I just had a minor back surgery. Nothing too serious! I was an outpatient, surgery was just over an hour and I was home by the end of the day. I had to spend the next four days as flat on my back as possible and after that I could venture to sitting up for a maximum of twenty minutes every three or four hours. My pain subsided really quickly, but that could have been due to the drugs. Overall, my recovery was not too bad. Once I was up on my feet, walking was OK. The radiating pain down my left leg had completely disappeared and now it was only the healing from the surgery and incision that was bothering me. After two weeks of rehabilitation, I returned to work, none the too worse for wear, but still not able to sit for extended periods.
And this my, friends is the point of this blog. More than worrying about walking, sitting, lying, relaxing or even being in pain, I was worried about not being able to ride my motorcycle again. The thought of not getting out on the road sent additional shivers up and down my recovering spine. Before surgery, my doctors told me it would probably be a few months before I would be ready to mount my trusty steed and those words alone convinced me that I should not have surgery. But like all red blooded American males, a strict tongue wagging from my ever loving wife, who in her so eloquent way managed to convince me that in the long run it would be better for me to go ahead with the surgery. It was something along the lines of, if I had the surgery, she would be there to look after me during recovery, but if not, she wasn’t sure who would be there making me breakfast the next morning. That made up my mind, because Lord knows I love breakfast.
So during my self-pitying recovery, I decided to do some research on riding if you’re disabled or handicapped. I read some super inspiring stories. Some people will not be held down or back. People have come up with ingenious modifications to continue riding a motorcycle. Never before have I believed the saying, “if there is a will, there is a way”. You’d think that after losing a limb, it would be enough just to be able to learn how to walk again, but there are people who are so inspired and strong willed that once they are back on their feet, they learn how to ride a motorcycle again.
There are countless resources out there that will assist in modifying a motorcycle to function along with a prosthetic leg or limb. If you have a relationship with a bike shop and are willing to spend a lot of time, there is a way you can modify a bike to accommodate most requests. They have devised methods to shift gears with just a heel, knee or hand. Braking can be swapped from right to left. There are power shifters for riders who cannot operate a foot shifter. They have devised automatic clutches that disengage at an idle, and allows you to shift manually and maintains engine braking. There are even stabilizer wheels that are hydraulically operated side-mounted wheels that hold the bike upright at a stop and can be lowered by flipping a switch, and side-mounted wheels that stabilize the motorcycle but still allow it to lean.
For people who have no ability to walk, there have been motorcycles that have been modified to facilitate a wheelchair to be rolled on and incorporate the functions while seated in the wheelchair. The ingenuity and tenaciousness of these designs just blew my mind. There is just no holding back a man born to ride.
So if I learned or gained anything from my short time off, it was to stop feeling sorry for myself, as there are people who have been far worse off than me, who have accomplished goals far greater than mine. Everything is possible if you wish it; you just have to apply yourself. Have faith and belief and most of all spirit.