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DITB Daily Shout Outs

January 28th, 2011 by Conor

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The Model Patient – Tom Jannuzzi

January 28th, 2011 by Conor

Laughter and love are the cure for everything. I decided this a long while back but didn’t realize the significance until I came here to Great Falls to see Danny. I’ve always had fun with Danny and our times together have always been full of smiles and laughter. I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this visit, but I knew that I needed to be here. Obviously I was scared and uncertain as to what I was going to see, but if Danny could go through all that he has, then I could certainly make the trip for the closure I was so desperate for. Sure there were posts of Danny getting better and slowly becoming himself again, but I’d never be certain of that until I saw it with my own eyes. Now having spent my final night with Danny I can go home with a feeling of relief and a sense of closure that he will make it through with a full recovery.

My last moments in Benefis Hospital with Danny last night were full of laughter. I’m happy to say that I’m leaving Montana with tears of joy in my eyes. I knew I would get choked up saying goodbye, but am happy to report that these tears come with a smile. The past few hours spent with Danny were full of laughter and fun. Just like we always do while we’re together, we did nothing but sit around telling stories and poking fun at one another. All the guests and visitors have gone home and only Conor, Michelle, and I were left to spend time with Danny. The four of us sat around joking and reminiscing of the “funny” experiences that have happened throughout the course of this incident.

Surprisingly, even though Danny’s short term memory is still his biggest issue, he remembers a lot of what has occurred these past few weeks. Taking a recent brain exam full of puzzles just 12 hours after his final surgery was not clear to him. So painting him a visual picture of this account was no trouble for us to conjure up a good laugh at his expense.

The day of the test Danny sat like an all-knowing Sultan Prince in his rocking chair. The towel on his head looked like a turban as it covered the fresh wounds re-stapled from his surgery. As he rocked back and forth in what could only be described as his throne, Danny was far from wise and all-knowing. The hospital thought it best that Danny take these tests doped up on drugs so strong that they could take down a baby oxen. There was extreme pressure as the room was filled with 8 different sets of eyes all watching as Danny struggled with each test. To make matters worse his right eye was swollen shut so all visions of the mazes and puzzles were through his left eye only. You could see in that one good eye that he was not completely with us and could hardly care about some stupid tests.

He passed a few of these exams, crushing the matching pictures and going above and beyond with connecting shapes. Filling in the numbers on a clock seemed to be the biggest challenge for him as he tried to sneak peaks unknowingly, with his one good eye, at the real clock on the wall. The nurse giving the exam busted him cheating, but informed him the real clock was allowed to be used to help fill in the blanks. I informed her that in all my years with Danny I noticed that he tended to do much better on his tests if I just happened to be taking the same one right next to him. This seemed to be a great method for passing classes in high school and all the way through college for us. We all had a good laugh, but Danny still had trouble with the clock. They took him off most of the drugs and the next day he passed all the same tests with flying colors.

This was just one recent event within the current week that Danny couldn’t recall, but rewind to last week where Conor and Danny had some stories for us that you’d never expect him to remember. Conor asked Danny if he remembered a special moment the two of them had shared one night together in the ICU. Surprisingly Danny did so they both went on to tell us this little gem:

While Danny was recovering from his induced coma, toward the end of his second week, he still couldn’t speak and was only beginning to use his hand gestures as communication. We have all read the accounts of people visiting Danny and him greeting them with a warm flatulent welcome. Well I guess this was one occasion where he may have pushed a little too hard.

From what Conor told us it sounded like a solid, (or in this case wet), seven on the fart rictor-scale. Him and Conor recounted the look on both of their faces when Conor asked Danny jokingly, “Whoaaa bro, did you just shit your pants maaayn?” Not expecting the answer that he got in return, as Danny raised both arms and looked up with a surprised/guilty look on his face confirming the accusation. Conor ran out of the room to inform the nurses immediately.

Danny informed us that sometimes this shit just happens, and as badly as he felt about it, the deed was already done. He referred to it as the nurse’s job security, and said how on these occasions he’d have three nurses rush in to control the “situation.”

Needless to say there wasn’t a dry eye in room 1509 last night, and even in his current state, Danny was laughing and joking right along with us all. He sends everyone his love and even gave me permission to tell you all about shitting his pants. It felt like Danny was back.

These are just a couple of the accounts Danny experienced that we could all have a good laugh about. Not many people who go through a traumatic TBI experience like this end up as lucky as him. Some might think it was Danny’s strength that helped him, and others might say it was the surgeon’s expert work. Personally, I think it was all of the support he’s been receiving throughout his time here in the ICU. Without the love and great energy that everyone has been sending Danny, I’m not quite sure if things would have turned out this way. Yes, obviously Danny had a lot to do with his own healing process, but there’s certainly something to be said about all of you people in his life that care about him so much. You have all showed so much compassion for his situation. I am not sure if things would have turned out this well for him if it wasn’t for all of you.

