Dan Loses His Mind While his World is Shaken, Rattled, and Rolled (part 6 of 6)

Prelude:  Many people have approached me in the three weeks since my temporary amnesia/aphasia event saying something like “It must have been scary.”  It was scary in 2002.  At that time, with similar symptoms, I had no idea what the future held.  It scared the sh%$ out of me.

Since it happened before, this time wasn’t so scary.   For the first hour in 2017, I had no idea what was happening.  Why would I be scared if I had no idea what was going on!

During the second hour I could sense I was remembering more and speaking a little more clearly.  I was not scared; I was encouraged, especially since I remembered that previously in 2002 I came out the other end just fine.

If it happened again in the coming year, now that would be scary!

So, what do we know with any certainty?   Not much.

Fact #1: On June 27, 2017, I had a temporary episode of amnesia (I didn’t remember squat) and aphasia (gibberish flowed from my mouth).

TIA or TEA are acronyms being thrown around as possible diagnoses.

TIA stands for a transient ischemic attack (ischemic relating to the heart).

Hitch D and H with paddles

Re: TIA.  My echocardiogram and carotid artery tests suggest that my ticker is doing just fine.  No surprise, my parents lived healthy lives into their 90s.  To cover all bases, the neurologist wants me to start taking baby aspirin daily, just in caseAspirin prevents blood clots from forming in the arteries. It can help certain people lower their risk of a heart attack or stroke.

I have no limit on my physical activity; pickleball, ping pong, and working out at the gym top my agenda.

Next week, the neurologist wants me to wear a Holter monitor for 48 hours, which will continuously record my heart’s activity as I go about my daily activities.  I’ll keep you updated.

But a TIA is not the neurologist’s first choice.

It’s the TEA.   TEA stands for transient epileptiform amnesia (which in my case might apply since the neurologist couldn’t rule out some form of epilepsy after reading my EEG (electroencephalogram).  So, there’s no certainty, but it’s the leading choice in the clubhouse.

YH bases

To cover all bases again, I have been put on a low dose (500 mg twice a day) of Keppra to prevent seizures, if some form of epilepsy is what I have.

The bottom line is that the neurologist doesn’t know what caused my temporary amnesia/aphasia.

YH safety net

So, a reasonably wide net has been thrown to cover a host of possibilities.  I get that and am thankful for the caution.

After such an event, by law I am not allowed to drive for three months.   I get that caution, too.  Not driving will be inconvenient but hardly a sacrifice.  I am retired.  Hannah and I regularly play pickleball and go to the gym together.   I have a modest social life (read: limited).

So, for three months, we err on the side of caution despite an uncertain diagnosis and no explanation for a cause.

YH dehydration

I wonder whether dehydration due to caffeine consumption and not drinking enough water (2002) and not drinking enough water (2017) might have triggered the temporary amnesia/aphasia.  The medical professionals never suggest such a connection.  And why this time, when I have been dehydrated many times before?

Without any explanation for the cause of my two events (2002 and 2017), I still wonder.

Takeaways:

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Whether dehydration had anything to do with my temporary amnesia/aphasia, I have become a zealot for drinking water daily.  Each morning when I awake, I drink two eight-ounce glasses of water.  Three more follow: mid-morning, before lunch, and with lunch.  Dehydration will not be the cause of any future such event.

I live in a town on the coast of Maine with a great community hospital and in a country with excellent Medicare health coverage for seniors.  I’d recommend York Hospital for its effective loving kindness health care.

YH David and Dan

David Stoloff, my department chair at Eastern, stopped by to check on me.

Since posting of these blogs, I have appreciated many people contacting me and wishing me well.

I heard from a childhood friend who referred to me as Brother Dan in his email of support.

Thank you, Brother Tom.

Dan Loses His Mind While his World is Shaken, Rattled, and Rolled  (Part 5 of 6)

As I am wheeled up to room 220 at York Hospital for the night, much is on my plate.

First, I love the ER staff, nurses and docs of York Hospital; even though I don’t remember their names, I thank them for their kindnesses.  Being more “with-it” later in the evening, I do remember Jo, Tracey, and Nicki, up on the second floor.  I felt their loving kindness and professionalism.   Pretty sweet combo for my nurses.

