Dan and Hannah Hike to General Sherman in Sequoia National Park in California

GST Map of parks

Go early!

That’s the advice we hear all the time when planning to hike the populaire national parks of the central Sierras in California.  Positioning ourselves at that gateway town, Three Rivers, a mere six miles from the southern entrance to Sequoia National Park, we plan to be off by 8A this mid-September Sunday.

GST 1A D and H at sign

Waking at 4A (time change!), while Hannah sleeps, I do my daily stretching exercises, first in the king bed we share, then in the semi-dark to the bathroom light, convinced that an hour of stretching a day is keeping me in the game (i.e. hiking and pickleballing).  Breakfasting at 630A at our Comfort Suites and Inn, we are on the road within the hour.

GST 1C - Sequoias from the road

Stopping at the Foothills Visitor Center at the southeastern end of the park, we are interested in finding the signature hike of Sequoia National Park.  And that turns out to be the General Sherman Tree Trail; we add the Congress and Circle Meadow Loop Trails to give us three hours of hiking.

You must remember William T. Sherman!  He was a general in the Union Army during the Civil War, famous for his 1864 scorched earth March to the Sea from Atlanta to Savannah that was pivotal in ending the Civil War.  For all that and more, he is remembered by having the largest living thing in the known world named in his honor.

GST 1B one lane road

But, I am getting ahead of myself.  From the visitor center, we must drive 20 miles of winding switchbacks, including one two-mile stretch of one lane road under serious distress, governed by a pilot car leading inbound, then outbound vehicles.

Arriving a little after 9A at the General Sherman Tree parking lot, we have our choice of parking places this mid-September Sunday.  As a magnet for folks who have little time or interest in hiking at length, the half mile 200’+ descent to the GST is paved; it includes steps and benches along the way.  General Sherman is not only the largest living tree, but the largest living organism, by volume, on the planet. At 2,100 years of age, it weighs 2.7 million pounds, is 275 feet tall, and has a 102-foot circumference at the ground, with branches that are almost 7 feet in diameter.

GST 2A redwoods to GST

Let me further develop the CV (i.e. resume) of the GST and his brother and sister sequoias.   Able to live up to 3,000 years, the giant sequoias grow only on the western slopes of the Sierras between 5000’ and 7000’ in elevation.  While the largest of the sequoias are as tall as a 26-story building, their bark can be three feet thick.  Although sequoias were logged in the 1870’s, their brittle wood does not make for good lumber; thankfully now, most of the giant sequoia groves are protected.

GST Chief Sequoyah

Once inspired at Billy’s (i.e. William T. Sherman) awesomeness, we are off to the Chief Sequoyah Tree.  There, what seems like our trail is not.  Unbeknownst to us, we errantly leave the Congress Trail and take the Trail of the Sequoias.  It’s no longer paved, but an easy-on-the-feet dirt trail with stunning sequoias here, there, and everywhere.  Then, Hannah first hears, then sees something move in the berry bush eight feet to our left.

GST 4A bear in bushes

Look closely.  The teenage black bear is near the center of the picture.  Trust me.

If you are thinking black bear, go to the head of the class.  We pick up the pace but don’t run.  I am not one who ever wanted to see a bear of any kind in the wild.  I just don’t need that adrenaline rush to have lived a full life.   Thankfully the bear does not follow, but we do have one slight problem.

Wondering why we are not seeing anyone else as we hike, we check our map and realize we have taken the wrong trail (the aforementioned Trail of the Sequoias) and must double back the way we came.  Yes, back by the berry bush with one active and hungry black bear.

GST bear 1

Fearlessly, I take on the bear (with my iPhone)

As we approach the bush, we see that the bear is not there.  Relieved, but only briefly, we quickly gather that it could be anywhere!  Within sixty seconds, the anywhere it could be is on the trail 100 yards ahead of us.  It’s more than a baby, yet not quite a papa or mama.  I’d call it a teenager, hopefully with no attitude and no tattoos.

