The Big Finish – Part 3


Today was my final prednisone pill. It’s powerful stuff. It has interesting side effects. It makes you speedy, improves your mood, and boosts your appetite. Basically, you run around the kitchen eating all the Christmas goodies. It’s a dirty, lousy, thankless job but somebody has to do it. Oink.


After breakfast, I did a half hour of yoga for my back. Normally, I start by doing standing stretches, but today I did nothing but stretches and core exercises on the floor. Child pose is the bomb. I think the prednisone allows me to relax and stretch without muscle soreness. It’ll be interesting to see how my body handles some of these positions without the benefit of steroids.


Earlier this month I had a colonoscopy. The doctor found three abnomalities. He found one to be obviously innocuous. Two were suspicious. He biopsied the baddies and removed all three. Today, he showed me the results from the pathology lab. My two suspect polyps were adenomas, the kind of polyps that can develop into colon cancer. Had I not had this colonoscopy I might have been in for a rather rude surprise in 2020. Long story short, I’m good to go, so to speak, for another three years.

The Last Ride

After a 20-minute meditation session down by the river, I went for my final bike ride of the year. It was a 28-mile gentle meander on the Mount Vernon Trail aboard the Cross Check. My back did not much like the bumps on the trail. After the ride I lowered the saddle a couple of millimeters. We’ll see how that feels next time. (Later in the evening my hips and left leg were sore from stenosis. Hmm…)

Fleet Miles

I have four bikes. The end-of-year odometer readings are pretty cool. Clockwise from top left: Little Nellie, The Mule, The Cross Check, and Big Nellie. These are only outdoor miles. I put some miles on Big Nellie in the basement every winter so its odometer reading is probably short about 1,000 miles. Grand total: 135,050 miles since 1991.


December Miles

In December I rode 667.5 miles. All but 44 miles were outdoors. I rode 24 out of 31 days. My long ride was during the Hains Point 100 when I did 37.5 miles.

2019 Miles

I rode a total of 10,618.5 miles in 2019, 2,978 of them during the No Name Tour from May to early July. During the tour, I climbed over 150,000 feet. I rode 188 miles indoors, evidence of a mild winter. I climbed 0 feet indoors. Boredom has its advantages.


Miles by Bike 2019

2019 Events

In addition to the Hains Point 100, I squeezed in a few other bike events this year. I did my 11th Fifty States Ride, my fifth Cider Ride, another Great Pumpkin Ride (I can’t recall how many times I’ve done this one), a ride looking at murals in Alexandria, and still another with a George Washington theme.

A Decade of Riding

I rode 84,531 miles in the 2010s.

Miles by Year - 2010 to 2019


PSA – Get your ass to a doctor

If you’ve been meaning to do one of those cleansings of your inner organs, do I have a treat for you.

This week I will be having my seventh colonoscopy. PARTAY! Colon cancer doesn’t much care if you think a colonoscopy is gross. To be honest, the cleansing routine the day before is not much fun, although, unlike a decade ago, you no longer have to drink two gallons of foul tasting fluid to get the job done. Fair warning: do this at home. (Don’t ask.)

My mother survived it. My friend Bob is undergoing chemo for it. My grad school roommate Chet died of it a year ago. Like you, they were/are all very nice people. Colon cancer didn’t much care.

So if you are 50 or older, or if you have a family history of colon cancer, get your ass to a doctor and get a colonoscopy. It’s not nearly as gross as having eye surgery while conscious. (Been there. Done that. I have stories.)

Get Your Ass to a Doctor

I have often said that had I been born 200 years ago I would have died before the age of 50. Modern medicine has fixed my broken parts many, many times. Nearsightedness, a damaged knee, a ruptured disk, two retinal detachments in my left eye, cataracts in both eyes, and secondary cataracts in both eyes. I just wasn’t born for the long haul.

I apparently also have a little genetic flaw. About 25 or so years ago, my mother contracted colon cancer. She caught hers in time, had an operation, and lived to the age of 90. Inside of my colon cells lingers a strand of DNA that is going

Tick, tick, tick.

Colonoscopies are examinations in which a doctor uses a fiber optic camera at the tip of a long flexible probe to search for irregularities. Cancerous tumors are of immediate concern but so too are polyps, bumps in the wall of the colon that can become cancerous.

When I was around 40, I had my first colonoscopy. In order to clear out my pipes, I had to drink about a gallon of laxative solution that tasted pretty wretched. My mother, who weighed less than half of what I weigh, had to drink about twice as much. Once, she was diagnosed, she had to have frequent colonoscopies. She didn’t mind the procedure itself but she HATED that “stuff” as she called it.

My first colonoscopy came back clear. My second revealed a couple of polyps which were removed and proved to be innocuous. My third not so much. I had seven polyps. My once every five year routine was bumped up to once every three years. In recent preparation for a colonoscopy next month, my doctor showed me why. He pulled out his tablet computer and pulled up a picture from my last procedure. All the way back, at the furthest point in my colon, I could clearly see what looked like a wart. It was an adenoma. This is a type of polyp that could have morphed into a tumor had it not been removed. Welcome to the high risk list. 

I have no symptoms. I felt fine then. I feel fine now. But I know that dear old Mom left me a gift that I don’t want to open. So in a month, I go for my fourth colonoscopy. Each of my four procedures has been a little different. Each time the laxative solution is less voluminous and less nasty tasting. One time I was given light sedation. This was rather fun (I loved up at the nurse who injected me and said, “That feels WONDERFUL” as the drug worked its way into my brain) except when the instrument had to turn a corner. Last time I was knocked out completely. No muss, no fuss.

Here’s how the deal will go down:

I stop eating small foods like corn, peas, and nuts beginning on Sunday. On Wednesday I drink only clear liquids. No solid food at all. At 6 pm on Wednesday, I drink a 16 ounce solution of the stuff. Then another 16 ounces on Thursday morning at 8. At 1 pm, I go to the hospital. At 2 they do the deed. At 3 I will be at home having something to eat before sleeping off the lingering anesthesia. Friday, I go back to work.

It’s that easy. It doesn’t hurt. Regardless of the outcome I will be much better off for having the colonoscopy done.

If you have a family history of colon cancer, talk to your doctor about getting a colonoscopy.

Whether you have a history or not, if you are 50 or older, get one.

Don’t believe all the unpleasant stories you’ve heard. It’s not bad at all. It’s way easier than retina surgery or back surgery. And it’s way easier than contracting undetected colon cancer and having a bowel resection or worse.

Yeah, it’s icky. It’s inconvenient. Do it anyway.

And finally a special note to my middle-aged (sorry, middle age begins at 40) friends who live an awesomely healthy lifestyle (e.g, yoga, gluten free, vegetarian, vegan, paleo, whole 30, microbiotic). Good on you. Now get your ass to the doctor! No excuses. To my friends go all woo woo about the universe taking care of you. It’s time to put a colonoscope in your present moment.