Thoughts from the Graveyard Shift from the Hotel…Early Edition

January 20th, 2011 by Conor

Well I thought I was doing bad last night when I got kicked out of the ICU room, tonight, I didn’t even make it in there. I was packing up my stuff in the lobby to head in when I looked up to see Michelle rather randomly. Right around midnight is when I usually head into the room. About that time Michelle rounded the corner with a rather discouraged look. I don’t remember what she said specifically, only that I didn’t believe her at first. She explained that the nurse was trying to give Danny some space so that he might be able to sleep better. This surprsed me because I had been in there for the last 15 nights in a row. Why was tonight different I wondered.

I headed to Danny’s room anyway because I had to get some things out of there if I wasn’t going to be able to get in there at all. When the locking doors opened to the ICU I was met by the nurse who explained to me that Danny was sleeping so I could come on back in and hang out if I wanted. I diverted my attention from the informative nurse and looked over towards Danny’s room. Right when I looked over Danny threw up a wave which to me said something like “Please get me the hell out of this place I can’t stand it and I want to be home. NOW.” I informed the nurse that Danny wasn’t sleeping.

Before I had headed to the ICU to get my stuff I was contemplating even going in. I figured it if had been that hard for Danny to sleep that he probably would be pretty pissed if he was woken up by me. So When I realized he was awake I was excited I wouldn’t be bothering him. As I walked in the room he proceeded to try to roll over and get out of the restraints that were holding him down. I’m not talking about rolling around in discomfort, I’m talking about moving around and fighting with some rage to get out of the position he has been forced into. The nurse took a minute but was able to calm him down.

Michelle and I decided to head out of the ICU for the night at midnight but not before we mentioned to our nurse, as well as another favorite (;-)), that Danny really needed to be watched closely. Michelle had some concerns about Dannys care based on Dannys behavior earlier in the evening. Twice while she had been in the room she had seen Danny try to get up out of bed. I realize the nurses watch patients closely as a job, but, sometimes they get busy, and I wouldn’t put it past Danny to do something wild. He is extremely uncomfortable, now he’s alone, and he doesn’t want to be there one bit. As we walked away from the hospital I couldn’t help but imagine Danny sleeping with one eye open waiting and watching the nursing staff while planning his escape. I really hope he doesn’t go for it.

I will not make the same mistake tomorrow. Even if they kick me out for the Graveyard shift I will have already been in the room a little earlier in the night. Super bummer that I saw Danny for about 10 minutes today. So for those of you around the country that feel helpless waiting for updates and info, I had a taste of it today. It sucks.

It’s 3:19 and usually I am about halfway through my shift. Instead, I am going to bed.

Good Night Danny, and I hope that’s just what it is…

Thoughts from the Graveyard Shift

January 19th, 2011 by Conor

Things are getting complicated emotionally. All of the fun medical stuff that we have been dealing with for the last 15 days has now been replaced by unbelievable feelings of sadness and frustration. It’s easy to tell how bummed out Danny is. He constantly raises his arm and crashes it 3 or 4 times in a row about every two seconds before he turns his head to the side. He turns only to try to looks as far away from everything that is attached and in front of him. It all symbolizes the reality that he very much understands is going on.

We still haven’t explained any of the specifics to him of what happened and he doesn’t even fully know the extent of things. For example he doesn’t know there is an entire website in his name with a dedicated following, or that he has been in the ICU for 15 days. He does know that he was in a snowboarding accident and that he is still in Montana. He remembers bits of the day that he got hurt as well. He remembers our early riding session as well as one of the features that we hit in the terrain park. He even seems to remember the lift breaking down that Moss mentioned in his piece “For Reasons Unknown.” He doesn’t seem to know how exactly he got hurt. Ill fill him in when it’s appropriate.

Danny seems to be fully grasping thoughts, sentences, ideas, humor, sadness, pain, and many more sensations, emotions that I can’t all list. The only thing that we have yet to really get a read on is his ability to talk. From what I understand the nurses would be expecting him to talk by now if things were going as ideally as they possibly could be- I don’t see what that would start happening now. We wouldn’t be able to hear him yet because they haven’t put in the valve for the trache, but Danny should be mouthing words. I guess the speech therapist was able to get him to mouth the word “Hi” earlier today. We will see how this develops over the days and weeks to come.

Poor Danny, everytime he even sees liquid in the room he motions with the Hawaii hang 10 and turns it up like “lemme get that drink.” His mouth must be so dry and horrible feeling. So what do they do to quench his thirst here in the ICU. They dip a sponge that is about an inch long into a cup of ice water. Then he gets to put the sponge in his mouth and suck on it. I swear there must be like 30 drops of water in it. The funny thing is how quickly he becomes frustrated with the sponge and reaches out to try to grab the whole glass. The one thing simple request that he has they just can’t fulfill.

