How Can I Go Bicycling With Vulvodynia?
Since 1996, I had not ridden a bicycle… until now. After a great deal of planning, saving, and wishing, I rode this past weekend.
In 1996, I attempted to ride a tandem bicycle with my husband (who was then my boyfriend). His parents had a tandem and he was really into biking. Even though I hadn’t ridden in quite awhile, I gave it a try in 1996. Let’s just say it was a short ride. While I had not been officially diagnosed with vulvodynia yet, I knew that riding a bicycle had become extremely painful. The brief 1996 ride on the tandem made it clear to me that riding a bicycle with a traditional seat was physically impossible. Thus began my 15 years without any bicycle riding at all.
I haven’t written much about vulvodynia. Why? Well, all of the treatments I tried were useless. While I have a very capable doctor, he has been unable to find anything to effectively treat my symptoms. So, writing about vulvodynia isn’t really my favorite thing to do. I simply haven’t had much to say about it. After all, who wants to read me listing off all of the failed treatments I have tried for it? Today, however, I wanted to share some good news regarding engaging in an activity I had given up on… simply by finding the right equipment to accommodate my needs.
For several years now, my husband and I have discussed how I might possibly ride a bike again. He suggested that we look into a recumbent trike. This was not a purchase we had the luxury of just jumping into. Unfortunately, this type of bicycle (or tricycle, actually) is not inexpensive. We have been planning for this for awhile and looking at it as an investment. Rather than me being left behind at home for bike outings, I will now be able to participate.
Here is a quick aside about vulvodynia, which can cause tremendous, debilitating pain:
“Like many other people suffering from pain disorders, those afflicted with vulvodynia may often be impacted by the frustration of finding a diagnosis, subsequently confronted with an area of medicine that is still in relative infancy. The cause is still unknown and treatment success varies. Therefore, many become frustrated and sometimes depressed with a lower quality of life”.
Biking is a great way for me to get exercise. This is absolutely huge because my fibromyalgia and neuropathy make exercise very difficult. I can’t even tolerate gentle yoga due to the fibromyalgia. So, to have a means of getting exercise that my body is handling well is fantastic. Granted, my leg muscles were noticing that I was asking them to do things they are not used to when I took this for the first couple of spins. However, my body tolerated it quite well. I had discussed recumbent trikes with my physical therapist recently and she thought it was a great idea.
While I don’t normally make it a habit of referring to specific brand names on my blog, I am linking to the model I got so that if any other patients are looking for a recumbent trike, they will be able to see the model that is working well for me.
I should probably explain that I cannot tolerate sitting on any hard surface anywhere. When I am at the computer, like I am now, I am sitting on top of blankets that are folded and placed on my computer chair. So, for me to find the seat of this recumbent trike comfortable is nothing short of a miracle. The seat also has a back rest. It is amazingly supportive. With my history of back problems, this is important.
So, in writing this post today, my goal is not to say, “hey everyone who has vulvodynia… you would love this recumbent trike”. I know that it may not be feasible for (or desired by) everyone. Goodness knows it took years of planning for us to make it happen. My intent is to give people – no matter what their chronic illness(es) may be – hope that there are solutions available to solve many problems posed by chronic illnesses. I myself had given up hope for many years that I’d ever ride again.
It wasn’t until my husband and I began discussing this type of bike that I realized it might be possible for me to ride again someday. When we went to the bike store and I tried out this bike, I couldn’t believe how comfortable it was. After a short ride on Saturday and two short rides yesterday, I am learning how to properly shift the gears and am thoroughly enjoying simply being able to ride again.
As I coasted down a hill yesterday, memories of riding a bike when I was younger came back to me. It felt good to get fresh air and exercise. I’m really excited about having a safe means for getting exercise. I just wanted to share this story here. When I picked the title for this post, I tried to pick something that would be seen by vulvodynia patients who, like I was, are searching for ways to ride a bike despite the pain of vulvodynia.
This post was written by Jeanne at http://chronichealing.com. Copyright © Jeanne — chronichealing.com. All rights reserved.
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