February 9th, 2011 by MIchelle

I woke up this morning in my own bed with Homer, Danny’s bear, by my side. It was 9:30 AM, I should have been sleeping as we had made it to Tahoe around 3:30 this morning. I pressed play on my iPod that had been sitting in Tahoe for the last month and Imagine by John Lennon played softly in the background as I peered through my curtains at the California blue sky. I couldn’t sleep. The previous days events played over and over in my head. Saying goodbye to Danny and watching his plane take off from Great Falls, MT with tears in my eyes was exceptionally hard.

Driving away from Great Falls with Conor was surreal. At one point I remember telling him that I have never experienced so many emotions at once. This is true and it’s hard to explain, but I’m sure you can imagine just as you have imagined being in room 5109 with Danny for the last month. Like Conor said in his previous post, without all of you and your unwavering support this would have been tough. Your words and comments made me smile, they made me laugh, and they made me cry as many of you have said the same about our posts. Thank you so much for being there, even if I’ve never met you. Your kindness has touched me, it has inspired me, and it has lifted me up during hard times. I will forever hold this experience close to my heart and it isn’t over yet.

With love from Tahoe,


What now?

February 7th, 2011 by MIchelle

On Friday night the nurse walked in to let Danny know that she could remove his IV. He looked hopeful, but skeptical because we weren’t 100% sure that Saturday would be the big day. Even though the IV was annoying and at times painful, Danny still asked her if there was any chance they would need to reinsert the IV on Saturday and if so he would like to keep it in. I looked at him with a smirk thinking that it might be a joke, but he was serious. We weren’t sure that he would be out until Saturday morning and once we got the news we were packing up the room and getting things situated for departure. We were actually completely ready to go about to walk out of the hospital with Danny until the nurse let us know that she needed to get the paper work before she could let us out of there. So we sat and waited for the official word and once they let us out, Danny carried his snowboard and we marched out of the PCU.

It seemed like it all happened so quick, looking back. One minute we didn’t know how long we would be staying in the hospital, then we thought we would be moving to an inpatient facility in Great Falls, next thing you know they say Danny can go home for further therapy, and all of the sudden we’re walking out of the hospital for the last time. I can’t even begin to explain how many emotions overwhelmed me that day. It felt like a dream again, just as it had when Conor called me on January third to tell me the news. What a wild adventure we have all been on.

David, Ellen, Conor, and Danny are all at the Doctors office right now for the last visit. Doctor Gorsuch is removing the last few staples in Danny’s head and maybe he will get his results back from a test he took yesterday. Gorsuch tested Danny with some sort of computerized quiz yesterday. It took thirty minutes and had to do with memory, answer speed, simple math, and other mind trick questions. One example of a question would be for Danny to pick the color shown on the screen, but the word BLUE is typed in green. The Doctor had never tested one of his patients with this particular test so he did the test on himself one day prior to Danny taking it. Danny has high hopes that he scored higher than his neurosurgeon.

Now I’m sitting here in room 303. It is still a room with a number on the door, but there are no loud beeps or blinking lights. There is no wall dispensing hand sanitizer near the entrance and the only curtains to be drawn are for the windows. I am much more relaxed here. Even though we have been doing the same thing here as we were in the PCU, it feels better. Danny will be heading home soon and Conor and I will be driving back to Tahoe. We’ll go our separate ways and I’ll try to pick up life where I left off. It won’t be easy, it will be strange.

On January third, before I got the call, I was looking forward to Danny coming home in a few days time. I was going to compete at Northstar in a slopestyle contest and coach at a camp at Squaw. The Shreddy Times crew and I were going to hike out to a couple of backcountry huts in the Sierras for some overnight adventures and shred some untouched Tahoe powder. I couldn’t wait. What now? We’ll say our temporary good byes to Danny, Ellen, and David and Conor and I will pack up for a 16 hour drive home. We’ll look into our rear view mirror as we drive away from Great Falls and wave goodbye to Montana for now. I’ll miss Danny like crazy and look forward to seeing my family and friends in Tahoe. I need some time to decompress and relax a little bit, but that thought is still on my mind…what now? Life is different. Life has changed. I guess I’ll find out soon enough.

