Chapters – Chris Rogers

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.

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.


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

Thoughts from the Lobby – Tom Jannuzzi

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.


Montana or Bust!!

January 26th, 2011 by Conor

“MOSS!!!!! FIRE!!!!!!!” Danny’s prank was belted throughout the Shreddy Times house at least five times a day. Like many jokes coming from Danny’s repertoire, this one never got old or stale; it continues to be as funny as the first time you heard it. Danny’s charismatic nature and outgoing personality were replaced by an eerie silence on January 3. It was a silence that I felt I shared alone, as I was the only one from the Shreddy house that could not make it on the Montana trip. I spent the majority of the next five days in the house—alone—unable to do much except go through the motions. I must say that it was one of the most surreal and lonely times of my life. We had gone from the excitement of the Ashton Kutcher tweet and the relentless snowboarding and laughing to a brick wall being laid upon us. I attempted to pull myself out of the depression with a sunny day of snowboarding but this too posed a problem. All of my snowboard gear from my boots to my outerwear, goggles, gloves, and even my helmet were all given to me by Danny. I am literally sponsored by Danny. Anyway, holding his helmet in my hands and imagining the situation he was in was just too brutal! I could not ride, and would not ride for ten days after his fall. I simply had no desire. Furthermore, unburying and snapping photos of the Toumarkines’ snowmobiles in order to sell them and cleaning out Danny’s room (now for rent) SUCKED!
Yesterday my good friends, Tito and Chris, and I made the 17 hour journey out to Montana from Tahoe. We were so stoked (and anxious) to finally see Danny. It feels like forever since our crew was together, and I’m so happy now that I got to see them all again. Finally!! Within five minutes of walking into 5109, Danny “broke” the silence as well as any anxiety that we may have had. As we all huddled around the bed to read a signed snowboard, Danny farted right in my direction. Needless to say we got a kick out of it. Danny didn’t laugh, but you know he would have were he capable. Although he is a long way from home and a long way from being better, I have no doubt that he will be back as the Danny we know. I never really did have any doubt. This accident has affected my life in many ways and will continue to do so. It has brought me closer to my friends and family, closer to Danny’s friends and family, and has reminded me that our time here is precious.

To Danny: be as patient as possible; this too shall pass. Godspeed with your recovery! Much love bro.

Ian McLeod

The Simple Things – Tom Jannuzzi

January 25th, 2011 by Conor

I should be working on my post from yesterday, telling you all about how great it is that everyone has showed up to support danny. I have it started and might even finish it later, but i know you already know these things and for now I’ve been spending a lot of time in Dannys room today just trying to be a positive energy in the room and to try and help lighten the mood a little bit, (go figure right). Even though you can tell that Danny is frustrated with himself he needs to realize that every little thing that he is doing is way beyond anything that I personally expected from him at this point. I thought that I was amazed when i first saw him last night when he was making me laugh via laptop typing. Now, today he has already been out of his bed taking a walk down the hall, sitting up in a chair out of the bed, and taking all sorts of quizzes and tests to establish areas of his brain that need more work than others. Of course he is frustrated, he is struggling at tasks that were mindless to him three weeks ago. Watching him give his all at everything he does makes you realize just how much we all take for granted in our lives.

Take a second and think about your everyday life. You wake up and get out of bed. Stop. You can’t get out of bed because you can’t get up on your own, and even if you do, you cant keep your balance enough to stay standing on your own. Balance for Danny was one of many of his strong points and now he has to start from scratch. The frustration must be tremendous.

Now back to your every day life. So you’ve made it out of your bed except you’re on the floor now because you couldn’t keep your balance. What do you do? Call for help, right? Wrong. You no longer have the ability to speak. The simple act that we all learn at an age most don’t even remember. Danny can no longer communicate vocally. Anything Danny wants to communicate needs to be written or typed down if hand gestures or facial expressions don’t suffice.

These are just two examples of the dozen I have had to witness Danny struggle with just in the past 45 minutes. It is difficult to have to sit and watch your friend struggle with “the simple things in life”.