Danny and his family have been through a lot over the past 3 1/2 weeks. During all of this there have been many ups and downs and plenty of uncertainties. These uncertainties have been haunting many people’s thoughts since they first heard the news of Danny’s accident. From the very beginning people were concerned for Danny’s well being. No one was sure what was going to happen to Danny and some people, (like myself), were scared for the worst. It was impossible to go an hour without wondering what was going on with Danny all the way across the country in Montana from the East coast, but as things got better the worrying slowly faded.

Coming here to visit Danny has been one of the best experiences of my entire life. I can honestly say that I was terrified to come here at first, but now I wish that I didn’t have to leave. It is hard for me now sitting on this plane, heading back home, reliving my airline nightmare. It has felt so good waking up every day excited to go visit Danny and see the vast improvements he had undergone since the day before. Like a child on christmas day, visiting Danny was like opening a present under the tree. You never knew what to expect but always knew it would be something special. I would go and see him, excited to talk about anything at all. Just knowing Danny was pulling through warmed my heart and eased my mind.

This seemed to be the case with everyone who came in contact with Danny in the ICU. His hard work and dedication to healing and getting better earned him the privilege of being the best TBI patient at the Benefis Hospital in the past three years. They informed us that future head trauma patients of the hospital would be told Danny’s story in hopes of inspiration for their own recovery. They would use him as a model patient for others to look up to when things seemed to be at their very worst.

I feel like this is no different than how people felt about the rest of Danny’s life. Danny has always been a person to look up to. Even in the state that he is in now, he is still being looked up to as a person others want to be like. You’d think that this would surprise me, but after experiencing what I just have in Great Falls, Montana, I’m not sure I’ll ever be surprised of what the power of love and laughter really has on us all.

Keep up the hard work Danny. I realize it is difficult sometimes, but just know that when things get frustrating, you’ve got the worlds greatest supporters here for you 110%. Thank you all for the love and support you continue to send Danny’s way. We all appreciate it more than you could know. Miss you already, hope to see you sooner than later DCT.


Checking In from Australia by Sean Guinard

January 28th, 2011 by Conor

Daniel Son!

I just went on a couple day camping trip with no technology besides an Ipod and some speakers. The thought of our over night trips to Kearsarge and Glen Boulder were constantly on the mind.. The better half of my music was straight out of your vintage track list..I have slowly got away from “Kids” playing every forth song haha, but it still makes a frequent visit to the speakers! Listening to this music made me think about how much fun it is going to be to duplicate these trips in the future! Hearing your progress has put the biggest smile on my face and a feeling of pure relief.

When this all started I was put back in time to my fathers incident and tried to remember how I dealt emotionally with everything. I struggle still to this day to fully remember the 3 months that he laid in a coma with the bad news constantly coming my way. I simply remember the day I saw him awake and talking for the first time. I knew then things were on there way being ok again. Granted he thought he was 2 weeks out of the army (hadn’t been in the army for over 20 years), He was joking like usual and knew who we were ( my brother and myself). From that day on his recovery continued forward every day.

These last few weeks have been tough for everyone, you Daniel Son, your family, and your countless friends around the world. The hard work that everyone has done to support you will never be forgotten. But the days everyone will find themselves remembering will be the days to come of getting such a great friend back in their lives. Your strength in “dominating life” will ultimately bring you to the top again. As you fight your way back, know that some things will come easy and others not so much. In the tough times you have people coming from all angles willing to push you through to the next challenge.

Being in Australia has opened my eyes to the world beyond NOCO.. You helped push me to getting to this point. I will not lie when I say I never want to leave this place and wish you could be down hear in your recovery time. But that being said I am looking forward to coming home in a couple months and hanging out with you and the crew! I’ll be keen for whatever stage heavy activity your ready for… whether it be stuffing our face with cheddar rice cakes and FRANKS redhot, playing wii or a trip down the riv….With you I wouldn’t be surprised what you’ll be ready to do!

Keep Charging Daniel Son! Miss and Love ya big guy!

Chauncey Bueeeyyy!!

