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 All of the fun medical stuff that we have been dealing with for the last 15 days has now been replaced by unbelievable feelings of sadness and frustration.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!


8 Responses to “Thoughts from the Graveyard Shift”

  1. Annie Perley Says:

    Conor – your perspective on all of this is amazing. It is so loving of you to understand that this is what Danny needs right now and it’s nothing personal. I can’t imagine what you are going through but I can say that if it were me in that hospital bed, I’d be so lucky to have you – and if it were me in your shoes, I can only hope I would react to such a catastrophe with such grace, maturity, insight and love. You don’t have it easy right now – but you’re doing an amazing job. Keep fighting Danny 🙂 Michelle – enjoy the cuddles 🙂

  2. Chistine Kruysman Says:

    Your narrative breaks my heart every morning. I am so impressed with your humor, insight and dedication to your brother.You all really are functioning as a team, you can’t all remain strong thru this journey. You are doing each other such a service to be there for each other, especially when the interactions don’t all go as you would wish. Obviously Danny likes to go at 100 miles per hr, this slow pace must be so very frustrating for him.I know your Mom & Dad are drawing strengh from your presence. Just take it a day at a time.

  3. kate Says:


  4. kate Says:

    thinking of you all and sending love…keeping you in my prayers.

  5. nichole Says:

    hey conor, have you guys tried to see if he can write yet? it seems like he can move his hands pretty well. the trach makes it realy hard to talk but maybe he would be able to write a few words out..just a thought..hope you hanging in there xoxo

  6. Emily Kirby Says:

    Hey Conor, I know you don’t know me, but we have a few of the same close friends. I have been hearing all about your current situation since the incident. This is the first blog of yours I have read. I just had a minor incident at Cranmore on monday and am laid up in bed for a few days till I can get an MRI of my leg, hopefully it is nothing, anyway, this being said I have lots of time to sit in bed and read. So I came across this and felt the need to tell you, I have been there. My Mom recently passed away in December, she had post-polio syndrome which causes muscle deterioration. I sat with her for days in the hospital and swabbed her mouth too. It was so frustrating to watch someone you love feel so helpless and not be able to do anything! You are anything but alone my friend! If there is anything I can do, ANYTHING! Please let me know. You are all in my daily prayers and I send you love from Conway, along with many others! Keep strong! Sounds to me like your brother is an amazingly strong individual!

  7. Carol Says:

    Now the real work starts…hang in there.

  8. Carol Says:

    Make no mistake Conor….he still needs you!!!!

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