I’ve let things slip. I acknowledge that. From walking everywhere on two sticks to struggling around the car with elbow crutches (currently seeking a car with the petrol cap on the driver’s side), the insidious process of weakening has taken many years. And the less I have used my semi-paralysed legs, the weaker they have become.
It’s partially to do with getting older. If during my early decades of disability I lost my balance and fell over, it was a straightforward manoeuvre to regain the vertical using my wrists and arms. But one day (forgive me for not making note of the date) I must have either bruised my bum or needed help to get back up. So the next time I walked, I would manage the risk. And over the months and years — you get the drift.
It is mainly down to laziness, however. The less hung-up I became about using a wheelchair, the more convenient it became. I still hate having to use it, just not all the time. I still try to keep fit but the exercise — mostly hand-cycling — is confined to my upper body. And now I’m in my 60s, even those bits are showing wear and tear. Since I know that my glutes and quads still work, I must now help them contribute to what’s left of my mobility.
So the other day I bought this mofo. Got a good price on GumTree — 2nd-hand fitness equipment is a buyer’s market — and jammed it into the office in place of the unused scuba kit and several guitars. Climbing aboard is still a two-man job but, once there, I can make it work. I use the minimum setting but will soon ramp up the volume “Ramp up the Volume” to a gentle incline. And after that? My only enemy is a total absence of staying power.
Being a modern machine, I not only get read-outs of time, speed and distance but also, now and again, motivational messages like ‘You Rock’ and ‘Awsome Dude’. That’s all the encouragement I need. Man.