January 25th, 2011 by Conor
So I’ve officially spent my first “night” here in “Great Falls,” Montana. I say “night” because since I’ve been here now, (for what has seemed like 2 days), I’ve really only slept for about five hours in the middle of the afternoon, and its actually only been one full day. I put “Great Falls” in parenthesis too because now that I’ve actually seen where I am in the light of day, I’ve noticed that there aren’t any great water falls to look at, or even anything remotely great to be seen at all for that matter. I saw Danny last night and right after his surgery today, and that is what I’ve come out here to see anyways.
Finally getting here last night was unbelievable. After all the hassles and traveling it felt so good to get off of the plane and see Conor and David outside the airport waiting for me. I met them with a much deserved hug from everyone back in North Conway and we were immediately enroute to see Danny in the ICU. We got to the hospital and I thanked David for the ride. His Danny shift was over so he went back to the hotel for some sleep as Conor and I proceeded to check into the ICU where i would finally get a chance to meet Danny’s girlfriend Michelle and reunite with my good friend.
I was nervous to see Danny in the state that he was in. I had just been spending time with him less than a month ago laughing and joking like we always do and it was still surreal to me that all this was even happening. I couldn’t believe it when i had first heard the news and it was extremely difficult to deal with for the first couple of weeks. Not that it was any easier in the third week, but the emotional breakdowns had certainly slowed to a less than daily pace and a lot more composure had been established. If Danny was strong enough to get through this then I had no choice but to man up and help him to be strong.
When we got outside the ICU Conor picked up a telephone and asked for us to be let in. The receptionist buzzed us through and as I followed Conor into room 5109 my heart began racing. I fought hard to try and hold back my tears. I was right behind Conor as he told Danny he was back and informed him that “someone” was here to see him. As Conor moved to the side and Danny began to look up at me my excitement conquered my fear. As soon as Danny made eye contact with me he threw his arms up and gave me a solid fist pump. We exchanged some high fives because I was sure the hug that I wanted to give him would probably do him more harm than good.
After I greeted Danny I met Michelle in person finally, who is very nice but much smaller than I expected and certainly not all there when it comes to intelligence, (just kidding Michelle!). I then dropped my bags in the corner and as Conor would say was “very quick to take my shirt off.” I was excited to show Danny the get well wishes so many people had drawn and written on me and couldn’t wait to show him the pictures that went along with each message. As I proceeded to unveil the artwork I received several confused/scared looks from the nurses as well as Danny. Once everyone realized what was going on and “Jackson” the sit-in babysitter stopped drooling over me, Danny got a good look at all the messages and loved the pictures and troll doll accompanying the image drawn under my arm pit.
From what I had been reading in earlier updates last week about Danny I couldn’t believe the progress he had made. I knew he would be amassed in tubes and wires, but I was astounded by how clear his communication skills were. He couldn’t talk and you could tell that he wasn’t completely with us, but I’ve spent enough hungover days with Danny to know this type of situation. When you room with someone in college for a few years you see all sorts of different sides of them and tend to pick up a lot on their habits and gestures. It was fairly easy to see what Danny was trying to communicate just through his facial expressions and hand motions, but if that became lost in translation he would gesture for a keyboard to type things out to us.
Danny was exhausted but wanted to stay awake to hang out with me for a bit. He would type while I would talk and we held a conversation this way as I filled him in on news back home and gave him all his hellos and love from the people back east. We had some good laughs as Danny would try to persuade his nurse to take his catheter out by bribing her with compliments of how gentle she is about it. It was great to see Danny slowly coming back into his own. There were plenty of signs showing Danny would be back good as new eventually but it will be a long hard road for him to get to that point. I decided the room was very drab so i decided to throw up a few decorations to spruce the place up a bit. Danny enjoyed the liveliness and had to beg the nurse to let us stay longer via keyboard. You could tell he was exhausted and eventually the fun came to an end. Danny had surgery at 7:30am the next morning, so the nurse finally informed us at 4am that it was time to let Danny get some rest, (thanks so much Cindy for letting us stay up so long!)
Conor and I headed to the lobby and hung out while Michelle weaseled her way into Danny’s bed with him the rest of the night. We stayed up and kept the laughs going until the morning when we went to see Danny off to his final surgery. You could tell Danny was very nervous about the surgery. He tried using his exhaustion as an excuse to put it off but got shot down since he was being put to sleep anyways. This was the least difficult of Danny’s three surgeries, but of the three this was the only one he was “with it” enough to know what was going on. I don’t blame him for being a little nervous. I’d come up with any excuse not to have brain surgery either. We said our good lucks and watched him roll away.
Since we had 4 hours to kill Conor wanted to burn off some of the Tummy Taxi food he’d been eating for the past three weeks and work out. I wasn’t tired yet for some reason and agreed a little exercise would be nice. I also got to finally see those pictures of me being drawn on in the website and decided for everyone’s sake a little cardio wouldn’t kill me. So while Danny’s skull got put back together again, Michelle, Conor, and I headed off to the gym.
When we got back from the gym we met up with Ellen and David in the waiting room. I killed some time by picking David’s brain, (no pun intended), about his beard maintenance and tried to keep from falling asleep in my chair by attempting to afro mine out and twist a curl in my mustache. Thank goodness the doctor came out fairly soon because everyone was getting a little slap happy from being so over tired.
The doctor came out boasting of a successful operation, genuinely proud of the work he had just displayed in the operating room. It’s a good feeling when the your friend’s brain surgeon comes out with a smile expecting high fives on a job well done. He informed us that the surgeries were over with and that we should all be celebrating. I was very happy Danny was through with the dangerous aspect of this process, but not ready to celebrate knowing the tough road that lied ahead for Danny in rehabilitation.
After meeting with the Doc we made our way back to room 5109 to greet Danny with a warm welcome. We had been told that once Danny was done with this operation that he would finally be able to get out of bed and move around. This would be great news for Danny since he has been trying to get out of that bed for the past few days now. As they rolled Danny back into his room we could all see the white gauze wrapped around his head from down the hall. You could tell he was in excruciating pain as he kept trying to rip the gauze off of his head. As much pain as Danny was in he needed to realize that the surgeries were now over and that the wrapping he was desperately trying to claw off of his head was a necessary material in that healing process. The last thing Danny would want is an infection in the wound they just closed up in his head.
After we stayed with Danny for a little while longer Conor and I felt it best to give him some rest and go get some sleep ourselves. I had only gotten about 2 hours of sleep in the past 2 days so my bed was definitely sounding pretty inciting for sure. I was super happy that Danny made it out of his final surgery successfully, but now that he was in his room recuperating I was even happier to finally get a chance to catch a few Z’s myself. Until “tomorrow” I apologize for the novel…I get caught up in these posts! Killing it DCT!