The 'Street Strider' of Beacon Hill
Everyone has a story. That was the mantra as KUOW reporters set out to chronicle the lives of people who live and work on a small block in Seattle’s Beacon Hill neighborhood in the time of Covid-19. Read the stories at covidontheblock.com.
There’s a “Stay Healthy” street on Beacon Hill, in Seattle, behind the block we’ve been reporting on. Signs here tell cars to keep away.
Pearl de La Cruz is out, riding on a surprising contraption that looks like a giant water bug crossed with a bicycle. “I’m coming by!” she yelled out, laughing.
“People will stop, they’ll yell ‘What is it?’” she said. “And I say ‘Street Strider!’”
And as she bikes off, she’ll shout back, “Look it up!”
De la Cruz was flying home from a business trip when she first saw the Street Strider. “I saw in the magazine and I thought ‘That's what I need!’” she said.
It’s like a bike and elliptical machine in one.
De la Cruz is a disabled veteran who has had both knees replaced, her ankles and feet operated on. She walks with a cane. A doctor destroyed her left foot, she said, which is now two sizes smaller than her right.
“I just had major back surgery in October, where they went in and took out 13 screws and posts and put it in new ones,” she said. “I had 53 staples, and it's like my butt crack’s up to my shoulders now.” She’s built resilience from all these operations, which she said has helped her prepare her mind for the pandemic.
After every surgery, de La Cruz forced herself to walk again. “There was a time that I didn’t think I’d ever get up again. I was really down, I didn’t think I’d get out of that,” she said. “But I did, I’m no longer there. I know that I can get up.”
This pandemic has thrown her a new challenge.
She was furloughed from her job in the travel industry.
And a lot of her life is on hold.
“This pandemic is scary. To me. I don’t feel comfortable, I’ve not gone into a stores, I haven’t gone into any hospital,” she said. “I didn’t even go to back to my last appointment with my neurosurgeon at Virginia Mason, because I didn’t feel comfortable going in.”
She deferred surgery on an ankle and is wearing an ankle brace until the pandemic is over.
Like all of us, she doesn’t know how this pandemic is going to end.
Eventually, she believes we’ll find a vaccine.
And she’s decided to trust that things will be okay.
“Just knowing that there’s going to be an end to this,” she said. “I could see how someone could get lonely.”
She continued: “I think I’d really be depressed if I didn’t know this was temporary. It’s so easy to get depressed and stay depressed. And you’re not hurting anyone but yourself. Because, my goodness, then you’re inactive, you don’t do anything, people don’t hear from you. You just have to stay positive.”
Here’s how de La Cruz does it: She keeps a puzzle going on her table so that when she walks by, she works on it. She’s been catching up on movies and shows she never had time to watch before. She calls friends, even if the only news to share is that she got out of bed today. And when the sun comes out, she climbs on her Street Strider.
“I try to ride it as often as I can. I’m supposed to not ride it, like a long distance or anything, because… they told me I overuse my body. But I don’t get that, how do you overuse your body?”
It looks like hard work, when de La Cruz pushes her Street Strider up a hill.
But that’s kind of the point.
Because so long as she’s in motion, and the pain isn’t unbearable, she can weather anything.