As I nestle into bed this Tuesday night, some five plus hours after coming into the ER, I am pretty much coherent, speaking intelligibly, and remembering how good life is.  One helluva far cry from a few hours ago.

Tomorrow morning, I have three bad boys lined up to see if there are answers for my temporary amnesia/aphasia; 15 years ago there were no answers.

The echocardiogram will look at how blood flows through the chambers of my heart, heart valves, and blood vessels.   Might some blockage be the reason for my short-term amnesia/aphasia?

The carotid artery ultrasound builds on the info from the “echocardio.”  It creates pictures to show how blood is flowing through my arteries.  When arteries become clogged with cholesterol (i.e. the technical term is “excess crap”), they can become dangerously narrow.  Could clogged arteries be a cause of my brief whacked-out-ed-ness?

The EEG (electroencephalogram) detects electrical activity in my brain.  The test diagnoses seizures and epilepsy, which could be the cause of my temporary-out-of-mindness.

As the Red Sox game ends this evening, I am with-it enough to appreciate the health care I have.   My mind takes a simple leap to the question – How many millions will lose such health care if Republican Washington has their way?  I’m begging you, Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), don’t be bullied.  I have my fingers crossed.

From 11P to 1230A, I flip between the Red Sox game highlights and ESPN Sports Center, but little is of interest and still I don’t fall asleep.

At 1230A, still wide awake, I buzz for some Tylenol for a slight headache and for a sleeping pill.  I never take sleeping pills, but I’d like to get a little sleep before dawn, less than five hours away.  The doc approvals Tramadol, but it does little and I muddle through the night, occasionally sleeping.

Sometime around 2A, I buzz the nurses for another pit stop as I am hooked up to a saline solution which keeps me well-hydrated.   And then, all of sudden, I am looking up at the faces of four beautiful nurses.  It seems my blood pressure was 65 over 35!   I got up a little too quickly from my bed.  Fortunately, one nurse caught me as I tumbled.  Unfortunately, I have to use a bottle to pee in from now on!

At 540A, I give up and turn on Sports Center; amazing how boring baseball highlights for 15 separate games can be.  I mute the TV, then text on my iPhone to pass the time.  Thoughout the morning, three angels visit: thank you, Corky and Scott and Tree.

My morning line-up of heavyweights:   electrocardiogram at 8A;  carotid artery test at 11A; and the EEG immediately thereafter.  Dr. Mark Graziano, my PCP (primary care physician of 35 years), will fill me in on the details tomorrow.   Does everyone get such prompt care?   I am guessing it’s the norm at York Hospital, here on the Gold Coast of Maine.   Rural and inner city America?   I’m not betting on that.

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Watching Dinosaur Train in style

After the 90-minute EEG test at 1230P, I am wheeled passed a waiting area where Hannah, Owen, and Max talk to Corky.   Delighted as I am to see them, I am chomping at the bit to transition home (discharge seems like such a disgusting verb filled with sewage and waste).

While I wait, Owen and Max lounge on my hospital bed and watch their favorite show, Dinosaur Train on PBS.

Released after 2P, I have instructions to take a baby aspirin once a day and don’t drive until the neurologist checks me out.

On Saturday, part 6 is a wrap (to use a Hollywood term); my temporary amnesia/aphasia saga concludes with the test results, what could be an explanation of what has happened to me, and the changes that are coming to me for the short and long term.

Dan Loses His Mind While his World is Shaken, Rattled, and Rolled  (Part 4 of 6) 

In a side room off the ER at York Hospital, dressed in my hospital johnnie, I am aware something is changing.   And that’s a good thing.  Having entered the ER in a haze an hour ago, now, just after 7P, I can tell the fog is lifting because I am starting to sense what is happening around me.  Though I don’t know the answers to the medical staff’s basic questions, previously I didn’t know they were even asking questions.  That’s progress.

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Earlier in the evening at home when all hell was breaking loose, Hannah had called Mandy with the apt summation that Dan is acting weird.  Mandy said she would come when Hannah needed her.  At this point, Mandy’s daughter Sammie said, Mom you can’t wait, you have to go now.  Is that a great kid, or what!

