Thursday, November 19, 2009

Overdue Update

Keeping a Blog up to date is not something I will probably ever be good at, and I know it’s a little behind when I get calls from people wanting directions to my parents house so they can come visit me. They seem to be surprised when I tell them that I moved back to my own house almost a month ago.

I still need help with my daily wound care so I go back to my parents’ house every afternoon to take a shower and change my bandages and compression garments. The only spots that are having trouble healing are my elbows and the occasional new friction blister on my arms, other than that my skin seems to be healing well.

I spend most of the morning in bed where it is warm and my stretching is a bit less painful and then try to get a quick workout before the stretch is gone. It's a little frustrating to get to the gym three blocks from my house after spending all morning stretching and have to re-stretch all over again. For the past week or so my right arm seems to stay stretched out a little longer but my left arm gets tight very quickly. My legs are doing quite well but still get tight if they are in the same position for too long. My tooshy starts to ache if I sit on it for more than 45 Min but is also getting better.

Wearing my masks is something I should probably wait to discuss on a later post because right now my description of them would likely be laced with curse words.

I’ve started new posts a couple of different times but never posted them because everything I was writing seemed to sound really negative. Even though It’s hard to find many positive aspects of what I have to deal with I don’t see why I should let it turn me into a negative person. However, I think I should allow myself a couple of negative paragraphs just to try and get it out of my system…

Within the thirty three years that I have been on this planet I have had more close calls and been in more sketchy situations with the potential outcome of serious injury or death then most people I know. Every time I’ve been able to walk away with a new scar or some new teeth and always with a new story to tell, and always thinking that I’ve learned something from the experience, mostly what Not to do next time I find myself in the situation. Some of my friends might remember my philosophy of “if you’re not hurting then you’re not riding hard enough”, or something that relates to No pain No gain. Of course this way of thinking is what put me in most of those Sketchy situations. Even though this philosophy applies mostly to my hobbies and sports that I love to do and has helped me to reach goals and push myself to learn new things within those areas, it also applies to all areas of my life. Whether it’s feeling the anxiety of quitting your job to start a company or the embarrassment that is felt when asking someone out on a date for the first time, despite being rejected or not. All the good things in my life seem to start out with a little (or A Lot of) discomfort.

(Here is my Negative paragraph so you may want to stop reading here!!!)

Since my accident my life has been turned upside down and I feel that I have lost control of my future. I’ve experienced a new level of pain that I didn’t really understand existed before and it has left me Physically disabled, emotionally broken and often times mentally drained. I’m having a really hard time grasping what I am going to Gain from all this Pain or what lesson Heavenly Father wants me to learn. It’s really hard to keep the negative thoughts of why me?, what did I do to deserve this? at bay when I see myself in the mirror and know that I am permanently disfigured for the rest of my life. It’s also hard to curb those thoughts when I think that within one year I’ve had the best thing and the worse things to ever happen to me, and the best thing may never be the same. It’s hard to be positive when the constant itching gets to the level where I can think of nothing else and on a nightly basis it wakes me from my sleep, while at the same time not being able to do anything about it for risk of further damaging my fragile skin. It’s hard to find anything positive after I wake up gasping for air from being suffocated by the mask that I am supposed to wear while I sleep and ripping it off in a rage of claustrophobia that results in damage to my still healing ears.

Sorry and Thanks for letting me vent, I’ll try to never let it happen again…

DANNY

Friday, November 6, 2009

Danny the Bank Robber


Danny's latest acquisition is this lovely gray mask he is supposed to sleep in every night. It covers his entire head and neck and is extremely uncomfortable. He modeled it for me the other night. After three nights of trying to sleep in it he's ready to give up. Apparently it suffocates him and he wakes up after 30 minutes gasping for air. Sounds fun doesn't it?

Catherine

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Danny--The Phantom of the Opera!!!!

Danny got some new hardware today--just a few days late for Halloween fun! He feels like a freak, but I think he looks pretty cute :)


The doctors say this should help minimize the scarring on his face. I don't think Danny is so convinced.





We can't wait to go out for a night on the town. Danny is worried people will think he's kidnapped me.

Catherine

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Becoming Lazy

Before my accident I used to average 5 and 7 hours of sleep per night and some days I would steal a 20 min power nap in the afternoon. Now I am getting between 10 and 12 hours per night. I try to convince myself that my recovery requires the rest for my body to heal. However, I think it has more to do with my new found laziness since I have virtually nothing to do most days. My stretching regimen seems to go better if all the muscles and skin are warm so staying under the covers makes sense, RIGHT?????

It will be nice when my skin has healed enough that I can start wearing sunscreen and can venture out of my vampire cave and out into the sunny world of the Day Walkers. This is the time of year that I usually spend lots of time in the mountains with all the fall colors and cool temperatures, whether I'm on a hike or on my bike or on my motorcycle.
I guess there's always next year.

I did get up a little earlier yesterday to make it to a 9:30 check-up appointment down at University hospital. They say that everything looks good and is healing well, so I guess it's a good sign that the people that only see you every couple of weeks can see improvement. It's hard for me to see the improvement when everything looks the same all day every day.

I do see some progress on my head and face
That reminds me of the other thing that happened at my appointment yesterday which is the measuring of my torso for a compression vest and my head and face for a mask. This is the one thing that I am dreading the most, having to wear a mask every day for the next year. If it's the only way to keep the scars to a minimum on my Beautiful face... LOL, then I'll have to suck it up and do what they say.
As soon as I get my new mask and add the vest to the mix then I will have head to toe compression garments. I Can't Wait :(

I wear a size medium Underarmor shirt as a compression vest right now to help with the scarring not just to look tough...

I am off to the gym now. . . later. . .

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Other burn victims

I'm prompted to write today because of Stephanie and Christian Nielson's appearance this last week on Oprah. We taped it here because we were gone when it aired.

More about Stephanie can be accessed if you Google her name, or go to: http://www.heraldextra.com/news/local/article_cba0a057-39de-5a03-a311-768b0c259913.html

When she came walking out to greet Oprah, she had a spring in her step and acted like she had not been involved in a terrible accident. Her condition had been much more critical than Danny, and because of it was in an induced coma for a considerable amount of time. Danny was sedated for just about a week while Stephanie was sedated for months. Christian Nielson, Stephanie's husband was burned on 30 percent of his body. For most, that will probably seem not too serious, but to the victim and family, all deep burns are serious. Depending on how much was third degree, there are also the areas of harvested skin for the grafts which have problems too.

For me, it always gives support and hope to see someone who has gone through what we have gone through, and is doing so well.
Danny mentioned that he has seen the Nielson's at the burn unit of the hospital. Thanks to Stephanie and her husband Christian for telling their story on the Oprah show.

Jan

Sunday, October 4, 2009

October 4th, a significant date

Greetings everyone. Today, Sunday October 4th was the original date given for Danny's release from the hospital. For all you blog readers, of course you know the actual release date was Tuesday September 1st.

He's progressing nicely although slow. Problems have shown themselves that we didn't expect but according to the pros are common.

His newly developing skin, even though it looks rough and thick, blisters very easily. When we have an area that we think is coming along nicely and he removes the pressure garments or other coverings, quite often a blister shows up. It's a discouraging situation even though we have been told it's a normal process. Itching is still a plague he's afflicted with. Some nights Benadryl is the only way he can get relief. We do a lot less wound care than two weeks ago. Fewer things to put on him before the pressure clothes now. We are able to touch the ears without him clinching his fists.

Danny is wearing more stylish clothes lately. We bought him some Under Armor a size too small for the pressure needed to aid in scar management. Last Friday we learned he will be wearing a pressure mask for a year, 23 hours a day. Not something to look forward to. There will be two of them, one a cloth mask and one a clear plastic mask.

Physical rehab is going along well. Danny always feels good after a session of killer stretching, then going through the weight room at the Ogden Athletic Club. His therapist is very good at taking care of Danny. We've learned the stretching routine and are helping do it at home. Danny has a membership at Gold's Gym in Layton and will start going over there on his non therapy days. He's gaining weight back and it must be muscle mass, because he's still very thin around the waist.

