January 13th, 2011 by Conor
I arrived today in Great Falls, MT around 1p local. Conor and David met me at the airport with a couple of long over due hugs and we came right to the hospital. There was some brief catching up on the ride over and I was cautiously warned of Danny’s condition. Upon entering the room I had no idea what to expect. To my surprise I saw Ellen sitting in a dimly lit room reading a book to Danny. As great as it was to see her for the first time in 4 years, my attention was immediately drawn to our friend. Initially I thought he looked better than the image I had dreamt up in my head during the 6 hour flight over, but the closer I got to Danny the more I felt overwhelmed with the reality of his condition. I stood there for a moment and was wanting to begin an inspection of all the tubes, the machines, the incisions, etc. when a nurse poked her head in the door and said “the tummy taxi is here”. Immediately Conor ran out of the room and I was left standing there with Ellen. I had only been in the room for 5 minutes so I had NO idea what the “tummy taxi” was. All I could I think is that it was some kind of code for Danny needs to take a shit. After sharing this thought with Ellen we both had a good laugh and she informed me that the tummy taxi was the local food delivery service. In other words lunch was here. The remainder of the afternoon we all sat in the waiting area and talked about old times, good times, and the time that had passed since we had all last seen each other.
At 5p we all gathered around a laptop in the lobby and joined in to a fundraising meeting with a large group of friends back in North Conway. Thanks to Joe from Hula networks, he was able to connect 25 of Danny’s friends through a webinar in order to collaborate on ideas to help raise money for Danny and his cause. It is incredible to see the amount of support, especially those big hearts back in the valley!
I can’t tell if we are frozen in time or if it is actually just flying by. I have been awake for 24 hours now and I am losing any sense of time. We are back in the ICU with Danny, and I have entered in to a whole new world. It’s mostly quiet in the room with the exception of the respirator. It’s an eery sound. The machine looks to be breathing for him but the doctors assure us that he is able to breath on his own. I stood bedside to examine everything going on. He has tubes plugged in all over his body. His eyes are shut and his mouth is open. I’ve seen this look on his face before but It was at a party I hosted for him. He had a couple too many beers and passed out. I want to be able to shake him like I did that night to wake him up, but the paralytics and sedatives are too strong this time. This is a pretty helpless feeling that we all share.
The doctor just came in to conduct a neurological test. This is the most excitement we have all seen for a couple of hours. As they temporarily weened Danny off the paralytics you could see his eye lids begin to open. The doctor was loud and spoke right into Danny’s face asking him to make a fist…passed, give a thumbs up….passed, give a thumbs up on your left hand…no response, wiggle your toes…passed, squeeze my hand…passed, thumbs up again…passed. At this point Danny had almost opened his eyes all the way. We all started to talk to him hoping for some kind of sign that he could recognize us, but we only got a blank stare. The doctor used his hands to open Danny’s eye lids all the way and loudly asked him to look over at him multiple times…each time just a blank stare. Conor, Michelle, and I took turns and held his hand. Each time we asked he would squeeze our hand. He might not be able to see us but it’s exciting to know that he can hear us and has the ability to control his hands.
I’m now going on 27 hours without sleeping and we still have another 3+ hours to go on the graveyard shift. I never expected to be awake this long, but we are doing it for Danny. I think we are all passed any reasonable level of sanity and we have been entertaining ourselves with endless Chuck Norris jokes. The doctor said he wants to do another neurological test soon. I hope I can stay awake long enough to see if anymore progress has been made since earlier.
This is all I have to offer up for this long day. It’s hard to see him in this condition but I’m very fortunate that I was able to make it out here. I know everyone would love to be able to be next to him during this time. I can only hope that this entry will give all of you some idea of what it would be like if you were.
We love you Danny and we are right here with you!