Dan and Hannah Personally Welcome Brooks to the Family

Brooks Ithaca - more sleeping

It’s Brooks Archer Rothermel Time!  Last weekend, Hannah and I drove nearly 400 miles to Ithaca, New York to meet and greet our new grandson for the first time.  FaceTime has been a valuable introduction to the little guy while we were home in Maine, but we are looking forward to some personal face time with our grandson.  (You see what I did!)

On our first afternoon, Brooks basically slept, peeped a little to be fed, opened his eyes to look at Hannah and me with a WTF sweet look of contentment, and slept some more.

Brooks Ithaca with Omi

I have ten thoughts after time with Brooks and his world-is-going-to-be-rocked (in a good way) parents Will and Laurel.

From now on, their lives are no longer on East Coast time, but on Brooks Time.  Things will take longer, the unexpected will become expected, and if they are late, they have one really beautiful reason why.

Brooks Ithaca - kicking back

Brooks lies on a pillow turned pink under the red patio umbrella in his back patio.

Though Brooks has slept reasonably well for his first three weeks, it’s often in two to four hour periods.  He’s a baby.  That’s what they do.  That said, there still lie a lot of up-in-the-night nights for Will and Laurel.  If our experience is any indication, Will and Laurel will be more tired than they have ever been in 2018.

Ever since June 24, 2018, Will and Laurel smile a lot, really beam.

Brooks Ithaca mouth agape

They’ll be reading very little John Grisham.  These are some of the titles on their coffee table – , The Conscious Parent by Shefali Tsabary (a personal favorite of mine), Dude, You’re Gonna Be a Dad!: How to Get Both of You Through the Next 9 Months by John Pfeiffer, and The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp.

I don’t think it odd that Hannah and my youngest child, Will, is a parent.  It’s time.  Will is ready, willing, and able for the joy and for the challenge.  His gentle, loving, caring nature is made for this opportunity.  Brooks will be learning from a master how to mow the lawn and hit a 280 yard drive.  On the other hand, Hannah and I will teach him how to dink and hit the third shot in pickleball.

Brooks Ithaca black and white

Parenting for the first time is tough enough; and then they will be asked to  learn on the fly and do it while they are as tired as they have ever been.

During the first two weeks of Brooks life, Will and Laurel were so pleased to get three hours of sleep at a time.  Sleepless nights will come, this is when the strength of their marriage will be evident.  From Maine, the marriage looks good and strong!

Brooks Ithaca family rothermel

This is a note for all grandfathers – change diapers.  Pop, you are a big boy.  You can do it!  It would be easy for me to let Hannah jump up to change Brooks’s poopy diapers.  But if I do, I miss out on this opportunity to really help out and connect with Brooks.  Let me report, I got down and dirty at changing time on multiple occasions.

Brooks Ithaca - checking the scene

I felt over-the-moon happy when Laurel handed me a fussy Brooks after she fed him.  Seated at a stool at their kitchen island, I successfully helped the little guy mellow out as I rocked him and let him suck on his binky (i.e., pacifier).  He fell asleep for an hour.  Is this how rockstars feel?

Will and Laurel are getting a crash course in the value of a well-timed nap (which is anytime Brooks is asleep!).

Brooks Ithaca smiling

Hannah and I know how fortunate we are to have healthy grandson with these two parents in our lives.  They don’t live in Arizona or California or even Virginia.  They are just six hours away.  As retired folks, Hannah and I can be an active part in Brooks’ life.

They’ll do fine, some bumps, some jolts, lots of joy.  Hannah and I are so pleased to be along for the ride.

Brooks Ithaca parents, grandparents and brooks

Brooks at 15 days old

Brooks day 17 A

Dreams of capturing the big one!

Brooks day 17 B

Brooks day 17 C

Brooks with his binky

Brooks at 19

Brooks at 19


Brooks on Will's chest

Our son Will with their son Brooks


Dan Learns about the Bar in Bar Harbor at Acadia National Park

Acadia map of BH

Bar Harbor, home of Acadia National Park

This is a two parter.  First is for those looking for light hiking in the town.  Second is a recommendation where to stay in Bar Harbor.