Interesting turn of events. I am listening to my music at full volume and writing in boxers. I am now in hotel room 303. It’s 4:00 AM and Danny kicked me out of room 5109. I am kinda bummed, but mostly happy. He is coming back! Here’s how it happened…So things were getting a little hectic in the room on more than one occasion. Both times stemmed from the water I was just talking about. The water is making him cough and very uncomfortable. It’s a total mess when he starts to cough really hard and the respiratory therapists have to get involved. The suctioning of his lungs that they have to do to get the water out makes him alert and very uncomfortable. He doesn’t like me seeing him that way- understandably so. When I got up from my chair to head towards him he signaled me away by raising his arm and pushing the air away from him. To me this said “Conor, don’t come over here you can’t help a damn thing, and it’s annoying that you want a closer look.” It’s amazing how much an arm can mean between two brothers.

So after the second one I got the impression that I might be kind of annoying him. So I asked him calmly if he would like me to leave. He nodded his head. So I packed up my stuff and headed out. At this point I really think he is understanding everything that is going on so despite his inability to talk I think he truly wanted me the hell out of there.”

Here’s the thing. I think that the request is two fold. 1) He doesn’t want to see him in that condition. 2) He wants more alone time with Michelle. She has done everything but hop on that bed with him. I think he really needs her right now and I think this particular time period might be a little better suited for her. Here’s how I justify it to myself… See, I have never, in the 25 years of my life, hung out with my brother in almost complete silence and stared at him from two feet away while I hold his hand for hours at a time. I imagine that this is at least somewhat more typical of their relationship and I don’t find it offensive at all because I would actually find it strange if he DID want me to do that.

There really isn’t much that can be said right now because Danny still can’t talk. When it comes time to watch snowboard movies and listen to music my being there might be a little more beneficial. Until then, he can cuddle bedside with Michelle all he wants. I really don’t think it’s necessary that I am there during that time.

It’s probably going to be hard for me to be in that room for long periods of time now. It was easier to that when he was all drugged up and not really there. I am happy that I have to deal with this new dilemma. This may or may not be the last graveyard shift. To be discussed later today.

Glad to have you kick me out! Welcome back!


Thoughts From the Graveyard Shift

January 18th, 2011 by Conor

Well everyone, it was an interesting night here on the late shift. Danny is awake a decent amount now but he still can’t mouth words. It’s hard because you can only have a one way conversation for so long. And the communications and questions have to be solved with a head nod or a thumbs up. So, obviously communication is pretty limited.

I started showing off some of the things that have been sent to Danny from around the room. He really liked the snowboarding moose that was sent in from Tara Watt. That lasted the longest I think. He clutched it in his hand for a good 20 minutes. I showed him how fun it could be to have the moose trick his way around his bed. He got quite a kick out of that.

Another favorite was the solar powered flower sent in by our cousin Sarah Allyn. You should have seen his face when we said “Hey Danny, wait till you see the solar powered flower.” His reaction was pretty similar to the one I got last night when I asked him if he wanted to keep the furry foot boots. He looked confused/intrigued/no-freakin’way-where-did-that-come-from-what-aren’t-we-selling-these-and-making-millions. Well maybe not the last one. But who the heck knows.

Which leads me into my next thought. It’s hard to tell what he knows, but he does certainly knows that something is very very wrong. When he looks around the room he looks like he is looking a lot further than the walls. I think he is searching to find the answer as to what the hell ended him up in this horrible condition. He can definitely understand a lot of our questions and even some more of our complex logic. For Example I told him that __________ won the Dew Tour last weekend (Huge snowboard contest), and he immediately gave this look like No way, that is totally impossible. Which, if you knew the name, and the situation, you would reaction pretty spot on. But it was exciting that he was quick to understand that was nearly impossible, but yet it’s not like I said Cookie Monster or something so unbelievable. He was able to quickly know that no way in hell that person was winning the Dew Tour.

Things are looking up for all of us. Down for him. That’s about all I can say. We are all happy to be slowly getting him back, but he has so far to go it’s sort of scary. He is going to get there but it sure is going to take a bit.

Another night down. Time to get some sleep.

Love ya Danny!


PS all you that donated last night my computer is having major problems so I didn’t get to add you to the donations list. I will take care of that tomorrow. Thanks for all of your support. Love you all!

Another night on the Graveyard Shift

January 17th, 2011 by Conor

Two pretty comical things have happened over tonights shift.