Words. Torin Hjelmstad

January 28th, 2011 by Conor

Danny, Conor, & Family,

A couple DANecdotes:

…Danny, Conor and I went to the same babysitter for a year or two when we were pretty young. The only memory I have of Danny is when, upon being told he couldn’t do something, he got so upset that he told our babysitter he was going to go home, get his axe, and chop down all her trees. A little impulsive? Sure. A kid being a kid? Probably. A sneak peak into what might happen if you challenge him? Yes. (I always wondered if he actually did have his own axe…)

…When I heard that Danny and Conor started a clothing line, it didn’t surprise me, nor did it probably surprise anyone. Someone once told me that when Danny was in elementary school and Jr. High that he used to burn CDs and sell them to his friends. I could picture The Kid Entrepreneur, working out numbers and figures at his desk.

In the spring of 2003, my junior year at Kennett, I was diagnosed with leukemia. It forever changed my life. That summer was a blur of biopsies, IVs and chemotherapy. Amid the chaos and struggle, I watched my friends, classmates, teammates, coaches and the entire Mount Washington Valley come together to support my family and me. We are blessed to have all grown up in such a great place. One memory that’s forever etched in my mind is from a benefit dinner held at the Elks Club for my family. Things were sort of winding down and people were just sort of milling around, then all of a sudden the room got noticeably louder…the lacrosse team had come in. Led by Danny, they walked over to my table and presented me with a KHS lacrosse jersey as a token of support. A silence came over the room as Danny handed the jersey to me, wishing me the best in the most sincere, true fashion; a classy move by a classy guy. I won’t ever forget that.

Danny, you may be the one on the other side of the glass in the ICU, trying to sleep– trying to live–amongst the jungle of tubes, IV drips, clanging machines and male nurses, but no matter how hard it gets, or how bad it hurts, know that you’re not alone. It’s a long road to back to normalcy, but if anyone can do it, you can. You’ve got what it takes. And you have an entire platoon of people supporting you, land and sea, stateside and abroad. And from someone who knows the compassion and generosity of the great people from the MWV (dare I say greatest in the world?), I can tell you the difficult steps of recovery are made easier knowing that you have thousands of people rallying around you. It truly does make a difference. And by all accounts, it sounds like things are improving daily, so keep it up.

“If you’re going through hell, keep going” – Winston Churchill

Conor and all of you who are keeping the rest of the world updated with your blogs: kudos to you all, it takes a lot of courage and guts to tell your stories.

Danny, think of your road to recovery as a forest of trees that you need to chop down with your axe: just another challenge.

Sending all my best.


Torin Hjelmstad

An Adventure of Laughing with Danny

January 27th, 2011 by Conor

I can’t even remember the last time I laughed as much as I did tonight. My eyes were filled from tears of laughter at several different times. Most of the jokes had to do with the logic test that Danny did 24 hours after his third surgery.

The therapist came into the room with her mask on as if Danny was a case from the movie Outbreak. Other than a couple of times that the dressings for Danny’s bandages had to be changed we hadn’t really seen this masked style treatment at all. I’m not sure what the reasoning was I just thought that it was kind of awkward. The awkwardness didn’t stop there… There Danny was seated upright with a huge white bandage wrapped around his head slowly rocking back and fourth in his chair with who knows what drugs running through his body. He somehow conveyed a look of equal parts wisdom and retardation. I have never seen it pulled off before.

Danny was then walked through a test of logic. He had to put the hands on a clock and draw in said time. He was also asked to complete a maze and some shape identification as well. I’m not sure if they had been doing these tests before Danny’s third surgery, but he sure would have smoked the test if he had done it beforehand. Just a day out of the surgery and on all kinds of pain meds Danny wasn’t looking quite as smooth. The situation was made worse by the room full of people, which he happily allowed to stay.

The test went, well, it went. Two highlights for me were the clock and the maze. Danny looked very confused with the clock scenario until he realized there was a clock in the room to look at. He made solid eye contact with the clock before he realized that he might jeopardize his cheating potential and quickly looked down again. A couple of seconds later he found a gap in the therapists attention and managed to peak up as if he was sneaking in the ultimate cheat move. “Danny it’s OK to look at the clock” the therapist chimed in after catching him in the act. Danny managed to look at the clock several times as he totally screwed up the replication on the paper in front of him. The hands of 1-6 appeared in the 1-3 area just to give you an idea. Another highlight was the maze. Danny didn’t do so hot on the maze. In fact, it took him about 10 minutes to do a maze that I’m pretty sure would take him 15 seconds to do tonight.

So here we are 2 days later and we were full of laughs imaging Danny on the hot seat taking this test- highlighted by his smooth criminal approach to cheating on the clock. It was great because Danny was already able to laugh at himself so much. I was so excited to see that he was laughing, and laughing a lot! It was a nice feeling, and a welcomed one at this point. It had been too long.