Located in Downeast Maine, Bar Harbor is pronounced “Bah Hahbah” by Mainers and playfully by those from “away.”  “Downeast” often refers to the eastern coast of Maine.  The phrase derives from sailing terminology: sailors from western ports sailed downwind to the east to reach this area.

Bar 4A B and D summit better

Dan with his Canadian buddy, Bill Buggie

With my UNH college friend, Bill Buggie, I have come to discover the bar in Bar Harbor.  On previous hiking and biking trips to Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island, we have heard the story that at low tide the sand bar magically appears so walkers, even cars, can cross to Bar Island itself.

Bar 4C Bar Harbor from BI summit

The view of Bar Harbor from Bar Island

Coming during the first week of May, Bill and I have the town to ourselves.  Last night we immediately got a table at Geddy’s in the heart of the downtown at the prime dining hour of 7P.  Parking last night, and now this next Monday morning, is plentiful as we prepare to walk the land bridge to Bar Island at low tide.

Bar 1AB high tide 2

From Bar Harbor to Bar Island at high tide

Having checked the tide charts for Bar Harbor weeks before, we know that this Monday morning at 11A is the lowest of low tides.  The park service advertises that there is a three hour window to hike to the island and be back before the salt waters of high tide rule the day.  Descending Bridge Street, we have a land bridge from the harbor to Bar Island.  Hence, the street name.


Bar 1A D at land bridge

In fact, the sandbar to Bar Island is mostly a gravel bar and could easily support a four-wheel vehicle.  As Bill and I arrive at 930A, we see people already walking to the island.  Hoping we’d see the tide receding slowly to expose the land bridge, something out of Charlton Heston crossing the Red Sea in the Ten Commandments, I am mildly disappointed that the sand/gravel trail is already over 100’ wide, and obviously easy to cross.

Bar 1B wide land bridge

Monday morning at 930A, low tide

Stepping first among the small stones of the gravel bar, we soon close in on the island over large smooth stones with an obvious trail before us.  The trail through the forest and meadows is well-marked and ten to twenty other walkers make it clear the way to go.  Once on Bar Island, hiking to the modest summit takes us a leisurely fifteen minutes.  Looking back to Bar Harbor itself, we know we have found a family hike that kids under ten can easily do.

Bar 2 sign 2

Bar 2A submerged cars

Bar 3 trail begins

Bar 3A trail to summit


Bar map of shore path with BI

The Shore Path in red (the dotted line is the land bridge to Bar Island)

With only an hour of hiking/walking under our belts, we head to the Shore Path that goes from the downtown park at the Bar Harbor Inn, and then along the harbor waterfront past high priced condos and estates of old money.  It’s a delightful level walk of less than a mile with islands dotting the harbor for our viewing pleasure.

Bar 5 B and D on shore path

Bill and Dan on Bar Harbor’s Shore Path











Bonus section is for folks wondering about a recommendation where to stay in Bar Harbor.

Ever wonder where to stay in Bar Harbor when some hotel rooms in season go for north of $400 to $500?  Wonder no more.

First, let’s back up.  Consider traveling to Bar Harbor in May.  Tourist season that once went from Memorial Day to Labor Day now stretches into September and October.  Come November, the dark of 415P sunsets makes this the fishing village that the locals love.

bar acadia park inn sign

On this first Sunday night of May, Bill and I each have a room at the Best Western Acadia Park Inn for $99 a night; in August the same room is $209, in September $189, and after Columbus Day weekend in October $135.

Let me take you back to our daybreak feast.

It’s Monday morning, I slip into the large dining area at 630A to be greeted by Jill, a downhome down easterner of perpetual joy.  Toasting an English muffin and pouring myself a full 12 ounces of dynamite decaf, I return to my room to luxuriate with Sports Center.  Once done, I’m not done!  I return for a second cup with a banana nut muffin that I warm to mouth-watering perfection in the in-room microwave.  And that’s just the beginning.

Bar API breakfast room

At 8A when Bill and I have arranged to meet for breakfast, I take breakfast to the next level.  Ladling out primo Quaker oatmeal from an 18″ coffee urn size container, I then sprinkle on raisins and walnuts.  The oatmeal is so tantalizing that I forego the eggs and sausage to have another bowl of oatmeal for our morning of hiking.

