Dan Hikes a Three-pack of Mountains (Bald, Parkman, and Gilmore) in Acadia National Park

Acadia map of BH

For a fourth time in the past three years, I drive north the 3+ hours from our home in York to Acadia National Park to meet up with Bill Buggie, my UNH buddy from Canada, for two days of hiking.  Back in 1983, Bill and I met on the campus of the University of New Hampshire as students in the New Hampshire Summer Writing Program and we’ve been amigos ever since.

Bar 4A B and D summit better

Arriving at our rendezvous at the Best Western Acadia Park Inn in Bar Harbor just after noon this first Sunday in May, we are not deterred by the intermittent raindrops.  Having come to hike early in the season, we are not dissuaded from hiking this afternoon, on trails that will not be swarming with other hikers.

As we approach the ranger at the Hull Cove Visitor Center for a hiking suggestion, we spread out our $5 trail map and see that his name is Sardius Stalker.  I ask if his first name is Greek.  He smiles and says that that is what he initially thought but later learned it was Latin.  He explains that Sardius is a ruby in the breastplate of a Jewish high priest mentioned in Exodus in the Bible.  I was not going to make a crack about his last name.

Noting our map with the yellow highlighted trails of previous hikes to Acadia that Bill and I did together, he says, I see you like strenuous hikes.  He suggests a trio of balds (mountain tops with no trees) for our hiking pleasure – Bald, Parkman, and Gilmore Mountains.

Acadia 1 D at sign

Having a trail that fits our desire to hike for two to three hours, we leave the visitor center and take the obligatory picture by the Acadia National Park sign.  Traveling on the Park Loop Road, we turn on to route 233 heading away from town, past the Mount Desert Island High School.  Route 233 tees at route 198, which we turn left on and drive a half mile to a parking area off to the right near the Norumbega Trail.

Acadia 1D B on rocky rooted trail

Crossing the highway and taking to the forested trail in tee shirt and shorts on this 60F afternoon, I start my hike with Bill in conversation about Lexulous, an online variation of Scrabble that we have played over the last eight years.  As word tile aficionados, we talk about strategies, when to swap tiles and if there is ever a time not to play a bingo (a 40 point bonus for using seven tiles in one play).

Acadia 1E rocky trail to Bald

It is soon apparent that our day of hiking will be one of rock climbing over stones and small boulders.  Stepping carefully in many places, we never find it perilous as we climb towards the summit of Bald Mountain at 948’ above sea level.

Acadia 1F D on rocks to Bald

Though the light rain sprinkles now and again, we are able to negotiate the mini-boulders quite easily.  In heavier rain, the conditions on the trail would be treacherous.  Falling or slipping on these unforgiving rocks could send either one of us to the ER.  We would neither pass go nor collect $200.

Acadia 1J D at Bald summit better

Atop Bald Mountain with Parkman Mountain in the background

A mere month ago these trails were covered with snow as four March nor’easters clobbered the coast of Maine; then a cold, cold April kept the snow around with all the persistence a smoker’s hacking cough.  The bright blue blazes in addition to the cairns (piled stones) expertly guide us to the summit.

Acadia 3A D on rooted trail

Summiting Bald Mountain after a one mile climb, we can see the short distance to Parkman Mountain to the northeast and Gilmore Mountain to the northwest.

Acadia 1 B descending Bald

Dipping down into the valley from Bald to Parkman, we have just 0.3 of a mile to our next summit.  The stony climb down over unforgiving granite has us stepping carefully, but it’s not impossibly difficult at all.  That said, this is not a hike for kids.

Acadia 3 rocks to Gilmore

On the Parkman summit, we have a wide view of the coastal inlands, ponds, and lakes.  Mist gets our attention and we move along purposefully, not certain what Mother Nature has in store for us.

Acadia 3C D at top of Gilmore with Bald and Parkman in the distance

Atop Gilmore with Bald to my right and Parkman to my left

Descending into the valley between Parkman and Gilmore again requires careful stepping down the granite trail of stones and boulders.  One slip and it’s sayonara, but we carefully grab the stones and nearby saplings and descend without incident.  Once atop Gilmore, we stand on the rock pile summit with Bald and Parkman summits to either side.

Acadia 4B along the maple springs trail

Along Maple Springs Creek

From Gilmore, the Spring Maple Trail follows the creek down the mountain towards the trailhead.  As it’s springtime, the creek quietly flows over granite stones making shallow pools and mini-waterfalls of the two to three feet variety.

