age at our own pace and in our own way; and the real task is for me to learn how to embrace where I am and find a way to enjoy riding no matter how slow. So that's my homework for now.

 Next up: another installment in my Portland Bridge series; followed by ride reports from the Velo Cult Garage Sale Ride and July's Sunday Parkways.

Happy riding!

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