Mind Games

A 20-kilometer bike ride for a cyclist is like putting chewing gum in your mouth and spitting it out. It’s

This picture is probably a year old. Today it was dreary out. No sun. But I was wrapped up just as warmly.

This picture is probably a year old. Today it was dreary with no sun. There were no lakes in the background. But I was wrapped up just as warmly.

nothing. A 20-kilometer bike ride for me when I’m fit isn’t as easy as spitting out chewing gum but it’s a nice morning’s ride. Today’s 20-kilometer bike ride was a really big deal.

Today was the first time for me to be on my bike since I got frozen shoulder sometime in November 2015 and subsequently did an operation mid-January 2016. It’s the second time I’ve been on my bike since I fell and dislocated my shoulder in October 2015.

My husband sort of cajoled me into it. We’d cycle into the nearby village and have a nice lunch, he said. He knows that food is my weak point. I knew I had to get back on my bike sometime and I knew my shoulder could handle the 20-kilometer round trip. I also knew my real challenge would be mental.

Once you’ve been through the mind games a couple of times you know what to expect and you know you can handle them.

Today, cycling downhill felt like I was about to summersault down the hill. Every pothole and drain looked exactly like a Nadia-eating woman trap, designed specifically (of course) for Nadia. Building up speed felt like an invitation to a horrible slip. And cars passing by were all the enemy.

But I recognized every single one of those thoughts from previous experiences. When I first started cycling as an adult about three or four years ago, those were the thoughts that went through my head. When I started challenging myself with my cycling, those were the thoughts that went through my head. When I fell off my bike the first and second times and got back up again, those were the thoughts that went through my head. And when I went out on my bike for the first time after my shoulder dislocation, those were the thoughts that went through my head.

I recognized every single thought and knew how to dampen them out. I needed to focus on the road, do only what I was comfortable and confident doing, while pushing myself through those thoughts ever so slightly to pick up speed when I knew I was just being a wimp.

Today, more than any other day, I appreciate the falls and the failures that I picked myself back up from. They taught me that it’s all right to fall. And that I had what it takes to get back up.

Today I celebrate six weeks after my shoulder operation. I’m not really celebrating. I hadn’t even realized it

Just after I dislocated my shoulder. Those were actually the good ol' days compared to what happened in the following months.

Just after I dislocated my shoulder. Those were actually the good ol’ days compared to what happened in the following months.

was six weeks until I got back home from the ride. But I’m feeling so grateful that the pain is now less, I’m off most of my medications (all I take now is some paracetamol twice or three times a day), and I’m managing short slow runs and swims. I can SWIM! I’ve only done it twice. It’s not the most comfortable thing to do in the world, but I can manage a slow, short front crawl. That is an incredibly big deal. Heck. It’s an incredibly big deal that I can put my hair up in a ponytail again and that I can sort of sleep on my right side for a short period of time each night.

The past six weeks were the biggest mind-fuck of all. The pain was excruciating even though I was heavily drugged on lots of painkillers. I had to do arm exercises three times a day, working slowly through the pain. There was always the risk that my shoulder would become rigid again after the operation. I wasn’t going to let that happen. So no matter how I felt, no matter how pained, no matter how tired, no matter how down, I got up three times a day and did my incredibly boring and incredibly painful arm exercises. I’m still doing them. But they aren’t as painful as they used to be.

I still have quite a long road ahead of me to regain my physical fitness. Much of it is dealing with the mind games. But once you’ve been through those mind games a couple of times, you know what to expect and you know how to get yourself through them.

6 comments

  1. Hey Nadia!
    Just found your blog and read it in one breath! So inspiring!
    Sorry about your injury and I am really happy you keep recovering, it will take time, but be strong! When I had my tailbone injured I thought I would never ride a bike again, well took 2 years to recover, a lot of pain, a lot of tears and swears but eventually it almost healed, these things make you stronger.
    I was so happy to read your posts on Lisbon to Tallinn journey, it made me feel like I am there again – in 2008 I did a 20 countries tour in 56 days wild camping (6300km across Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, Western Europe) and some years later another trip on the Mediterranean part of Europe in about 4 weeks, thanks for bringing these beautiful places and people back to my mind. And yes, Italians are my Beebol too!
    Good luck and kindest greetings from Bulgaria!

  2. Hey Nadia!
    Just found your blog and read it in one breath! So inspiring! With 80K+ followers in Egypt and across the world you are definetly a factor in forming public opinion and changing society bit by bit.
    Sorry about your shoulder injury and I am really happy you are getting through it. It will take time, but be strong! When I had my tailbone injured I thought I would never ride a bike again, well took 2 years to recover, a lot of pain, a lot of tears and swears but eventually it almost healed, these things make you stronger.
    I was so happy to read your posts on Lisbon to Tallinn journey, it made me feel like I am there again – in 2008 I did a 20 countries tour in 56 days wild camping (6300km across Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, Western Europe) and some years later another trip on the Mediterranean part of Europe in about 4 weeks, thanks for bringing these beautiful places and people back to my mind. And yes, Italians are my Beebol too!
    Good luck and kindest greetings from Bulgaria!

    PS – You’ll probably be surprised to know that ca. 5-10% of women in Bulgaria are called Nadia – it is diminitive from Slavic word Nadejda, which means Hope in Bulgarian. What does Nadia mean in Arabic?

    1. Awwww. Thank you so much, Boris! Your words mean a lot. I’m getting much much better. I haven’t yet written a post about my improvements because I’ve been busy with work and with my training, but I will. Aren’t epic cycling trips the best? So glad you had opportunities like I did to have adventures. And here’s to many more!

    2. Oh…and Nadia in Arabic:

      It can come from one of two root words.

      Nada means dew. Nadia would mean something that has dew drops on it. Or something as fresh as dew.

      Naada: means to call. Nadia using this root word would mean she who calls.

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