Acadia 4 Maple springs trail

With the creek to the left, the massive boulder seemingly blocks our passage down the Spring Maple Trail

Then suddenly, the creek tumbles twenty dramatic feet away with a massive 20’+ boulder lying in our path; there is no way in hell that we are walking down the creek any further.  With no blue blaze suggesting what we do, we head uneasily on a trail where the sign says we are heading back toward Parkman Mountain.

With an inner sense that this can’t be right, we check our map and conclude there must be a way down this twenty foot cliff.  Exploring and poking around the enormous boulder, I see that indeed the trail makers have placed steps of stones around the massive stoneness allowing us to skirt the falls.  Peace returns to the valley.

Acadia 5A D at waterfalls better

As we cross under the Carriage Road bridge, we have been told of a waterfall above, not two hundred yards away on the Carriage Road itself.  Having passed these falls two Septembers ago when it was a trickle, Bill and I are pleased to find a modest flow this spring.  The picture to the right makes it apparent we need some selfie picture-taking lessons.

Acadia 5B B and D selfie

 

 

Hiking up and down this trio of mountains for three miles, we return to the trail head two and a half hours later, having never seen another hiker on this spring Sunday.  Though I like trails with others hiking, today’s time with just Bill is just about perfect.

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Dan and Jimmy Want You on Their Team

You probably correctly guessed that I am the “Dan” of the headline Dynamic Duo.  The Jimmy is the Jimmy Fund that raises money for cancer research and the care and treatment of cancer patients.

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George and Dan at the 2016 Jimmy Fund Walk

Recruited by my weekly ping pong partner, George Derby, to join his “Team Barry,” I am taking to the streets of the Commonwealth to raise money to battle Cancer, the Powerful; but with your support, maybe not for long.

Barry was George’s friend who died at the tender age of 65 from cancer.  George is a walking miracle himself as one who has faced throat cancer and come out smiling.

On Sunday, September 23, 2018, I will be walking the final 10K (6.2 miles) of the actual Boston Marathon course to support all the families and patients and doctors doing research to solve the cancer mystery.

 

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Our Team Barry begins at 10K point just before Heartbreak Hill

Please consider “joining” me as I walk by donating to the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk.

To make a contribution online, visit my personal page http://danafarber.jimmyfund.org/site/TR?px=1004734&pg=personal&fr_id=1060

To send a contribution, mail to:
Boston Marathon® Jimmy Fund Walk
P.O. Box 3595
Boston, MA 02241-3595

Make all checks payable to: Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk and put

Dan Rothermel #1004734 (my Jimmy Fund ID #) in the message space.  

Let me know if you send a check.

10K_RouteMap

Jimmy and Danny thank you.

PS This is my second Jimmy Fund Walk.  In 2016, I walked with George for Barry and others on a magic Sunday in late September.  Click here for that blog.

Jimmy cancer institute

A little more about the “Jimmy” of the Jimmy Fund from 1998 by Dan Shaugnessy of the Boston Globe

The man whose story launched the Jimmy Fund, New England’s favorite charity, is alive and well, hauling groceries across the land in his 18-wheeler. On Friday night, the 50th anniversary of the birth of the Jimmy Fund, the real Jimmy will be introduced at Fenway Park before the Red Sox play the Yankees.

In 1948, (Carl Einar) Gustafson was a 12-year-old cancer patient at Children’s Hospital. Dr. Sidney Farber picked him to represent every child with cancer and dubbed him “Jimmy.” While America listened to Ralph Edwards’s popular “Truth or Consequences” radio broadcast, the audience heard “Jimmy” receive a surprise visit from members of his favorite baseball team, the Boston Braves. They hoped to raise enough money to buy him a television set so he could watch baseball games from his hospital bed.

At the insistence of Dr. Farber, the father of modern chemotherapy who died in 1973, Jimmy’s identity was never revealed. As years passed, and the Jimmy Fund grew into an army of doctors, nurses, clinicians, patients, volunteers, and fund-raisers, there was less and less mention of the little boy whose story spawned the miracle. Cancer survivors were rare in 1948, so even those who work for the Jimmy Fund assumed the child had succumbed to the disease. So Jimmy became Everychild, a symbol of all youngsters with cancer.

Dan and Hannah Have a New Grandbaby on the Way

Coming down the homestretch, our son Will and his wife Laurel are expecting their first child and our third grandchild on June 28.  They are going old school and will learn the gender of their baby when their bouncing baby turns their world upside down.

Laurel - W and L

Since Will and Laurel live in Ithaca, New York where he works in the athletic department at Ithaca College and she is a nurse at a local clinic, Hannah and I will travel 400+ miles from our home on the coast of Maine to meet our new grandchild; Laurel’s mom Sandy lives about the same distance away from Ithaca on Cape Cod.  Fired up about the arrival of a new bambino, I ask you, who should be the first grandparent(s) to visit when the baby arrives?  Sandy or Dan and Hannah?

