Monday, November 15, 2010

CYCLING INCOMPATIBILITIES

The last week has given me the opportunity to review, relearn, and discover again things in our lives that are seemingly incompatible with cycling. In my case, some of these things/events have proven to be incompatible with writing about cycling as well…

I imagine that we could generate a debate on whether the weather is, on occasion, incompatible with cycling. For some riders, just the hint of rain or a quick radar review of incoming rain may be enough to keep a cyclist home and in the dry. Then, there’s the folks that live in the more northern climates. They, I’m quite sure, scoff at the thought of NOT riding when there is less than a foot of snow on the ground. I mean anybody who goes out and screws sheet metal screws into their tire lugs probably wouldn’t see the weather as an incompatible force for riding. Well, o.k. they might if it is –25 degrees and the gale force winds are howling across the landscape.

In my case, bad weather hasn’t been an issue until today. In fact, we’ve been blessed with excellent weather right up until mid-morning today (Monday, 11/15th). We’ve had unseasonably warm weather under gorgeous blue skies. I can’t play the “inclement weather” card to justify my lack of riding since last Tuesday…

Let’s try this one on for size. Maybe, just maybe, most folks would agree that prepping for a colonoscopy MIGHT be an incompatible cycling activity. I won’t get too graphic here to protect the innocent but let’s just say that the thought of propelling myself to new land speed records as the prep solution made its way out of my system simply wasn’t an attractive option for me and, most likely, for anyone who might have been trying to hold my back wheel. Hmm, come to think of it, an interesting new strategy for dropping the pack just came to mind…

This wasn’t my first colonoscopy. In fact, I’m a veteran now having completed my 3rd one so I knew what to expect and took proper precautions to be at home and, yes, have a bathroom available for my exclusive use. I always get a somewhat sadistic kick out of a former colleague’s first colonoscopy.

My friend worked here but lived 4.5 hours away. He desperately wanted to get home to see his son play baseball on Friday evening but felt compelled to work out his regular schedule on Friday with plans to leave on the drive home at noon. Being the dedicated employee that he was, he scheduled his ‘scope on Saturday so as not to miss any work.

It seems his plan was to begin drinking the preparatory solution aptly named GoLytely (yeah, sure, there ain’t nothing light about it!) as he drove home. As I say, it was his first experience with this and he didn’t check with any of us that had been through it. His first 30 minutes went fine. He drank his mix every 10 minutes as directed. He was feeling confident in his plan and then along about 45 minutes to one hour, things took a different tack. The word “working” began to create a whole new meaning for him as he drove down I-40 east bound and down.

Suffice it to say that there were numerous stops along the way where patrons of convenience stores and gas stations saw this “mad man” dashing from his car headed to the first available bathroom – gender be damned… My friend made it to his son’s game and was fortunate enough to have a clear view of the playing field from the corner of the public restrooms. I think he learned a lesson that day!

O.K., so if prepping for a colonoscopy is clearly an incompatible event to go along with cycling, how about the procedure itself? The Navigator and I were up at the crack of dawn and ready to go to the hospital. I was hungry having had only 1 small lime green Jell-O in the last 24 hours along with pots of black coffee. Nevertheless, I was ready for the procedure. This is the best rest I get once every 5 years and having been through it previously, I knew there was nothing to be concerned about. We checked in, I weighed and was amazed to see that I was 5 pounds lighter than usual even with all of my clothes and boots still adorning my body.

We did the little chatter checking in: “yes, I’m Zeke, yes, I’m here for a colonoscopy, No, please do not remove my leg. (gallows humor that didn’t get much of a response from the prep nurse. I guess she’s heard it all before.)

I get wheeled in, I’m talking to the good Doc, who I’m pleased to say is my friend so I know I’m in good hands. (Not to worry, I’m not going to ‘Couric’ you. No pictures of the procedure will be posted.) We’re talking, we’re talking, we’re…

“Zeke, breathe… Zeke, breathe…” It was like a mantra going off in my head. Turns out the Navigator was having to punch me around a little post procedure to get me to breathe. I thought I was breathing! This was after the good Doc stopped by the room and had a conversation with me, which I have absolutely no memory of at this point. Fortunately, the Navigator was “on post” and heard him say that he found and removed a small polyp, that he didn’t think it was cancerous but would be getting it biopsied just the same. “Zeke breathe!” There it was again- that breathing thing..

Apparently between not breathing episodes, I was asked what I wanted to eat and I responded by ordering the full menu. Despite the Navigator’s best efforts to control my ambitious desires, I still scored some heavenly Jell-O, pudding, graham crackers, and coffee. (Hey, I told you I was hungry!)

Finally, we made it home where I promptly went back to sleep for several hours. Fortunately, I was now breathing on my own. Given the time of the procedure and the time to get over it and get the drugs out of my system, I posit that having a colonoscopy is incompatible with riding a bike.

(So, why am I taking up your time writing about a colonoscopy? Well, in my and my siblings’ cases, we are high risk for the development of colon cancer. With both our father and his mother dying from colon cancer, we are prime genetic targets for developing this VERY TREATABLE cancer when it is caught early. As a 12 year old child, I can recall my grandmother’s death from it and my father’s death is still very fresh in my memory even though it has been 16 years now. Their cancers were identified too late with too little known medical knowledge at the time. Such is no longer the case. I’m GLAD that a very small polyp was found and removed. If it hadn’t been found, I would have had 5 more years for it to grow before my next ‘scope. This is what prevention is all about! I happily speak up about the procedure. Too many people still put it off and often put themselves in dire jeopardy when a little prevention goes a long way in stopping the bad stuff from happening! GET YOUR SCREEN! DON’T PUT IT OFF!)

There were more things that turned out to be incompatible for me and riding my Fuji CCR3 this weekend but I’ve gone on long enough for today. I’ll leave you with an image from my Saturday incompatible activity and you can let your mind wander and fill in the details…

"Hog" knows all and sees all!

(Hey, whut are you looking at?)

Until later,

- Zeke

(For more information on preventing colon cancer, visit the Mayo Clinic. For another take on the experience, read Dave Barry’s 2008 article.)

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