January 26th, 2011 by Conor
Last night was the first night i got a full nights sleep. We aren’t allowed with Danny past 11pm so from here on out we might be able to get some rest. I saw Danny this morning and he is looking amazing! It is such a great feeling to see how much he is improving knowing that every time i go in to see him he improves a little bit more. It’s hard to see the frustration in his eyes, but if he only knew how much progress he has made in the past 3 weeks he is doing unbelievable!
Today when i saw Danny the swelling in his eye had gone down considerably, and i could actually see his right eyeball again. Some nurses came in and informed us that Danny would be working on walking shortly and that the trachea in his neck would be coming out later in the day. Great news was coming from all over! To Danny he is fighting an impossible battle, but to us he is making huge leaps ad bounds. Each day brings a new obstacle for Danny to overcome and with each obstacle Danny faces a new challenge. He may not realize how much progress he is making but to us he is absolutely crushing his own personal competition.
Since i arrived here in Great Falls on Sunday, Danny has been through so many different phases in his healing process. At first you never knew what to expect from him. There were constant up and downs and frequent confusion during conversation and communication. You weren’t sure how Danny would react to the things you said to him or activities you’d try to involve him in. Now with each time I see him I notice more and more of his old self coming back. The thought of this constantly brightens my outlook on the situation, but the frustration that you see in his eyes is extremely discouraging. Holding back tears can sometimes be difficult watching Danny trying to perform simple tasks like turning the pages of a, “get well scrapbook,” or even just breathing sometimes. Watching him constantly fight internal battles of confusion as to why he can’t perform the mindless tasks that everyone around him do with such ease almost makes you feel guilty.
I see the frustration building up more and more in everyone here. For those who have been here the longest feel it the most. Everyone has the best intentions for Danny but no one can make him get better. It is a long hard battle for Danny and all we can really do is be there for him when he needs us the most. Tensions can run high when multiple doctors and nurses are giving several diagnoses to multiple family members who are doing all they can to support their loved one. Weeks have been spent going from hotel to hospital and back again. Visitation hours are becoming limited so that Danny can have more time to rest and get better. This means that Danny is getting better, but also that spending time with Danny is becoming extinct.
Everyone has Danny’s well-being in their best intentions so everyone has their own opinion of what is best for Danny in this situation. People who have already been through this have a better understanding of how to cope with the situation. They’ve been through it and already know more of what to expect than those of us who are new to this. Those people who have never dealt with such a tragedy and never will should consider themselves lucky. This is not something i would ever wish upon anyone. It is hard on everyone here and a tough toll to pay after staying strong for so long.
It is more than just supporting Danny. There is a family here helping Danny too. His family has been here since the very beginning as well. They’ve all been here since the start going back and forth, day by day, from hotel to hospital and back again for weeks at a time. They’ve all been dealing with the stress of Danny’s well-being as well as the worry of how they can help continue the support from afar. This stress builds up and begins to chip away at you sometimes. No one here has been through this before which means that no one here is sure the best way to go about things. Everyone here, from what i have seen, is doing an unbelievable job at helping Danny and coping with this stress. It can get pretty crazy sometimes, but I know in the end everyone’s heart is in the right place.
Danny is a high paced, high energy type of person. He always needs to be doing something. If he could hop right up and walk out of here he would. His physical strength is unbelievable. He is healing physically at an unbelievable rate. Unfortunately for Danny, the brain tends to heal much slower than the rest of the body. Helping Danny understand that this will take time and to be patient is vital in the healing process. We need him to understand that following directions and taking things slowly is the best possible healing method. Right now it is easier for Danny to focus on one thing at a time. His brain has trouble processing multiple tasks which ends up frustrating him during this process. Danny tends to do better with one function at a time. When more than one task is involved he becomes frustrated and has a hard time focusing on what he is doing. His patience is on a short fuse and just about any type of frustration sets this off. The more Danny can focus on one thing at a time the sooner he can expand his healing and begin to multi-task. It is amazing that so many people are here to help support him, but I could see yesterday during his speech tests that there was an immense amount of pressure for him with 7 different sets of eyes in the room. Mix this with the drugs still left in his system from the surgery and it is easy to s why Danny would have a tough time. I know that with less stress and less people involved Danny’s progress will advance much quicker for him and so far today that really seems to be the case.
I am done for now, I’d like to continue this post but the buzz around the ICU lobby is that Danny is beginning to talk again. More to come soon…you truly are the man Danny.