Hannah and I vote for Sandy.  We think it should be the mother of the new mother.  Laurel will have gone through the wringer and would quite naturally be most comfortable with her own mom around as she regains her strength and deals with being a new mom.

We have family history on our side as precedent.  When Molly gave birth to Owen in 2012 and Max in 2014 in Virginia 550 miles away from our home in Maine, her husband Tip, understood that Molly would be most comfortable with her mother (one Hannah Banana) during the days immediately after each of their son’s birth.

Certainly, if either family lived near to Virginia, they would go to the hospital and be a part of Opening Day.  Since both sets of grandparents lived a good day’s drive away (Tip’s mom and dad also live nearly 550 miles from Virginia), Hannah and I were the ones who were first invited to come to Virginia to see our grandsons.

Funny, how the universe had other ideas.

As it turned out, Hannah fractured her tibia water skiing in Maine a mere twelve hours before Owen was born.  As such, she and I weren’t able to travel for a while.  But that’s beside the point.  Tip got it!  Molly’s mom was the first one to come to support his wife.

Laurel - 37 weeks

Back to Will and Laurel.  A week ago, we received a sweet text from Laurel thoughtfully wanting to include us in the first days of the baby’s life.

Will and I wanted to offer that when we go in to the hospital for labor, that you are welcome to come and stay at our house, so you can meet Baby R when he/she is born. My mother will be here as well. We have decided to be just the two of us in the delivery room, but we would love to have you there soon after. We also understand if you’d like to wait until a later time, but the offer is there!   

Laurel - H and L better

Laurel’s equally sweet mother-in-law Hannah responds to them after she and I talked.

What a sweet offer, Laurel! We do think we’ll wait a bit ~ til your mom has had her time with you and Baby R… maybe even give you a day or two to then catch your breath ~ and perhaps even a rhythm of sorts?!  Of course, we’ll need/want pictures right away!!  We SO appreciate your thoughtful offer to have us come right away. Hope this idea sounds OK to you, though. Meanwhile, each day closer to June 28th gets even more exciting… We LOVE the weekly update pictures of Baby R’s beautiful mom!

 

Dan Demystifies the Colonoscopy Experience   Part 4 of 4

Recap Parts 1 – 3 – After my Medicare Insurance was denied by my preferred colonoscopy provider, I did eventually find another gastroenterologist.  The day before the colonoscopy, I began fasting.  Click here for Part 1.   Click here for Part 2.  Click here for part 3.

colon GoLytely jog

At 2P the day before my colonoscopy, I stare at the gallon bottle of liquid and find it hard to imagine that all this brew is going down my throat, find its way to my large intestine, and come spewing out into the wild blue yonder (tidy bowl blue).  Doubling my resolve, I man up and repeatedly suck on a plastic McDonald’s straw to finish the eight ounces of GoLYTELY; the brew turns out to be not as detestable as I remember.  With seven plus hours to go, I’ve got a helluva an afternoon and evening ahead.  Boo hoo!  Still my first glass of the vile concoction isn’t terrible.

At 230P, forsaking the straw, I just slug down the cocktail.  Glass two again isn’t horrible!  I expected horrible.  Maybe taking it over eight hours minimizes the nasty taste.

At 4P, I have drunk five of the roughly 16 eight ounce glasses of GoLYTELY that I will down this afternoon and evening.  After two hours of this witch’s brew, you’d think I’d be sprinting to the bathroom, but nothing is stirring down under.  Fact is, if I am going to drink this disgusting concoction, I want to see some results, some action!

Here’s my routine as I approach my eight ounces of GoLYTELY.  Once my iPhone alarm goes off after 30 minutes, I go to the fridge and take out the GoLYTELY jug.  Filling my glass with eight ounces of potion, I place my straw in the glass and suck up as quickly as I possibly can to just get it over with.  I never time it, but I must have polished off the eight ounces in less than 15 seconds; I shake my head back and forth vigorously yelling Woooooo, then sigh in appreciation that I don’t have to do it again for 30 minutes.

At 545P, after nearly four hours of drinking, I get all the action I could ever want as tsunami waves of liquid come again and again.

And when the process comes, it comes with the power of Vin Diesel in Fast and Furious 8!  It’s not accurate that I dash to the bathroom, but I do walk purposefully without delay.  In the next hour, I relieve myself ten times or more.  As the evening wears on and I still have two liters to consume, I go back to the straw as the drinking process becomes tedious but not vomit inducing.  Helluva recommendation!

colon golytely bottle empty

At 830P, I drink my final glass of GoLytely.  Water logged but pleased that the ordeal is over, I can now watch The Good Wife with Julianna Margulies for a whole thirty minutes without dashing to the downstairs bathroom.