When Mandy arrives at our house on Chases Pond Road, Hannah has already taken me to the ER.  Mandy then drives on to the hospital where she watches Owen and Max while Hannah tends to her whacked-out husband of 45 years.

Once it seems that I will be staying for the night, Hannah asks Mandy to follow her home and then return to the hospital with my overnight bag.  While Hannah puts our grandsons Owen and Max to bed, Mandy returns with a change of clothes, my journal, my iPhone, my Scrabble dictionary, shaving kit, and latest Sports Illustrated.   But something much more.

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Mandy and Hannah

Her presence.   You see, Mandy stays when I need someone.  As Woody Allen says, 90% of life is showing up.  And show up Mandy does.

What I need is someone just to listen.  After being totally unaware of what the hell is going on, things are now less fuzzy in my brain.  Slowly, pieces of information are starting to come into focus.

Something else is starting to happen – I begin drinking glass after glass of water.  Fifteen years ago when a similar temporary amnesia/aphasia occurred, I felt that dehydration might have been contributed to my problem.   After pounding my third 20 ounce plastic cup of water, I am feeling alert and aware.  Could dehydration be a connection the medical professionals are missing?  Or is my condition just running its course?

I spend the next hour sipping water and talking nearly non-stop to Mandy about things in my life that I am starting to remember.  My constant chatter is proving to myself that I am coming out of this rabbit hole of amnesia, aphasia, and confusion.  I know I am talking a lot, but Mandy gets it.  She understands that my words are going a long way in convincing me that I am going to be okay.

As I come out of the fog this evening, Mandy’s presence is a gift beyond anything material she could ever give me.

After 9P, Mandy steps out when Dr. Braden fills me in on what’s what.  I am staying the night and tomorrow there will be some big-time tests of my heart and brain.  Shortly thereafter, the nurse wheels me up to room 220.

Next Wednesday, part 5 highlights my overnight in the hospital and my road to recovery.

Dan Loses His Mind While his World is Shaken, Rattled, and Rolled  (Part 3 of 6)

In the fall of 2002, I was beginning my fourth year of commuting 150 miles from York, Maine to my position as an assistant professor of Education at Eastern Connecticut State University.

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Zip’s in Dayville, CT

On this mid-October Thursday, I left home as usual at 4A; after driving for two hours, I treated myself to pancakes and coffee at Zip’s Diner on I-390 south of Worcester, MA, 30 miles from campus.  On campus in Willimantic by 8A, I prepared for my day of office hours, a seminar in teaching Secondary English, a faculty meeting, and my 4P class of graduate students in the Teaching Reading course.

All the while my mind was pre-occupied with the keynote address I would be giving the following morning to 900 public school teachers in northern New Hampshire, 4 hours away.  To summarize, I’d finish teaching on campus by 7P that Thursday, drive to Littleton, NH by 11P, and give my keynote the next morning at 9A.  No stress there!

Well, it turns out there was a lot of stress there.  But, was that what caused what happened that afternoon?   Let me explain.

As my 4P class was approaching, I found my eyes couldn’t focus on the class roster; I couldn’t read my students’ names.   I didn’t feel well (later students said I looked pale); I decided to take a walk while my 25 students were organizing in groups preparing for their presentations.  Upon returning ten minutes later, I got everyone’s attention and told them that something was wrong and I was going to drive myself to the Windham Hospital (not a half mile away).

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My department chair at Eastern, David Stoloff, checking in on me after my temporary amnesia/aphasia (circa 2017)

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YH Windham Hospital

Fortunately, the students didn’t let that happen; a student got my department chair, David Stoloff, and he drove me to the hospital.  I was a mess.  I couldn’t focus, was losing my memory, was forgetting my own kids’ names and was barely holding on to Hannah’s image that seemed to be disappearing down a long tube.   I couldn’t speak.

The medical people ran me through the CAT scan and the MRI.  Nothing abnormal, but no answers either.  I remember being swallowed up by the CAT scan and thinking, am I going to have to learn to use a fork again?

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Since the medical staff was stumped, they shipped me by ambulance to the Hartford Hospital 30 miles away for their big-time neurologists to give me the once over.  And then a surprising thing happened in the ambulance, I started making sense talking to the EMT, just chit chat.   I was getting better, remembering more and more.  Not four hours later from the initial event, I was doing well enough to be considered for discharge.