This oatmellian delight compares favorably with the oatmeal that Hannah and I have every morning when we are home.  As if things couldn’t get any better, I top off breakfast with hash brown mini-patties, be they doused with salsa (a personal favorite) or delectably savored alone.  You can’t go wrong with the Acadia Park Inn.

Dan and Jimmy Thank My Donors – Update

Sox fenway park

The green monster at Fenway Park

Dear Dan’s Donors to the Jimmy Fund,

Thanks to your generous contributions to the Jimmy Fund to support cancer research and the care of cancer patients, I was one of the first 100 who raised $1500.  Consequently, the Jimmy Fund rewarded me with two tickets to a pre-game dinner at Fenway Park and to the June 28, 2018 Red Sox v Angels baseball game that evening.

The Jimmy Fund provided me with a win/win opportunity.  Win one – I gave Molly and Tip the tickets to go to the dinner and Red Sox game so they had a night out.  Win two – Hannah and I got to babysit our grandsons, Owen and Max, for the afternoon and overnight while Molly and Tip were on their date.

I present pictures with captions of these good times thanks to your generosity.

Sox M and T before they left

Tip and Molly decked in their Jimmy Fund gear before they head to the game.

Sox M and O on bikes

Once their parents headed south for the game, Owen (left) and Max (right) roar up and down the street in front of their house.

Sox O and M on slalom

With their Omi in the background, Owen in fluorescent green and Max in orange race up and down their cul-de-sac on a slalom course their Omi set up; something out of the 1950s

Sox M and T in JF square

Molly and Tip at the dinner as one of 100 guests of honor

Sox taco thursday

While at home, Owen and Max enjoy Taco Thursday (carrots with humus in the foreground)

Sox M and T at game

Molly and Tip take in the game where the Red Sox beat the Angels 4-2

Sox Brooks

All the while our four day old grandson, Brooks Archer Rothermel, son of our son Will and his wife Laurel, rests peacefully in central New York

Love and peace,

Omi and Poppa

PS To date I have raised $4621 towards my goal of $5000.  I literally could not have done it without you.  Muchas gracias.



Dan and Hannah Welcome Brooks to the World

Seven days before the due date of June 28, Laurel posted these pictures.

baby laurel at 39


baby a watermelon

With five days til Will and Laurel’s due date (this past Saturday), we like that they have gone on “old school” and don’t know the gender of their new child.

Our three “old school” kids were all over the board when they decided it was showtime.  Born August 5, Molly was three days early.  Robyn was thirteen days late on September 7 and actually born on Labor Day.  Will was three days late on October 12.  Using higher mathematics by squaring the hypotenuse and dividing by the tangent, I came up with the calculation that their baby will come on our 46th anniversary – July 1.

Somehow my math didn’t quite an add up!  My bad.

For later that Saturday afternoon, we get a text that Laurel’s water has broken.  Below, the new parents are ready and waiting at the hospital.

baby w and l at hopital

Throughout  the night the baby wasn’t quite ready to make an appearance.  After a long night that rolled into Sunday morning, Brooks Archer Rothermel came into this world on June 24, 2018 at 8# 2 oz, 20.5″.  (Archer is my mother’s maiden name and my middle name.)

baby laurel with brooks on chest


baby brooks on will's chest


baby brooks alone info




baby will and brooks

baby brooks day 2


baby day 3

We are top of the world!

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.

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.

JImmy D and G

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.



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.


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.

(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.