1) Happened a little before the graveyard actually started. My mom suggested that Danny would really want the leg warmers that the nurses have been using on him when he is able to leave this place. She was stoked about how “cool” they were. I couldn’t have agreed any less. So, I actually held one up in the air and looked over Danny’s way as I asked him “Hey Danny are you gonna want these things when you get out of this place?” His eyebrows came together and he slowly and methodically shook his head back and fourth as if to say Helllllll noooooo. The whole room errupted at Dannys reaction. Hard to say if he was trying to be funny or if he was just responding to the question. Either way it was funny. Now we are going to have to keep them just because the reaction was so funny.

2) The sweathshirt that I borrowed from Danny and have so proudly worn finally became an issue today. Michelle was standing on the side of the bed when Danny pointed over at the sweatshirt. I pointed back at him to which he methodically turned his palm up with a subtle look of frustration. It was because I was wearing HIS sweatshirt. When I show up tomorrow I plan on giving him the sweatshirt back. Although this one was not as “laugh out loud” to the group, Michelle and I both got a big kick out of it. Danny always gets annoyed when I borrow his stuff. To us, his annoyance was funny because it was a clever way of showing us that he is still the same old Danny. He’s barely even coming out of this mess and he already can’t wait to get his steeze back.

A lot has happened in the last 24 hours. Just like I expected it’s a pretty hard for Danny. We are sort of at an in between stage emotionally. My Mom, Dad, Michelle and I are getting excited about the progress the improving condition of Danny. He on the other hand is beginning to realize that something bad happened. Something very bad. Several times now he has looked me in the eye for roughly 20-30 seconds before a tear slowly forms out of the corner of his eye. It is very hard to watch. We ask him if he is in pain and request him to do a thumbs up if he is. No such luck. He is just bummed out. Plain and simple. It must be a very hard time for him. It’s tough because I know they have to wake him up to be able to asses his neurological responses, but it’s difficult because every time they do it he is sad. It’s like finding out over and over that something went really wrong.

I don’t think he is quite able to figure out much of what happened just that something happened. He has rubbed his right hand over all the stitches a bunch of times but seems more irritated that there is something in his hair then knowledgeable of what is actually going on.

Danny is into the music! I have put together some playlists of some of his more mellower favorite tracks. He seems to enjoy them. I asked him if he wanted to listen to music and he gave me a nice slow nod. When he is awake and alert it is 50/50 whether it is a good time to play music or not. Sometimes he just looks a little too sad to really play an upbeat track that would normally put him into snowboarding mood.

Another night down. Wondering how many more there will be.

Love ya Danny.


Thoughts From the Graveyard Shift

January 16th, 2011 by Conor

Michelle made me laugh when I told her she had to keep knitting because sales were booming. With a smile on her face she confidently said with a smile: “If he can go through this, I can knit.”

Danny tossed a pillow out of his bed. He is frustrated, however, I have seen him do things like this at home when he is sleeping on the couch. It is a sign of good things to come.

He seems restless. He is going to want to do some serious physical activity after all this is over.

Bad Dreams… How about the worst dream that you ever had. Really, take a second and think of a memorable horrible dream. Now imagine that it’s real… That is unfortunately what I fear Danny is about to go through. My guess, and most people’s experiences suggest that he will not remember the incident that led him to this state. So, imagine you are asleep and you wake up in a room you have never been to. There is an eerie sound of someone breathing a little too loud. People are hovering over you and trying to communicate with you. They want you to give them a thumbs up. You don’t want to do it because things are not all good. You do it anyway because you desperately want them to shut up, the sound of their voice is painful to your swollen brain. You try to ask what happened but something is blocking your ability to speak. You can feel an uncomfortable tube penetrating an area of your neck that you would otherwise not want anyone touching. A single tear slowly forms out of the corner of your eye because you are scared, very, very, scared. You know something is wrong but you don’t know what. You begin to try to wipe the corner of your eye with your hand but restraints make it impossible. The sedatives kick in and you slip away into a deep sleep while the single tear slides down your cheek… Now imagine doing that every 4-6 hours.

I just ate Brocoli alfredo at 5:40 AM. That is a first. It was absolutely delicious but wow life is getting pretty strange. On the same note I now wake up, on average, with 1 hour left of daylight. It’s pretty weird because I really love the outdoors and I don’t really get much of that either right now. I guess it will all be that much better when I get back out there.

Another night down. Love you Danny… Can’t wait to give you an EPIC hug after all this!


Yet Another Night On The Graveyard Shift

January 15th, 2011 by Conor

Well it’s little quieter without Josh around but I will say he is missed. It was a welcomed break from chaos we have experienced since the initial injury back on January 3rd.

