“Are you claustrophobic?” The question hints at small spaces and darkness as I prepared for an MRI to determine why my Vespa riding has diminished over the past few months. I closed my eyes as I took my first journey into the small, closed, traditional 23 inch tunnel to examine the lower back and hips. After the movement ceased I opened my eyes to a pleasantly bright expanse of nothingness that was oddly reminiscent of waking in my little one-man backpacking tent. As the electronic buzzing and thumping began I felt relaxed and awash in solitude.
If I’ve learned anything over the past couple years it’s been that there are no guarantees for tomorrow. Best deal with today.
The past few months have unfurled a litany of physical complaints and medical pickles that have interfered with life in general and Vespa riding in particular. When you feel bad long enough the question of when should I stop riding emerges.
A freshly painted Vespa sits in the garage sipping from a Battery Tender as it awaits a call to service — postponed by weather, but also persistent back pain that now has a label — severe degeneration of some “stuff” that took awhile to deconstruct and understand with the help of Google and the National Institutes of Health website. The bright side of the diagnosis is there’s no need for more dangerous medication to manage my auto-immune arthritis condition, and I stumbled up an accidental “cure” for what ails me. As my father often said, “Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn every once in awhile.”
I bought new riding boots for winter — a pair of big, heavy, bulky Sorel Men’s Caribou Boots. When you ride a Vespa you don’t need to concern yourself with boots that allow foot access to shifter levers and brake pedals. Among the nastier recent afflictions I’ve had to wrestle is Chilblains (also known as Pernio), a condition that affects the hands and feet in cold weather and can cause painful blistering. Last winter, and again this winter, I’ve been rendered nearly immobile by this lovely new visitor. The cure — don’t let your feet get cold. Hence the boots which I have to say are wonderfully warm.
I stumbled upon what I can only characterize as a miraculous cure for my aching, nagging, debilitating back injury — the reclining chair. Normally, I sleep on an embarrassingly overpriced Tempur-Pedic mattress. And each morning I can barely stand up and embark on a process of painful unbending that consumes 45 minutes before I can stand up straight. And the entire day is a series of tweaking reminders that something is badly broken.
Then one night I slept in the recliner — an experience not unlike sleeping in an airplane, perhaps first-class considering the size of the recliner. But in the morning I stood up without issue or fanfare. An experiment ensued and I’ve spent the past five nights in the recliner and I’m almost back to normal. To further test my theory I took a nap this evening on the Tempur-Pedic mattress — just two hours, and I could barely stand up and struggled to do much other than shuffle through the house. I used to love that mattress but I suppose everything changes eventually.
I’m not sure how I feel about spending the rest of my life sleeping in a recliner but until I experiment with a different mattress I’ll take the good back along with the restrictive sleep situation of a big stuffed chair.
The weather forecast calls for fog in the morning with temperatures rising slowly toward 50F. Perhaps it’s time to take the Vespa for a ride. I’m happy to say it’s not time to stop riding yet.