Confronting Limitations

We were surprised on Friday morning when Mom and Dad came out to the house with two Edible Arrangements baskets for us.  They were both incredible, one with a a harley gas tank base filled with oranges, mellon, grapes, strawberries, chocolate covered apples and bananas, and my favorite, pineapple in the shape of flames.  The other was in a basket and had all of the same fruit, but shaped like flowers.  What a perfect way to kick off our new diet, we downed about half of it on the spot.  Thanks so much for the awesome gifts Muhammad & Shayna, and Uncle Lee, Aunt Sharon, Uncle Kevin, & Aunt Judy!

Energized from fruit on a stick, we took Mom and Dad down Lake Road to Maxwell Creek Park for another hike.  This has long been mine and Shannon’s favorite local hiking spot, located on hundreds of acres of an abandoned scout camp that expands from Lake Rd to Lake Ontario.  We started out on a roughly two mile hike along a wooded trail that goes all the way down to the lake.  Normally this would be simple for me but on crutches I was immediately exhausted after a big hill right at the start of the trail.  Fortunately it was a gradual decent to the lake from there so we took a short breather and continued on.  When we finally reached the Lake, the scene with the secluded coastline and choppy water was s incredible as always, but the cold gusty wind whipping off the Lake turned a pleasant day frigid.  We couldn’t walk all this way without setting foot on the beach, so we took the narrow trail down the cliff to reach the beach…again, not an easy task on one leg.  After playing around on a log hanging over the water just long enough to justify climbing down to the beach, we scurried inland for warmth.  I would have left me behind, but Mom, Dad, and Shannon were troopers and helped me back up the cliff to reach the sheltered woods of warmth where it all caught up with me and I crashed hard.  After resting a while, we headed back at a much slower pace.  We made it back!!  After a two mile hike on a rough, hilly, wooded trail, I feel like I’m getting my life back!

Once back home we took the opportunity to unload the motorcycles from the trailer and store them in the barn.  With the straps still holding my bike down, I sat on it to see what it felt like with my new impairment.  As good as it was to be back in the seat, I felt a lack of control even when secured in place.  After so many miles traveled and so many great times riding this bike with my friends and family on the most incredible roads in the country,  I now had to turn the bike that I love so much over to Dad to unload.  This moment was difficult for me, as this was the first time that my impairment really limited me from doing what I want to do — just take the bike for a ride.  This has been my therapy through this whole battle.  So I admit I was a bit controlling and over bearing as Dad backed the bike down, but it was hard not to be in the driver’s seat.

Later that evening we went to T. C. Hooligan’s to celebrate our friend Dan passing his Senior Reactor Operator license exam and help cheer on his hockey team, the Pittsburg Penguins, as they played the Tampa Bay Lightning.  This was my first time confronting a public setting with my new circumstances, so I was very self conscious as we approached the door.  In my mind it was like the music came to a screeching halt as I entered the bar with everyone staring.  In reality several people did turn and look, but the music never skipped a beat.  This is a battle I don’t want to hide from, but being in public is going to be difficult to get comfortable with.  Ultimately the Penguins got crushed, but we still celebrated Dan passing his exam.  Again, congratulations on a huge accomplishment!


About bhoefen

Going on a road trip.
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18 Responses to Confronting Limitations

  1. Cousin Mike says:

    People are going to stop and stare. If you could read their minds, they’re probably thinking, “Who is that incredible man? I wish I was as brave as him. He must have an inspiring story. If only I could read about it on a blog.”
    Bret–you need to make business cards with your website address–then, when someone stares, just hand them your card. It should have a Harley & “Ride in a good direction” on it.
    Or, only go out in public with me. Then, when they stare, they’ll be thinking, “wow–that one-legged guy’s cousin has a BIG nose!”

  2. Yvonne M Sellers says:

    I so agree with your cousin Mike! People are going to stare, but what will be going through their mind is wonder at your strength and bravery! I also agree on the business card idea. If you had one, you could give them to people so they could find out what a truly amazing person you are. We are all so blessed to be able to read what you share here of your life, along with your relationships with your lovely wife and family. You inspire us all with your words and actions, through all that you do, and the way you handle what life has dealt you. Also, don’t forget about the book idea! I am sure it would be on the best sellers list for a long time!
    Yvonne M Sellers

  3. Kelly says:

    I agree – the business card idea is GREAT! And you would only be making more people aware of CCS!!! Think of it that way also – plus they get to know who you and your family are and how amazing your journey has been.

  4. Debbie Kruse says:


    Your continual progress is just amazing!! And, even though I’m far away in Texas, I did get one your bracelets and am wearing it proudly!

    I also thought of you this morning – after church Wayne and I went to Bob’s Tacos for some coffee and breakfast tacos. And yes, Bob’s dad was there, as he always is and the place was packed! I remembered how much you liked the food and ambiance there and I am totally in agreement with that.

    Good thing you are not still in Raleigh. Ryan and Bret live about two miles from each other in Holly Springs and yesterday afternoon, they both saw the tornado coming and took shelter in their downstairs powder rooms – Ryan with his wife and two kids and Bret, Shannon and their huge dog Raleigh in theirs. Luckily the tornado went between both of them with no damage to their homes, although as of today Bret still doesn’t have power. Lots of damage close to both of them. Ryan, however, works for Power Energy at the nuclear power plant and gee, he got his power back in about an hour. Must be coincidence 🙂

    Keep staying strong! My best to you, Shan, Bets, and of course, I can’t forget Jim! My job here is good, but just not the same without him.