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Molly and Hannah circa 2017

My department chair had called Hannah, and she drove the 150 miles from York to Hartford with our daughter Molly, a teacher in Rye, NH at the time.  By the time they arrived in the late evening, I was sitting up and ready to go home.  I had to pass one final test.

A nurse came in and mentioned three unrelated items (e.g. apple, water skis, Mount Rushmore).   If I could remember those three when she returned in five minutes, I could go home.  I nailed them.  You would have been so proud!

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Honda Civic Hatchback similar to the one I drove when I averaged 30K miles per year commuting to Eastern

Hannah drove us back to Eastern and then after midnight, I followed her home in my Honda Civic Hatchback.  Clearly, I was fine.  Perhaps, driving home was not the best choice.  I was young, well 55.

Home by 3A, I took the weekend off, received a weekend gift of a three-foot potted plant from the president of Eastern, and drove back the 150 miles on Monday for my full load of classes.

Dr. Brown, a neurologist in York, checked me out and said that of 10,000 patients, he had never seen a case like mine.  He didn’t think it was a TIA (transient ischemic attack (i.e. temporary amnesia related to the heart).  A GTA (global transient amnesia) never came up.  And that was pretty much that.  No limitations, just let him know if any of my symptoms return.  And for 15 years none had!  Until this afternoon.

Given that previous experience, I didn’t feel these symptoms were any big deal, but Doc Braden here at York Hospital, the attending ER doctor, did, and wanted me to spend the night in the hospital.

On Saturday, part 4 picks up on finding an angel in the hospital.

Dan Loses His Mind While his World is Shaken, Rattled, and Rolled  (Part 2 of 6)

While waiting for all the tests, I have the medical people asking me all sorts of questions.  Who is the president?  I have no idea, but in this day and age that is no question to ask a seriously confused person.  It seems some hospitals no longer ask the “president question” to determine understanding because it upsets so many people.

They want to know the big dates.  When is your birthday?  No clue.  I’d like to help you out but I am coming up empty.   Today’s date?   Where are you?  I have nothing for them.

They ask me to repeat No ifs, ands, or buts.   Tongue twisters that I garble.  Even saying 50-50 throws me.  For the first hour, I don’t remember any of the questions.  After an hour, I still don’t know the answers, but trending positive, I now understand that these are questions that I should know the answers to.  That’s a significant step out of the fog.

As for tests that evening in the ER:

The CAT scan (an X-ray image made using Computerized Axial Tomography) of my brain rules out bleeding in my brain; clearly, I am not having a stroke.

YH MRI

The MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), which gives the medical staff a more detailed image of my brain and its blood flow, shows no lack of blood flow and again no evidence of stroke.

The heart monitor determines if there is atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat or arrhythmia) that can lead to blood clots, stroke, and heart failure.   My heart is just fine.

The chest x-ray determines whether there are any blood clots in my lungs.  This test can help diagnose and monitor conditions such as pneumonia and heart failure.  I have a clean x-ray.

A urinary test would indicate whether I have a Urinary Tract Infection.  UTIs cause similar confusion and again the medical professionals are trying to rule out as much as possible.  I have no urinary infection.

Finally, I am screened for drugs.   It turns out it is routine anytime someone comes into the ER in an “altered mental status,”  which is me!   There are no drugs in my system.

I was passing all the medical tests and failing all the questions.   Though the medical professionals didn’t know what was going on, I was not surprised at all what was happening to me.  You see 15 years ago something similar happened 150 miles from home.   Stay tuned for part 3 on Thursday.

Dan Loses His Mind While his World is Shaken, Rattled, and Rolled  (Part 1 of 6)

I literally mean, I lost my mind.  I lost the Big Three – I couldn’t speak; I couldn’t remember; I couldn’t think.  Let’s make it four – I couldn’t read.   There is a diagnosis, but it certainly sounds like something that happened to me 15 years ago in Connecticut.   More on that later.