Even without the tests and moving around, just the sounds of the machines helping keep Danny stable are enough to make you go insane. The tubes and wires have been cut back now since I’ve been here, but there are still much more than I would care to deal with. Every couple of minutes another beeper is going off or another dressing needs to be changed. All Danny wants to do is rest and as soon as he gets a chance another ringer goes off and a bad IV needs to be replaced, (this specific example is happening right now in front of my eyes).

Anyways, i am sure you all must be overwhelmed by the amounts of posts being put up today. I know personally mine must have given a few people a headache by the end. Ill try to keep them shorter. There are a lot of us here now and for the sake of not repeating everyone else I’ll try to tone it down. For now we are all trying to solve the mystery of the missing nose ring. Stayed in for the first two surgeries but is nowhere to be found after the third and even the surgeon who performed the operation was baffled by it’s disappearance. I vote we save a few staples and make a set for him when he gets out of here. Even with all that is going on it is very noticeable that it is missing.

Final note before I’m out, even though I realize you all know the catheter is out but I wasn’t sure if you were aware that this topic was about 80% of Danny’s conversations. I’m extremely excited to find out what we get to talk about now!

Goodnight Danny…get some rest for me and whatever you do…don’t pee the bed!


Words. Tito Gainza

January 25th, 2011 by Conor

I just got out of Danny room and I can’t explain in my shity English all the feelings that came to my mind when I saw him. When I first saw him I almost broke down, is so hard to see a friend in that situation, but when Danny look at us and smile it change everything, I thought to myself, yeah he is back.
When all this happened I was on the other side of the world, in Argentina and it was so hard being that far and not knowing what the hell is going on. And now after flying from Argentina to Reno for 20 hours and driving 17 hours to Montana I got to see him, I feel such a relive. Danny is doing good, I know now that he’ll be back with us sooner than what we thought.

I met Danny last season in Tahoe, we where roomates and we got along really good from the moment he enter the house. The first week in the house he got a big box full of goggles from anon and he came up to me making fun of my accent and asked me if I want a pair of goggles, I knew the guy for 3 days and he was already giving his stuff away, that’s how Danny is, he gives, he is one of the most generous persons I know. That’s how it was the whole season, hey men take my car, or use my board , or grapp any of my stuff when ever you want. We had such a great time. First time I rode with Danny I was so impress, He is so good!!! Such a natural talented rider, issaaa mazinggg!!

Then the season finish and I had to go back to Argentina. Last year was definitely the worst of my life, 5 days after I got back from Tahoe to Argentina my sister die on a car accident in Austria. Danny meet her cause she came and visit while I was in Tahoe. I can’t putt in words how it feels to lose somebody you love so much. Danny was with me the whole way, he send me so much love and support, and I’ll never gonna forget that. I know Danny suffered with me for my lost and that he would have done anything on his hands to help me out. That’s what friendship it’s all about, friends like this are family.
All I’ll like to say to Danny right know is thanks for everything, I can’t wait for some sarcastic jokes. You are family, I love you men!!


In the Flesh – Chris Rogers

January 25th, 2011 by Conor

Right after the last blog, we entered Danny’s Hospital room in the ICU at Great Falls…

I can’t explain the feeling of rounding the corner of the ICU waiting to lock eyes on Danny…but I can explain how it felt to see him…and it was Danny, not some person in a vegetative state.

His parents were already in the room. His head wrapped in a bandage turban with a five o’clock shadow. when we first walked into the room, he was sleeping. Then Conor sat next to him and said “Danny, there are some friends here to see you…” Danny rolled a little then opened the eye that wasn’t swollen from the last surgery. What he did next nearly made us do backflips in the hospital room…he lifted both arms as if to signify victory. His hand movements were completely Danny.

These are all events that do not surprise Conor, Michelle and Danny’s parents, because these are part of the strides that he has been making over the past few days. however, for us down in Tahoe, these are the things we’ve waited to SEE, not just read about. One particular thing that he keeps doing is tapping his hand or foot on the edge of his bed as if to signify that he has had enough…tapping out.

This seemed like big news, until a few hours later news came to Conor that Danny was sitting up on his own in a chair next to his hospital bed…when I walked in again I saw Danny sitting in his chair, turban still on, looking “like royalty” as Michelle said. He looked at ease and was tapping his hands incessantly. He then underwent some hand eye speech therapy tests, like connect the shapes and a few mazes (which where pretty hard from my point of view). When He finished these tests he took it upon himself to rise up on his own and attempt to get back into bed. As awesome as it was to see him stand up, it was a little premature…for another day Danny.

