From super disabled to Supergirl, thanks to her Trikke

East Texas woman’s Trikke went from wheelchair substitute to fitness machine.
Elise Bennet
Elise Bennet, aka Supergirl

I am disabled; I walk with a cane and a limp, but I feel like Supergirl when I’m flyin’ down the trail on my Trikke!

In August, 2000, one simple sneeze finished off what a childhood injury started and a disc in my lower back literally blew up. Four failed back surgeries later, I found myself with a laundry list of terrifying medical diagnoses and permanent, disabling nerve damage from the waist down. I was in such a state, even the slight motion of breathing sent waves of stabbing, burning pain along my spine and down my left leg.

My doctor sent me to pain management and I was put on more medication than end-stage cancer patients (including massive doses of morphine, Dilaudid, powerful pain patches, Lortab, Demerol, nerve deadeners, anti-depressants, and much more). All the meds took the edge off the pain, but that was it.

I became bedridden and would remain so for eight long years. Not a day went by that I didn’t pray to die. Some days, I even considered taking a few too many pills, just to escape the pain.

Before that fateful sneeze, I led an active life. I loved to play hard and go fast — in any weather, on any terrain. Scarcely more than 48 hours went by where I wasn’t on a sports court, zipping around on wheels of some sort, or going for a run. Exercise was my release, my gateway to sanity. With one little sneeze, it all went away.

After receiving less-than-ideal results following the fourth back surgery, the docs warned me that my condition would only worsen with time and there was nothing else they could do for me but offer more meds. I was beyond devastated. What little hope I’d clung to for a return to some kind of active life quietly disappeared. Depression set in.

Six years into being bedridden, as I lay awake late one night, watching TV, a Trikke infomercial came on. I fell in love instantly and ordered a T78. I began using it immediately, but not for exercise. This Trikke was my new pair of legs.

At that point in my life, sitting upright brought instant agony, so wheelchairs weren’t an option. I am six-feet tall and have to bend my back to use a walker, so that wasn’t a long-term solution either. Even on good days, even the slightest impact from walking produced intense pain. I could find no adaptive device that would help me get around in this world of ours without causing additional discomfort — that is, until I got my Trikke.

With my new carving machine, I could stand perfectly upright, use my arms to propel it and move magically forward without bending my back or lifting my legs. Suddenly, I was mobile again!

For almost two years, my Trikke went with me whenever I left the house. Thanks to a doctor’s note and a handicapped placard, I rode my Trikke (at a crawl) virtually anywhere a wheelchair can go. Pain still prevented me from getting out and about more than once every couple of weeks, but just knowing that I could get out made a huge, positive difference in my mental health. A glimmer of hope returned. The depression started to lift.

Then, on March 25, 2010, a miracle occurred: the vast majority of the chronic, debilitating pain disappeared. It just stopped. That very day, I started getting off all the medication and began exercising (lying in bed for several years does nasty things to one’s waistline, my friend!).

I soon found that physical activity still aggravated my damaged nerves and resulted in pain, but through trial and error, I found that two forms of exercise caused considerably less discomfort than the rest: swimming and Trikking.

elise bennet2
Elise Bennett and her Trikke

So, my Trikke was transformed from a wheelchair/walker substitute to a fitness machine. Every chance I got, I carved. My family grew weary of me begging them to take me to the park or rehab facility, so I could ride the track (I hadn’t yet recuperated enough to drive a car). But I kept carving, lost about 40 pounds, improved my level of physical fitness and had a blast doing it!

Progress has been slow, but after two years of being out of bed, I can walk with the help of a cane, I’ve kept the weight off, and I’m still in love with my Trikke. (My second set of tires is almost bald, the paint is scuffed, and the poor thing is in dire need of a good tune-up, but it still gets me where I want to go.) Pain still prevents me from riding as often as I’d like, but I can usually carve a couple of times a week. Someday — if this body is willing — I have big plans to attend the Trikke Fun Ride in Florida.

Sometimes on bad days, I tend to feel sorry for myself, because I’ll never be able to do so many of the activities that I love so dearly, or because I’ll always walk with a limp. But then I remember how incredibly fortunate I am to be out of bed, and I grab my Trikke and head for the nearest trail. As soon as I feel the wind in my hair and hit my carving rhythm, the self-pity vanishes. In those moments, Supergirl’s got nothin’ on me!

I may never be able to play hard again, but I can still go fast on my trusty, beloved Trikke. And that helps me feel whole, inside and out. So, thanks, folks at Trikke Tech. You helped give me new life. Keep carving, and I’ll see you in Florida someday.

Story first published on July 06, 2012

This article has 9 Comments

  1. I have a trike but don’t know how to ride it. It stressed me so that I gave up on trying to learn, but can’t bring myself to sell it. I have watched the cd but still don’t have a clue. Any suggestions?

  2. Jeanette.. There are Trikkers all over the United States that are more than willing to help you get going. Many of us are on facebook. Just look for us there. You’ll find great tips on how to get started, safety gear and, the shared enthusiasm of Trikkers around the world.

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