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Hannah three weeks before in Utah

It’s Tuesday afternoon this late June at home with Hannah and our grandsons Owen and Max when all hell breaks loose.  I don’t remember a thing.  I am speaking gibberish such that Hannah doesn’t recognize me.  She calls friends for help and says, Dan is acting weird.  Our preschool grandsons look quizzically at me when I can’t remember their names.  I am speaking but the words are not making any sense.

Calling our local friend Corky, Hannah explains my incoherence, babbling, and confusion.  To which, Corky replies that there is no time to waste.  You have a small window in which to get something done if it turns out it’s a vascular event (i.e. involving a blood clot).

If I am having a stroke, time is of the essence.  Medical professionals will have a three-hour window to determine if I need the necessary medication to dissolve a blood clot.  Corky follows up with, Don’t call 911; take him directly to the hospital, which for us is York Hospital three miles in town.

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Entrance to the ER at York Hospital

Hannah has seen enough and so packs the boys and me in the car.  On the drive in, she remembers me wondering why I need to go to the hospital.  I am Clueless with a capital C.   Fortunately, she just smiles and keeps driving down York Street.  Nothing registers in my mind and I have no memory of the trip to the ER.

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CAT scan

So, let’s recap what Hannah is dealing with as I enter the emergency room of York Hospital: I don’t know what is happening to me; I am very confused, I have lost my memory (amnesia), I can’t speak sensibly (aphasia), and I didn’t know where I am.  I am a scary package of incoherence and technically-speaking – I am out of my mind.

 

 

Once in the ER, they aren’t messing around.  They schedule:

  1. a CAT scan of my brain
  2. an MRI for a more detailed picture of the blood flow in my brain
  3. a chest x-ray
  4. a urine test – urinary tract infection?
  5. a urine drug screen

and they also slap on a heart monitor to determine if there is atrial fibrillation

Hmmm, drug screening for Danny Boy?     Part 2 follows Tuesday

Dan understands “It’s not all about me.”

I got a same day appointment for the doctor to check out the growth on my cheek and my right elbow tendinitis.  By 330P she was 30 minutes late.  My first thought was that the patient she was with really needed the extra time.  When she gets to me, she’ll spend all the time I need.  It’s not all about me.  (By the way, she did.)

its not all about me 2

This morning in bed before dawn I lay happily awake, Hannah beside me.  She moves and pulls the covers her way.  I think how comfortably snuggled in she must be.  It’s not all about me.

Good friends are moving away.  My first thought is how happy I am that they are on their next adventure together.  Our relationship is just taking a new form.  It’s not all about me.

I play ping pong each Thursday with a good buddy.  I am just so pleased when he hits a good shot, and I say so.  Funny, he’s that way with me, too.  I win some, he wins some.  It’s not all about me.

It’s taken awhile.

Dan and Hannah and the Women’s March (1.21.17)

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Dad and Mom, a lifetime inspiration

My mom would have been on the front line of the Women’s March.  Dad, a sailor in World War II, would be right there with her.  They were Roosevelt Democrats and supporters of Barack Obama from the get go.  Living well into the nineties, they are turning over in their graves over the election of 2016!

I wanted to be at the Women’s March for Civil Rights on this first full day of the Trump Administration, but…

Flying south to Washington to walk alongside our friend Ellen just wasn’t in the cards.  It turns out there was a good reason why Hannah and I didn’t go to any of the Women’s Marches throughout the country.

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To be clear, these are challenging times for many in our country.  The first two paragraphs from the mission statement of the Women’s March organizers outlines the genuine fears of many of our sisters and brothers in this country.

The rhetoric of the past election cycle has insulted, demonized, and threatened many of us – immigrants of all statuses, Muslims and those of diverse religious faiths, people who identify as LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Queer, Intersex, Asexual), Native people, Black and Brown people, people with disabilities, survivors of sexual assault – and our communities are hurting and scared.  We are confronted with the question of how to move forward in the face of national and international concern and fear.

…The Women’s March on Washington will send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights.  We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.

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Our amazing Oregon Family (Becky in green, Corrie to her left in the blue ski cap, Abby to her left, and Karl in front of them in the purple cap)

Weeks ago, we learned that our sister-in-law Becky and her daughters, Corrie and Abby, and our nephew Karl, were marching in Portland, Oregon.  We stand with them.