As far as I am concerned we already have a full recovery. We have Danny back. His haircut is a little funny. His right side is pretty swollen and there is hardware galore, but he is laughing and smiling more and more each day. Anything more than where we are at will be a bonus for all of us. I hope he can get back to whatever level of activity and performance he wants to get to. I’m just excited at the moment that he is mentally able to have hopes. What a relief. This have gone from bad to good in such a short amount of time. It really is hard to believe.

Good Things to Come – Tom Jannuzzi

January 27th, 2011 by Conor

There is a great feeling coming from all over the ICU. Danny’s condition is rapidly improving and the nursing staff has taken a turn for the better. Moods are more upbeat and time spent with Danny is beginning to go from nervous and anxious to mellow and fun. The three other friends who came to support Danny and lift his spirits left early in the morning before I awoke. They’ve got a long 16 hour drive back to Tahoe but are leaving with what feels like a great weight lifted off of their shoulders. The memories and great bonds that were created with them here in Great Falls, Montana won’t be forgotten. Once again Danny has brought together another great group of people and created a bond amongst us.

I am extremely excited for Danny to move from the ICU, (Intensive Care Unit), to the PCU, (Progressive Care Unit). This is great news for Danny and all of us following Danny because it means that his health is improving and he is getting better. Danny will be moving first thing tomorrow morning. All the get well cards and signs will be packed up and brought down to the fourth floor. The decorations I put up will be re-hung and placed accordingly in my absence. My flight leaves early tomorrow morning so tonight will be my last night here in Great Falls with Danny.

I know first hand how hard it has been for everyone trying to follow Danny and his process through the surgeries on the blog. The first couple of weeks were the hardest, when things with Danny were the worst, and updates just didn’t seem like they were coming fast enough. I remember how I wanted to know every little detail but felt helpless from the other side of the country. I was constantly wondering and worrying how Danny was doing and having doubts in the beginning if he was even going to make it at all. Things began to improve drastically for Danny, which helped ease my mind, but didn’t help the fact that I wasn’t here with him. Now that I am here I don’t ever want to leave, but unfortunately must tend to my own life back home.

Like our friends who ventured off this morning, I too will have a feeling of relief when I leave here tomorrow. Knowing just how much better Danny is doing since my first day at Benefis Hospital gives me hope that things will only get better from here on out. The staff and Danny’s family have done such an amazing job helping get Danny this far in his healing. Now the rest of the healing is on Danny. This is when he will finally be able to acknowledge all the efforts you people have been making. This is the time when it is up to him to work hard and this is when he will need our support the most. We all know that he can do it. Now we we need to keep continuing to support Danny so that he knows it too. Keep going Danny, your almost there man.

– TommyJ

Dinner Time

January 27th, 2011 by MIchelle

Today is the 27th of January. Danny hasn’t eaten food, since the 3rd, by mouth. He passed the swallow test today where they gave Danny different forms of food (liquid, solid, and in between kind of like a smoothie or yogurt) mixed with a chalky tasting substance and watch him eat it through an x ray to determine if he is swallowing correctly. Danny said the food tasted like crap and that the lady who escorted him to the test farted in front of him. He nearly puked twice. When he returned to the room David gave him some applesauce to get the bad taste out of his mouth. He ate it just fine and even offered the last bite to his Dad.

They just rolled in his dinner…it’s a baked chicken with rice and a side salad. They put thicket in his drinks so that they aren’t pure liquid and the coffee looks pretty gross with thicket in it. He has some lemon pie and some veggies too, but Danny took one look at it and said he wasn’t into it. Granted, he was sleeping and rolled over to it before falling back asleep, but I don’t think I would want that either for my first real meal. The CNA or “babysitter” is ordering him some soup and a milk shake right now. Hopefully he will eat something tonight because that’s one step closer to moving down a floor to PCU. I would have thought he would be pretty hungry by now or at least would want to taste. I have a serious love for food though, so maybe that’s just me.

Danny, it’s time to eat some beef stew and mashed potatoes with gravy….mmm mmm!


Audio from WMWV Drive time about Danny and fundraising

January 27th, 2011 by Conor

This was recorded earlier today. Aired at 5 EST on 1/27/2011

Drive Time with Tanner Kennett and Staci Blair

DITB Daily Shout Outs!

January 27th, 2011 by Conor

My phone and computer have both died in the last week but they are both good to go again. If you sent me a shout out that I didn’t post it is nothing personal, I just lost it. So if you haven’t seen it yet that is what is going on. PLEASE SEND IT AGAIN! or


January 27th, 2011 by Conor

A cheers from visitors of Danny’s ICU room! Hopefully a cheers with Danny in it soon!

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