Hopefully there are some folks out there starting to find and use this resource that was so kindly offered by the folks at BF when they created this forum. I would like to think that the people who are finding this forum are in a similar situation as I was when I started cycling again, and have lots of questions, and issues to deal with before, and during getting started.
First, let me back up and explain my situation a bit. There is an introduction thread for just such a purpose, but without sending people to search for that, I will give a quick overview of what happened to me. In August of '07 I was involved in a motorcycle accident that should have killed me. I lost my left foot, severely injured my knee on that side, my left wrist, forearm, elbow, right ankle...I spent five weeks in the hospital, 13 surgeries, and was bed ridden completely my first year of recovery.
At first it really didn't sink in to me just how bad my injuries were, and how much it was bound to change my life. I was in complete denial about the fact that I simply would not be able to go back to doing all the things I could before. Many people who are simply amputees can, and people with just some of the injuries I had can, but the combination of everything took a lot out of me, and I will never be the same again. I made a decision while I was in the hospital that I would not go around feeling sorry for myself and would strive as hard as I could physically and mentally to overcome these injuries and to lead as close to a "normal" life as I could.
The year that I was bedridden saw my weight balloon up over 100# from my normal (and overweight) self. My heartrate and respiratory rate went up, my blood pressure went up, I was getting to be in pretty bad shape. I decided then to try and do something about it. I was really into outside sports before my accident (paintball) and decided that one of my major goals was to resume that activity. And I did, for a little while. It became immediately apparent that with the type of injuries I had that standing and walking are to forever more be difficult and painful for me. It doesn't mean that I can't, but it certainly took the joy out of a lot of things I liked to do before. Taking a hike, playing paintball for a few hours, really doing much of anything involving walking or standing for any length of time was soon off the "menu" as it were, and I was in despair. It got pretty bad for a while there as I was in a position in my mind that staying in bed was better than trying to run around and do what I did before and hurt all the time. I got really depressed, and very uninvolved in life in general. I was spending a lot of time alone as well and just basically was retreating from the world.
One afternoon while sulking around in my garage, I happened to see my bicycle hanging on the hook where it had been since we moved here. I probably had touched it less than three times since moving. Years ago I had enjoyed cycling very much, I was involved in group rides with my LBS, commuted to work on it for the better part of seven years. I decided that I would pull the bike down and give it a go to see how it worked out with the "new" leg.
At first, it was really hard and quite scary. My balance was all out of whack, I basically only had one leg to use for power due to the injuries to my other knee. My foot wouldn't stay put on the pedal, and worst of all, the back of my prosthesis was tearing holes right into my leg from the trimline being too high agrivating my tendons. It was a trying time. I was going out and riding for a mile or two and felt half dead when I got home. But, in spite of it all, I was starting to feel better. Not only in a physical way, but mentally as well. I could tell right away that this was going to be the way out of my funk and back to some level of fitness. Moreover, it wasn't causing me pain in the way that walking or standing did. It did come with issues of it's own...
I started riding more, and found that I was going to have to do something about these fit issues. The bio-mechanics of walking and cycling are completely different. Not only was I still healing and getting used to my prosthesis, but I was doing something that it wasn't designed for and causing myself problems unrelated to the actual fit of the device, but as a result of the new movements required. My first year back I rode over 700 logged miles, and countless short rides during the time I was getting started. I lost over 100# (I went from over 300# back down to a more normal weight of 220#), my heartrate went down, as well as my breathing rate. My blood pressure stabilized, still a bit high, but better, and I felt way better, like I was part of the world again.
I got with members here who had prosthetics, I emailed people, I talked to everyone I could find that had a prosthetic and was cycling. It was much harder at that point because this forum didn't exist at that time. I took the thing I learned and got with my prosthesist to design a new leg. It took me the better part of a year off in order to get over the injuries I had caused myself and waiting for the new leg design to be complete and paid for (thx health insurance). It was a long wait, but I never second guessed my decision to start cycling again. The benefits were easy to see on many fronts. I had an activity that would allow me to get out, meet people, see the world, enjoy myself, and help my health along the way.
Cycling may not be your thing, but I would suggest to anyone who found themselves in a similar situation to find something, anything, that you can do and enjoy to get out there and get some exercise, become involved in the world again, and to help yourself move past your injuries. I chose cycling because of it being low impact, generally safe, and the ability to go out and explore my world in a way that I simply cannot on my feet alone anymore. Give it a try, you never know where you will be in a few years. I started back in August after getting things worked out with my device, logged over 1300 miles over the last of the year, and am looking to complete my first century in March. Even if I don't make it, it is a whole lot further than I got laying around in bed.