Danny has been driving his truck for a week and a half now. It's parked out front of our house and although he doesn't go too far, he's not completely dependent on mom and dad to get around.

At the hospital, they told us to return in two weeks for his checkup instead of one. Another improvement.

Jan

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sunday so far

I went up to the hospital early this morning and Danny was still in bed doing his daily contortions. There is not a whole lot more that you can do when your eyes are all stitched shut and your arms are splinted straight out in front of you. It kind of reminds me of a movie I saw once. The movie was Saw III. That is the one where they think of the worst tortures that someone can do to people. It was breakfast time so I had to help him eat his breakfast. It is a real pain to eat when you can't see and you can't open your mouth as wide as you normally can. I had to feed him and I made a real mess. While we were finishing up breakfast, my dad showed up to help do wound care. Over the last couple of weeks, he and danny have figured out the best ways to do certain areas of his body. His arms require different care than his legs, his legs different than his ears, and his ears different than his butt cheeks. At this point, the standard way that the hospital staff does his bandages just doesn't cut it and even can make it worse because the bandages start to stick and rip skin off when they are removed. That is why my dad goes in to do the bandage care. He has developed the best custom techniques, even better than the trained professionals.


Anyway, we got done with breakfast and it was time for physical therapy. Right before it began, the doctor came in to assess the grafts on Danny's eyes. There was the possibility that the stitches could be taken out of his eyes sometime today. Unfortunately, the grafts didn't have quite enough color in them. The decision was made to leave his eyes stitched shut until sometime on Monday. Hopefully then the grafts will look good enough for him to be able to open his eyes again. Until then, Danny remains in a state of blindness and discomfort.


The other night while me and Debbie were staying with Danny, a kind of funny thing happened. There was a guy admitted to the burn unit down the hall from Danny. He had been involved in an accident where something had exploded and burned his face kind of bad. (nowhere nearly as bad as Danny's face had been burned). His whole family was there and a couple of girls were sobbing and a little frantic about their friend. At that point Danny needed to go to the bathroom. The nurse helped him out of bed and led him around the nurses desk. They had to pass the new guys room on the way to the bathroom. The hysterically crying girls saw him being led past their room and they got a look of horror on their faces. They also stopped crying about their friend and shut up for the rest of the night. I guess seeing a guy that got burned so bad that he had to take a needle and thread to his eyelids helped to give them a little perspective to the seriousness of the little blisters on the new guys face. It made me laugh a little bit. I know. I'm a jerk. But it was funny.


Danny gave us permission to put up a couple pictures of his face. One is how his eyes looked before the surgery, and you can see why he probably needed it. The others are of frankenstein.












Friday, September 18, 2009

Our Danny Boy is not happy today

Yesterday, Thursday Sept. the 17th, Danny and I went to the U Med Center for his checkup and progress assessment. Everything was fine and healing as well as could be expected, all except his eyes. The lower eyelids were not closing all the way due to tight skin on his face. The problem is not only cosmetic but also a serious concern for his eyes. If the eyes dry out too much, then damage can occur.

Dr. Morris had seen Danny's eyelids the previous two visits and voiced concern the first time, then seemed hopeful the following week. Yesterday, he saw that the problem was not getting better so he scheduled Danny for surgery this morning. You could see Danny was very disappointed as he learned of what needed to be done.

Danny prepared himself for the surgery by not eating after last night, the typical action taken for surgery. I woke up at 3:00 a.m. (which is very common for me) and found Danny sitting at the kitchen table. He had been up since an hour after going to bed. I am assuming this new problem was worrying him and so he was unable to sleep. I was planning on waking him up at 5:00 to be ready on time, so we went ahead and started preparations for the day early. His wounds are itching and giving him fits that are almost driving him crazy. Unable to really scratch because of the tender new skin everywhere, all we can do is rub lotion on all that delicate skin. The lotion gave him some relief and we were ready to leave at 5:50 for his scheduled arrival at 7:00.

Yesterday we were told there would be two other patients to be operated on, so we thought we would be third in line. After signing in and going to the Pre Surgical area this morning, we were told Danny was up first and the procedure would start just after 8:00 a.m. The rotation of doctors had taken Dr. Morris off duty and put Dr. Cochran as the surgeon to work on Danny's eyelids. Just before entering the operating room, Dr. Cochran told us the various options she would be looking at as to what the actual procedure would involve. One option was to bandage Danny's lower eyelids after the graft had been applied, with little pillows of cotton or gauze to keep the lid immobile. The other was to sew Danny's eyes closed, with the possibility that he could peek out between the eyelids. Dr. Cochran also looked at Danny's mouth and told us since his mouth is only half it's former size, an option of surgery to help that is possible. She said she would rather wait until later on and see before doing anything to his mouth.

The operation didn't take too long and was over at about 9:30 a.m. At 10:15 I was allowed to go see Danny. He's been placed back in his same private room 21, of the 4th floor Burn Unit. As I walked in Danny was awake and doing fine, except his eyes are closed. He's not supposed to open them for three days. To do the grafting, the doctor cut a section of skin from his left side just under the armpit. This time it wasn't a harvesting like his previous skin grafts, this one took all three layers of skin from an area a bit bigger than two postage stamps. That wound was sewn up the same as if it were a laceration. An incision or release as it is called, was made in each of Danny's lower eyelids and the harvested skin was sewn into place. Right now, he looks like he's had a botched makeup job. The thing that's probably going to drive him crazy will be, about a third of the way from the outer ends of his eyelids, the doctor sewed his upper and lower eyelids together on both eyes in order to keep him from blinking. As I said before, this will last for three days.

One of the staff printed a sign to put on Danny's room saying: "I Can't see. Please tell who you are." Danny will need to have someone help him with everything now since he is essentially blind for awhile. His only control in life is his call button. When I left this morning, he was sleeping. He was probably catching up from no sleep the night before. As I write this, Judy (his mother) is most likely with him. Andy should be getting off work soon and will go be with him as well. I'm not sure who else may have seen him so far. Hopefully this will be the last of the surgeries.

Jan

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

By popular requsest, another post.

09-09-09

Greetings everyone,

It's been five days since I last posted here. Previously I mentioned how it would most likely be difficult for me to see the progress Danny makes because now I see him all the time. I do notice change and improvement as we do wound care each day. I see how the healing is coming along by each spot that at one time was a large opening in the skin. He has very few open sores now and the ones left are quite small. The very tender and sensitive areas are still giving him extreme pain if touched or bumped. He is doing better with pain though, today he didn't take any pain medication until later this evening. He dislikes very much being dependent on drugs for any reason.

We have our good days and bad days here. It seems for every good day, Danny pays for it with one, maybe two bad days. Right now he is experiencing tiredness and fatigue. Most of the day a nagging cough has been bothering him. Those are classic signs of pneumonia, so tomorrow at the hospital check up, we will find out about it.

9-12-09 Morning

We did that check up on Thursday, with no problem of pneumonia. We were told his lungs will have debris in them caused by the vent tube in his gullet for 10 days. He just needs to cough all of that out and get rid of it. The fatigue and being tired is something he'll deal with for the next few months and is typical for his type of injuries. Physical rehab went well, with Danny doing what was asked plus a little extra. As we left the hospital he pushed the wheelchair instead of riding in it. Part of that is pain from sitting on a part of his body that was also burned.

Yesterday, 9-11-09, we were up early and Danny was quite active. He was walking around the house and getting some exercise then decided to go for a walk around the block before the sun comes up. He cannot be in the sun at all, or severe scarring will be the result. I watched him take off up the block and he was walking tall. Some of the neighbor ladies said hello to him as they were walking too. When he got home we had breakfast, then it was back to exercise. While doing a little wound care, he found a couple of staples in his right leg left over from surgery. I called to find out if we should try to remove them but were told it would be taken care of next time we're at the burn unit. I told Danny some wire clippers and pliers would do the job. He said he would just as soon wait. Now what fun is that?