This was my experience on day one of a short visit…but this stuff is intense. What makes it all worth it is the look in DCT’s eye that not only suggests, but demands the understanding that he WILL be out of here soon.

A Good First Day – Tom Jannuzzi

January 25th, 2011 by Conor

So I’ve officially spent my first “night” here in “Great Falls,” Montana. I say “night” because since I’ve been here now, (for what has seemed like 2 days), I’ve really only slept for about five hours in the middle of the afternoon, and its actually only been one full day. I put “Great Falls” in parenthesis too because now that I’ve actually seen where I am in the light of day, I’ve noticed that there aren’t any great water falls to look at, or even anything remotely great to be seen at all for that matter. I saw Danny last night and right after his surgery today, and that is what I’ve come out here to see anyways.

Finally getting here last night was unbelievable. After all the hassles and traveling it felt so good to get off of the plane and see Conor and David outside the airport waiting for me. I met them with a much deserved hug from everyone back in North Conway and we were immediately enroute to see Danny in the ICU. We got to the hospital and I thanked David for the ride. His Danny shift was over so he went back to the hotel for some sleep as Conor and I proceeded to check into the ICU where i would finally get a chance to meet Danny’s girlfriend Michelle and reunite with my good friend.

I was nervous to see Danny in the state that he was in. I had just been spending time with him less than a month ago laughing and joking like we always do and it was still surreal to me that all this was even happening. I couldn’t believe it when i had first heard the news and it was extremely difficult to deal with for the first couple of weeks. Not that it was any easier in the third week, but the emotional breakdowns had certainly slowed to a less than daily pace and a lot more composure had been established. If Danny was strong enough to get through this then I had no choice but to man up and help him to be strong.

When we got outside the ICU Conor picked up a telephone and asked for us to be let in. The receptionist buzzed us through and as I followed Conor into room 5109 my heart began racing. I fought hard to try and hold back my tears. I was right behind Conor as he told Danny he was back and informed him that “someone” was here to see him. As Conor moved to the side and Danny began to look up at me my excitement conquered my fear. As soon as Danny made eye contact with me he threw his arms up and gave me a solid fist pump. We exchanged some high fives because I was sure the hug that I wanted to give him would probably do him more harm than good.

After I greeted Danny I met Michelle in person finally, who is very nice but much smaller than I expected and certainly not all there when it comes to intelligence, (just kidding Michelle!). I then dropped my bags in the corner and as Conor would say was “very quick to take my shirt off.” I was excited to show Danny the get well wishes so many people had drawn and written on me and couldn’t wait to show him the pictures that went along with each message. As I proceeded to unveil the artwork I received several confused/scared looks from the nurses as well as Danny. Once everyone realized what was going on and “Jackson” the sit-in babysitter stopped drooling over me, Danny got a good look at all the messages and loved the pictures and troll doll accompanying the image drawn under my arm pit.

From what I had been reading in earlier updates last week about Danny I couldn’t believe the progress he had made. I knew he would be amassed in tubes and wires, but I was astounded by how clear his communication skills were. He couldn’t talk and you could tell that he wasn’t completely with us, but I’ve spent enough hungover days with Danny to know this type of situation. When you room with someone in college for a few years you see all sorts of different sides of them and tend to pick up a lot on their habits and gestures. It was fairly easy to see what Danny was trying to communicate just through his facial expressions and hand motions, but if that became lost in translation he would gesture for a keyboard to type things out to us.

Danny was exhausted but wanted to stay awake to hang out with me for a bit. He would type while I would talk and we held a conversation this way as I filled him in on news back home and gave him all his hellos and love from the people back east. We had some good laughs as Danny would try to persuade his nurse to take his catheter out by bribing her with compliments of how gentle she is about it. It was great to see Danny slowly coming back into his own. There were plenty of signs showing Danny would be back good as new eventually but it will be a long hard road for him to get to that point. I decided the room was very drab so i decided to throw up a few decorations to spruce the place up a bit. Danny enjoyed the liveliness and had to beg the nurse to let us stay longer via keyboard. You could tell he was exhausted and eventually the fun came to an end. Danny had surgery at 7:30am the next morning, so the nurse finally informed us at 4am that it was time to let Danny get some rest, (thanks so much Cindy for letting us stay up so long!)