Dan Demystifies the Colonoscopy Experience   Part 3 of 4

Recap from parts I and II – At the last minute before my scheduled colonoscopy, I was informed that my preferred gastroenterologist did not accept my Aetna Medicare Advantage plan.  I found an alternative doctor but wondered if he is as good.  I also wondered if my current Medicare Advantage health insurance would serve me in a health crises of major proportions.  Click here for Part 1 and click here for Part 2.

colon SMHCG

Four days before my colonoscopy (a Monday) – The colon prep instructions from Southern Maine Health Care Gastroenterology have not arrived.  It’s not a big deal since I have the previous instructions from Atlantic Digestive Specialists.  Basically, until my colonoscopy exam this Friday, I am to avoid corn, popcorn, foods with seeds, nuts, and raw vegetables

My usual air popcorn will be put on hold (Hannah never thinks eating that “cardboard” popcorn is palatable anyway.) and I’ll be breakfasting on the blandest of oatmeals since I must forego my blueberries, raisins, almonds, walnuts, and a trio of seeds – flax, sunflower, and chia.  Somehow, I’ll survive quite nicely.  You might be thinking, Dan you are my hero!  Or not.

colon picture of intestines

As Friday approaches, I think that my excellent previous exams of my colon do not preclude the possibility of less encouraging results this time.  People do get colon cancer and are in for the fight of their lives.  That said, it must count for something that I have had three clean results from previous colonoscopies when I was 50, 55, and 60.  Five years ago, I had a few polyps removed but such that it didn’t concern my gastroenterologist enough, so I was cleared to wait five years for my next exam.

Typically, colonoscopies are done every ten years, as Hannah has hers, if there is no family history (which I have since my dad, brother, and sister have had polyps) or previous polyps (which I have had).

I’m not worried, overly concerned, nor supremely confident either.  I look forward to finding out the state of my colon and then dealing with whatever happens.  Worrying about tomorrow steals the joy from today – Barbara Camerson

Three days before (Tuesday) – Not having food with seeds or nuts is really cramping my style.  My daily oatmeal is just mush without my fruit, nuts, and seeds.  I can’t lunch on my usual everything bagel either.  Then, there’s no afternoon popcorn.  Wa-wa-wa.  I just thought someone might care.  I am now aware no one does, and obviously life is pretty good if these are my issues.

colon doc john thompson

Dr. John Thompson

Two days before (Wednesday) – As my gastroenterologist Dr. John Thompson is new to me, I check him out online.  I learn he is 64 and has been in practice for 37 years.  I like experience when someone is probing with a scope through my large intestines.  He has board certifications in gastroenterology and internal medicine.  That checks two more boxes.  He completed a fellowship at Yale University School of Medicine, Gastroenterology.  I am always over-impressed with Ivy League schooling.  So that is a plus.

Day of Fasting the day before (Thursday) – I sleep poorly but am looking forward to the day of fasting to move this process forward.  (You see what I did!)  Let me remind you my colonoscopy prep begins in earnest at 2P today when I begin my first eight ounces of the GoLytely concoction.

colon golytely instructions

While in California, I had heard that the nasty taste of the GoLytely mix can be mitigated if I drink the liquid through a straw.  I’ll give it a shot, but I may just resort to chugging the eight ounces to get it over with.

Today’s diet includes black coffee and lime jello.  But the real action begins at 2P.  Literally!  (more colonoscopy humor).  The brew has been in the fridge overnight because that makes the drink more palatable cold.

Surprisingly, I’m not hungry after an early morning workout at Coastal Fitness gym.  Usually, breakfast is my favorite meal.  I love my bowl of fruit, often cantaloupe, sliced pears, tangerines, and pineapple.  That’s followed by two/thirds of a cup of oatmeal with nuts, seeds, and fruit.  Followed by a Hannah’s biscuit or two with decafe.  It’s true amore!

colon GoLytely jog


But I know downing four liters of GoLytely this afternoon and evening is not going to be a piece of cake, perhaps more like a sonic boom.

In Part 4, my colonoscopy drama concludes with a play by play of the magic GoLytely and then the surgical operation itself.  Polyps?



Dan Demystifies the Colonoscopy Experience   Part 2 of 4

Recap of Part I – Five days before my colonoscopy exam, my Medicare insurance coverage has been denied.  I fortunately find an alternative gastroenterologist up the road in Kennebunk, Maine, but he needs my files faxed to them before he can operate.  Click here for Part 1.

The very next day after the denial of coverage (Friday).  I get a call from Southern Maine Health Care Gastroenterology (SMHCG) saying that my colonoscopy files have been faxed to their offices already!  What could have taken five days, takes one!  I’d be scum if I don’t call Kelly at Atlantic Digestive Specialists to thank her for expediting the delivery of my files.  Today, I am not scum.