Also on Friday I took him over to the Ogden Athletic Club where he began more physical therapy. He was measured for his range of movement, then Frank (his therapist) took Danny out into the training area and got him started on several of the machines. If things go as planned, he will be at the OAC on Mondays and Wednesdays, then a session of rehab at the U Med Center on Fridays. I was watching and decided we need to find him some more stylish clothes for such activity. Pull over shirts are a problem because of his ears. We thought of some sort of Velcro system to fasten the shirts together some way, but that's still in the works.

Friday evening Danny soaked in the tub full of water for the first time in years according to him. (Typical guy doing showers.) It did wonders for his appearance. All the dead skin that's been stubbornly hanging on finally came off. Other than the discoloration, the injured areas are starting to look very smooth like they should.

We improvise every day thinking of ways to make him more comfortable. Some things work while others we'll only try once. It's a slow process, but progress is being made.

Best wishes,
Jan

Friday, September 4, 2009

It's been one month today

One month ago today Danny's family and friends were worried and concerned, and many of them were on the fourth floor of the U Med Center. That day will always be in our memories much like other events in history.

Today, he and I were once again on the fourth floor for his first check up since being released. Everything is healing up nicely even though a couple of areas are still extremely painful. We learned a few techniques of how to make wound care a bit more bearable. More lotion and less greasy goo will do the job on much of his wounds now. Less greasy goo means not as much sticking to the bandages and clothing. He has a very colorful description of what the intensity of his pain is. On the areas that give him the most trouble, he says it feels like someone is pulling duct tape off of the worst sunburn you can imagine and at the same time slapping it as hard as possible. I suppose it must hurt some.

Danny has been up and fairly active all day long since 8:00 this morning, and is still here visiting with Brant and Shawna as I am writing this. We have his big screen set up here and the Wii games were on earlier, then the wake board videos entertained those interested for awhile. I mentioned that all the diversion of his friends and relatives may have kept his mind off the pain some, and he pretty much agreed.

Generally it's been a good day for Danny from what I've observed. Now Judy is doing some wound care on his ears and then we'll call it a day. Good night everyone.

Jan

I suppose we are now paying for the good day we had yesterday. It's early Saturday morning, and we haven't had much sleep because Danny has been restless and unable to sleep soundly.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Settling in for a routine

Danny and I spent most of the day together and I am learning what he needs and he's also learning what he needs. Some things we do to make him comfortable don't seem to work, so we try something else until we find what will work.

I'm thinking that progress will be difficult for me to see now that I'll be with Danny most of the time. I will rely on others and their reactions when they see him, to know of improvements.

He's been busy texting with folks or someone in particular, I don't know which and it's his business anyway. The point is, the latest technology is a great thing to keep a person's mind off of their problems for some of the time anyway.

Up dates may come less frequently now, so don't be surprised if you open the blog and see the same thing for two or three days. As noteworthy events happen, I'll be sure to inform all you folks who are concerned with Danny's health and well being.

Best wishes,

Jan

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Heeeere's Danny!!

Yes folks, he's out of the hospital. In fact he's sitting about six feet to my left, in my grandmother's old reclining chair. (One of his favorite chairs.)

This afternoon at 3:00 we did wound care, then signed some papers, packed up what ever evidence was left and were out of there at 5:30. What a rotten time to leave the hospital. Rush hour traffic!!! We made it home in much less than record time, but made it home none the less.

One thing Danny mentioned to me is how nice it is to be in a quiet room for a change. His condition is still fragile and weak. His injuries were much improved from the last time I did wound care on Sunday. We'll be going back for check ups every three or four days for the next few months, starting Friday morning.

What was fun during the last few minutes in the hospital today, was the staff member with her progress sheet and disbelief asking: "Is this right, he's going home on his 29th day?" I had to explain to her that indeed he is a Danny Boy Wonder.

Maybe for the next posting, I can get our guest of honor to say a few words on his own behalf. After all, that's why we're here reading this droll stuff that I keep putting up, just waiting for an utterance from the man of the hour, Danny.

Jan

Just a little post script here. I see that we have a request on yesterday's comments for an address where you can send Danny Boy a card or come to visit. Sorry I didn't include that before. We're at 257 E 600 N, Kaysville, UT 84037. Knock twice and wait for the creaky door to open, or you can simply ring the doorbell.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Coming home tomorrow`

IT'S FINAL!! Danny will be coming home to stay with us (mom & dad) Tuesday Sept. 1st.

He could have left the hospital today, but he was tired and didn't think it would be the right day yet. He hadn't had much sleep and we all know how lack of rest messes with our minds. After a nap this afternoon, he felt better and decided he needs to just do it and get out of there.

We will go to the hospital at 3:00 p.m. to get instructions, supplies and whatever else we need, then it will be off to the North country to Kaysville. His room is ready to go, plus his chair for convalescing is in the living room waiting for his arrival.

We know there will be many visitors and we encourage everyone to come to our home and see Danny. We will be learning how much he is able to take as we go, so it may be a good idea to call ahead and find out if he's up to your visit. I'm sure most of you have Danny's number, but for those that don't, you can also call our home phone 801 546 0526. Due to Judy waking up at 4:30 every morning, we'll end visiting hours at 10:00 p.m. Thanks to everyone.

Jan


Sunday, August 30, 2009

Almost Home

Last Thursday, August 27th, Judy came home after seeing Danny, and was real excited. She said that there was talk about him coming home on Monday the 31st. It was hard to get our minds around that and we all thought they were premature in this decision. There were only the three of us that knew about this and Danny doubted it more than any of us. That's the reason we haven't published that information until now. He didn't want folks thinking he would be out of the hospital at a certain time and then not have it happen.

After seeing him today and assisting him while we were doing his wound care, it actually looks like a hospital exit will be a sure thing sometime this coming week. The way his injuries are healing is amazing from one day to the next. His physical therapy is also a wonder to watch. He is not anything close to being normal strength wise, but his determination and courage to do what is required is an inspiration to see. He is physically strong enough to be released.

So the possibility of him coming home tomorrow (Monday) is not out of the question. In my opinion, I would say he would not be coming home tomorrow, but then again I'm not making the diagnosis and evaluations. We just really won't know until it happens, but it will be on a day this week I'm sure.

For the burns and injuries he suffered, he is setting records that the hospital staff have never seen before. Counting the day he was injured, today is the 27th day. That first day we were told that it would be a minimum of two months before being released. October 4th was the date we were shooting for and now it looks like he'll be out a day or two before September 4th.

Once again, we see Danny's will to help himself by taking charge as much as possible to improve his circumstances. He needs a comic book written about him and have it called "SuperDan-ny Boy", Super Human! There is one draw back to his remarkable recovery. Other patients will hear of his success and may be disappointed when they are not as far along in the same amount of time.

Today we will be having a family get together at our home here in Kaysville, and since Danny will be unable to attend, we took some potato salad, while Andy and Debbie brought a cheddar brat and regular bratwurst, We had a family party with just us five in his room. Danny ate more than I've seen up to this date, two thirds of the cheddar brat w/bun and spicy brown mustard, along with about half the potato salad.
It was a good party after which Danny got the chills, so he got covered up warm in bed and probably fell asleep until his next physical therapy at 3:00.

Jan

Saturday, August 29, 2009

get me out of here (from Danny)

Andy and Debbie were here tonight and we decided I should get up and walk around the unit just to get my legs some exercise. We got half way around the little track and my nurse Jessie said we should hijack a wheelchair and go outside. It was nice to get some fresh air, plus I am fairly unaware of where I am. I now have a little bearing of my location in the universe. It's nice to see they brought me to the ultra plush hospital. Valet Parking, are you kidding me? That will be well used over the next months/years that I have to come back for therapy and such.

I really want to thank everybody for all the prayers and fasting that I know is what has gotten me through this thing that I'm going through. I know that's why I've had the remarkable success they tell me I am having.

I will try to post as often as I can but everything takes a lot of energy. I love reading all of your comments so keep it up.

