I didn’t realize there was a problem. My back ached and that was all. It didn’t feel like a muscle problem, but the pain was not too intense. No reason for alarm.
It wasn’t until after dinner several evenings after the pain first appeared that I began to grow concerned. The sensation had grown from occasional sharp stabs to a persistent fire. I tried a bit of Aspercreme, but to no avail. Curled up on the floor wondering when (or if) I would be able to stand upright again, I made the decision that it was time to see a doctor.
As it turns out, that was exactly what I’d needed to do… about three weeks earlier. In retrospect, I had noticed a few minor symptoms of the infection. But since I wasn’t in discomfort, I wasn’t looking for an explanation. By the time I got to the doctor’s office the problem had become one of “epic” proportions. (In fact, the nurse even commented on my unusually high tolerance for pain.)
Lying on my back, with an IV plugged into my arm (a very weird sensation for an ordinarily healthy person), I began to contemplate the conceivably astronomical proportions of my pending medical bill. (One which turned out to be significantly greater on my new “affordable” health plan than it was on my old insurance.) I was fairly certain that the few hundred dollars stashed in my medical envelope wouldn’t cover the cost. As a Dave Ramsey devotee, I knew I’d have to alter my budget to make up for the shortfall. And the answer came in the form of my bicycle.
Truth be told, I love to ride. It’s a great recreational sport – easy on all of the joints which are suddenly showing their age. I make time for it on weekdays as part of my regular exercise regime and ride with the dream of someday competing in a Century. A few mathematical calculations performed after receiving the coverage statement from my insurance company, however, quickly proved that riding could be much more. In fact, if I were to use my bike as my primary form of transport for just two months, the money saved on gas would be sufficient to make up the gap between the money in my medical savings and the clinic’s bill.
I was only a few weeks into my new “ride everywhere” financial scheme when two things became apparent. The first was that I could actually get everywhere I needed to go in the same or, on some occasions, less time than it took me to drive. This was due in large part to the fact that cyclists in my State are not bound to the same laws as motorists. (There is always more than one safe, legal way through a red light!) The result, of course, was that I actually gained some free time each day by combining my workout with my commutes.
The second was that I was actually getting much more exercise by riding everywhere than I had when I had set aside specific hours for my rides. (On some days, my workout time was actually quadruple what it would have been otherwise.) In fact, it wasn’t long before my cycling had improved to such a degree that I hardly noticed that I was ascending “THE REALLY BIG HILL” until I was just a few feet from the top!
So here I am, with the medical bill fully paid, and I’m still riding just about everywhere. My only regret is that my kidneys had to be the ones to tell me that this was a good idea! But I can guarantee, I won’t need to be told twice!