In the meantime I will smile at the thought of Danny returning home. I will smile that he will be surrounded by more love and support. I will smile that he will finally get to eat at Glen Junction! Take care of him NH…I know you will.


Let me out of here!

February 4th, 2011 by MIchelle

Today marks a month and one day since Danny was injured. We woke up this morning to an antibiotic IV session that lasted 45 minutes. The antibiotics are the only thing running through the IV anymore. He get’s to unplug when the antibiotics run out. I was anticipating blood work, but labs are finished now too. The nurse will be taking out the stitches in Danny’s stomach when he starts to wake up more and the pain pill takes effect. The staples run across his lower right abdomen and mark where the bone flap was once stored beneath his skin. The doctor will take out the remaining stitches in Danny’s head and then all that will be left is the PEG feeding tube and the stitches from the last procedure. All in all Danny will have two huge question mark shaped scars, one on either side of his head, a few hole marks where drains left his skull, a scar on the base of his neck where the tracheostomy once was, a scar the length of my hand on his stomach (I have small hands), and his arms are officially a pin cushion.

The speech therapist just came in and gave Danny apple juice! This is the first liquid that Danny has been given permission to drink. He’s been sneaking drinks of water and hasn’t had any trouble, but now that he’s cleared by the speech therapist he can drink whatever he wants. Before this he was only allowed to drink what they call nectar thick liquid and it’s pretty much the same consistency as a smoothie.

Up next is the formal memory test. This is the kind of stuff that Danny doesn’t really like, but it gives the therapist some black and white answers. The therapist had Danny repeat random numbers and words after her. She did a few more exercises and in the end said that Danny was doing great.

Danny is ready to leave. He’s passing all of the tests and feels like he’s ready to get out of here. This place is a structured environment and the therapist said that you won’t really know your deficits until you leave this place, but as far as I can tell Danny is going to do just fine. We’re just waiting for the go ahead and then we out of here!


Post Op Thoughts

February 1st, 2011 by MIchelle

In two days we will have been here for a month. Looking back on everything that happened in that month gives me the chills when I look over at Danny and watch him crack a smile or make a joke. It’s all become a blur. I’m glad that we have documented everything as I’m going to need to read what Conor and I wrote again when this is all said and done. Did this really just happen? How did we get so lucky, if luck is what it was? I still catch myself tearing up, but now it’s because of happiness more than tears of pain and sadness.

It’s been a wild journey and it’s only just begun. I’d like to think that the hard part for us is in the past and that we get to look forward to improvements in the future. I’ve come to know Danny’s family all too well now and can’t wait to continue the relationships after we leave Great Falls. I can’t wait to learn pottery from David and laugh hysterically with Ellen when we don’t have to worry about surgeries, pain meds, insurance, and rehab. I met Danny’s aunt, Ellen’s sister Julie, who has experienced the finest of Great Falls just down the street from the hospital at the Hi-Ho Tavern. Ellen says Hi-Hos is just not the same without you Julie. It was a pleasure to meet you and Turny Burny the Ugly doll has a special place in Danny’s bed. Thanks for coming!

Conor is like a brother now. I thought he was like a brother before this happened, but now I feel like I’ve known him my whole life. Sharing a hotel room with two beds and spending nearly 24 hours a day with Conor brought our relationship to a whole new level. Maybe I’ll even start to fight over the first BIG Cheez-It with him…on second thought, I’ll leave that for Danny.

It seems like things are starting to slow down over here in Great Falls. Less tubes connected, no more babysitters, and fewer updates make the light seem closer at the end of the tunnel. Leaving Great Falls will be strange. Going home to Tahoe won’t be the same without Danny there. Planning a trip to New Hampshire will be another adventure in itself. I’ve never been there, but I can’t wait to eat at Glen Junction and maybe even make some turns at Cranmore. I am also looking forward to meeting more of Danny’s friends from home. Until then I will still take this one day at a time.