The day before the march (Inauguration Day) our daughter Molly asked Hannah to join her and Molly’s friend Nancy for the Women’s March in Boston.  I so wanted Hannah to go, but it just wasn’t going to work out.  We stand with them.

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Jeff in Portsmouth, NH

It turns out there were two Women’s Marches in our neighborhood – one eight miles away in Portsmouth, NH that our friends, Corky and Jeff & also Lisa, walked and a second 45 minutes away in Portland, Maine where our friend Molly marched.  But we just couldn’t go, but we stand with them.

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Then a few days after the Women’s March in Portland, Maine, I read our friend Molly’s blog.  (She was a student of mine in teacher education at the University of New England and is my favorite Maine writer).    She wrote eloquently about the experience.  Her lead includes these lines that captured my mixed feelings, too.

I debated about participating.  I’m an apolitical creature and find the world of politics uncomfortable, if not repellent.  I vote and I educate myself about the issues (well, to be honest, not all of them, but most of them), but that’s about it. I don’t like talking politics and I don’t enjoy listening to political coverage.  In all honesty, I also just wanted to spend a quiet day at home.   Click here to read her entire blog.

But she did go.  In response to her blog, I wrote:

Dan Rothermel says:

January 24, 2017 at 8:48 am

Proud of you. Maybe it’s time for us bystanders to be more involved.  Maybe this election shakes many of us out of our complacency.  So, the question is, what is next?  What does each of us do as individuals?  Collectively?

So, what do I as an individual do to promote civil rights (i.e., the rights of citizens to political and social freedom and equality) for all?  And why weren’t Hannah and I participating in the Women’s March?

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You see, we had scheduled lunch with our daughter-in-law Laurel’s mom, Sandy and her friend Paulette, who were visiting from Massachusetts.  We choose to make our caring, respecting, and loving difference on a small scale.

For us, empathy begins in our own hearts.  It starts with us being “peace-full” (i.e., full of peace) in our own lives.  Treating all we meet with love, we then have that love spread through them onto others, like ripples in a pond.

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Nancy and our Molly in Boston

Though we would have been on the frontline of the Women’s March, today we spread our love one-to-one with Sandy and Paulette.  Love begets love.  Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.  We each advance human rights as we can.  For us, love is always the answer.

In a world so torn apart by rivalry, anger, and hatred, we have the privileged vocation to be living signs of a love that can bridge all divisions and heal all wounds.   – Henri Nouwen

Dan and Hannah Remember October 12, 1983

In January, 1982, Hannah and I moved from Arizona to New England with our two young daughters.  With no jobs, Hannah flew East with Molly (2.5 years) and Robyn (4 months) while I drove cross country in a 24’ Ryder Truck with my teaching buddy, Ralph Bethancourt.  Hannah and I were floating on a cloud, propelled by the romantic notion of raising a family in a small town in New England – you know, really knowing our neighbors, being vital strands in the fabric of the community, all at a slower pace.

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Norman Rockwell lives in Dan and Hannah’s hearts

By March, Hannah and I had rented one side of a duplex in Portsmouth, NH.  Having found a three-month “maternity leave” teaching job at Oyster River Middle School in Durham, NH, I then scored a full-time position in Somersworth (NH) Middle School for the following year.

With a family of five on our minds, we chose the family health insurance.   You may remember that we paid just $800 for Molly’s prenatal and birthing expenses in 1979 and $1000 for Robyn in 1981.  By 1983, Will’s expenses around his birth would have been $2500 without insurance.   We weren’t in Kansas (or Arizona) anymore!

Going old school (i.e., not knowing the gender), we soon learned that child #3” s due date of October 8 was just an educated guess, not higher mathematics.  Awaking on the morning of the 12th, Hannah knew things were stirring.  And when at 7A her water broke right there in our kitchen, we knew our Columbus Day baby was on the way.

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Fortunately, my sister Patty had spent the night and could watch Molly and Robyn while I drove Hannah to the Portsmouth (NH) Hospital (at the time York Hospital didn’t have a birthing unit).   Unlike her first two pregnancies where Hannah was expected to lie in bed as soon as she arrived at the hospital, this time her gynecologist wanted her to walk around as much as was comfortable to let gravity work its magic.