About 10P, I am ready for bed, for a night of up and down and up again making the toilet my new friend.  Reading Sue Grafton’s Y is for Yesterday, I settle in for regularly forays to the bathroom, but after three trips in the first half hour, I sleep through the night.

Colonoscopy Day itself – After midnight, I can have no liquids, not even water or black coffee.  Waking at 430A, I have four hours to kill til Hannah drives me to Southern Maine Health Care Gastroenterology in Kennebunk for the procedure.  I stretch, then meditate with Hannah.  I am not hungry, probably since I know that I can’t have anything nor do I want to screw up my 36 hours of fasting.  But in my mind I see visions of a heaping bowl of oatmeal with all the seeds, fruit, and nuts.  Sports Center fills the remaining time til we leave.

colon smhc sign

Arriving in Kennebunk, I fill out paperwork and then am brought into a hospital-type prep room where I am giving a johnnie and asked to remove everything but my socks.  The nurse Barbara sets me up with a drip IV of saline.  Eventually the sedation will come through a plastic tube to knock me out as the scope will wind its way through my rectum, along the sigmoid to the descending and ascending colon of my intestines.

At the start, air is blown in to widen the opening of my rectum for the scope, a process that might cause some cramping.  If so, the nurse tells me to let her know and she’ll give me more painkiller.  I never do feel any cramping.

Wheeled into the operating room by Julie the tech, I am hooked up again to a blood pressure cuff and patches with electrodes are applied to my chest to monitor my heart rate and oxygen level.  I learn that ten colonoscopies can be done on any given day, which pleases me no end that they are so experienced.

colon doc john thompson

The good doctor

Once the good doctor Thompson comes, the dirty work begins.  Dr. T looks me in the eye comfortingly and says, I’ve done 2000 of these in the past year (at least I think that is the time frame).  That is just what I want to hear.  Thank you, doc.  He says the whole procedure will take about 20 minutes as the drugs start mellowing me out.

colon d in bed apres with english muffins

And that’s it done.  I am awake and not awake.  The doc and nurses are smiling.  It feels like a triumph.  Served an English muffin and orange juice, I have completed a 36 hour marathon as I cross the finish line.

The paper work from Doc Thompson that I leave with says, 2 small polyps removed.  Both appear benign.  Both will be sent to pathology.  Depending on pathology results suspension of further screening or repeat in five years. 

colon d and h in bed apres

Once Hannah drives me home, I have a king’s lunch of oatmeal with all the fixins’.

One week later.  Electronically through my Maine Health My Chart page, I get the surgical pathology tissue specimen details; they were not in English.

FINAL DIAGNOSIS:
(A) Colon polyp, cecum base: Tubular adenoma.

(B) Colon polyp, hepatic flexure: Small fragments of benign mucosa,  clinically polypoid.

Calling Southern Maine Health Care Gastroeneterology, I learn that (B) one polyp was benign and not an issue and (A) the tubular adeoma may be pre-cancerous but because Dr. Thomspson removed the polyp, I am good to go for five years.

Despite the preparation process, I will be all over my next colonoscopy in 2023!   By the way, in June 2018 the American Cancer Society recommended patients get screened for colorectal cancer starting at age 45!  Previously the recommendation had been to start the screening at 50.

I received an email with two colonoscopy songs.  Who knew there are such songs!

One is from Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul & Mary who sings how getting a regular colonoscopy saves lives.  Click here for Peter Yarrow’s Colonoscopy song.

The Colorectal Surgeon Song by George Bowser and Rick Blue (Bowser and Blue) praises the colorectal surgeon.    Click here for their playful tune.

 

From the online SilverSneakers Newsletter, May 9, 2018

3. Colonoscopies

From age 50 to 75, most people should get a colonoscopy every 10 years. After 75, the USPSTF recommends stopping the regular testing because the risks of this test begin to outweigh the benefits.

“As you get older, your skin starts to get thinner. The same thing happens on the inside,” Dr. Green says. “That means you’re more likely to have your bowels punctured during a colonoscopy, which can be life-threatening,” she says. “The prep for a frail, older adult can also be very taxing, as it can lead to dehydration which may increase the risk of a fall.”

Another concern is that many older adults wouldn’t be able to handle treatment for colon cancer, should the test turn up anything suspicious. But again, this isn’t a one-size-fits-all rule. “If someone is in their late 70s and still out playing tennis 3 days per week, that’s a person who might still benefit from this test,” Dr. Green says. As always, the best way to make a plan is to have a conversation with your doctor.