DANNY :)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Wound Care Lessons

Today Judy and I learned what we are to do, to take care of Danny's injuries. When he is released from the hospital, he will be staying with us until he can take care of himself. Part of that care will be assisting him with changing his bandages daily. Up to this point we've seen only his face and head. Today we observed unwrapping and re-wrapping his wounds. On parts of the re-wrapping we also assisted. Danny is hurt pretty bad on most areas of his body either from the burns or from the donor sites. His ears are especially tender and sensitive.

The wound care takes a lot out of him physically and emotionally. He's tensed up the whole time even while on pain medication. The wound care is at least half an hour with four people working on him. As we were finishing up with the wrapping, the physical rehab gal asked him if he wanted to go through his rehab routine. He told her that he may as well, and for another 45 minutes he peddled, stair stepped, stretched legs muscles and climbed a flight of stairs in the hospital stair well twice, then walked back to his room where dinner was waiting.

He is now on an eat anything he wants level. For dinner they brought him lasagna, mashed potatoes w/gravy and either pureed peas or beans, not really sure. He ate well with not much trouble swallowing, thought he still needs to be careful. Since they took the feeding tube out of his nose he swallows, and talks better and also has a better appetite. In the future have him tell you about taking the feeding tube out. Following dinner, Danny got the chills and requested some warm blankets to put on him in bed. As he was getting warmed up, we said good bye until tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. when we will be back to help with wound care again.

One aspect of Danny is now back. His sense of humor and occasional wise cracks came out a few times. This is the first day I've seen him where he hasn't been totally depressed and dark. I went away feeling very good about how he's doing. He may be starting to see there will be hope for a happy future.

Most of you probably already know he can text with you, so that is still your best way to communicate with him at this time.

Jan

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Like Trish says, Danny "The Machine" Erickson

I went up early this morning and saw Danny just after 8:00 a.m. He was having breakfast, which was scrambled eggs with ketchup. He wasn't too happy though, because there was no salt, pepper or Tabasco sauce. The eggs were bland he said.

His nurse, Colby, was telling him that the way he was eating, the feeding tube would probably be removed in the next day or two. As nice as that sounded, reality was even better. When Judy saw him this afternoon, the tube had already been removed. Danny is tube free today!

He's still managing pain with medication which he's taking orally in pill form now. There are only a couple of areas that are pain problems. You would think it would be where he was burned, but it's actually where he had skin taken for the grafting. The burned areas are itchy more than painful.

If I remember other details later, I will update this posting.

Jan

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wednesday August 26th

Today Danny was disconnected from his I.V. and was thankful that it's one less thing he's dependent on. During his physical therapy he was given a timed balance test, which consisted of standing up from a chair and walking forward to a cone placed on the floor, go around the cone and sit back in the chair. It took him 30 seconds on his first try. He thought that was quite slow so he gave it another try and improved the time to 21 seconds. Now he'll need to improve on that time as he progresses.

He had Judy give him his iPhone to check messages and calls for the first time in 3 weeks. He seems to be able to handle it well and has decided to keep it with him, so I'm sure some of you have already received a text message.

He signed a check to take care of one of his accounts and the signature is not very recognizable even after a few practice runs. Each thing he tries to do seems to be like starting over from the very beginning.

Sleeping at night is still a challenge so he has agreed to use a sleeping aid tonight to see if the results will be favorable.

That is the progress report as far as I have been told. If I hear of any other events, updates will follow. For anyone who has read yesterdays posting, it has been updated a couple of times today. You might want to go back and check it out.

Jan

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tuesday August 25th

Not a whole lot to report on Danny this evening. Sleeping is his main activity it seems, when we are there anyway. He gets scrubbed each day to remove the bad skin, plus he's on a twice daily physical rehab schedule.

We did learn that he's been upgraded to the next level of food. He'll be able to have things that are not pureed now but still very soft, such as mac & cheese. His ability to swallow improves each day.

While we were there, the physical therapist woke him up for a session in the workout room. We followed and watched. Although it was an effort on his part to get out of the bed, he is doing better walking on his own. It only took a couple of minutes to get to the workout room. On the way back, his therapist made him take a lap around the nurses station, but instead of two laps she only had him do the one because of how tired he had become.

When he got in bed, he was exhausted and couldn't help but fall asleep. We waited around thinking we would talk to him later, but as we sat there, we fell asleep too. We woke him up to say goodbye, but I'm not sure he will remember it.

Jan

Just an addition here. Today was my birthday and I don't make a big deal out of it. In fact I consider my birthday as a non-event, always have. Tonight right around 11:00 p.m. I was shutting down the computer and checking to make sure I had all my messages. As I checked to see who was on line for Instant Messaging on Facebook, I saw Danny Erickson was available. It was sort of like a dream because I knew he didn't have his laptop with him, so I thought maybe someone else had his ID and password. I clicked his name and wrote: Is that you Danny? It came back saying: I forgot to wish you Happy B-Day.

Andy and Debbie had his laptop at the hospital and he was indeed online. We exchanged a few more comments, then he was gone. It will be one of my all time best birthdays ever.

Jan

The comment by Trish following this posting is very interesting and informative. Thank you so much Trish.

Jan

Monday, August 24, 2009

More milestones of improvement

Judy went to see Danny after she got off work this evening and reports several positive improvements. Danny was swallowing pills today. The nurse broke them in pieces to aid in the process but he is trying to take water through a straw and swallow the broken pills. He lost one of the pill pieces and it worried him that it may have gone down the wind pipe, but he was able to find it and get it down to his stomach. Tomorrow he's going to try drinking from a cup while taking his medication.

It was mentioned that they may turn off the feeding tube tonight to see if Danny will be hungry for real food in the morning. He's having issues with the food that is offered, ya know how that goes in hospitals. He gets pureed everything right now and pureed pork or salmon or beef isn't his thing.

Today was Danny's fourth day of walking to physical therapy. Each time he uses a walker to get there and back. Today after his second therapy session he walked back to his room without the aid of the walker. He must really want out of that hospital! His nurse said it's unheard of to be that far ahead of schedule.

He still tires quickly and needs sleep, although he has a hard time sleeping when he's supposed to, at night. It's required that he wears molded splints on his arms at night and he gets a sort of claustrophobia about not being able to reach things like water or his suction line during the night. His regular nurse will be having days off after today and Danny is not looking forward to that. He especially likes this nurse because he treats Danny very good. We can only hope things work out with the relief nurse.

Jan

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A very encouraging Sunday

We arrived at the hospital and I went in alone to see if Danny had any visitors while Judy waited in the hall for Wynn and his family. I was surprised to see cubical #25 (Danny's space) was vacant and all the pictures were off the wall. A bed was there, but was all made with clean linen. I started to look around for where they stashed our patient. One room was closed up and all the blinds were shut. It was room 21 and the nurse told me that's where he was. I peeked in to see if he had any visitors but nobody was in there and Danny was asleep. By the time I went back out in the hall, Wynn and family had arrived and I let everyone know of the changes.

Judy and I waited for Wynn, Melissa and any of their children to go in and see Danny. Before they were finished, Andy and Debbie arrived, a bit worn from the party the night before, so we told them to go ahead of us. After they left it was our turn. Danny was awake and doing exercises when I walked in. His voice is just a bit stronger too. That was very encouraging. He has one less tube attached to him now and is more mobile because of it. We watched him eat more than we've seen so far. He had several bites of mashed potatoes with gravy, two 8 oz. glasses of milk and a high protein, high calorie shake. He's almost force feeding himself because he desperately wants that feeding tube out of his nose. He was swallowing much better today without a lot of time in between sips. He's able to operate the controls of his bed well, and now has a decent TV, although I doubt he will watch it much. He dislikes TV about like a toothache.

We were with him for about an hour and he finally was wore out. We left him at that point so he could rest. All in all, we were very happy at how he's coming along. We also watched him do some face and neck exercises. With his attitude I would guess he will be ahead of schedule with his healing.

