Thursday, September 24, 2009

All things work to the good

Hi everyone -- this is the first time I've had a chance to write on Dan's blog. I've been up to my eyeballs meeting folks, getting updates from the medical team on Dan's progress, getting settled in our temporary apartment with Les, spending time with other families in the ICU Waiting Room, responding to questions and signing consent forms, spending time at Dan's side soothing/massaging/visualizing to help with the pain (he loves having his temples rubbed and thinking of Fiji where his friend Tiko's family hosted him for his Christmas vacation last December), meeting his friends, USNA classmates, families of friends/classmates, people flying in from everywhere. Unfortunately, until the risk of infection is not a concern, he's had to put the kabosh on all visitors. This will continue while he's in the ICU. He may be moving to 5-East soon, and then he'll feel much better, but establishing a routine will be very important, with limited visiting hours, so he can focus on healing, recovering, getting acquainted with his wounded warrior brothers, meeting the dynamic and hard-working Care Coalition members who have yet to personally meet him while they've been working behind the scenes taking care of our many needs, and starting a PT regimen. Structure rocks!

I have so many people I want to thank, I don't know where to begin. England, Landers and Cnossen families for all their support, neighbors and friends who brought food to the farm to feed the SEAL team who initially spent time with us, SEAL teammates and USNA classmates and family members, admirals and their caring wives, Care Coalition team, National Naval Medical Center (Bethesda) staff, Westar co-workers who have sent countless prayers/cards/gifts/blessings (Jeff just told me today that Jeffrey Energy Center has Dan's pictures posted all around the plant and is doing a major chili feed fundraiser! How awesome is that!), in addition to numerous co-workers already easing my transition back to work in October. Countless blog comments and reminiscences of Dan left me speechless and very emotional. SHHS teachers and classmates cheering him on after all these years. Schoolkids making artwork and sending cards of love and thanks for service to country - these are going to decorate his 5-East room for sure, as well as the apartment! Churches all over the country that established prayer chains. Prayer blankets and specially made quilts to wrap Dan in love and care for his recovery and healing. Donations to help with unknown needs; clam chowder from Boston and even a bamboo plant to brighten our living space! Phonecalls galore and friends of friends who live in the area who've offered to take us out to eat, spend time, shop, get us out for some respite...and numerous folks who've flown all the way from the West Coast to check on their wounded brother and his family. Wounded warriors who have written and offered to act as mentors as Dan begins his long road to recovery and independence. The Navy that has repeatedly stressed they will stick with Dan the rest of his life, supporting him and giving him options once he knows the direction his life will take as he turns this new leaf. I have a tremendous respect for the military and their care for those who have sacrificed and served. They truly leave no one behind! The medical team at Nationa Naval Medical Center at Bethesda -- an awesome team of the world's best physicians and nurses and allied health professionals who spend a substantial amount of their precious time asking if we have needs, questions, how can they ease our transition into this vast, unknown new world. We stand in awe of them and their expertise treating the types of wounds they're seeing more and more in this dangerous world.

Let me indulge my Proud Mom streak just a bit now. We couldn't be helping Dan's recovery like this without Leslie's decision to devote her life to being with her brother, serving as not only his sister but his companion and care advocate. Many decisions will need to be made, and her help with these decisions will be invaluable to Daniel. She'll be great company for him as well, and her upbeat tone about everything life deals us is a treat to behold, keeping him in good spirits. He depends on her nursing knowledge and just plain common sense. She's a wonder on this blog and all the modern communications technology so necessary to keep on top of everything going on and coordinating what needs to be done on an hourly basis, it seems. God bless our children!

I also want to thank my husband Jeff for taking care of our home and farm while I'm here in Bethesda. His support means the world to me.

Daniel is in good spirits as long as he gets rest (and now, food and WATER! and other beverages he so loves, like coconut water and smoothies, not to mention his favorite papayas, kiwi, bananas, grapes, etc.). He has been so sleep deprived, and surgeries every other day take their toll. So, we do appreciate everyone's understanding of his need for privacy, rest, following doctors and nurses' orders and just plain healing over time. It's amazing how his body is healing itself in so many ways. We especially appreciate the special fancy air bed ICU ordered for his body, which just isn't used to spending so many hours flat in bed. The doctors are still working on pain management, and getting Dan off his epidural. He's had a consistent fever the entire time he's been here, and the epidural is the suspected source of the infection, so they're slowly weaning him off it. He's currently in surgery right now to stabilize the back side of the pelvis with surgical pins. Plastic surgery has been consulting on his inner thigh wounds - one leg should close and heal on its own, but the other will require skin grafts. Tomorrow he will go back to the OR again for more wound cleaning - this will be 3 surgeries in 3 days.

Well, dear friends, I hope I haven't left anyone out. We have been overwhelmed with your love, caring, concern, prayers and support. I KNOW all your prayers have been instrumental in Daniel's survival and now miraculous inner wound healing...they are making the difference in his very amazing recovery! God bless you all, and God bless our beautiful, wonderful country! We are so grateful to you and to the men and women guiding and protecting us. Thank you!



  1. Alice,
    I know this drill all too well. I am standing by for orders from the Care Coalition to come out there when your family is ready. I look forward to meeting all of you and catching up with Dan when the timing's right. Stay strong in during never ending hospital days and know that the support NEVER ceases. If anything, it only becomes more prevalent in your lives. You all will continue to be in my prayers.

    God bless,
    Andy Haffele

  2. Alice,
    I know this drill all too well. I am standing by for orders from the Care Coalition to come out there when your family is ready. I look forward to meeting all of you and catching up with Dan when the timing's right. Stay strong during those never ending hospital days and know that the support NEVER ceases. If anything, it only becomes more prevalent in your lives. You all will continue to be in my prayers.

