Stacy Simmons: Finding Freedom

In 2019 I found out that a brain tumor I had removed 15 years previous had grown back.  At this point in my life my meditation and therapy, along with other activities, included cycling. I was riding approximately 70-80 miles a week. If I was stressed, a good long bike ride always helped clear my thoughts. I had several friends and my husband that I rode with. I had just bought my first new bike, previously they were used bicycles.

November 13, 2020 I had a craniotomy and the brain tumor was successfully removed, but when I woke from the surgery I had no movement in my left side. I could slightly flex my thigh muscle but that was it. I wasn’t paralyzed but had to retrain my brain and body to work together and find movement again. As soon as possible I started in-patient physical and occupational therapy. Then I moved to therapy in my home and next went to the therapy gym for months that turned into years. I remember a therapist in the hospital mentioning there were groups that could help me adapt with my recreation options. At that point I had no interest. I was going through a major loss in my life and this brought a lot of anger to deal with. I didn’t want to adapt. I wanted to get back exactly what I’d had before. The physical loss brought on many mental health issues I’d never had to deal with.  

About a year later an occupational therapist mentioned Wasatch Adaptive Sports (WAS) to me. I was still skeptical but decided to contact WAS. From the beginning I was so impressed with the way I was treated on the phone and setting up my first lesson. I was told to show up with a water bottle and everything else would be provided.  My first lesson was amazing where I rode a recumbent trike adapted to use with my strong side.  The WAS people were so good and I could tell very well-trained. They didn’t automatically do things for me, they only asked if they could be of assistance. I felt freedom, had new friends that had similar movements as me, sunshine, and a sense of independence that I hadn’t had for a long time.  

At my third or fourth lesson I was considering purchasing my own trike.  There was another student at the lesson, who I really didn’t know but asked his opinion on getting my own trike, as I noticed he had his own. There was no hesitation from him at all. I remember that he very deliberately and slowly said, ““Yes, you should get the trike!” By the time I arrived home from that lesson I had decided to get my own trike.  

I’ve continued to ride with WAS and also on my own.  It has improved my mental health tremendously not to mention the physical therapy benefits. If a friend wants to walk I ride along on my trike.  I’ve taken it on many vacations so as to be able to see sights I wouldn’t have otherwise. I will always be grateful for the light that WAS brought back into my life. I recreate differently now but I’ve found it to be even more fulfilling!