Conor and I headed to the lobby and hung out while Michelle weaseled her way into Danny’s bed with him the rest of the night. We stayed up and kept the laughs going until the morning when we went to see Danny off to his final surgery. You could tell Danny was very nervous about the surgery. He tried using his exhaustion as an excuse to put it off but got shot down since he was being put to sleep anyways. This was the least difficult of Danny’s three surgeries, but of the three this was the only one he was “with it” enough to know what was going on. I don’t blame him for being a little nervous. I’d come up with any excuse not to have brain surgery either. We said our good lucks and watched him roll away.

Since we had 4 hours to kill Conor wanted to burn off some of the Tummy Taxi food he’d been eating for the past three weeks and work out. I wasn’t tired yet for some reason and agreed a little exercise would be nice. I also got to finally see those pictures of me being drawn on in the website and decided for everyone’s sake a little cardio wouldn’t kill me. So while Danny’s skull got put back together again, Michelle, Conor, and I headed off to the gym.

When we got back from the gym we met up with Ellen and David in the waiting room. I killed some time by picking David’s brain, (no pun intended), about his beard maintenance and tried to keep from falling asleep in my chair by attempting to afro mine out and twist a curl in my mustache. Thank goodness the doctor came out fairly soon because everyone was getting a little slap happy from being so over tired.

The doctor came out boasting of a successful operation, genuinely proud of the work he had just displayed in the operating room. It’s a good feeling when the your friend’s brain surgeon comes out with a smile expecting high fives on a job well done. He informed us that the surgeries were over with and that we should all be celebrating. I was very happy Danny was through with the dangerous aspect of this process, but not ready to celebrate knowing the tough road that lied ahead for Danny in rehabilitation.

After meeting with the Doc we made our way back to room 5109 to greet Danny with a warm welcome. We had been told that once Danny was done with this operation that he would finally be able to get out of bed and move around. This would be great news for Danny since he has been trying to get out of that bed for the past few days now. As they rolled Danny back into his room we could all see the white gauze wrapped around his head from down the hall. You could tell he was in excruciating pain as he kept trying to rip the gauze off of his head. As much pain as Danny was in he needed to realize that the surgeries were now over and that the wrapping he was desperately trying to claw off of his head was a necessary material in that healing process. The last thing Danny would want is an infection in the wound they just closed up in his head.

After we stayed with Danny for a little while longer Conor and I felt it best to give him some rest and go get some sleep ourselves. I had only gotten about 2 hours of sleep in the past 2 days so my bed was definitely sounding pretty inciting for sure. I was super happy that Danny made it out of his final surgery successfully, but now that he was in his room recuperating I was even happier to finally get a chance to catch a few Z’s myself. Until “tomorrow” I apologize for the novel…I get caught up in these posts! Killing it DCT!

– TommyJ

A new adventure with Danny – Tom Jannuzzi

January 24th, 2011 by Conor

As I sit here awaiting the first of many plane rides taking me across
the country on my voyage to visit Danny, I feel the knot in my gut
growing and begin to get tight. Maybe it’s the fact that my nerves
have been on end since this whole ordeal began or maybe its just my
stomach informing me that I’ve skipped too many meals today trying to
make these flights work out. I tell myself its the food and go grab a
quick bagel to try and suppress my anxiousness. To my dismay the
discomfort is not from hunger, but from this new adventure about to
unfold in my life. I guess the best place to start is at the beginning
of my travel plans so here we go…

After hours upon hours of dealing with airline receptionists, (who
didn’t speak a lick of english), I wasn’t even sure if this trip was
going to happen. I can remember Danny telling me once that he loved
flying through Southwest Airlines because he enjoyed being able to
choose your own seat on the plane. “It’s great!” he would say, “Just
look for the hottest chick on the plane and she’s stuck with you for
the entire flight!” Unfortunately for me, my Southwest experience has
not been so wonderful this trip. Cramped/overpriced flights after
hours of phone circles with contradicting airline employees and not a
single attractive girl to be seen! So far this has been quite the trip
Danny, I hope you appreciate it!

