Riding In The wind
(more to come soon)
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In Februari1996, while cross-country skiing in Sweden, I had an unfortunate backwards fall and landed on the sharp edge of the skis. It wasn't very painfull, but I had trouble getting back up to return to the cabin, some 10Km further down the track. I managed to get there, eventually, and didn't bother to try go get to the hospital, 80 km down the road, since it was the last day of the holiday anyway. I had a terrible night, throwing up blood, and thinking I was going to die. The next day I returned home, unable to stand upright. I figured I might have a hernia, kept a stiff upper lip and continued the 1000 km drive home. Back home, I managed to get to work and forgot all about the nasty fall.
Several months later, in August 1996 to be precise, while lifting a computer monitor, I found myself on the floor, with numb legs. Again, I diagnosed myself as having a hernia, crawled onto the sofa and called the doctor. Three week later, back on the job, I noticed loss of feeling in my legs again and went to the hospital, where diagnosed a 'problem' with the spinal cord. I had surgury and only then, on the operation table, it was diagnosed that I had broken two vertebrae in the past : the skiing accident.
After four hours of surgery, I returned to my room with a lot of stuff missing in my back, i.e. on the levels L3, L4, L5, the spinal canal had to be broadened by roaming the foramina, and in the process, the laminae were removed, leaving me with an 'open back', or Spina Bifida.
It took me a couple of months to recover from the surgury, and I was very fortunate not to end up in a wheelchair, but my back will always remain a weak spot. In 1997 I was diagnosed as having 'Failed Back Syndrome" and was declared '+66% handicapped'.
Anyway, later in 1997 I managed to ride a bike again: I bought a brand new recumbent in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, at De LiggendeHollander since there were no such vehicles on offer in Belgium (!). I had a couple of test-rides on different bikes, and in the end I had to choose between the Batavus Relaxx and the M5. I decided to have the best bike available and bought an M5 with hydraulic Magura brakes, front and rear suspension, in short: the full monty. $$$ in those days, but well worth the money... until my dearest wife decided to play a mean game and shortly after started a long, painful and not in the least expensive divorce.
The M5 was returned to De Liggende Hollander and my days as a recumbent rider / owner were over. Today, in 2007, I am living 160km (100 Miles) away from the b*tch, but thanks to her I can't afford another (new) recumbent.
From what I have learned in the short time that I had the M5, is that a recumbent is a wonderful thing if there would be no traffic around: the rear visibility is ZERO, and the way people drive their cars, combined with the lack of safe cycleroads in this country , make that I'd rather have a TRICYCLE recumbent instead. I can't take the risk of another spine injury, hence the idea to go three wheels. Unfortunately, trikes are as rare as hen's teeth and thus very expensive.
To make things worse: in the aftermath of the divorce, I got my first heart attack. In December 2000, I was walking to the library, when I suddenly started sweating heavily. Quite abnormal, since it was freezing cold. I didn't feel very well, but managed to get to the library and sat there for about a hour or so. Then I walked back home. That night I was crunching my teeth so badly, that I broke a molar. So I went to see the dentist. And she urgently advised me to see my G.P. He took a ECG and decided something was wrong. So I made an appointment with a cardiologist. Three weeks later in his cabinet, he got very worried, as it was clear that I have had a heart attack a month earlier. So on Valentines Day, Februari 14, 2001, I received my first stent. How romantic...
In Februari 2003, I felt the same kind of pain coming up, got into the car and drove to the hospital. While being monitored, and with the cardiologist discussing my problems with his collegue in the room, it was like somebody turned out the light. I couldn't move, heard all kinds of alarms going off, and then it went black. One cardiac arrest, one. I woke up while having heartmassage from the doctors and was rushed to the OP to have two more stents. To make things worse, the next night, in hospital, I had a pulmonary embolism. This is the worst thing to happen, as it is like choking to death. But I somehow survived...
Since then, I am easily tired and quickly out of breath. My heart isn't pumping enough oxygen around for this big carcass (1,95m - 130kg - 6ft5 - 275lbs), I therefor would like to have my 'new' bike, sorry: trike, to have some sort of assistance. Be it electrical or tiny petrol engine.
My only hope is to find somebody who is able to build a custom trike for me, for little or no profit. I think I might just have met the right person, but only the future will tell.
De Panne (BE)
April 3, 2007
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