"After changes we are more or less the same"
The Boy and I are both older, doing well, and making fewer trips to Seattle these days. We have survived much, including an extended hospital stay in which The Boy underwent injections, inspections, detections ~and major surgery.
I don't feel up to offering a complete re-cap of the past 2 years just at the moment: Come over some time, I'll pour us both some Bushmills and tell ya the whole tale.
In the mean time I just have to tell you this one piece of the story, because it is SO beautiful and SO miraculous ~and because it involves BIKES!
So, The Boy and I had been away for over 6 months, sequestered in a series of rooms, in the Labyrinth that is Seattle Children's Hospital. After all that time confined to bed, one of the countless challenges The Boy faced in his recovery was regaining the ability to walk. The tendons in the back of his knees had contracted, while his legs had grown, and he had lost an enormous amount of muscle tone and strength in his legs. He couldn't walk, let alone ride a bike. Exactly the kind of situation a teenager wants to find himself in while trying to re-integrate into society!
His complete dependency, and the amount of time he was having to spend with doctors and physical therapists, caused a terrible, and seemingly impenetrable, depression.
Meanwhile, Portland's amazing and eclectic cycling community had risen up around us in a way I can neither adequately describe, nor begin to express my gratitude for. It made the final scene of "It's A Wonderful Life" look like a study in apathy. I owe them nothing less than my son's life, as well as what remains of my sanity. Their love, support, and tireless fund raising made everything possible.
At one of the bike-themed benefits organized on his behalf, a friend of ours had brought his tandem recumbent so that The Boy could join us on the ride. Seeing my son on a bike for the first time in over a year was miraculous. More miraculous still was the effect *being* on a bike had on him: the clouds of depression that had obscured his spirit parted, allowing his courage and charisma to shine through. Despite the shortened tendons in his legs, he peddled with a conviction I had forgotten he was capable of, extending his legs further than he ever did in his Physical Therapy sessions. I left the ride certain of one thing: the kid NEEDED a recumbent.
I hate nothing more in this world than asking for help. Seriously. I will do anything, and everything, or just make do, before even considering seeking assistance of any kind from anyone under any circumstances. But, after exhausting all the other options: after our insurance declined to cover the cost of a recumbent (despite a letter from his physical therapist confirming the need for it), et cetera and so on; there remained the unalterable fact that the kid needed a recumbent, and getting it was going to require asking for help.
So, I approached "City Bikes", the worker-owned, collectively run bike shop I have been going to since before The Boy was born, and said "The Boy needs a recumbent, what can we do about that?" Their response was "We have ways of making things like this happen" and by some miracle, they did just that! The brilliant and talented Jonathan Maus of BikePortland was there to capture the moment when they presented The Boy with the specially ordered SUN recumbent.
In addition to a lovely writeup in BikePortland The Boy got a new lease on life, and an alternative to physical therapy sessions that were the bane of his existence. Now he has a way to exercise that focused on his interests and abilities, rather than his shortcomings.
Previously, when he went out in public with his wheel chair or, later, his walker, all anyone saw was the mobility device. On his bike, people saw an amazing kid on an awesome bike! Passers by would stop to ask him about his cool recumbent. Overnight he went from being a pariah to being a celebrity, and he made more progress towards mobility in his fist month on the recumbent than he had in the 3 month prior. Best of all, the smile I had been waiting to see gor over a year returned to my son's face.
That is the depth and breadth of the wonderfulness that is Portland's bikey community; and if I spent the rest of my life doing nothing but offering up my thanks, I could not begin to do justice to their generosity.