Ride and Try Not to Die

March 20, 2014

If I could tell you one thing I learned last year it would be that life’s too short not to live it in a way that’s meaningful to you. While I sat there listening to blocking out my doctor list off the terrifying things I was now at risk for, all I kept thinking (just prior to fainting) was “But I haven’t gone anywhere and now this thing might explode in my head so I CAN’T go anywhere.” I guess you could say it was one way to quickly figure out what was really important and, surprise surprise, it wasn’t clothing or shoes.

After I got home and finished having a mental breakdown on the phone to my ex-boyfriend (I mean sometimes you just need to talk to someone who couldn’t care less if you lived or died. HA! Don’t lose your humor, people) I sat there in a daze. What did she mean this was a warning sign? What did she mean there was a high likelihood of this happening again, but with far worse results, within the next 5 years? WHAT DID SHE MEAN I’M OLD? It was a lot to take in all at once, so I just sat and cried. You’ll see this has become a recurring theme of mine.

As someone who’s never really had a health problem in their life, I wasn’t sure what to do. <Another recurring theme: daze.> Amongst the advice I was given were these gems:

  • Don’t let yourself get hungry, it could trigger a headache that could trigger a stroke.
  • Don’t let yourself get thirsty, it could trigger a headache that could trigger a stroke.
  • Make sure you’re getting enough exercise, but nothing too strenuous because it could trigger a headache that could trigger a stroke.
  • Don’t get a headache.
  • Avoid conflict.

And my personal favorite:

  • Avoid stress.

Armed with a mighty arsenal of WTFs I set about trying to figure out how to avoid conflict and stress. Maybe I could be a shut-in? Maybe it was time to look into those ads in the PennySaver that say you can be a stay-at-home editor making $50/hr reading books? Wait! How about a stripper? Nope, there might be hunger, thirst and headaches if I didn’t get my 15 minute break.

Throwing my hands up in the air I went back to sleep for another 17 hours, doctor’s orders.

About a month later there was a loud knock on the front door. Shuffling downstairs in a pretty scary pair of pajamas, I opened it to find a huge box and the FedEx guy. When I asked him what was in it he smiled a big one and said ‘BIKE’. I smiled a big one right back. The one thing I knew I needed to do was get outside more. Even if I wasn’t in the best condition to go far places, riding a bike would get me SOME place and it did not have to be too strenuous getting there. Chris kind of laughed when I first mentioned riding bikes because his ass doesn’t know me at all. Back in ’76 I learned to pedal my gold Schwinn Stingray with the matching glitter banana seat on gravel, fool. See Exhibit A:


He showed me he believed that one after all when he bought me my bike. Even though I couldn’t really balance at first and was a little worried I might never be able to, I take no prisoners on that sucker now. Eat my dust! It’s the best gift I’ve ever received and definitely the best therapy I got after getting sick. Well, after B. Franklin anyway. How’s that for a punch in the eye to stress and conflict? BAZINGA!




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  • Reply Priscila Peters March 21, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    I’ve not been blogging for a long time, but I check some posts here and there and I see yours on FB and this one caught my eyes. I saw the black and white photo and the caption and I thought was interesting… I had no idea about your health problem because you always look great. I like your style and I love what you said: “If I could tell you one thing I learned last year it would be that life’s too short not to live it in a way that’s meaningful to you”
    All my best to you and keep sharing your funny posts

    • Reply This Free Bird March 21, 2014 at 5:53 pm

      Priscila – Thank you so much for your heartfelt words. It means a lot to me that you stopped by and took time to leave a message. Up until recently I stayed pretty quiet about what happened to me last year. I didn’t want to whine about it and I didn’t want people to feel sorry for me or treat me differently. I’m doing better now, not the same but better and I just want people to understand that anything can happen to you. No matter how much life, energy, enthusiasm, health you have – anything can happen. Also – I look like a wreck a lot of the time and use a LOT of filters. I’m glad they’re working :). HAHA! All the best to you. xo

  • Reply Jessica March 21, 2014 at 1:08 am

    Well, it IS true that you can forget how to ride a bike. I teetered on one a couple of years ago after a decade of staying far away from the two-wheeled death trap. After my first foray out, I passed a kid on his tricycle bawling that he wanted to use a seatbelt. I completely understood.

    That said, the idea of avoiding stress or headaches is laughable. Thanks for the tips, doc.


