Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What It Means to be Old

It doesn't matter how much exercise I do -- there are some things I can't do any more. I just discovered another one today.  I was bicyling to my physical therapist in sub-zero weather. No biggie. I can bicycle in sub-zero weather. I just have to remember to wear knee-high socks, thermal underwear and a good jacket.  But then the brakes on my bike froze. This is not an artistic metaphor. The brakes froze to the wheel and the wheel would not turn. I used my cell phone to call my physical therapist to explain the situation.  I told him I could carry my bike to the bus (about three blocks) but I couldn't guarantee the bus schedule, so I'd be anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes late for my half-hour appointment.  We both agreed that missing 20 minutes of a 30 minute appointment wasn't worth it. After I hung up, I decided to carry my bike 5 blocks to the nearest gas station where it could warm up and then I could free the brakes and ride home. Then I could take the bus to my next job without the hassle of lugging my bike on and off that bike carrier rack on the bus.  Five blocks used to be nothing.  My bike weighs about 30 lbs.  Again -- not a big deal. I carried my children when they weighed more than that.  But not any more.  
In retrospect, I should have locked my bike up at the nearest traffic sign and take the bus to the PT. My time schedule had included the fact that I walk slower when I'm carrying my bike. But the fact is that it never occured to me to lock up my frozen bike and go on without it.  The projected high for tomorrow is above freezing.  I could have gotten it home tomorrow.

Now that my body won't cooperate, I need to train my brain to remember what my body actually can do. And to accomodate where it can't.  And I need to soak in a hot bath.  Carrying that bike made me ache like an old person.  It's hard work learning to be old.

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