Soon after the stroke
Ross and Ann and their Challenge
A man in a hospital lounge looks out a window. A woman strokes his arm and looks in his eyes. He is a young man, fit looking. These are not strangers. Ross and Ann are a tandem couple. They could be any of us. A couple of weeks ago they were training for a Perth to Sydney ride in August. Ross felt a tingling in his arm. Ann noticed they took a turn much wider than usual. Back home, Ross couldn’t stand. They called the medicos. While they checked Ross, Ann was thinking, this is not real, Ross will get up and they will go away, and all will be as before. It was not to be that way. Ross, “The fittest person I know,” said Ann, had, at age 40, had a stroke. His right side is affected. His right arm and leg are in braces to keep his muscles from contracting until rehabilitation can begin. He struggles with words, but communicates well. He is animated, and determined.
We met Ross and Ann on the Internet, our shared passion for tandems led them to our web page via Bicyclefish (thank you Grace Newhaven). They have been following Zippy’s journey around Australia, and even named their tandem Zippy2. We were fortunate to spend an afternoon with them just before we left Sydney. We talked tandems and cycling (Ross has done the crossing on a half-bike) and touring. They don’t know how much damage has been done by the stroke, or how much recovery can be expected. The doctors say it could be complete, or little. Much depends on the next few months of rehabilitation. Having trained as a cyclist, Ross knows the process of training well, and it is not that different from rehabilitation; much concentration, pain, and most of all determination. Ross has all those things. And he has Ann. Ann is his stoker, and she will be there on the fast down hills, when rehab goes well, and the steep grinds, when the summit seems to recede into infinity. The love in their eyes made it very hard for me to keep mine dry. It helped Claire and me remember just how important we are to each other, and how little importance all the other things in our life are by comparison. Ross and Ann are on a new adventure, a new challenge. It is not the adventure of their choosing, but they are ready. Be with them.
Future Note: Ross’s recovery and rehabilitation has been nothing short of phenomenal. We saw them again after our return to Australia from our sailing trip in the Coral Sea. We got to see them ride their tandem again for the first time!
Future Note 2: And now, hold your breath, they have done it! They have ridden their tandem around Australia to raise awareness for stroke victims!
Future Note 3: January, 2009. They are no longer together. We don’t know the details.