Looking Back

January 29th, 2011 by Conor

Looking Back

It seems like it’s been weeks since we moved out of ICU room number 5109, but it’s only been one day. I guess time is moving slowly for all of us, not only Danny. His room upstairs is a place that I wish I could delete out of my memory. I wish I never walked through the sliding glass doors and past the electrical bed to the big rocking chair in the corner. I wish I hadn’t spent the majority of my month watching, crying, laughing, and feeling in that room. These things happened and the feelings are still here all too strong. The memories will never wash away, but at least I can look back. We are now in room 4105 and that is one step closer to being out of the hospital. Below are a few photos from room 5109 and each one of them tells a story on their own.



January 29th, 2011 by MIchelle

Danny’s been having trouble sleeping lately. He simply hates the hospital and doesn’t feel comfortable here. He was about to get to sleep this morning around five when they came in to draw blood for labs. Every four hours they check his vitals and I’m not sure how often, but respiratory comes in as well to multiple times per night. I wouldn’t be able to sleep either. We’ve managed to push back the blood drawing to 6:30 or later tomorrow and they are now only allowed to check his vitals when he is already awake. They are going to try to give him Nyquil tonight in hopes that it will help him get to sleep. If that doesn’t work they are going to try ambien. I don’t think that Danny needs ambien, I think he just needs to be left alone while he’s sleeping.

He’s eating, not much, but he’s making an effort to even though he’s got stomach aches. They are giving him something for that as well now. It’s kind of tough to get him to eat sometimes, but we keep telling him that the more he eats the quicker he can get out of here. Conor and I took him for his first unassisted walk today (without a nurse or PT). We got the hall pass to roam the hospital! Our first stop was the lobby to say hello to David and Ellen. We then headed down to floor number two and walked to the waiting area where Conor and the Shreddy Crew spent a fair amount of time on the 3rd of January waiting to hear the prognoses of Danny’s first craniotomy. As we relived a lot of moments in the past three weeks with Danny by our side, we laughed at everyone’s reaction who passed us in the hall. They would smile at Danny, but it was an awkward smile saying something like I can’t believe they let you out of the room, congratulations, but you look like you’ve had a lobotomy. Danny’s scars and hair cut are wild. We laughed about making an edit featuring Danny scaring people in the hospital. Picture the elevator doors opening up to Danny with staples in his odd shaped head screaming at the unexpected elevator takers. We all got a kick out of that.

It’s exciting to be able to get Danny out of the room. It doesn’t seem like much to him, but we constantly remind him that the more he walks/exercises and the more he eats the quicker this will all be. Reality set in today when the Doctor informed Danny that he wouldn’t be snowboarding for at least a year. Danny was bummed. We all knew this, but no one had broken the news to Danny yet. It’s always incredibly hard to hear that kind of news, but hopefully with your help we can keep Danny’s spirits high.

He is eating a little bit. Mostly cereal and the occasional cookie. He’s drinking smoothies which is about the thickness that all of his liquids need to be. As long as he keep his caloric intake up then they won’t need to feed him through the PEG tube that runs into his stomach from the outside of his belly.

In other news, Conor informed me that we may have forgot to mention that Danny is clear of the tracheostomy and all that comes with it (the hardware anyways). He now has the hole there that will close up any day now. You can hear air coming out of his neck when he talks sometimes. It doesn’t hurt him, but it feels odd and annoying. He’s fast asleep right now and dinner should be here any minute.

Dinner is here…chicken noodle soup, chicken fingers, a fruit cup, and veggies. Bon appetite.


Goodnight World

January 28th, 2011 by MIchelle

It’s Friday and I’ve been slacking on the posts lately. With all of the visitors here it seemed easy to let one slide while they all had so much to say. They are gone and things are much quieter. I really enjoyed having people here to help make Danny laugh and to make us all smile. One night after we left the ICU I laughed so hard I felt like my cheeks had just completed P90X. I guess it had just been that long. Today I found myself missing all of you. You were good for us and thank you for coming.

Now I am here, alone on the fourth floor, outside of PCU. Danny is asleep and I was heading home, but found myself missing him too much to leave just yet. So I thought I would sit a little while and put some thoughts down. Danny asked the nurse if I could stay the night and he said that I could have a cot, but we figured I might as well just leave. Sleeping in a cot next to Danny’s bed would still feel far away from Danny. Leaving him at night is the hardest thing for me to do. I get choked up every time, every single time.