GST bear 2

Our teenage bear is not going anywhere soon

We dead stop, wonder what the hell to do next, and don’t move.  Hannah picks up a stick.  I’m not sold on that strategy and look to just stay as far back as possible.   Slowly stepping our way down the trail towards said adolescent oso, we pass another lofty sequoia and no longer see the furry one on the trail ahead.  Looking to our left, we spot it on the hillside beneath us, some 70’ away.  Paying us no mind, the bear chomps away, and we double time it away from the black bundle of fur.

Safe, we think, we see other hikers, including a senior couple and their daughter.  Being my usual chatty, cheery self, I ask if they want to see a bear?  Smiling in disbelief, they reveal in their faces that have absolutely no interest.   But see the bear we all do, unperturbed in the forest below.

Having had enough of teenage Smokey, we tip toe back on the Congress Trail and bid adieu to our surprise bear.  But, no longer are we naively hiking the rest of the trails this morning; we wonder if his cousin or, dare I say mama, is in the area.  Why, even charred chunks of sequoias look like black bears now!

GST 5 more sequoias

Over our nearly three hours of hiking, we soon stop seeing bears in our minds around each corner, and hike the Circle Meadow Loop through these massive sequoias.  On a Sunday morning in the Sierras of California, we find our hike really quite bearable.

And let me end with a black bear joke.

In the middle of the forest, a hunter is confronted by a hungry black bear.  Unsuccessful in shooting the bear, the hunter starts to run.  Trapped at the edge of a steep cliff and with the black bear fast approaching, the hunter gets down on his knees and prays, “Dear God!  Please give this bear religion.”

The skies darken and there is lightning in the air.  Just a few short feet from the hunter, the bear comes to an abrupt stop.  Looking up into the sky, the black bear says, “Thank you, God, for the food I’m about to receive…”

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Dan’s Has Another Good Book for You – Option B by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant (#13)

The full title is Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy (2017).   Sheryl’s husband Dave, not quite fifty and the love of her life, died after working out on a treadmill at a Mexican resort where she and Dave were vacationing.  They had been married for 11 years and expected a long life together.

Option Sheryl and Adam

Sheryl and Adam

I have seven quotes for you that just might get you thinking I need to run, not walk, to a local bookstore, Amazon, or a public library to get this book for myself or for a loved one dealing with the unexpected.

This quote really hit home for me.  When someone says a causal greeting to another grieving like How are you? [it hurt] because it didn’t acknowledge that anything out of the ordinary had happened.  I pointed out that if people instead asked, How are you today? it showed that they were aware that I was struggling to get through each day.

When someone is grieving, there is a need for an opener (e.g. Hannah).  By staying silent [when one is grieving], we often isolate family, friends, and coworkers…Unlike non-questioning friends, openers ask a lot of questions and listen to the answers without judging.  They enjoy learning about and feeling connected to others.  Openers can make a big difference in times of crises, especially for those who are normally reticent.  So Hannah!

Rather than say to a grieving person or one who just heard of a cancer diagnosis It’s going to be okay…or everything happens for a reason, the most powerful thing you can do is acknowledge.  To literally say the words: I acknowledge your pain.  I’m here with you.

Option B platinum rule

Growing up, I was taught the Golden Rule: treat others as you want to be treated.  But when someone is suffering, instead of following the Golden Rule, we need to follow the Platinum Rule: treat others as they want to be treated.

Daily I (Dan) have been writing a page of gratitudes in my journal.  I’ve changed to something I learned in Option B.  …counting our blessings doesn’t boost our confidence or our effort, but counting our contributions can…gratitude is passive: it makes us feel thankful for what we receive.  Contributions are active: they build confidence by reminding us that we can make a difference.  I now encourage my friends and colleagues to write about what they have done well.

Some grieving parents over the death of a child experienced post traumatic growth, instead of post-traumatic stress.  Much more to this and it all starts on page 78.

There are so many more jewels that I dog-eared when I read Option B, but I’ll end with two.  Surgery patients who watch comedies request 25% less pain medication.