And did gravity ever do its thing!  Just hours later at 10A, Jaye Will Rothermel, whom we forever called Will, came bouncing into the world.   By the way, the Jaye was for Hannah’s father John.

Hannah’s favorite moment of the entire day was once Will appeared, her doctor, rather than saying you have a boy, said, you have a son.  Not just a male, but already a part of the family.  Hannah cried.

As with his sisters, we bought and saved newspapers from the day Will was born.

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Looking through the papers over the last month, I noticed that the New York Times for that Wednesday was $0.50 in Maine (today’s weekday NYT costs $2.50 here).  Disappointedly, the newspaper gave us very little earth shaking news.  The lead story was US Says Moscow Threatens to Quit Talks on Missiles (Mikhail Gorbachev was still six years from being the leader of the Soviet Union).  The lead picture above the fold (as you see to the left), was of Korean widows whose husbands died in the recent bombings in Rangoon, Burma (Burma became Myanmar in 1989).

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Next, I perused the Boston Globe to see if New England had something eye popping to offer.  I did learn that the Phillies beat the Orioles 2-1 in the first game of the World Series.   That turned out to be the only game the Phillies would win as the Baltimore Orioles swept the next four games to win the World Series.  The picture to the right is future Hall of Famer (2007), Cal Ripken, Jr.  Nicknamed “The Iron Man,” Cal is known for holding the baseball record for the most consecutive games played (2,632).  I imagine that is a big whup if you like baseball and think it is more than just a three-to-four hour ordeal of tedium.  (Lighten up Red Sox fans, I do love you!)

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Shaking my head that the traditional newspapers were not delivering ground-breaking news, I turned to the MacDonald’s of newspapers, USA Today, for something memorable.  By the way, the USA Today began publishing just 13 months before Will was born (September 15, 1982).  Known for its one sentence paragraphs, adding color to the black and white world of print journalism, and a country-wide focus on events and the weather (see to the left), the USA Today did offer up that the predicted high was going to be a balmy 61F on that momentous day.  I guess that’s a positive.

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All I have left is the local York Weekly, published that Wednesday.  The lead was the town fathers of Ogunquit (the neighboring town north of York) are unhappy with the Maine Supreme Court overturning a town ordinance over loud music.  I told you we live in small town Maine.

In 1983, gas was $1.23 per gallon ($2.92 adjusted for inflation), the average car cost $6000, average family income was $12,100, and the average house cost $105,000.

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Flashdance – What a Feeling was the #3 song in 1983 (A personal favorite of Will’s father).  Click here to listen this rockin’ classic!  Few care that Every Breath You Take by the Police was #1.

Return of the Jedi was the runaway, top grossing film at $252M.  Terms of Endearment, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture, was second at $108M.   For you fellow Flashdance fans, Flashdance was #3 that year.

Dallas was the top rated television show, followed in order by 60 Minutes, Dynasty, and The A Team.

Given this examination of the print media, it’s quite clear the magic of that fall day in 1983 was the birth of Will Rothermel, now 33 years old.

PS  The preview picture of four year old Will at a boat was taken at Ocean Point, Maine.

Dan and Hannah Remember September 7, 2016

If you do something once, it’s an event.  If you do it twice, it’s a tradition!  I have an RFT (Rothermel Family Tradition) that you just might like.  When your kids/grandkids are born, buy newspapers on the day of their birth, save them, and then give them as twenty-first birthday presents (along with the keys to a new Lexus, if you are so inclined).   Thirty plus years ago, we bought newspapers for each of our three kids (no Lexi).  Previously, I blogged about our first child’s (Molly) actual birthday.  Click here for Molly’s birth-day blog.

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For a third time, Hannah was pregnant in Arizona.  You see, she had a miscarriage after Molly and before the birth of a second child.   Going old school (not knowing the gender of our child), Hannah was good and ready for child #2 to make an appearance in the 1981 summer of swelter (due date of August 25th).  Molly rocked our world three days early, so Han was hoping for similar good fortune.

With my mother, an elementary school librarian in Ridgewood, NJ, flying in, we would have live-in support for Molly for two weeks while we adjusted to bambino numero dos.