Luckily this morning at work I received a call from Conor informing me
that Danny had been looking at pictures on Facebook and typed to him
and Michelle a comment about how he wished I were there with them all
at the hospital. After all the hard work I’ve been putting in for him
the past few weeks, and all the airline hassles I’ve been dealing
with, that really helped put my head back into perspective. Conor
informed me that because of Danny’s short term memory problem he might
not remember saying he had wanted me there when I see him. No big deal
for me, just the fact that he mentioned it once right before a
surprise trip to visit him is enough to help me forget about all the
hassles and remember the true purpose of my trip.

I’ve been close friends with Danny and his family for over ten years
now. I realize to some of you that may not seem like a very long time,
but in those years Danny and I have been through a lot of life
experiences together. Classmates, teammates, “pimp mix”
collaborators, high school, and then to college as direct roommates in
what can only be described as a 10′ x 10′ shoe box of a room for two.
It is safe to say that Danny and I have had a very extensive
friendship together, and that over the years I feel like I’ve gotten
to know danny more than he knows himself. Unfortunately, in this
instance, I am afraid that might actually be a reality.

Sometimes in high school I would go to bed earlier than most at a
party, in preparation for a 6am day of work, only to wake up to a body
tagged in obscenities. Early bedtimes at parties always seemed to
spark the artistic side of Danny and many people besides myself would
wake up with a completely different color skin tone,(usually green or
blue), and an array of naked blue women and private parts all over
their bodies. At the time this never went over well with me. Blue
sharpie is very difficult to scrub out of your earlobe at six in the
morning! Now that I look back at this it is hilarious and also gave me
an idea to help cheer up Danny for my visit. Instead of drawings all
over my body FROM Danny, I got people to draw all over me FOR Danny!

Before I left for Montana I had people donate money to use my body as
a human canvas for a get well card to Danny. I sold 4″ x 4″ sections
of my upper body for $10 and tried to get as many people to deface me
as I could before leaving for this trip. The turn out was pretty good
for short notice, and I managed to raise over $200. I apologize on the
record for those of you who wanted to leave your mark my body but
didn’t get the opportunity. You can all thank Southwest Airlines for
keeping me occupied by giving me the run around while I was trying to
show everyones support from back home for Danny.

I also want to take this opportunity to send you all my deepest
regards for the pictures that will probably be posted on this site
soon after this note. I realize these pictures of me wont be the most
flattering of photos and are certainly not for the faint of heart. If
I had known a month ago that I was going to be letting people shave
and write on my body I definitely would have worked out at the gym a
little bit for you all! So I apologize ahead of time, but I could care
less as long as it puts a smile on everyones face when I am unveiled
in Montana finally!

It’s odd for me to think that just a month ago i was hanging out with
Danny and Conor laughing and joking about everything and yet nothing
at all. Now, I’m on my way to hang out with them again, hoping we’ll
be able to do the same just like old times. I’ve come prepared with
all the usual things we like to do while we hang around doing nothing.
My hard drive is loaded with pictures and music that Danny and I have
experienced together throughout the years as well as our, “Ultimate
Movie List Ever,” created in college for those days after a big party
where you want to do nothing but lay in bed and relax. I feel like now
is an appropriate time for these things. This has been one of the most
difficult things that I have ever had to deal with, but I know that I
come bearing the love and support from everyone back home and it helps
to give me strength. I am hoping this trip will be a relief for not
only Danny but his family as well.

That being said, it is finally time to end my ranting. I am about to
land for the fourth time today, this time in Great Falls, Montana.
I’ve finally made it to see you Danny! It’s been a scary month so far
so let’s hope we can both be strong over the next few days and try to
get you back to the DCT we all know and love. I’ve missed you and I’m
glad we can finally reunite. I’ll be seeing you shortly with love from
everyone back home.


P.S.- This note is dedicated to the little boy kicking the back of my
seat the entire flight from Denver to Great Falls. I never would have
stayed awake long enough to finish this without you kid. Thanks for
the help!