Today Danny walked up and down stairs! Okay, I’m gonna hold on to that thought and head out of here. That thought makes me smile. Goodnight and sweet dreams!


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!


Secret Beard Club

January 26th, 2011 by MIchelle

As you can tell by the frequent updates yesterday, a lot has happened since Danny got out of surgery. The day has been packed, but he managed to squeeze in some quality hang time with all of the new arrivals. The nurse helps him get out of bed and guides him to the rocking chair where Danny slowly rocks back and forth with the ambiance of a king. We all gather around and try to entertain Danny as best we can. Chris started a game of catch earlier and Danny sunk one into Ian’s hat from ten feet away with one eye closed, involuntarily swollen shut. A little while later he got up and out of his chair ready to get back into bed and probably would have had I not sounded the alarm to the nurse. He looked at me like, what the hell are you freaking out about? I’m just getting back into bed. Danny probably would have had no problem doing it on his own, but I’m still on my toes and keep a close eye on him even in a room full of people. Sometimes I feel annoying telling Danny not to pull his blood pressure cuff off, itch his stitches, or get out of bed all alone. He doesn’t listen to me at all anymore and I don’t enjoy telling him what to do so that’s fine with me.

If you read Tommy J’s post from yesterday, you may have noticed that he mentioned something along the lines of me not being all there intellectually (followed by the reassuring Just kidding in parenthesis). He also said that I was a lot smaller than he had expected, well…he’s a lot hairier than I had expected…from the ears down. From the photos of him I couldn’t tell how intense his beard actually is. David put it best today pointing out, “you have one thick beard, I mean the lord of the rings could be going on in there.” David and Tom are a part of a secret beard club. Once your beard is a certain length you are in the club whether you know it or not. Their beards have bonded them together on this visit like brothers. The beard is the topic of conversation that consumes 85% of their time spent together. The two beard club members talk about anything from how to trim the beard to the difference in consistency of their hair follicles. It’s entertaining when your slap happy and haven’t slept for 24 hours, to eavesdrop on the beard club daily discussion.

Today is a new day. Danny is up an walking again twice as far as he did yesterday. We brought him his shoes and he cruised to the end of the hall with a walker in front. Conor, Tom, David, and I watched Danny with so much excitement! Never thought I would be this happy watching Danny walk. He’ll be up and walking again this afternoon and he will also be getting his tracheostomy out! Today is a good day in room 5109. More to come…


Welcome New Arrivals

January 25th, 2011 by MIchelle

It’s 1:31 AM. I came back to the hotel around ten tonight as we aren’t allowed in the room anymore after eleven. Danny needs his rest to get back on a normal sleeping schedule as his days will be filled with action from here on out. I think tomorrow might be his first day of walking. No promises, but if everything goes well and he’s up for it then it’s on.

A couple of hours ago Ian, Tito, and Chris arrived from Tahoe. Tito had just flown in on Saturday from Argentina. They all rallied up here on the 18 hour drive and brought my truck and Danny’s pillow. I bet Danny will be stoked to have his pillow with his custom case made by his Maah. I can’t wait to see his face tomorrow when he see’s everyone. It’s been really fun to watch him interact with Tom. This should be a good boost of moral. Josh I wish you could be here now, but it meant just as much while you were up here.

Catching up with Ian, Tito, and Chris has been a good break from everything. They told us about their drive going through Twin Falls, Idaho Falls, and then ending up here in Great Falls. I haven’t seen any great falls here yet. We came to the conclusion that it must be called Great Falls because of the quick fluctuation in temperature.

Just the other day the temperature dropped 36 degrees in one hour. It was a real shocker walking out of the hospital without mittens and a Tubular on to keep me warm.

I’m excited to see what tomorrow brings. I don’t have any expectations, as I try not to, so that I don’t get disappointed when they aren’t met. Really can’t wait to see Danny’s reactions! Hope he’s sleeping well. I’m off to bed. By myself.

Night Danny.


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