Option B failure

Chapter 9 – Failing and Learning at Work.  The chapter points out the importance of admitting mistakes and not trying to hide failures.   Scientist Melanie Stefan suggested her academic colleagues be more honest on their CVs (resumes).  Princeton professor Johannes Haushofer took her up on the challenge and wrote two pages of rejections.

As a quasi-academic for 12 years, I had a ten-page CV of accomplishments, selections, and triumphs.  But already writing these additions to my CV feels quite liberating.

1990-1991 – received 100 rejection letters or no response at all for my first book, “Sweet Dreams, Robyn,” before Joy and Marv Johnson at Centering Corporation took a chance on an unpublished writer.

1992 – Turned down for the one-year Teacher-in-Residence position at the University of New Hampshire.

1993 – Selected for the one-year Teacher-in-Residence position at the University of New Hampshire.

1995 – Twice had my dissertation rejected at the University of New Hampshire.

1996 – Had my dissertation accepted by my dissertation committee at UNH

1996 – Turned down for an assistant professor position at Colby Sawyer College in New Hampshire.

1996 – Despite not having finished my dissertation, hired at Eastern Connecticut State University to teach in the Department of Education.

I bet you are connecting the dots.  The seeds of success can be sown in rejection.

Dan and Hannah Come to California for a 70th Birthday Road Trip

As Hannah (February 2018) and Dan (December 2017) approach our 70th birthdays, we each came up with an idea how we wanted to celebrate 70 Big Ones!

Int Dan at Hunter's Creek

Hannah’s idea will be reported in the spring of 2018, but I wanted to go to California during the off-season to visit five national parks and play pickleball along the way.  Three of the national parks (Sequoia, Kings Canyon, and Yosemite) we had never been to and two (Lassen Volcanic and Redwood) we visited in the mid-1990s when our kids were young.

Crowds and traffic, traffic and crowds.  In the past when we traveled to California, we’ve avoided Sequoia, Kings Canyon, and Yosemite because of either the crowds and traffic or the cold (i.e. winter).  September seemed like an ideal month for this adventure; kids are back in school and the weather is still warm in California.  We hadn’t realized that Europeans and Asians love to come to the parks in September and October.

Int wild fire aftermath

Wildfire aftermath on route 41 on the way to Yosemite National Park

To prepare for the trail, I would daily check each park’s website to see if there were any road closures, most likely due to the wildfires in the West.  As it turns out, where we had motel reservations in Oakhurst, CA, at the southern gateway to Yosemite, route 41 to the park closed.  Fortunately, a week before we were to arrive, that highway reopened.

Living in Maine, we fly non-stop from Boston to San Francisco for this central and northern California road trip.  Our 725A ET Virgin America flight has us arriving in San Francisco at 1030A PT; that’s early enough for us to drive the 250 miles to Three Rivers, CA, the gateway to Sequoia National Park.

Int Virgin A

Virgin America in San Francisco

Get this!  All that Virgin America offers for no charge are a round of soft drinks, coffee, or water; no pretzels, cookies, or chips.  They do sell prepackaged meals that you order and pay for online.  Wise to their games, we pack sandwiches and fruit for the trip.  Whining aside, I still would choose their low $367 non-stop, roundtrip ticket over any snacks.

Int Pitch

Flying against the prevailing westerlies across the United States from East to West takes six hours!  We have a plan to survive that, too.  One, we always get aisle seats across from each other so we can get up whenever we want.  Two, we bring our iPhone earbuds, since Virgin America offers free movies, free cable TV, classic shows, even podcasts.  Today, we hit gold with three 45-minute episodes of Pitch, the fictional story of the first female baseball player in the major leagues.  Damn, it’s good!

Int Hyundai Accent

2017 Hyundai Accent

Once at SFO, we search out our Enterprise rental car.  For $440 for two weeks, we opt for the manager’s special, which means they can give us any vehicle they have, from a truck to an SUV to an economy car.  Frugalistas that we are, we always choose the high gas mileage economy or compact cars; but if we end up with an SUV today, so be it.  It turns out, we get the choice of a Toyota Corolla or a Hyundai Accent, both with excellent mpg ratings.  Unfortunately, we blow it.  I’ll explain below under Do’s and Don’ts’s.

