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Wheelchair

I wrote a blog post about my weight, but after speaking with a customer at work I found it silly. Blogging about forty years of the ups and downs of weight gain and loss has been relegated to first world problem status. I’m too busy counting my blessings.

Weight has been on my mind lately. As in my weight. I made it to 73 inches when I was a 14 years old high school freshman. Six foot one and 135 pounds was too thin, a first and only for me being truly skinny.

My mother and her brother spent time in an orphanage while their mom, my grandmother, received 1920’s style mental health care in an institution: Manic depression. I am aware that the statement, “What goes up, must come down,” is a reference to gravitational pull but we bipolar warriors know that it’s also true of our mental health. I’m lucky. Mostly my depression is SAD or seasonal affective disorder. When the days get short and cold I go into a funk. I am highly hopeful that my upcoming move to Florida with its long, warm winter days will keep me from dipping too low. With summer at its height I’m sitting pretty, flying above the clouds, high on life and I hope that come winter I can at least stay above sea level.

By the time I graduated high school in 1979 I was an out of shape 175 pounds. Not a bad weight, just not a very fit me. A year later I started cycling and the pounds melted off. I was ribs sticking out thin at 159 but I didn’t mind. “Thin” is not skinny. In fact according to the BMI scale I had been only five pounds underweight at 135. Yuck!

My manic highs are usually accompanied by me getting physical. I workout more. I ride my bicycle faster and farther, swim, run, challenge myself with push-ups and chin-ups. Today I managed to do fifty push-ups and six chin-ups as well as ride over twenty spirited miles. Not too bad for somebody who’s passed his 54th birthday. Much better than the gal who walked into the bicycle store where I work.

I got married in 1986 and was back to 175 pounds but I definitely had more muscle mass at 25 than I did at 18 or 19. I found 175 to be an ideal weight.

My weight crept up and by the time we had our first child in December of 1990 I weighed in at 195, twenty pounds over my desired weight. I struggled back down to 185. I have not been below 185 in over 25 years but have hit over 210 a few times in the last quarter century.

The gal had very closely cropped hair but it was not a buzz cut. She was looking at handlebar tape and I asked her if I could help. She told me, “Well, I have a Precor elliptical machine and the hand grips have worn out. The guy from Push, Pedal, Pull suggested that I use handlebar tape rather than replace the grips because the tape is so much easier to install but my husband doesn’t think that’s a very good idea.”

“Yeah,” I said, “I gotta’ go with your husband here. Usually if you saturate the inside of the new grips with rubbing alcohol they’ll slide on pretty easily.” For the next thirty minutes we talked and at the end of our conversation she left the store where I work empty handed. Know what? I think I did a really good job.

Five years ago I made it back to 185 which I swore I would maintain. I did, for about one year. This year I hit 213, a new high, which was a real low. I had to buy a new black suit to be in a play this last autumn, the one I bought when I was down to 185 was way too small.

As we talked I learned that she had finished chemo therapy just last month. I also learned that because of multiple sclerosis her husband relies heavily on a wheelchair. We talked about her need to nurture her spouse while simultaneously insisting that he does everything for himself that he can. About how terrible her last year has been as she fought her own battle against cancer and how at 54 years of age, the same age that my wife and I are, that she didn’t expect life to be so hard.

She told her tale and as she did she teared up. I teared up with her. I had ideas for her to try so that her ex-jock, 54 year old, mostly wheelchair bound husband might be able to get out and enjoy life more. We talked, I took her hands and I wished her the best. She left without buying a thing.

I stepped on the scale today and it read 185 lb, my benchmark for good, not ideal. One seventy five may be a pipe dream but I’m smoking it. I’ll let you know when, and if, I hit my preferred benchmark.

I am a blessing counter. I have my health, a fit and beautiful wife, two wonderful sons and a great daughter-in-law. I live a life of which most would be envious.

I’m not much of a Christian. I’m more one of those, “Spiritual, not religious” folks that are so prevalent today. Tonight when I lay me down to sleep I’m going to pray. I’m going to pray and I’m going to thank God for the gifts beyond number that life has bestowed on me. I hope that you do too.

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