January 30th, 2011 by Conor
(written at the end of their visit)
As my visit appears to be wrapping up, I realize how much changes so quickly with Danny not only day to day, but hour to hour. This is the nature of head injuries. When you break your leg or injure internal organs other than the brain, there is a set time period and path to recovery. Everybody thinks differently, therefore everybody’s brain will heal differently when injured.
Right before we were about to leave the hospital last night it dawned on me that once I left, the saga would still be ever changing. Once you enter room 5109 you seem to enter a time warp. All of the machinery and noises go blank as you focus on any interaction with DCT you can. Then you walk out and join the small community of friends and family keeping themselves busy in the lobby waiting for updates. Even in the lobby you feel content with just sitting, because you are close.
It is the thought of being back 17 hours, 1000 miles to the south, again with the feeling of helplessness that is bothersome, however, this trip will take away that feeling a bit, and allow me to visualize exactly what is going on when I read Michelle and Conor’s updates. I told this to Conor last night and he brought up a good point. We experienced a chapter in this book, much like Tom experienced what we did plus another chapter because he arrived a day earlier. Much like Josh Belcher experienced a completely different chapter when he visited…Much like Conor and Michelle are editing the book.
Our chapter was an amazing one…starting with the first sight of our recovering friend, then the interactions, improvements and further details of projected recovery. we hung out with The Toumarkine’s, Michelle, Tom J (ever steeped in NH tradition), and met the medical staff who have brought Danny to this level. I couldn’t be leaving with more reaffirmation that Danny is Danny and that he will be alright. what I did foresee was how much of a trip this is for DCT. Like Conor touched upon, He is slowly learning why he has tubes entering his stomach and why he sits in a Hospital bed in the middle of the Plains in northern Montana.
on the second day we were visiting, the unthinkable happened.
I walked into room 5109 to see Danny sitting up, no wrap around his head, less swelling, and him full conversating with Tito. I almost tripped backwards because, up until this point, the Tracheastomy had been prohibiting regular speech. We just talked for a long time, all of us kind of throwing out stories and updating each other. Danny recollected the night he fell down when he got out of his hospital bed in his room alone after Conor and Michelle were no longer allowed to do the night watch. Scary stuff. But he also asked about our lives and was genuinely concerned about Our well being…what a dood!
By the time we headed out for the long haul home through the high desert back to Tahoe, we had seen some amazing events unfold. Danny went from limited interaction, mostly involving his hands, with a tube in his neck for breathing, to sitting up and fully interacting. There ws No doubt in my mind that the next step was for him to leave ICU and begin the long arduous journey back to complete normalcy.
We were so lucky to be a part of this Chapter in Danny’s recovery, and I hope not to sound selfish because I got what I wanted…to See the Danny I know and be able to connect with him. This was by chance, we didn’t set up this trip knowing really anything about his precise condition, so it was a blessing, more so that he is touted as the “best TBI recovery story” that Benefis Hospital in Great Falls Montana has seen in three years. They will be telling Danny’s story to future families of TBI patients…and that will be future Chapters writing themselves in this saga.