Donna at SMHCG sets me up for a colonoscopy appointment for the very next Friday, in just seven days, only three days later than my original appointment!  I have been psyching up for nearly two months for one of the most preventable-of-cancer screenings – the colonoscopy.  Truth to be told, I am looking to get the damn thing over.  Sometimes you win, and sometimes you win unexpectedly.

Six days before the newly scheduled appointment (a Saturday) With this reset, I have time to think about the Aetna Medicare Advantage health insurance Hannah and I have.

colon aetna medicare

We have had two separate Medicare plans since we turned 65.  From 2013-2015 we had a high end AARP Medicare supplemental plan.  To save money because we have been quite healthy, we opted in 2016 for the Aetna Medicare Advantage plan, which we currently have.

Fact is, there are some sweet benefits to Medicare Advantage insurance.  We pay no monthly premium.  None.  We get a dental and optometry stipend for yearly check-ups.  We pay $5 for a doctor’s visit and $35 for a specialist within network.  Sounds pretty good, n’est-ce pas?

colon how medicare works

With this Aetna plan, Hannah paid $150 out of $4500 in bills from the ER at the Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital after her fall off the San Ysidro Trail one year ago.  I paid something like $175 of my $14,000 bill from my overnight at York Hospital and subsequent myriad of tests after my recent episode of Transient Global Amnesia.

We cannot pay more than $6000 each for health care in any one calendar year.  And, let me remind you, we pay zero per month to Aetna.

colon social security

Let’s be clear, our Medicare is not free.  Everyone, no matter whether they have a supplemental plan or an advantage plan, pays the federal government something like $140 per month.  If you are on Social Security, as we are, that money is taken directly out of your monthly Social Security check.

There are limitations to a Medicare Advantage plan.  Though our primary care physicians at Kittery Family Practice and the local York Hospital are in-network, we have found that not all local specialists are in-network.  Two and a half years ago with Aetna Medicare Advantage, I found that the dermatologist I had previously used under a regular Medicare supplemental plan would not take my Aetna coverage.  Fortunately, another physician in her office at Northeast Dermatology did and successfully removed a small growth on my cheek.

colon SMHCG

Two days ago, I was informed that my preferred gastroenterologist did not take my Aetna Medicare coverage.  I found an in-network replacement here locally at Southern Maine Health Care Gastroenterology.  Is SMHCG as good as the doctor I wanted and that had been recommended by a trusted friend?

There is a more expensive alternative to Aetna Medicare Advantage – a Medicare supplemental plan.  This year the AARP Universal Healthcare Supplemental plan would cost us each $225 per month.  That’s more than $5400 for Hannah and me per year whereas Aetna Advantage is zero per month.

colon medicare supplemental

With a top end Medicare Supplemental plan like we had from 2013-2015, we did not need referrals from our primary care physician for specialists.  Basically, every health care provider loved seeing us coming.  I don’t remember a co-pay.  Our Plan F for supplemental insurance was the gold standard.  My previous colonoscopy with a doctor of my choosing was covered without a second thought or additional expense in 2013.

But here’s the bigger question as Hannah and I turn 70, how good would our coverage with Aetna Medicare Advantage be if we had something really serious – say a heart attack, cancer, something we don’t even know that might be going on in our bodies?  Would we be denied top medical providers that are available to others with a Medicare supplemental plan?

A young friend of ours had a breast cancer diagnosis.  She had the choice of Mass General or Dana Farber Cancer Institute, both world class hospitals in Boston, from which to choose for her cancer treatment.  Would I have such an option if I had a similar serious diagnosis?

Calling our Aetna customer service representative, I learn we would not have the choice of either of those hospitals.  Local is not worse, but why would I limit my options when elite hospitals are sixty miles away in Boston?

colon mass general

So, Hannah and I must decide, while we are currently quite healthy, if the extra expense of a Medicare supplemental plan is worth the additional $5400 cost per year.  If necessary, I would want the choice between Mass General and Dana Farber.  Wouldn’t you, if you could afford it?

Part 3 details my mindset and preparation as the colonoscopy draws nigh.