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I am a 74 year-old architect, still practicing my profession, with peripheral neuropathy. I’ve had it for over 12 years. I am ambulatory and use a cane, but I like to say, “If you can’t walk, you can ride a bike!”

I usually bicycle about 30-40 miles a week in the neighborhood. It keeps me in shape and I enjoy the scenery. It’s better than sitting in front of an advertising-filled television. And, there’s the camaraderie. I’m in a bike club with these retired naval officers who are rather stern. I enjoy tickling their ribs a bit and getting them to smile.

I have three dogs, and managing them can be trying. But they do keep me company since I’m basically on my own. My wife works and lives 60 miles away, and I go to see her often. For me, driving is not a problem. Although someone challenged my ability, and I had to be tested. So, I went down to the department of motor vehicles and passed the test.

As I see it, you have a choice on how you look at things. I’ve stuttered since I was six years old, so I’ve had to deal with that my whole life. Neuropathy seems like just another obstacle and I’m used to overcoming problems;—being “handicapped,” if that’s what you call it, was an asset.

Six neurologists have told me--some after extensive investigation and diagnosis--"I guess you'll have to live with it." I don’t accept that. I know a lot of people see neuropathy as a handmaiden to being old. That’s too bad. I still keep going and don’t let my neuropathy stand in the way. I meditate, too, and that helps.

Some things are getting harder for me, like going upstairs. Also, I have a standard bike with a high seat, which can cause me to fall. I fell once with an audience of 16 bikers. I’d like to get a TRIKE, which is a three wheeled bike you pedal lying down. It would give me all the stability I need to prevent falling. Cycling does not cure the neuropathy, but keeps my spirits up.

Most people with this disease are depressed and don't believe they could still bike or do much of anything. I highly recommend exercise, especially cycling, which is the best way to maintain leg strength and balance. A good bike for neuropathy patients to use is what is referred to as the "flatfoot," where the seat is low and set back enough so both feet can drop to the ground.

I have to say, I’m very fortunate. I have 13 grandchildren and still keep going. I say, keep moving and enjoy the scenery.

 

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