Jan

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Saturday the 22nd

Things are definitely improving. I walked in there this morning and saw a wheelchair in his room. It was there because he had been using it. His day started with another shower scrub down. They finished that and got him all re-bandaged up. They then had him walk back to his room from the scrub room. That is about 150 feet to walk. They then had him walk back to the physical therapy room which is right across from the shower room. He did a hand bicycle exercise and a bunch of other range of motion exercises, and had him go back to his room. Then he got put in the wheelchair and rolled around the hospital for a mini tour. His nurse Jessie took him outside the building to the front for a little while for a change of scenery.

This all left him completely exhausted. They brought his lunch in to him and he tried to eat it, but after a couple of bites, he passed out asleep. His pain medications are working out much better. He is off the line in pain killers and they are just giving him Percocet and Tylenol. He is doing so well with it that he is using less than the average pill popping degenerate. Yesterday he was complaining about his pain getting a little bad and called the nurse over to adjust it. The nurse told me that it had been over 10 hours since he had taken any pain killers and that Danny had not wanted any all day until just then. That is pretty good. This is the first time I have seen them leave his ears uncovered, and they look alright. They are really scabby, but that is a good sign.

Now that the medication is straightened out and he is not completely confused all the time, he says he may be ready for visitors. We are going to open it back up to anyone who wants to go see him starting Monday. Please just keep in mind that he is always exhausted and can't entertain guests for very long. If you would keep your visits short, I am sure that he would love to see people.

I hope that this news makes people feel better about the whole thing. After seeing where he started out 10 days ago and where he is now, the progress is unreal.

Andy

**********************************************************

I will be adding our observations to this update on Sunday morning. It's 11:00 p.m. Saturday and we just arrived home after spending the evening with Danny.

Jan

OK, I'm awake and ready to tell you about Danny's Saturday. He really doesn't have days of the week, since right now one is the same as any other for him.

We had two visits with Danny on Saturday, the first being from noon until 3:30 p.m. We first tried to help and encourage him to eat, but he's still having difficulty swallowing and even having an appetite. Sometime around 2:00, his speech and swallowing coach came in to do checks and evaluations with him. He's doing everything right as far as getting food and liquids down, but the speaking voice is weak. The coach said it's because his vocal cords are not coming together all the way. If a certain amount of improvement doesn't occur soon, then a check of his throat and vocal cords will be necessary. Following his check up, Danny was tired and we told him that we would be back later in the evening to see him. He was falling asleep and we were just about to walk out when his physical therapist showed up. Judy asked if it would be alright if we could be there for the workout session. Since we're his parents, we were told it was fine.

The physical therapy session was most likely the same as what Andy has described previously. Getting to the therapy room was more of an ordeal that just walking from point to point. A walker is brought around along with a wheelchair, after which all the support tubes and containers needed are hooked to the walker. It takes two people to get him down the hall. The physical therapist is his primary assistant pulling the oxygen bottle and making sure he don't fall while using the walker. The other person follows directly behind with the wheelchair so Danny can have a place to sit down immediately if needed. The pace of Danny's walk is very slow and careful. It took him about ten minutes to go 75 feet. At the two thirds point, he became exhausted and had to be put in the wheel chair for the rest of the trip.

In the therapy room, he did the range of motion exercises and the bicycle pedaling with his arms routine. He was having trouble with pain while sitting in the wheelchair and paused a few times during the hand pedaling to readjust. These exercises were strenuous enough that he was sweating pretty good. After he was done pedaling with his arms, I gave it a try. For me it offered very little resistance and was very easy. For Danny it was very difficult, which showed me how weak he has become. Following the therapy he walked all the way back to his bed without sitting in the wheelchair. It took ten minutes on the return trip. As he was standing there with the staff, I noticed the comparison between him and other able bodied people. Danny has become frail, making me realize how much work he'll need to do to get back to where he was less than three weeks ago before the accident. We left as they were getting him into bed and told him we would be back at around 8:00 p.m.

We left the hospital and attended Andy and Debbie's engagement party, where everyone asked how Danny was doing. We gave our report to everyone that was interested, and enjoyed the goings on there. I kept thinking of Danny and how he couldn't be there, so I took a lot of pictures for him to look at later.

We left the party to return to the hospital by 8:00. When we got there Danny was trying to readjust himself in bed for comfort. He was grateful that we showed up and were able to help him. During this visit he was able to drink 8 oz. of chocolate milk. We met his nurse for the night and talked to her about taking care of his ears. She assured us that she would be gentle. We left for half an hour so she could do her job and then returned to find him in pain with his left ear dripping blood on the pillow and his gown. I can only guess that his scabs had been pulled off, but why, I really don't know. Danny was miserable and hurting. After the nurse left we looked at how the ears had been bandaged. He needed much more cream on them to assure the gauze would not stick when they were removed later. Judy and I made sure this was properly done before we left. We learned how to bandage those ears from one of the nurses Danny likes. We made sure he was comfortable and able to reach his water and were about to leave, when an assistant came along and moved the table with the water. We had to stop her and explain that Danny wanted it there. Each person coming in to assist him does it different and some are able to know what would be helpful for Danny. I'm guessing that sometime during the night the table got moved, but if we're lucky maybe not.

Jan

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday, August 21st

All reports from those who visited Danny today were very favorable. His partner in business, Chad, was able to see him for the first time since the accident. He said Danny looked like himself but was so medicated that staying awake was a problem. Andy had pretty much the same report.

Judy and I saw Danny right after the shift change at 8:00 p.m. and he wasn't hurting or having any unusual problems. We would talk to him and he would wake up slightly and talk to us, even though we suspect most of what he was saying was not based in reality. He told us that he had drank two cups of milk, but his milk was sitting on the tray mostly full and they only bring one cup full during the day. (Update: Below in the comments, Andy set me straight with this story. He says Danny did have more than one glass of milk. Oooops) He's still being fed through the tube. I did notice his monitor and it showed the body temp to be 38.7 which is a bit high. 37.0 is normal body temp. He was breathing normal and his oxygen level was between 95 and 100.

Danny's appearance is changing for the better every time I see him. Today his face was almost clear of any signs of healing, and the skin is very smooth, looking like the skin of a young child. His lips and the area around his mouth are still looking a bit rough, but Judy told me that the day before they looked much better.
He's breathing mostly through his mouth and we suspect that is the reason for the chapped lips. We haven't seen any other areas below his neck, so as far as the grafted and donor areas we can only rely on what we are told, and all those reports are good. I was comparing what his face and head looks like now and what he looked like in a picture that's taped to the wall. I was paying particular attention to his nose and hairline, and as far as I can tell nothing is different. His ears are still healing and covered with cream and gauze, so they were not visible.

Danny should be a bit happier now since we took his personal razor from home and left it with him. The hospital provides the cheap disposables for the patients and he had been complaining about that for a week.

Not too much in the way of dramatic improvements at this time. We were told that he will be up and walking on Saturday and every day from now on. It may be only a trip around the nurses station (50 to 100 feet). I'm sure any change from laying in the bed will be very welcome for Danny.

Jan

Thursday, August 20

Today was a rather good day for Danny. The way that my schedule has worked out, I have always been there at some of the worst times. I usually get there around wound care time and which means that he is getting drugged up and ready for his daily beating. Then he is in bad pain and hallucinating from painkillers and in a bad way.
That was the case yesterday. I got there just before they changed his bandages. He told me that he was really worried about it because of how bad it had hurt the day before. I went to run some erands while they changed the bandages. When i came back he was complaining about how bad it hurt. On most days he rates his pain at about a 4 or 5 out of 10. Now he said it was between a 9 and 10, 10 being absolutly unbearable. He was hitting the button to call the nurse and passing out from the pain. He was getting so desperate that he almost sat up and crawled out of bed. This went on for a long time and it seemed like it wasn't getting any better. Leaving out most of the details, it was pretty awful to see him in such a bad way.

From yesterday to today was a night and day difference. I came in first thing in the morning after i got off of work to find him sleeping soundly. I sat there for an hour and all he did was move his arms around a couple of times. He said a couple of crazy things to me right as I was getting up to leave, but I think it was the painkillers talking. Shift change came around so I decided to go home and get some sleep. I came back about 4 hours later and he was feeling much better about his situation. Wound care had gone much better today and they shaved him for the first time in a couple of days. Something had been done to ease his pain back to something a little more bearable and he was not goofy from the drugs. He was talking about how desperate he had been over the previous two days. It had been his worst two days by far.