Driving southeast from San Francisco through Modesto, Madera, and Fresno, we are stunned by the dry, straw-colored hillsides that are parched despite the drought-busting rains and snow of the previous winter.

Int Sequoia NP sign

Arriving at the gateway to the Sequoia National Park, we learn that the little town of Three Rivers is mom and pop small.  There’s a market, one third of which is for beer and wine, a Pizza Factory, and a Subway; one chain hotel, Comfort Inn and Suites, where we stay.  Not much more.  But what the hey, we just need a king bed, a morning breakfast, and a poolside to sit by with a beverage, since 80s are forecasted this mid-September Saturday.

Ready to rock and roll among the giant Sequoias of the high Sierras manana, I have a few Do’s and one Don’t for travel preparations.

Do speak up with your spouse when deciding on a rental car.  We didn’t and ended up with a Hyundai Accent, good on gas mileage, but with no cruise control.  That’s not ideal for the 1700 miles of driving that we have ahead of us on our road trip.

Do check daily online the travel conditions within the national parks; wild fires and road closures happen suddenly.

Do get a nonstop flight, whenever possible.

Do get aisle seats across from each other so you can stretch your legs into the aisle as well as to allow yourself easy access to walk up and down the aisle itself.

Int Comfort Inn 3 rivers

Comfort Inn and Suites in Three Rivers, California

Do stay at a motel that provides breakfast so as to save time in order to get early starts, especially for the uber-populaire national parks like Sequoia and Yosemite.

Do check to see if your motel room has a refrigerator and microwave; we don’t go out for meals when we travel so a place for leftover pizza or subs is crucial.  As you might have guessed, we had no fridge or microwave for three nights at Three Rivers.

Don’t over plan.  It turned out we stayed an extra day in the Sequoias to hike a suggested waterfalls trail by a fellow hiker, skipped South Lake Tahoe, CA entirely for Reno, NV because of snow in the mountain passes, and stayed an extra day in Eureka because Santa Rosa (our next stop) temperatures were to be in the 90s.

Dan and Hannah’s Daughter Robyn and Give Kids the World

GKTW 1

If you are looking for a place to donate this October, consider our daughter Robyn’s fundraising for Give Kids The World.  Her letter below explains her connection to Give Kids The World, an organization which provides wish trips to central Florida for seriously ill kids and their families.

Hello beloved friends and family,

I’ve accepted the Challenge for Hope! This one-of-a-kind 5K not only supports a cause close to my heart, but it’s my opportunity to fundraise for Give Kids the World Village. I love this place because it creates happiness and hope for children with life-threatening illnesses.

30 years ago I was the first wish child that they helped! I am now a childhood cancer survivor and a United States Army veteran!

Give Kids The World Village is nonprofit resort near Orlando’s theme parks. At the Village, kids facing life-threatening illnesses and their families are treated to the vacation of a lifetime – and it doesn’t cost them a dime. For one amazing week, there are no hospital visits or doctor appointments, just time to laugh, play and create memories.

I’ve taken on the challenge to make a difference, so I’m asking you to make a donation to help these kids. My goal is to raise $1,000, and I’d love for you to join me. Please visit my fundraising page (just click the link below) and give generously to a great cause. Want to have some fun this November? Come and join my team and walk or run with me!

See for yourself the hope and happiness of GKTW in this video.

Love,

Robyn Rothermel

Click here to visit my personal page.
If the text above does not appear as a clickable link, you can visit the web address:
http://support.gktw.org/site/TR?px=1017011&pg=personal&fr_id=1631&et=60JqI10NCItqaPM89C-7xQ&s_tafId=5305

Click here to view the team page for Rockin’ Robyn
If the text above does not appear as a clickable link, you can visit the web address:
http://support.gktw.org/site/TR?team_id=6355&pg=team&fr_id=1631&et=EMabuVL_AB_NODeRu-ZsGw&s_tafId=5305

Dan and Hannah and the Simple Things in a Marriage

One Sunday after attending the morning service at Unity on the River in Amesbury, MA, Hannah and I stayed after for a two-hour workshop on improving relationships.  The counselor, Jim Goldstein of Powerful Partnerships, offered some good reminders for us.

