I got sick two years ago. Not the kind of sick where you throw up. I got the kind of sick where you can't move. Literally, I had somehow acquired something called an Idiopathic Neuropathy. I woke up one morning and my ankles, feet and toes were so weak they were considered paralyzed. As a New Yorker, it was difficult to get around. I splurged on cabs for the first month or so. My clumsiness made the subway seem like a frightening prospect. But I wanted my freedom back and one day took the plunge, riding the 2/3 train to a doctor appointment. The subway ride felt wrong. I was so scared I was going to fall. Because of my newfound disability, I saw the subway in a whole new light. Fortunately after a few rides, the feeling dissipated and I stopped taking cabs.
I recently decided to take a break from physical therapy to try yoga. It has been a pleasant surprise to see my progress, to see that I am able to relax in poses I couldn't originally hold. Using focus, patience and strength, my comfort zone has literally grown. So has the strength of my extremities (though I don't have EMG proof of this progress yet). And since I have been feeling so strong, I've decided it's time to branch out. I want to ride my bike.
Riding a bike requires certain tools: a bike, a lock, a helmet. But for me, it also require something else. I simply can't get around without my cane. So my bike will be accessorized with 'Cane Belts.'
I often write about the stigma and aesthetic of so many assistive devices. If the device isn't ugly, then it's probably covered in cooties. So I actually found it convenient that the product I needed didn't exist. I sought out the company that I believe makes the most beautiful bicycle accessories around and I asked for their help. And lo and behold, Walnut Studio crafted the most stunning pair of 'Cane Belts' for my bike.
Why is it so important to me that the cane belts are beautiful? It's simple, I'm dead set on beating you to stigma. My cane belts are hand crafted and customized just for my need, my disability. And I want you to be jealous of them.
And that look on your face when I ride in on my bike and hobble off on my cane? I see it. And inside, I'm filled with delight. Nothing thrills me more than when I cause you to question your perceptions of disability.
I have done a lot of work so that I can confuse you. Yoga has been improving my strength and balance. But until recently I couldn't figure out how to build my cardio energy. My drop foot prevents me from running and there aren't many indoor pools in Harlem. So it was a game changer when my partner invested in something called a Peloton Cycle for our home. This thing is insane. It's a state of the art spinning bike with a state of the art touchscreen that taps you into live or recorded studio classes. You race others in the not-so-virtual world of Peloton.
My Peloton does many things. It makes me sweat, it makes me sick (ok, so I can get a little too competitive on it). But most importantly it makes me me confident that I have the tools I need to get from point A to point B.
So with the support of Harlem Yoga Studio, Walnut Studio and Peloton, I am going to get even more uncomfortable. I am going to ride my bike and see where it takes me.
How will you get uncomfortable today?