It felt so good to be on the bike again – my real bike, not my daughter’s and definitely not the one that replaced the one that split in two as I was crossing the road last year – that I rode 45km along the Elbe just because.
Tuesday it will be three months since my ski injury, and only three weeks ago the physiotherapist at rehab said to me in a gentle, roundabout kind of way that my goal of getting back on the mountain bike would have to wait.
“I think we all knew that riding again by the end of your time here wasn’t going to be,” she said, “but I think by the end of the year you’ll be ready.”
The end of the year? Another seven months of taking the bus? I went home feeling despondent. I was making progress on getting the knee to bend more and more, so why such a long, drawn-out recovery? Maybe she was just trying to make sure I wouldn’t get my hopes up too high for a quick return to full range of motion.
By some scheduling quirk they assigned me a different physiotherapist the next week. She’s no better than the first one, but somehow she stretched me out one day so much, it made all the difference.
That same afternoon – the Friday of week three – I got up on the exercise bike, the real one, the one with the real crank and not the one you adjust shorter for those with limited flexibility – and gave it a turn. And another. And another. I could not believe it. It felt tight at the top of the circle, but I could do it just fine. I was so happy, I wanted to scream with joy. It was like climbing to the top of a ridge when you’re heading for the summit and taking in an incredible view knowing that you’re finally over the first big push. I clenched my fists, bowed my head, wanted to scream but couldn’t, so it just happened – a gush of tears. I could not hold them back. I was so happy, so incredibly overjoyed at once again proving to myself my leg was going to get better enough to allow me to do this simple task once again. I tried to hide it by swiping my towel, taking in deep breaths, but it didn’t work. It was like a release from weeks of frustration and doubt.
I looked over to my right to the desk at the corner of the gym and there she was, the physio who only two hours before had had both my legs stretched out on the table saying, “Gee, you’re really doing this well.”
I wiped off my face and walked over to where she was sitting, leaned over and said as sincerely as I could, “thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” She didn’t know what I meant, but I pointed over to the bike and said, “over there, the bike – I can do it!”
I led her over and got back on and showed her, thanked her again, and kept on it for another 20 minutes.
Yesterday, after practising in the meantime on my daughter’s bike, and the dreaded split-in-two bike, I took out my bike – the one I watched them build from scratch – and took it for a spin. The right thigh might still resemble a sausage with a slice down one end, but it bends and is getting stronger. It feels great.