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Mamoo and Papoo

As we all waited, August 25 came and went.  So much for on-time delivery.  Each morning, Mom would take two-year-old Molly to the Hudson School playground before 7A.  Why so early?   After 7A, the metal slide would burn Molly if she slid on it.

It seemed that the second Rothermel Bambino was just not ready to enter a world with Ronald Reagan as president.  (Imagine the trepidation for babies about to be born in 2017 with one Donald J. Trump as president!)

As a Republican friend reminded me, Get over it.  He’s president.   That is a fact, but I’m having trouble getting over it.  He mocks those with disabilities, denies climate change, spreads fear, frightens the vulnerable, and is misogynistic to the point we are becoming the Divided States of America. We (myself included) all have no choice but to deal with this turn of events.  Yet, I do remain hopeful.  Being bitter, cynical, and pessimistic poison ourselves.  Given the gravity of his position as president, I hope in time he will transform himself into a president of all Americans.)

Whoa, I didn’t realize I would take that little side trip, but I needed to go there, as you can probably tell.

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Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix

Back to the Rothermel Baby #2 Saga.  Soon late August turned into the first week of September.   Finally, on Sunday, September 6, we took Mom to the Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix for her flight home for the start of her school year.  Turning to Hannah, she said, Just please don’t have the baby today.

Loving her mother-in-law dearly, Hannah readily agreed.  By the way, story has it that Hannah’s dad, Dr. John Kraai, delivered over 5000 babies as a general practitioner in northern New York in the later half of the twentieth century.  The legend goes that he told expecting parents that the due date was two weeks later than what he thought, so moms and dads wouldn’t stress over babies that didn’t arrive “on time.”  Hannah was not stressing in the least for she thought, The baby will come when the baby’s ready to come!

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And then Monday afternoon, which in fact was Labor Day, Hannah delivered our second daughter, Robyn Leigh Rothermel, at Desert Samaritan Hospital in Mesa.

As with Molly, to save $200, we had opted not to add Hannah to my health insurance as a teacher for the local Tempe Schools.  You see, back in the day the total bill for pre-natal care, hospital delivery, and pediatrician follow-up would be just $1000!   A classic case of penny wise, pound super-foolish.   Fortunately, Hannah had no complications with the delivery; but it’s quite clear that we two were not the sharpish knives in the drawer.

In the New York Times on the day of Robyn’s birth on September 7, 1981, these were some highlights

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Army Reporting Key Gains in Recruiting and Readiness.  This was an interesting foreshadowing to Robyn’s enlistment in the US Army in 2003 and her subsequent 15-month deployment to Afghanistan during the height of the war.   She and her grandfather (my dad) were our only close family members (my parents’ kids and all the grandchildren) who served in the military.  My mother did work for the USO in Guam during World War II

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Mount St. Helens

New Eruption Reported at Mount St. Helens.   Who knew what might be on the horizon?  The previous year on May 18, 1980, a major volcanic eruption blew the top off Mount St. Helens in southwest Washington.  That was the first eruption to occur in the continental US since the 1915 eruption of Lassen Peak in California.  Years later (2014), Hannah and I hiked Mt. St. Helens.  Click here for the link to the first of three Mt. St. Helens blogs.

The day after Robyn’s birth, Stephen King (Maine’s own) published Cujo, the horror novel about a crazed St. Bernard.  A youthful sixty-nine like myself, Stephen King has sold over 350,000,000 books. I’ve sold nearly a thousand.

In 1981, a loaf of bread was $0.54, milk was $1.69 per gallon and gas was $1.13 per gallon.

Raiders of the Lost Ark was the top grossing film at $212M.  Chariots of Fire won the Academy Award for best picture.

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Betty Davis Eyes by Kim Carnes was the top song of 1981.  Woman by John Lennon was #21.  Spookily, John Lennon was killed the previous year on December 8, 1980, almost nine months to the day before Robyn was born.  This may be TMI, but for those of you math majors, you can see Robyn was quite possibly conceived on that auspicious date.

For most of the country, September 7, 1981 was just another Labor Day Monday at the start of the school year.  For us, Robyn burst into our life, evening the playing field as there was now one kid to each parent.  Why would we have a third and be out numbered?   But we did.  (Next week’s final chapter of Dan and Hannah Remember…”