    • Reply This Free Bird March 21, 2014 at 5:50 pm

      Jessica – I laughed so hard last night about that kid and the seatbelt!! You’ve gotta get back on a bike. You are a bike basket lady, I swear.

  • Reply Judy Carpenter March 21, 2014 at 12:16 am

    I’m having a hard time imagining you sick. You look wonderfully healthy in your pictures. And I aim to copy your act.

    • Reply This Free Bird March 21, 2014 at 5:48 pm

      Oh I don’t post the horrid ones. HAHAHA!! I KNOW you’re going to whoop some ass in your comeback Judy!

  • Reply Chris March 20, 2014 at 10:37 pm

    To quote JFK “Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of riding a bike.”

    • Reply This Free Bird March 21, 2014 at 5:48 pm

      You said it. I mean HE said it 🙂

  • Reply Jen March 20, 2014 at 10:12 pm

    Feeling your body move is a great thing! I get nervous without my feet on the ground, I’m a horrible cyclist…hats off to you! Enjoy the breeze!

    • Reply This Free Bird March 21, 2014 at 5:47 pm

      But you’re a kick-ass runner! I wish I had it in me 🙂

  • Reply Closet Fashionista March 20, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    It is amazing reading how you’re overcoming this. I feel like I wouldn’t be as strong as you, such an inspiration! And it also makes me want to try and enjoy my life more, something I always say I’m going to do, and then never actually do. I need to be braver and more outgoing. Once the weather gets warmer I’m going to make a point to do some earthing, although I don’t have the nice beaches you have, I do have a brook in the backyard though 😉
    [enjoyed the Sheldon reference ;)]


    • Reply This Free Bird March 21, 2014 at 5:46 pm

      You know what, you would probably find out you’re a lot stronger than you think you are. I’d bet on it. I think it really hinges on your will to live. Once I decided I didn’t want to take it lying down (except for when I absolutely had to – haha!) I started to look into more unconventional ways of healing to make sure I was trying everything I could to recover as best as I could. Earthing is a recent thing and it makes me sleep so much better at night. I feel a lot calmer, too. You don’t have to do it in the ocean, just barefeet on the dirt, grass or in that brook in your backyard. Thank you for reading here. I’m still thinking about the comment you made the other day about being tired at work. I’ll try to email you this week!

  • Reply Katie March 20, 2014 at 9:12 pm

    Christina Applegate said something in an interview about her battle with cancer that really resonated with me. “It’s the gift of illness, if there is a gift. And there are. I never used to wake up and go ‘I’m alive today. That’s fantastic. How do we make this the best that we can make it?'” At first I thought it was bull. A gift of illness? Give me a break. Why wouldn’t I want my life how it was BEFORE I found out I have chronic illnesses? But you know what, I can’t change that. I’ll never be able to. So I might as well try to find the gifts in that. I look at your posts lately and I feel that emanating – that you’re finding the gifts. And I love that. Dealing with any type of health issue sucks. It sucks beyond belief and no one can understand until they’ve been through it. But somewhere in it maybe it is possible to look at and start living life differently. Sometimes I think that’s the best thing I can do.

    (Did any of this make sense? Pretend it did. Thanks.)

    • Reply This Free Bird March 21, 2014 at 5:42 pm

      Katie – this is so good I’ve read it over and over since yesterday. For sure I wish I had the energy I had before, there’s not denying that. I miss being able to do whatever I want whenever I want. That being said, I’m glad I’m not just going from thing to thing without a lot of thought. When you can do a lot, I think slowing down is more of a labor than speeding up. Life goes by fast enough, I don’t want to leave here without soaking the real meaning in. Thank you for your message. xo

  • Reply lena March 20, 2014 at 9:03 pm

    John bought me a bike for my 21st birthday, with the intention that I’d pedal beside him while he ran. The first afternoon we took it for a spin in Baltimore, I drove into a GIANT brick wall. And these days he spends more time shoving me up hills in SF than he actually spend peaceably running beside me, but boy is it fun.

    PS–that list of shit to avoid would have given me a headache. AHHH!

    • Reply This Free Bird March 21, 2014 at 5:38 pm

      OMG brick wall. I’m sorry, but that visual made me bust up! Glad you got back in the seat and kept going. And ps – that advice still has me shaking my head.

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