    Hugs to all!

  5. jean loughran says:

    Here’s the deal; we all know you’d never use your disability to gain any kind of advantage. However, my dad had one legitimate way he would use it. In a crowded restaurant with a wait for a table, he’d stand right in front, in the crowd, and always get seated first.

  6. Daniel says:

    just an FYI the pegnuin suck….go green with the Sabres blue and gold!!!!

  7. ginger johannes says:

    I agree with everything that has been said. You are amazing. keep it up

  8. Ashley says:

    Bret, your cousin Mike is a smart one! 🙂 I think that’s a wonderful idea. I wear the CCS pin (the pin Carolina designed a while back) often and get stopped quite a bit and am asked about it…take every opportunity to let others know about your journey!

    I’m happy to see you are “training” for your upcoming trip!

  9. Debbie says:

    Hello my courageous bro in law and beautiful sister!

    It is SO good to see you back enjoying the hiking and out-in-the-elements you so much enjoy and love. I simply adore the picture of you two sitting on that huge log, it says it all–a couple who loves and supports one another.

    This weekend was the Blue Ridge Bike Fest here in Roanoke which means about 3,000 motorcyclist enthusiasts came to town. You couldn’t escape the rumble of those Harley engines. But I met a man who rides a “tric”- a 3 wheeled motorcycle, but he also is a amputee who lost his leg to a riding accident.

    He had the motorcycle equipped with all the controls in reach of his hands. He said he had to get used to the weight shift control and balance, but says it has not limited him on getting around seeing the country from a motorcycle. I thought–Dang! I bet Bret could do this! He could trade in both his bikes and get something like this. I was told your local Harley dealership can customize the bike for you where all controls are in hand reach.

    Whattaya say Bret? I think it would be awesome!!!

    And as for those that stare? Yeah–you’re gonna get that–but like your cousin Mike said, they are probably saying to themselves “What a brave man!” And they’re right.

    Love you guys!!


  10. Carol Carey says:

    It’s great to see you and Shannon enjoying the great outdoors and the smiles. As I just knew that it would be that way again but didn’t think it would be this soon. But they always say the sooner you get moving the faster you heal. So then the sooner you and your family can get back to your ride in the right direction, and I’m ready for some more great picture and a vaction. Keep up the good work. As always my prayers and thoughts are with you, Shannon and your family.

  11. HP says:

    You put all of us to shame, Bret! Seriously – hiking on that terrain?! I’m beyond impressed! So glad that you’re able to get out and experience some of spring in Rochester/Pultneyville. And I think it’s no coincidence that nature is putting on its own “new beginnings” show while you are going through your new beginning. Your tenacity is amazing!


    PS ~ For purely selfish reasons, is it at all possible for you guys to hold off on getting back on the road until after May 7? I’ll be up for Jen’s bday and would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to see you guys! 🙂

  12. Jessica says:

    A two mile hike?!? Awesome! The way I see it you may have traded up… Instead of two legs and intense pain, you now have three legs (with the crutches) and pretty darn good balance. As anyone knows, a three-legged stool is much more stable than a two-legged stool.

    I am positive you will just make the crutches extensions of yourself – giving you the opportunity to lap the rest of us on any hike. You are already doing things now I probably don’t have the coordination to do. (That really isn’t a good comparison, though – I’m pretty klutzy. I have actually walked into walls. Yes, walls.)

    It is so much fun to watch you climb those hills – physically and metaphorically. You have courage in spades. 🙂

  13. Marianne Borrelli says:

    I agree …..Great idea cousin Mike. You always have Bret’s back with a wonderful solution and uplifting ideas!! You must be a teacher!!!!
    Glad you got out to enjoy some fresh air and push your limits!!!! Looks like Jim and Betsy needed some hats and gloves!! Who would think Mid April!!!! Oh yes that’s Rochester!!!!
    Bret is there any way you could bring a bunch of those bracelets to Mary’s on Saturday? I know I want at least 5and I’m sure others will want them too. So bring a bunch if you can!!!
    I received an edible fruit arrangement after my last surgery. It was awesome and a great gesture for healthy eating!!!! YUM!
    Keep riding in a good direction and living healthy!

  14. Mandy Lindsey Cayouette says:

    Beautiful pics and thanks (as always) for the daily dose of inspiration along with the reminder of how precious this life is. Also, count my vote with the others in favor of cousin Mike’s business card idea!

  15. Carly Szabo says:

    I absolutely LOVE your cousin Mike’s comment. I agree that you should make business cards to hand out! That would be completely awesome. The fact that you are hiking already is so so amazing and inspiring me to get back into shape. Thanks for that…I surely needed it!! I truly believe you will be back on your bike at some point and think its ok to be upset about not being able to store it away by yourself. You are allowed to be upset about SOMETHING…geesh! 🙂

  16. Marcy says:


    I just wanted you to know that you have a whole clan of Welch’s out west cheering you on and reading your blog daily! My Aunt Jeanne prints out your blog to bring to my Grandma Laura Welch and they both wear their braclets daily. You are truly an amazing individual and have inspired so many!!

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