    God bless,
    Andy Haffele

  3. Hi Alice,
    So good to hear your voice as I read your post. Your family's journey has been incredible. I am so glad you are feeling supported and well taken care of. I've been eagerly reading the posts about Dan and sending lots of prayers and positive energy your way. Take care of yourselves and please let me know if there is anything I can do at this end. Love, Karen Rowinsky

  4. Heart and prayers are with you all.

  5. Hello, was recently an occupant of 5E.

    Sounds like you are right on the $ with the rest, especially doing the surgeries every other Day.

    There are some really good kids working up there, Corpsmen who are very invested. When he gets moved, if you get the chance, request Josh or Thomas as the Corpsmen. They took phenominal care of me. Tell them you are a friend of "Senior Chief" and they'll know the deal.
    God bless Dan and all of his people. This is a very difficult time.
    Also, please email me if you feel like you need some insider information regarding some of the tough emotional issues that he will be addressing as he gets better. He will have some heavy self-reflection. I can help. I promise.
    You are all in our prayers.

  6. Came across this accidentally today, thought the LT might like it. A wikipedia article about Douglas Bader, who lost both legs but went on to become an ace in WWII:

  7. Dan, Alice and Leslie,
    My families' thoughts and prayers are with you every day. My husband Is a SCPO, recently returned from deployment with ST-5, now at TRADET, and as soon as I posted the link to your web site on my facebook page, our friends and family started donating, writing, and baking, even. An angel of a lady will probably be sending Dan some brownines. My husband receives them regularly every deployment. I hear they are fantastic! I myself am a surgical/trauma ICU RN, and know exactly what Dan and you, as family members are going through. The updates are fantastic. It sounds like he is getting fabulous care, and I pray for pain control. I know it's one of the hardest things. God bless all of you.

  8. God speed to Dan in his healing and to his family for thiers. My family is greatful for his service and sacrifice. I lived in Yardley, PA at the time of the 9/11 attacks and saw first hand the devistation terrorists like those Dan was fighting caused. Almost a dozen people from the area I lived in did not make it home that day including the Pilot Victor Sarcini.

    We are grateful.

    Kevin Bunn & Family

  9. Alice/Leslie,
    Thanks for having me out there, we are all keeping Dan and you guys in our thoughts and prayers.
    Dan mentioned that he would be interested in emailing Corey Novotny, the corpsman who helped him out when he was hurt. his email is

    All the guys from our Troop who are still deployed are pulling for you guys, Bryan and John will be out there soon to visit. Take care and god bless you all.

    -Nick Hill

  10. I am a complete stranger to you Dan & your Mom, Alice and your sister Leslie (my name also) however I am here for two reasons - I tend to pick a Wounded Warrior to pray for and follow every year - my last one is at home doing well in his return to life - so your story, made you my next one. The second is that there are many reasons I chose to do this - but the most important is I'm the mother of a traumatically injured son. As they say, been there, done that. I know recovery beyond any prediction is possible - my youngest son is proof. Hang tough SEAL - We have your back.

  11. Dear Dan, and family:

    I came across your story via Michelle Malkin, and am very moved by it.

    Your courage, and determination, during these trying days is an inspiration to all, and I thank you for your service, and sacrifice on behalf of America, and freedom in the world.

    As I sit here wondering what I could do I figured that finding ways to lift the spirits of you, and your fellows at the hospital, and even other hospitals all across the nation, as you fight your way through to recovery, and a return to civilian life is an important part of what your caregivers, and family will be doing in the days, weeks, and months, to come.

    In that regard I have only one thing to offer you, and I freely encourage anyone who reads it to print it out, and share it with anyone in the military that you know, with my thanks, and gratitude, as I know others have in the years since I first wrote it in 2005:

    A Visit to Baghdad: A Christmas Tribute to the Troops =


    Kiril The Mad Macedonian

    The Mad Macedonian Broadcasting Network Compound and Think Tank, in Santa Ana, Ca..

  12. Hi,

    My son, Dan, a Lance Corporal, USMC infantry (machine-gunner)returned home from Iraq last night. This was his second deployment. During the first deployment last year, he lost a LCpl in his unit and two other Marines were badly injured. We all visited them at Bethesda Naval. I grew up in Bethesda and have a large family in the area, so please let me know if there is anything I can do for you. I know my way around that hospital and the whole D.C. area and would be happy to do anything for you. God bless you all. Semper fi!

  13. Dear Friends,

    As the oldest daughter of a Navy SEAL who fought in Korea - I stand honor and humble appreciation of your service and sacrifice!

    God is an awesome God and He is walking with you on this journey.

  14. Alice, I'm so glad Dan is doing well & that you are getting settled in Maryland. Thanks for updating us with this information. It makes it so much easier when we know Dan is progressing well. We will continue to pray for you & the family.

    Beth Gentry

  15. Hi ...I'm Dans cousin Lisa sending a message from Dean and Addie Hoffsommer....Daniel, We want to let you know we love you and thank you so much for your ultimate sacrifice for all of us. Our prayers for Gods comfort and healing.
    Our Love and Prayers,
    Your cousins Dean, Addie and Lisa

  16. Alice,

    Your family is in our thoughts and prayers. Dan was in the same company as my husband and I at the Naval Academy. I did not know Dan that well but I do know what a kind person he is and I'm so sorry this happened to him and your family. I will pray for you all daily. I remember how disciplined and strong he is and I know he is going to tackle this life altering challenge with grace and determination. May God give all of you the strength to get through this.

    You are in our hearts,
    Kristin and Bryan Hart