Danny seems much better to me. He looks better, he is moving around much more and they are pumping far less drugs in him than they used to. He has a long way to go but I feel very good about the path that he is currently on.

The sagging balloons in the corner remind us that we have been here too long. We aren’t quite at the “Feel Better” stage.

In the last 8 hours that I have been in Danny’s room he did the following when commanded:
Thumbs up with right hand,
Held up 2 fingers,
Held up 3 fingers,
Attempted to touch his finger to his nose,
Smiled the best smile that he could given the circumstances.
……….. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.

That’s it. Another night down. Looking forward to reporting more good news tomorrow.

I love you Danny.


A Couple Thoughts from the Graveyard

January 14th, 2011 by Conor

This is not a 90 minute movie. I have been at the hospital for 9 days now and I can’t wait for the happy ending,. Unfortunately that’s all I can do. Wait with Danny. Wait for Danny. He can do this.

We are only just beginning a long long road to recovery.

I can’t stop thinking about one part of this whole mess. When he wakes up from this hell there will literally hundreds of people that will be filled with joy. But that will be the moment that the whole journey starts for him. To him this will have felt like a long bad dream. His hell starts when when he wakes up. I hope that everyone that has been there so far can be there for him when he gets to that point. That is when he will need us the most.

I have slept 8 hours in the last two and a half days. This is no time for insight. I am exhausted.

Words. from the Night Shift. Josh Belcher

January 13th, 2011 by Conor

First Day

I arrived today in Great Falls, MT around 1p local. Conor and David met me at the airport with a couple of long over due hugs and we came right to the hospital. There was some brief catching up on the ride over and I was cautiously warned of Danny’s condition. Upon entering the room I had no idea what to expect. To my surprise I saw Ellen sitting in a dimly lit room reading a book to Danny. As great as it was to see her for the first time in 4 years, my attention was immediately drawn to our friend. Initially I thought he looked better than the image I had dreamt up in my head during the 6 hour flight over, but the closer I got to Danny the more I felt overwhelmed with the reality of his condition. I stood there for a moment and was wanting to begin an inspection of all the tubes, the machines, the incisions, etc. when a nurse poked her head in the door and said “the tummy taxi is here”. Immediately Conor ran out of the room and I was left standing there with Ellen. I had only been in the room for 5 minutes so I had NO idea what the “tummy taxi” was. All I could I think is that it was some kind of code for Danny needs to take a shit. After sharing this thought with Ellen we both had a good laugh and she informed me that the tummy taxi was the local food delivery service. In other words lunch was here. The remainder of the afternoon we all sat in the waiting area and talked about old times, good times, and the time that had passed since we had all last seen each other.

At 5p we all gathered around a laptop in the lobby and joined in to a fundraising meeting with a large group of friends back in North Conway. Thanks to Joe from Hula networks, he was able to connect 25 of Danny’s friends through a webinar in order to collaborate on ideas to help raise money for Danny and his cause. It is incredible to see the amount of support, especially those big hearts back in the valley!

I can’t tell if we are frozen in time or if it is actually just flying by. I have been awake for 24 hours now and I am losing any sense of time. We are back in the ICU with Danny, and I have entered in to a whole new world. It’s mostly quiet in the room with the exception of the respirator. It’s an eery sound. The machine looks to be breathing for him but the doctors assure us that he is able to breath on his own. I stood bedside to examine everything going on. He has tubes plugged in all over his body. His eyes are shut and his mouth is open. I’ve seen this look on his face before but It was at a party I hosted for him. He had a couple too many beers and passed out. I want to be able to shake him like I did that night to wake him up, but the paralytics and sedatives are too strong this time. This is a pretty helpless feeling that we all share.

The doctor just came in to conduct a neurological test. This is the most excitement we have all seen for a couple of hours. As they temporarily weened Danny off the paralytics you could see his eye lids begin to open. The doctor was loud and spoke right into Danny’s face asking him to make a fist…passed, give a thumbs up….passed, give a thumbs up on your left hand…no response, wiggle your toes…passed, squeeze my hand…passed, thumbs up again…passed. At this point Danny had almost opened his eyes all the way. We all started to talk to him hoping for some kind of sign that he could recognize us, but we only got a blank stare. The doctor used his hands to open Danny’s eye lids all the way and loudly asked him to look over at him multiple times…each time just a blank stare. Conor, Michelle, and I took turns and held his hand. Each time we asked he would squeeze our hand. He might not be able to see us but it’s exciting to know that he can hear us and has the ability to control his hands.