Everybody Loves Somebody

Karla Souza plays the lead

For me, it is “easy” to be with Hannah.  It’s just easy to chill with her, hang out with her, whether we are hiking or pickleballing or just in different parts of our house.   “Easy” is one part why our marriage seems to work.  Check out an excellent movie, Everybody Loves Somebody (2016), to see the importance of most of the time it being easy with your spouse.  Click here to see a two-minute trailer of the film.

Love between parents

I believe raising a healthy family is like the instructions delivered by the flight attendant.  “Put the mask on yourself first before you assist others.”   Throughout our years together, I made a priority of my relationship with Hannah; that became the foundation for giving it our best shot to raise healthy, happy, appreciative, engaged, and loving kids.  By the way, I believe the best thing a dad or a mom can do for their kids, is to love their spouse.

So, I leave you with six simple things from the workshop that we don’t always do, but that we sure as hell want to do.

  1. Have rituals that we do together (e.g. evening wine on our front deck or in front of the fireplace)
  2. Have date nights (e.g. Ruby’s in town for half-priced margaritas and nachos)
  3. Do nice things for each other (e.g. simple stuff, without being asked, like Hannah’s meal making and my dishwashing and laundry doing)
  4. Focus on what you like about the other one (e.g. for me, how she gives things a shot. For Hannah, how I encourage people)
  5. Touch a lot (we do every time just one of us leaves the house)
  6. Talk about real things, not just the business of getting through the day. (e.g. our relationship, our friends, our family, what’s ahead)

Simple, but not always so simple.

Dan and Hannah and Roger Federer

For a long time, I’ve been a big fan of Roger Federer, the tennis champion.  You may be thinking, well that certainly fits, Dan; you are the classic front runner.

You got me there.  I do love me my Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots and Thousand Time NCAA Champion UConn Women’s Basketball.   Oh yeah, all the way across the country, I am all in on Steph Curry and the NBA Champion Golden State Warriors.  Obviously, I have no shame.  Jordan Spieth is my favorite golfer, now that my fellow Sun Devil alum, Phil Mickelsen, has driven off into the sunset.

RF Roger 1

Roger Federer

Roger said something that rang very true when he was interviewed after winning Wimbledon this past July.  I’ll get to that in due time, but let me tease his quote by saying that I’m reminded of the dangers of taking things for granted.  Mea culpa.

Consider, we live on the coast of Maine, two miles from the Atlantic Ocean.   We go months without seeing the rocky shores and walking its beaches.  Mea bad.

RF Radburn

Back to Roger.  Well, really back to Dan.  Tennis was my game of choice growing up in the 1960s in northern Jersey.   Living just two streets from the Radburn Tennis Courts, I played much of the day throughout the summer.  I played some for the high school team and a little in college.

RF Wooster

Fact is, Hannah and I started courting (you see what I just did!) on the tennis courts at the College of Wooster in Ohio in 1967.  I was hoping my game (in the larger sense) would find its way into her heart.

Something worked, we married, life was very good, but tennis fell to the wayside.  We moved on to running, and later I added golf to my sporting life.  As seniors, Hannah and I have found a hybrid tennis alternative – pickleball – to our immense pleasure.  Being a racket sport, pickleball fit nicely with our tennis-playing past.

RF Brady

The GOAT

But back to Roger. As Michael Jordan is to basketball and Tom Brady to football, Roger from tiny Switzerland is the GOAT in tennis!   As in the Greatest of All Time!  He glides around the court, making shots mere mortals can only dream of.  He’s the people’s champion, beloved around the world.  Fluent in English, French, German, and Swiss-German, he is gracious and articulate, no matter the continent, whether in victory or defeat.

RF Wimbledon

Roger Federer at Wimbledon 2017

Well, back to my tease in the opening paragraph.  As Roger was being interviewed, he was asked about what is the best part of winning this major championship.  Was it that he won his 8th Wimbledon title, the most in history?  Was it racking up his 19th major championship, four more than second place Rafael Nadal (now three since Rafa won the US Open).   Nooooooo.

