Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Chronic Ramblings

When I first started this blog, my main motivation was that maybe I could help inspire one or two people to pursue what they love doing in spite of living with RA.  However it is I who have been inspired by so many emails and messages from both followers and drive by readers. 
It is not easy accepting that you have a chronic disease, especially if it means having to give up something you love doing. We all have different degrees of damage which may allow or prevent us from doing what someone else does.  I have never felt cheated by not being able to do what someone else with RA can do.  I accept my limitations as the new me.  There are many distractions from the pain but the bottom line is the more your brain is sucked into an activity, the less pain you are going to notice.   I have given up several things but refuse to give in on my motorcycles.  It also seems that there are many doctors out there who know how to treat the disease, but few know how to treat the patient.  I am fortunate that I found a good rheumatologist ( my first one was not so good) who I am still with today.  
I have felt good for the past 12 days but over did it yesterday by doing all of the yard work.  This morning I pushed myself to go on a short 80 mile ride and am so glad I did.  I found some more of the old Midland Valley Railroad and actually rode a little bit of the old train bed.  I also found 2 old bridge crossings from the railroad.  As a bonus I didn't see a single snake on todays ride.  I was certainly watching for them as I went down under one of the bridges, with tall grass and water, it looked like a snake haven.   
 I rode part of the old Midland Valley Railroad bed today
  Abandoned bridge from the MVR

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Today I Owned RA

I woke to semi stiff, achy joints this morning that soon eased up after a quick splash in the hot tub.  I did a quick 20 minute workout with weights, had a toast and a protein shake and the rest of the day belonged to my motorcycle.  It has been neglected the past 13 days so I checked the tire pressure, oil and cleaned and re-oiled the air filter.  I plugged in the GPS and Spot locator, I always ride with my Spot when I don't know where I am riding for the day, and headed out ... that way.  I didn't have any particular place in mind to ride today, these rides are often the best ones.  There was a chill in the air today, a nice cool 62 when I hit the road, so I had my light riding jacket on over my shoulder pads today. 
Riding along the Arkansas River this morning, I rode past a water moccasin headed right down the center of the dirt road.  As I was passing him, he lunged at my bike with his mouth wide open.  First one I have seen all year, I hate them ... pure evil.   I stopped at the Spiro lock and dam on the Arkansas River.  There was a large barge headed into the lock so I rode up to the tower to get a couple of pictures.  I have great respect for the barge operators on the rivers.  I started talking with one of the guys that works the lock.  As I was taking a couple of pictures once the barges started out of the lock, he said "come on inside, I can get you some better pictures".  I was literally 3 feet away from the barges and tug as it inched its way cautiously through the lock.   Super nice guy, we must have talked for 30 minutes or longer.
I like riding the back dirt roads as much as I can, but had to ride some asphalt today.   Logged 164 miles, stopped by a few bridges along the ride, had one of the best cheeseburgers you can ask for.  All in all, much better than last week when my RA took me for a ride ... today I owned my RA.
This is the old rail bed of the Midland Valley railroad.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

My Therapy

I have received my share of looks and questions over the last few years when people learn that I still ride a motorcycle living with RA.  The simple truth is, I hurt getting on and off of the bike, I have some minor discomfort on most rides and start experiencing problems with my hips and hands at the 100-130 mile mark.  But as far as safety is concerned, I have never felt uneasy about riding since being diagnosed.  After starting this blog, I have received numerous emails from RA patients asking this very question.  Many of them have noted that their doctor/rheumatologist have warned them against riding.  One lady told me that her rheumatologist told her that "no one with RA can safely ride a motorcycle".  This infuriated me, since being diagnosed I have owned 4 motorcycles and logged over 12,500 miles with 8,000 of those off road-much more challenging miles.  Does her doctor think that I am not  capable of handling a motorcycle?  It frustrates me that the very people who should be encouraging patients to continue to keep living, are advising patients to give up their hobbies.  My bikes ARE my therapy and when I'm not riding, I am researching new places to ride or working on them.  I'm not suggesting that all RA patients need to ride motorcycles, but we all need a distraction to keep our mind from focusing on the pain.
Every time I climb on a bike it's an adventure, even on asphalt.  Riding to work clears my mind and opens my senses, I notice things riding that I would take for granted in a car, I feel every bump and experience every turn when riding, the rush you get is just a bonus. No car can compare to the feeling or satisfaction I get from riding.  I feel that after starting to ride more asphalt, it has made me a better driver (car) also.
Copperhead (one of the largest I have seen) we bumped into Monday riding.
I just received my New Mexico Atlas today so over the next week Randall and I will be deciding where we want to ride while out there.  It looks like we will be heading out that way September 23rd unless something comes up.  Nothing like sticking your knobbies on new dirt!