Hopefully he has hit a turning point. There is a lot of good news with him though. The grafts on his arms are healing very well. His face is looking good too. As most people have not seen him for a week or so, you will not believe the difference. He looks like himself again. His fever is down and he is ahead of schedule as far as healing progress goes. The morning of his last grafting surgery, he was up and walking. He walked all the way around the nursing station. One of the long time nurses said "For someone burned as bad as he was to be up and walking that much is unheard of". He is doing stuff at the two weeks mark that normally takes people until the four week mark. The physical therapist is calling him superman because of how fast he is improving. She also said that she has not seen someone come in in such bad shape and progress so quickly.So even though he is having bad days, he is still way ahead of the curve for recovery.

He is still to tired to eat more than a few bites of food at a time and his feeding tube is still a bane to his existence, but he is still hopeful for a speedy recovery. His own positive attitude is a hugely important factor in his recovery. I expect in the next couple of days to see a big improvement as his surgeries and skin donor sites heal a little more.

Andy

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Another good day today

I seem to miss the good days when I'm unable to go see Danny. Judy reports that he was doing much better today than yesterday. He was eating better, or at least trying to. He was asking about people that have come by or would like to see him. He was wondering why I wasn't there today, which all these things are good signs that his mind is clearer.

Danny is starting to itch. We all know how it feels when we're on the mend and the owie starts to itch. That's what Danny is starting to go through. I've been told he can reach the itch, but with his gloves on, scratching is not very effective.

That's about it from his parents. We sure hope the improvements just keep rolling in.

Thank you for all the comments in response to these postings. When Danny is finally able to read all of them, it will lift his spirits I'm sure. These comments by you, his friends, are every bit as good as a card or balloons and flowers. As far as Danny needing anything to occupy his time,
eventually he will have his laptop and telephone. Hopefully he will also contribute to this blog.

Jan

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A day of negative progress

Wednesday evening.

Dannys legs needed to be unwrapped and re wrapped today. He developed an elevated white blood cell count and fever. The doctor wanted to make sure his legs were alright and thus unwrapped and checked them. They are fine and doing well.

The other possible cause was his artery line which is used for vital information such as heart rate, oxygen level, etc. It's a likely source of infection, and they decided to change it's location from his right chest area to his left upper arm.

All that activity of changing and reapplying bandages and artery lines caused some of the worst pain Danny has experienced during his recovery. He told us that at one point the pain was so intense he passed out.

It's hard to know when he's able to tell reality from his imagination and we were told by doctor Morris this could happen. I want to believe the things he is telling us are factual, but he told Catherine this evening that we didn't stop by today, when actually we were there for a couple of hours and changed the dressing on his ears. He prefers we do it since we take the time to be very gentle and avoid hurting him while removing the old bandages. Although his ears look gruesome with bleeding and scabbing, that is actually a good sign of healing. Over all, Danny's face looks very good. Any swelling is gone and he looks totally normal.

The doctor decided that the staff should administer Danny's pain medications for a few days. Danny wasn't giving himself enough to get proper rest. Although he was medicated this afternoon, he was awake long enough for us to change the dressing on his ears, but by the time we were done, he just wanted some warm blankets on him so he could sleep. He was hoping to sleep until midnight.

Tomorrow will be the third day since his leg grafts. I'm not sure when the weeping liquid will stop coming from the areas of the surgery. It makes the linen wet and laying in wetness all the time is truly maddening. I'm sure it's a mental strain along with the physical discomfort. We can only hope the next day or two will bring improvements over these trials.

Jan

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Day 15

Tuesday 9:40 p.m.

Judy saw Danny today and he's doing real well. He was awake most of the day and relatively alert. He was talking about business concerns and insurance matters.

The most recent surgery has left him in an uncomfortable state, mostly from fluids that accompany the healing. Last evening the staff gave Danny control of his pain medication to administer it as needed. He was very happy to have some control over any aspect of his own well being.

He's been eating better today. Judy says he ate twice as much today than he did yesterday. He still has issues with nausea, so he was given a medication which eliminates it for a short time as he eats. We suspect it's the feeding tube in his throat that is part or all of the problem. Once he was medicated, he ate much better and enjoyed it more.

Judy thinks that visitors will soon be able to come by.

Not too much more to report, but we're pleased with today's progress.

Jan

Monday, August 17, 2009

Today should be Danny's last surgery

It's 8:40 a.m. as I write this on Monday morning.

Judy and I are leaving early to talk to Danny before his surgery at 10:00. He will be getting tissue replacement on areas of his legs and probably his left hand. We will be talking to the doctor after the surgery and will let you all know how things went.

Once again, your concern and prayers are very much appreciated.

Jan

3:15 p.m. Monday afternoon

We went to see Danny prior to his surgery this morning and as usual, he was sleeping. Judy would softly talk to him and he would nod his head yes or no, but he was not really able to wake up for more than 10 or 15 seconds.

One of the attendants said Danny had been walking earlier in the morning. The staff helped him walk down the hall and back to his bed, while staying within the burn unit. This was his first real walking in almost two weeks. His face and head looked much better today than yesterday. During the night, I woke up and was thinking about Danny's ears and how they looked yesterday. I started worrying that some reconstruction may be needed, but when I saw them today there were a few small spots of dark skin and the rest looked fine. It was a relief to see them looking so good after I had talked myself into thinking the worst. His lips and chin still have a dark look to them and I expect that it will change very soon and will be fine.

Now for news on today's surgery. He was scheduled for 10:00 depending on when the doctor finished with the patient prior to Danny. We left the burn unit just before 10:00 and waited for almost 3 1/2 hours before the doctor came to the waiting room. At 1:10 p.m. he came to chat with us and told us Danny is doing well and should be fine. The areas of tissue replacement involved both legs, but primarily the left upper thigh. We were told that any burns on Danny's butt looked good enough to heal on their own. This was very good news, since we had been told early on, that area was third degree and would need tissue replacement. One of the best parts about today's surgery would be that it was not necessary to use tissue from a skin bank. All the replacement tissue was Danny's own and will not be the problem that cadaver skin would be. The doctor also informed us that Danny's arms are doing well and are healing nicely. No mention was made of his left hand, and we forgot to ask.

It was all good news today and even though Danny should not move his legs for the next three days, I believe the worst is over. The task of healing and regaining strength is what's ahead for the next few weeks/months. Danny's primary problem now will be overcoming any nausea and fatigue he'll be plagued with.

After work today, Andy and Debbie will be with him. Then if Danny is awake, Catherine will go see him later this evening. He is well taken care of at this time and I hope that soon he will be well enough to have all his wonderful friends stop by.

Best wishes,
Jan

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sunday afternoon August 16th

Things are pretty much the same as yesterday as far as eating, drinking and sleeping. He's only able to stay awake for ten or fifteen minutes. Danny's attitude seems about normal for his situation. He's fighting and doing his best, but the progress is slow for him I'm sure. He's more accustomed to getting things done quickly when he puts his efforts toward something. I know he would like a quicker recovery but this is beyond anything we've ever been through. Patience is the foremost lesson being learned here.

He has made progress in several different areas. He now has full range of motion with his arms and is able to assist him self with a few tasks. When we arrived today, the staff had him out of bed and standing for a few moments. The last thing new is the gloves he is now wearing, which is a change from yesterday.

Not much other than that to report. Andy and Debbie showed up at about 6:00, so we left our patient in their care.

Jan

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Latest with Danny Boy

On Friday the 14th, Danny's mother and I went to visit him and help him with his dinner. When we got there, his previous meal was still on the tray uneaten, and he was asleep. He was so loaded with painkillers that we didn't get to feed him or talk to him at all. He was that way because of a shower earlier in the day which included a body scrub to get all the dead skin off. For those that have not heard about or know of this process, it's extremely painful. It's much like a dark ages torture but with painkillers.