He said I’m healthy againIt’s all about my health. (The previous year Roger had taken six months away from tennis to heal after knee surgery.)

How quickly those of us who have been blessed with a lifetime of good health can take it for granted.  I have been one such person with remarkably good health for my first seven decades.

RF pickleball

Pickleball sweethearts

But it’s been a rougher go over the last two years.   Nothing big, but my vulnerability is showing.  I’ve had a nasty four day stiff neck and strained shoulders from lifting our grandsons, an aching Achilles from playing ping pong in bare feet, as well as over-enthusiasm pickleball injuries (right elbow and left knee tendinitis, a groin pull).   And then a recent four-hour bolt out of the blue – Transient Global Amnesia – when I couldn’t remember or speak coherently that has me on meds for the coming year.

It is said that retirement is the best.  And I am one of the fortunate ones who has two of the necessary ingredients for retirement – financial means and good health.

There is one caveat.  By being grateful for my good health, I’m only half way there.  The equally important second half is my commitment to sufficient sleep, eating well, surrounding myself with loved ones, meditating, and an hour of daily stretching forever, so I can stay in the game.

Dan and Hannah and the Ways of Our Love

It’s the first week of August, Hannah and I have come to Sandy Springs, Georgia (Atlanta Metro Area) for Hannah’s second experimental stem cell injection; we’ve hopes that stem cells just might hold a key to improving her voice, which has been softened and limited for the past 15 years.

SH 1 Julie and Dr T with H

NP Julie and Dr. Tan prepping Hannah

Injected into her spine (to pass the blood/brain barrier), the stem cells will also be infused into her blood system for improved joint health as well.  We have been encouraged by the positive stem cell results by many pickleballers that we have met from the Yonah Mountain area (north Georgia).

SH 1B J to infuse H

Julie prepping to infuse Hannah with stem cells

Up by 2A in York, Maine for our 6A flight to Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta, we arrive in the Peach Tree State before 9A; drive 25 miles north to Sandy Springs for Hannah’s treatments.  Dr. Tan administers the stem cell injection; later Nurse Practitioner Julie Thorne infuses the stem cells into her blood system.

SH 2 Anne Frank

Anne

Hannah comes out of the 90-minute procedure smiling, without any pain, but…

…we are both weary beyond belief from our just after midnight wake up call on this 90F afternoon.

Unsuccessful in our attempt to check in the early afternoon at our Comfort Suites motel, we take the opportunity to visit the Anne Frank in the World Center in Sandy Springs!  Who knew that the heart of Dixie would have such a treasure!  Click here for more information about this much-needed telling of her story, especially in light of the August events in Charlottesville and the dangerous equivocating of the President.

Finally checked into the Comfort Suites, we lunch on our Subway Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki subs, sort of nap, later walk to the local grocery store for our dinner, and then, toast the success of Hannah’s stem cell surgery with a fine Cabernet in our suite.

Fried, though Hannah’s feeling no pain, we are in bed by 8P.  That’s when our love kicks in.

Unbeknownst to me in my deep slumber of exhaustion, Hannah soon develops back pain pushing past 12 – on a scale of one to ten.  She can’t sleep.  I mean can’t sleep at all.  She showers; she walks the corridor of the motel’s second floor; she takes a bath; she lies in bed hoping to fall asleep.  Nothing works.  Her back hurts big time.

SH D and NR

Dan and Nancy Rose over brunch at the Summerland Cafe, south of Santa Barbara

And this is where Hannah calls on the wisdom of our Santa Barbara and Unity friend Nancy Rose.   Earlier in the evening, Nancy Rose had emailed Hannah

Dear Hannah,

Just getting around to reading my emails.  I love your friend’s saying- “what soap does for the body, tears do for the soul” -beautiful.  You are good for my soul too, Hannah.  Take good care down there in Georgia.  You are in the best hands, and you know whose they are. 

Later, Hannah emails Nancy Rose.