I’m now going on 27 hours without sleeping and we still have another 3+ hours to go on the graveyard shift. I never expected to be awake this long, but we are doing it for Danny. I think we are all passed any reasonable level of sanity and we have been entertaining ourselves with endless Chuck Norris jokes. The doctor said he wants to do another neurological test soon. I hope I can stay awake long enough to see if anymore progress has been made since earlier.

This is all I have to offer up for this long day. It’s hard to see him in this condition but I’m very fortunate that I was able to make it out here. I know everyone would love to be able to be next to him during this time. I can only hope that this entry will give all of you some idea of what it would be like if you were.

We love you Danny and we are right here with you!

~Josh Belcher

More Fun With Chuck

January 13th, 2011 by Conor

The good thing about something this bad is the connections that are reformed. It’s been a year since I have seen my good friend Josh Belcher and probably many more than that since Danny has seen him. Danny and I grew up with Josh. The three of us snowboarded, played lacrosse, went on ski trips, and hung out for I have no idea how many hours.

Josh flew in earlier today from Knoxville, TN and is now apart of the graveyard shift with Michelle and I.

It’s hard to reconnect under these circumstances but we are doing our best.

I know I will look back on this whole hell in a month or two or three and and remember the outbreak of laughter that errupted in 5109 just a little while ago. I don’t really know how it got started but sure enough, Chuck Norris again. Here we are going through site after site looking for laughter–the way Danny would want it to be. Our bond was formed and sealed through our drug of choice… laughter. Not 8 or 10 feet away from Danny, Josh and I nearly lost our breath while imagining the all mighty Chuck Norris. Danny’s ICP spiked a bit on our loudest outbreak. I’d like to think that Danny was laughing with us. Yea, I know, chances are it was more out of the irritation of our sound or the constant cycle of his ICP, but either way, it was a much needed moment.

It’s great to be hanging out with Josh again and I am looking forward to the time when the three of us can all laugh together.

Here are some of our best finds:

Chuck Norris is the only one who can tear a Facebook page.

Chuck Norris always knows the EXACT location of Carmen SanDiego!

They once made a Chuck Norris toilet paper, but it wouldn’t take shit from anybody.

Chuck Norris does not wear a condom. Because there is no such thing as protection from Chuck Norris.

Chuck Norris has already been to Mars; that’s why there are no signs of life there.

Chuck Norris doesn’t read books, he just stares them down until he gets the information he wants out of them.

Chuck Norris knows Victoria’s secret.

Chuck Norris can kill two stones with one bird.

Jello Doesn’t jiggle, it shakes out of fear for Chuck Norris.

Chuck Norris doesn’t throw up after a long night of partying… he throws down!

Big thank you goes out to Ian Stacey for inspiring this search from halfway around the world.


Thoughts from the Graveyard Shift

January 12th, 2011 by Conor

Danny, when are YOU going to give me something to write about? I am dying to tell the whole word that you opened your eyes. I really can’t wait to tell people that you are leaving the ICU. Michelle, me, mom and dad are getting a little too used to the 5th floor. It’s time for a change, but, unfortunately, that will not happen without your help.

Although I don’t think it is time for a whole awareness movement quite yet I am really looking forward to taking on the topic of helmets. Moss wrote a great Words piece and I am excited about the thoughts that it already provoked. It’s important for people to understand how much of an accident this really was. This could have happened to just about any snowboarder. Why Danny? I will never know.

Michelle is super stoked that her hat sold last night. I had to actually remind her a little while ago that despite her new entrepreneurial drive that I thought her time was better spent holding Dannys hand. Her efforts are awesome and I am excited by her ambition.

They just repositioned Danny because his ICP has been all over the place. From where I am sitting I now have a direct view of the whole right side of Danny’s skull. The white tape forms a huge backwords question mark on his head. I can’t believe they actually took part of his skull out from behind his skin. It’s hard to imagine that I could poke his brain by just touching his skin. I think Ill pass, for his sake and mine.

Danny’s ICP somehow just hit 63. I’m not a nurse or doctor but at this point you could call me a casual enthusiast – mostly out of necessity. 63 is reallllly high. Highest we have seen yet.

I’m tired of Pandora asking me if “I’m still Listening.” Please redesign your code to recognize movement in the keyboard and mouse. I am in fact “Still Listening!”

Today Michelle and I explored for the first time since Moss, Iris and Mayo left. We went to Target and a gym, both within walking distance. The gym thinks that Michelle and I are a couple and wants to charge us an enrollment fee. I can’t stand enrollment fees. Honestly, what does that really pay for? Entering my name in the computer? Can someone out there please help me understand this horrible thing.

Alright Danny I gotta make it back to the hotel before the sun comes up. Night dood. Love you!


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