His male nurse talked to us a little and told us his arms are healing pretty good, but in one small area the graft is a bit thin. That should heal fine, it's a little slow is all. We sat with Danny for almost 2 hours and started to fall asleep ourselves, so we decided to return home and let him continue to sleep. (Like we had any choice in the matter.)

Today, Saturday the 15th, Judy went to see him because we were under the impression that these showers/scrubs would take place every other day. If he was awake, I would follow later on and join them to help out. She was able to assist some and he ate a few things, but he told her of how tired he was of the sweet stuff they offered. (Fruit, pudding, etc.) There was some cream of chicken soup available and he enjoyed that quite a bit. He also had pureed meat he tried to eat but was so tired that he asked Judy to wake him up in twenty minutes and he would try again. He finally gave up on it. A big deal for Danny and his state of mind happened today when they took the splints off his arms and he was able to hold the suction tube. He was so pleased that he could operate it and place it in his mouth where he wanted and needed it. These events happened in a short time period, with Danny sleeping off and on all the while.

Judy says they will be doing another body scrub tomorrow (Sunday) and will continue each day until all the bad skin is removed. Those scrubs make him so tired that he can't do much afterward. Also on Monday they will be doing more skin graft surgery on the areas that need it. His body is rejecting the burnt tissue and it's the reason for his fever. He doesn't have enough of his own skin to use, so they will be applying tissue from a skin bank. That tissue comes from cadavers and since it won't be his own, his body will reject it. The hospital staff is fully aware of this and says it's a method used for a temporary solution until Danny's body has enough skin to harvest. It also prepares the area of injury to accept his own tissue later on. * * * An added note: Sunday the 16th, 1:30 pm. Judy was talking to a friend of ours who is a medical professional and deals with small skin grafts frequently. He says the donor tissue from the tissue bank always adheres and is a success in his procedures. It could be the difference in the size of the wound that determines the outcome.

One goal he's working for, is to get the feeding tube out of his nose. To do that he must eat and get nourishment the old fashioned way, but right now it's making him nauseous to swallow solid food. So as Danny puts it, it's a vicious cycle he's having trouble breaking. It's just one more obstacle he will need to overcome in this uphill hike.
Liquids are no problem any more and he has requested that we bring bottles of cold filtered water whenever we see him.

Danny is still very weak and tired. He knows you all care for him and would like to see him. When he gives us the word, everyone will be notified.

Jan

Friday, August 14, 2009

Half Empty or Half Full?

I spent a few hours with Danny at the hospital this morning. It was a fairly uneventful visit (which is a good thing). His temperature had dropped, he was breathing well and trying to figure out how to eat and drink again. He was still a little loopy from all his medicine. The nurses and I exchanged some funny glances and stifled laughter on a few occasions!

He did say something that I was amazed by and it is worth passing on. At one point the nurse asked if he was okay or if there was anything else she could do for him. He said,"Nope, I'm perfect." She said, "Do you mean your temperature is perfect--not too hot or too cold?" He replied, "No, I'm the most perfect I've felt in days. I'm not dizzy, I can drink water when I want, I'm not in pain and I'm the perfect temperature. I'm perfect!" I was so impressed by his ability to look for the good in his current situation instead of dwelling on all that is hard and miserable. I think I need to try harder to do the same.

Catherine

More details from my point of view

The updates prior to this one are actually more recent than what I'm about to write, but it's always good to know what went on during all times, and this will be a record for Danny to understand the healing he went through. I will start by going back two days beginning with Tuesday night.

My first all nighter (Tuesday night / Wednesday morning) was the first night after removal of his breathing tube and the most difficult as far as seeing the discomfort and suffering of our patient. He was coughing up all the stuff that had accumulated for a week. It was up to us to help him out by providing suction for clearing his mouth. I knew this was helping to clear his lungs and throat, but what I was getting out of him was pasty and not very fluid. He was dry inside and pleaded for water. We were told he wouldn't be able to have any for a couple of hours. That was so hard for me to hear. The two hours that we were told was for Danny's benefit. Off to the side, the attendant told me he wouldn't get any water until the next day. It actually turned into a day and a half before he was able to have any liquids to drink. Andy touched on this a bit, but I was feeling so guilty that I could get a drink of water and Danny wasn't able to. It became hard to fill a cup and drink what I needed. Knowing he couldn't drink, brought to my mind the story of the Crucifixion of Jesus and how thirsty he was. That was truly a low point I went through in Danny's progress.

A comment on the delirious hallucinations. I relieved Judy early Wednesday morning and that's when I first learned about Danny's nightmares. She told me he was thinking he was on fire. That hurt knowing he was going through that again. I've witnessed hallucinating previously as members of my family were close to dieing, but they were quite old and we knew the end was coming. Danny was going to survive and be fine, but the delirium planted doubts for me that I needed to put aside and forget about. As time went on, he would raise his head and I could tell he was seeing things only imagined. I would ask "what do you see Danny?" He would tell me then say "I'm hallucinating right?", and I would tell him what was real and what was not. His comprehension of understanding the difference was impressive. At one point he raised his head and told me he heard bagpipes. I asked if he recognized what they were playing. He paused for a moment and said "Amazing grace". I had to laugh at that one. Of course they were, every bagpiper plays that song but the troubling part was, it's usually at a funeral.

At some point, a respiratory mask was put on Danny's face and humidified air was pumped to him. That relieved my concern about him having such a dry mouth and throat, but it didn't go far enough. I was still wanting to give him some water just to swish around in his mouth.

Andy showed up around 6:00 am Wednesday morning and helped out with what needed to be done. At 7:00 we left and got about an hours worth of sleep while the staff had shift change. After 8:00 we came back and continued attending to the suction, feeling helpless the whole time. Judy arrived to let us both leave and get some sleep. I might mention that Debbie seemed to always be there. Every time I've been there, I've seen her at either the beginning of my shift, or the end, or both. She has helped as much as anybody during all this.

My next night (Wednesday night / Thursday morning) was much more peaceful. I arrived at 8:10 pm, only to find Debbie there too. Debbie stayed for a while then decided she needed to go home and rest. I agreed. This night, they had the positive pressure respirator on Danny, and he was sleeping well. He had fallen asleep close to 6:00 pm. As I sat there and watched him, he didn't move all night and seemed very calm. At 3:00 am I had to go out in my truck for some sleep. When I returned a little after 6:00 am, Andy was at Danny's side and they were talking a little bit. Danny was finally doing well and I could feel my self start to relax. He still hadn't had any water in his mouth, but there was nothing we could do about that. I was thankful for the humidified air being given to him through his respirator. When they had us leave for shift change at 7:00, that's the last time I saw him.

Judy spent all day Thursday with Danny and saw some of the great moments of his recovery. That would be: seeing him get his first water and the subsequent "chocolate milk" along with ice cream. She said they had him take a mouth full of water and rinse. That was what he needed so bad to get rid of all that dry stuff his mouth had produced. We've all heard of "cotton mouth". I didn't know until now a description could be so close to reality. Judy said after eliminating all that misery, Danny was ready to get to the business of swallowing water, and that he did. He was able to have a cracker dipped in water, which he then navigated down the proper channel with no problem. All these minor events are huge steps forward to recovery.

Judy and I will be back to see him later this afternoon (Friday) and will feed him his dinner. Since his hands are still bandaged, for a time he will need help weilding spoons full of food.

I know there will probably be discouragement as we go along, but our patient is a strong one, and will overcome the low spots.

Jan

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Chocolate Milk Anyone?

I really don't know if anyone cares about these details, but I'll share anyway. I just returned from the hospital and Danny passed his swallow tests today! This is a HUGE deal because he has been so thirsty and it has been torture for all of us to deny him liquid. He requested his favorite morning beverage--chocolate milk! I'll never forget the look on his face as he took his first sip--pure joy!

He was doing so much better today. He was calm and able to sleep. His breathing had become much more regular and less labored. I think we are all realizing that this will continue to be a roller coaster and we just have to ride it out.