SH Four of us D H NR Duncan

Dan, Hannah, Nancy, and Duncan earlier this year in Summerland, California

dear Nancy  

            Your latest email helped more than I can say….in the middle of the night last night (after my stem cell injections yesterday) I couldn’t sleep, was feeling aches down to my bones (lower back and back of my thighs), tossed and turned – and thought of your words: “You are in the best hands and you know whose they are.” Because of that sharing from you, I woke Dan up and let him be “God’s hands” in the middle of the night.

      I am so blessed. And I am so grateful for you, dear Nancy. And, for my Danny Boy.  my love – to you and your Duncan.

Hannah

As often in our 50 years together, I am the regular recipient of Hannah’s love, and tonight was another such case.   Hannah wakes me and we cuddle as she tells me of her incessant back pain and inability to sleep.   For me, I am so damn pleased she woke me; I hold her snugly until she is ready to give sleeping another shot.

A few hours later, she wakes me again, still unable to sleep or get comfortable.   We walk the motel corridors together before dawn while everyone else, except us two, sleeps.

And that, my friends, Hannah waking me in the middle of the night is one way of our love…

PS Oh yeah, we’ll remember the Tylenol next time.

Dan with Hannah Makes a Comeback

When I last posted about my late June episode of temporary amnesia (Part 6 of Dan Loses His Mind as His World is Shaken, Rattled, and Rolled), I concluded that blog with my appointment with Dr. Maslinski, a local neurologist.   Click here for the link to that blog.

CB HM 1

A simple 2017 Holter Monitor

At that July 5 appointment, the good doctor wanted me to wear a Holter monitor for 48 hours to check out the electrical activity of my heart (EKG); basically to see if my episode was a TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack) that caused my symptoms.  To lay folk, a TIA is often thought of as a benign mini-stroke.

A TIA is a temporary blockage of blood flow to the brain that doesn’t cause permanent damage.  That said, ignoring it can be a big mistake since a TIA may signal that a full-blown stroke is coming down the pike.

CB HM 2

One pale dude who knows no shame sporting a Holter Monitor on his right hip

July 24 is Holter Monitor Installation Day.  At the cardiac unit of York (Maine) Hospital, a cardiologist technician attaches five electrodes to my chest, each with a wire to the Holter Monitor; a device that is no more than 1.5” x 2.5” that fits neatly in a plastic holster on my waist.  Installed in less than ten minutes, the monitor has one non-negotiable – no showers for the next 48 hours.

During the day, whether playing pickleball, working out at the gym, playing ping pong, or chilling at home, the monitor is so non-obtrusive that I don’t even know it’s there.

Nighttime?  Sleep is not restful as I reposition the monitor as I inevitably move in bed.  Even so, the Holter monitor is a minor inconvenience over two days.

Eight days later on August 4, I have my second appointment with Dr. Maslinski to go over the results of the electrocardiogram (EKG) from the Holter monitor.

As when meeting with medical professionals, I come with my hopes and my unwarranted expectations.

CB Hope 2

Hope #1The Holter Monitor will identify whether I had a TIA.  The EKG indicated that my heart is basically normal, one any 69-year-old would be proud to call his own.  What happened to me was not likely a TIA.  Still, I am on baby aspirin for the foreseeable future since something heart-related can’t be ruled out.

Hope #2The neurologist would have an idea what did happen.  He does.  He thinks it’s a TGA.  Transient Global Amnesia is a sudden, temporary episode when recall of recent events simply vanishes.  Although a TGA isn’t harmful, there’s no easy way to distinguish the condition from the life-threatening illnesses that can also cause sudden memory loss.

Hope #3He will know why it happened to me specifically.  No dice.  While there is a name for what happened, why it happened remains a mystery, as it did 15 years ago during my first such episode.  He is leaning toward something epileptic (hence putting me on the anti-seizure medication Keppra).

Hope #4 – I’d be able to stop taking the twice daily Keppra medication (for seizures) that I’ve been on for the last month.   That’s not happening any time soon.  Since I had a previous incident, albeit fifteen years ago, he cannot rule out that a seizure is at play.  Hence, Keppra for the coming year.  That we don’t have to meet til late next June suggests to me that the doctor is not overly concerned about my condition.  I put that in the plus column.