Just think Danny, in a few days we'll be able to bring you donuts to go with that chocolate milk!

Catherine

Week 2: Things are beginning to improve.

I will just kind of recap the last couple of days and tell everyone where we are now. My dad and Catherine have already said some of this stuff, but I am just doing a general recap.

Everyone was very happy to see the breathing tube come out and have him breathing on his own. He was finally able to talk and tell us what he was feeling and what he needed. He was lucid and in the moment. He even seemed to be in high spirits for someone in his condition. He was asking questions about his injuries and about his friends and family. He wanted to see the pictures we had on the wall. He even told me some jokes and made me laugh about some stuff. Everything looked really good.
Unfortunately, it only took a couple hours before things started going really bad. He was breathing on his own, but just barely. He was using every muscle in his body to draw a breath. It looked like he was a man under water trying to breath. They had to reposition some of the tubes going into him to different insertion points to avoid infection. This moving of the tubes, changing his bandages, moving him around, and all of the other factors caused him to go into respiratory arrest. I was not there when this happened, and thank you mom and dad for making sure that I didn't find out about it for a couple of days. I may have had a stroke at the time. Luckily, it is not too big of a deal to stop breathing when you have 6 doctors and nurses standing around you. They got him going again quickly.
He was still was still breathing like he had just sprinted a marathon, and he was beginning to develop a bronchial infection and a mild case of pneumonia. His throat was bone dry and the muscles were really weak from having the tube in for a week. Now he was coughing up all the crap in his lungs and throat without being able to swallow or spit it out. Every time he coughed the stuff had to be sucked out of his mouth. His nurses so far have been top notch, ( colby and erica especially have prevented me from multiple anxiety attacks) but they have a lot to do and can't stand there with him every minute of the day waiting for him to cough. When I told him I had to go to work, he panicked about who would be there to help him breath. Even though his nurses know what they are doing and can handle it, I can't blame him. It takes about two seconds of being unable to breath before I would freak out, and he is in that situation all day. Luckily, between Me, Debbie (I am glad that I asked her to marry me), my mom and my dad, we were able to have someone there with him around the clock. Thanks dad for being there 2 nights in a row. It was mostly just to give him peace of mind.( and to give us peace of mind.)
He was also having problems dealing with the drugs. Danny has always been one to avoid medications and drugs unless he really needed it. Now he is being pumped full of the stuff. He was doing good on the first pain killer they had been giving him, but he had begun to develop a bit of a tolerance to it. When they switched him to another kind of pain killer, it started messing with him. He probably had not had real sleep in 7 days. That, combined with the new medicine, sent him in to a delirium. He was seeing things and was totally confused about where he was and what was going on. He was hallucinating and hearing things. It was really hard to watch. It kind of scared me. Hopefully he won't remember a lot of the time he was all loopy.
His other major complaint was the dryness of his throat and mouth. He said it was almost unbearable. A week with a tube in his mouth had caused him to get what he describes as a thick paste lining his whole mouth. He felt like it was choking him. Unfortunately, he cannot have any water. His throat is weakened to the point that even a small amount of water in his mouth could go straight into his lungs causing a major infection. It sucks when a guy is pleading with you for a couple drops of water and you have to say no. My dad and I were in the waiting room drinking a glass of water and feeling guilty about it.
That went on for two days.
As of today, things are much improved. I spent several hours with him this morning after I got off of work. Last night they gave him a mask similar to a sleep apnea mask so that he could breath a little more easily. His pain medication has been straightened out so that he no longer is delirious, and he actually got some real sleep for most of the night. While his breath is still quite labored, it is not even close to how bad it was. He is not coughing nearly as frequently, his face is starting to look better, and the swelling is way down.
After the worst 10 days of my life, I can say that I am feeling a little bit better about his outlook. When I first arrived in his room this morning, he was occasionally lifting his arms up and moving them around. He was also lifting his head up and down and moving he legs as much as he could. It looked like he was doing it because he was in pain. I asked him what he was doing and he said that if he kept trying to move, he would get out of there sooner. Yep. I think that Danny is still Danny. They say he will be out of there by the first part of October. Don't be surprised if it is sometime in September.
When I left he was sleeping. He needs all of the sleep he can get. For this reason we are still asking everyone to stay home and save your visits for later. When he is a little stronger, he will appreciate some guests a little more. Perhaps he will be ready for visitors on Monday. We will let you know. Keep sending him your positive energy, though.

Andy.



Sometimes It Feels Like One Step Forward and Two Steps Back

Just a quick update on the events of the last two days. I was with Danny on Tuesday when the nurse came in and told me they wanted to remove the tubes and get him off the ventilator. They asked me to leave for 15 minutes and when I returned he was awake and very alert and breathing on his own! It was very labored breathing (sounded a little like Darth Vadar). He tried to talk and didn't have much of a voice, but I could understand about half of what he said. He was surprisingly coherent and had a lot of questions. He wanted to know what day and time it was, what his injuries were, if he'd had surgery and where. He asked me what his face looked like and about each of my kids. He even referred to a few things I had told him when he was sedated and I knew he had probably heard more than I thought. It was so wonderful to have him back for a little bit and know that he is still the same person. I was elated when I left the hospital. It seemed like we had reached a major milestone and things would just get better and better.

I should have realized that a day that great would be followed by a really difficult one. That is just how these things go. Only a few hours after I left he began hallucinating (as Jan referred to in his last post) and he was so, so thirsty. He is sufficiently hydrated, so that isn't the concern, but they won't let him have a drink because he isn't swallowing correctly. Apparently he didn't sleep much Tuesday night and it was a rough night for everyone.

When I arrived yesterday around 5pm he was very agitated. He had developed a fever, so they knew he was getting some sort of infection. They were unsure of the source of the infection and thought it might be in his central line, so they removed it and put a new one in. He suffered some complications during that process, but they were able to get it in. When I was there they had him breathing through a humidifier mask to keep his throat moist and loosen up the junk in his lungs. They are fairly certain he is developing pneumonia and they need to keep things loose so he can cough it all up. The mask drives him crazy and he kept begging me to take it off of him. At one point he said "Just take it off me for five minutes, the nurse won't get mad, I promise!" I laughed and told him she would kick me out if I didn't follow her orders. They still weren't allowing him to drink and it is driving him crazy. He was having mild hallucinations and seemed to be in a lot of pain. It was so hard to watch. Finally the respiratory therapist arrived and changed him to a different kind of mask that helps him breathe a little and he was able to relax and go to sleep.

I left feeling very discouraged, but in talking to the nurses I realized this is all part of the process. I think it is easy to forget how critical his injuries are and how hard his body is working to try to heal itself. He is just so exhausted. But, today is a new day and hopefully one with some good news! I haven't heard reports from the hospital yet to see how his night was, but hopefully he got some sleep. I'm sure Jan will post an update sometime today. Thanks for your continued prayers and support.

Catherine

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Two steps forward and one step back

Right now, Danny is doing good physically but his mental is getting messed with by the medications. I believe it's the pain meds that are causing hallucinating at this time. I just got back from an all nighter with him and he's going through some difficult things in his mind.

He is very limited on water intake because he is not swallowing like he should and the water ends up in the wrong place. It causes problems with choking and possible lung infection. He gets a few drops of water on a very small sponge but still has difficulty with it.

After the wound maintenance was done, I was told his grafts are coming along well and everything is fine with him physically. There is still one other surgery coming up in a week or so, and that should be the last.

The hospital staff let us know that they won't be allowing any visitors to see Danny for a few days, except for the family. We appreciate all the prayers and concern, and hope everything is well for everyone who is following this.

Jan

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Good News

The trouble with the good news is that I don't have time to write about it in detail. I need to be at the hospital tonight to help our Danny Boy through the night.

I will say that they were able to take the breathing tube out today.

He is extremely tired and weak at this time and does not believe he would be able to have visitors for a few days. As soon as he is up to it, we will let you know when you can see him. That information will be posted here.

He thanks all his friends and wishes you well.

Jan