Hope #5 – I’ll be able to drive three months after the episode!  And that I will be able to do, if I have no repeat episodes.  And another incident, in my mind, is not likely as I am on anti-seizure Keppra; and it’s been 15 years since my last episode.  He did say that he did not inform the Department of Motor Vehicles of my status because he believed I would follow the law.  It’s not tough sizing me up as a first child, rule-follower.   He did say, he does inform DMV if someone presents as “non-compliant.”

Many people wonder if not driving is a big deal.  It hasn’t been.  Largely due to Hannah’s sweetness and that we are retired.    She and I balance our schedules and make trips happen without too much grief.

To me, Dr. Maslinski’s caution seems reasonable, especially considering this being my second episode.

Could dehydration have triggered this event?

Fact #1 – Without fail for the 2+ months since my episode, I continue daily to drink my 40 ounces of water throughout the morning.

Fact #2 – I have not had a repeat episode.

Fact #3 – Two plus two is four.

Fact #4 – I am not sure I really understand syllogisms any better now than I did when I barely earned a C in a Logic course at the College of Wooster.

Fact #5 – No doctor has suggested a connection between dehydration and a TGA.

CB hospital costs

So, what does something like this cost in 2017?  I had no idea a CAT Scan costs $1,053; an echocardiogram sets one back $1,454; an MRI goes for a cool $2,069; the charge for a carotid artery test is $652; an electroencephalography (EEG) is a mere $561.

In my six pages of detailed charges from York Hospital, I can’t find the cost of my hospital room for the night.  But considering that to date, the total charges are $12,822.93, my overnight stay couldn’t have been cheap.

I am a fortunate dude.

Dan and Hannah and Sharing Our Good Fortune (Part Deux)

Molly July

Re: treating another

The day before we are to meet at the golf course, I email Molly and say, I want to treat you to golf and breakfast tomorrow.  And then I add, Sometime down the road, consider paying it forward when you happen to be out with someone else.

How cool is that!  Oui?

So, what do you think?  What do you do in these situations?  Post your comments beneath the blog or let’s talk more on this subject the next time we get together.

Dan and Hannah and Sharing Our Good Fortune  

At times, Hannah and I wonder how to share our good fortune…

…without that genuine act of generosity screwing up our relationships.  If you are on the giving end, you know that there can be great satisfaction and a self-confidence that can grow when treating others.  But it’s not all that simple.

How does the one being taken care of feel?  Their confidence?  Their feeling that they are pulling their own weight?  Can treating another easily throw relationships out of balance with one party holding all the cards and the other wondering how can I ever repay these genuine acts of kindness?  I don’t have the money to do so.

coffee and muffin

Hannah knows sometimes it isn’t easy for another to accept her offer to treat them to coffee and a muffin when they go out together.  It can be complicated for many reasons.  She smooths it out by saying to her friend, It’s Dan’s treat.  Pretty cool, n’est-ce pas?

We try to be thought-full when we are treating others.  Just because we may have more money, we don’t want to set up an unhealthy superior/inferior dynamic.  You know the kind, where having more means, means we are the ones feeling good by treating and taking care of others.

And worse, the one being paid for could get used to being paid for.  And then come to expect it, possibly eroding their self-esteem.  It can be a complicated picture when true generosity is at the heart of the giving.

golf with molly

On the 7th green at the Amesbury Country Club

In late August, I wanted to treat our daughter Molly to nine holes of golf at dawn at the Amesbury Country Club and breakfast after at the Morning Buzz.   In June, she treated me for Father’s Day to golf and breakfast and later that summer, I paid the bill for those two for her birthday.

So, how to go about paying this third time?  At this time in our lives, Hannah and I have much more disposable income than she and Tip.  Still, I don’t want paying for golf and breakfast this morning to complicate and distort our relationship.

And I came up with a brilliant finesse.

Tomorrow I’ll post that finesse.