Saturday, September 19, 2009

To All Who Enter Here

Dan went back to the OR this morning for another surgery – he actually looks forward to his surgeries because he says they give him a good opportunity to sleep. The orthopedic surgeons successfully revised the amputation on his left leg, shortening it to just above the knee so that they could fully close the skin over the bone. His right leg is still amputated at the knee for now, but will get revised next week. He has extensive open wounds to both inner thighs – one thigh may be able to heal on its own, but the other will require skin grafting. The surgeons put a special type of dressing on that thigh today, to assist with the graft when the time comes. His pelvis is fractured in a pretty critical way – both sides are normally connected, but the blast was so powerful that in his case both pelvic bones are now separated. It’s currently stabilized by an external fixator – which looks sort of like metal scaffolding on the outside of his body. He needs pins surgically placed in the pelvis to hold the two bones together, one in front and one in back. His surgeons are planning on placing one pin to the back side of his pelvis as soon as next week. The front side pin will come later.

A major goal for the medical team right now is to figure out how to manage Dan’s pain. They’re making adjustments every day to try to find the right control. Right now he has an epidural block, as well as a continuous IV narcotic drip. He actually said today that he feels like his “toes are moving” – his nurse Kelly explained that the nerve pathways from the legs to the brain are still active, and were most likely stimulated by today’s surgery. They started Dan on a special medicine for nerve pain, which seemed to help.

Everyone should know how great he looks. He looks exactly the same as he did when you last saw him. He has a small cut on his face from shrapnel, but other than that, he’s still as handsome as it gets. His female doctors swoon. Nurses get giggly and smiley. The new Dan is a womanizer. He’s going to kill me.

He really is the best patient ever, as several nurses have told us. He remembers all the nurses’ and doctors’ names, first and last. All he asks of the staff is to help him brush his teeth. He can’t eat or drink anything yet, but he dreams of the day he can take a sip of water. For some reason he craves coconut water. I think he deserves beer. They are anticipating that by Monday he will be able to drink clear liquids. Right now he’s getting his nutrition mainly IV, but a little bit is through a feeding tube. For a guy that normally eats 3 subway sandwiches at one time, this really bites.

Saturday and Sunday will be good days for Dan – no scheduled surgeries until Monday. His goal is to rest, relax, and maybe work on some upper body strength in bed as best he can. He continues to amaze us every day. Your prayers are working and your support is greatly appreciated by me, our mom, and Dan himself.

To close, I just want to say a little bit about a letter Dan received today, from another wounded SEAL. He was shot in the face multiple times in Iraq in 2007. He was hospitalized in the same ICU as Dan, and posted the following on the door outside his room:

“ATTENTION: To all who enter here; if you are coming into this room with sorrow or to feel sorry for my wounds, go elsewhere. The wounds I received, I got in a job I love, doing it for people I love, supporting the freedom of a country I deeply love. I am incredibly tough and will make a full recovery. What is full? That is the absolute utmost physically my body has the ability to recover. Then I will push that about 20% further through sheer mental tenacity. This room you are about to enter is a room of fun, optimism, and intense rapid regrowth. If you are not prepared for that, go elsewhere.”

Thank you to everyone, have a great weekend, and God bless.


  1. Thoughts and prayers are with Dan.

  2. My son, known to teammates as Barney is also a part of Team 1. As a family member in support of the Team, I would like Dan and his family to know prayers are being said from Alaska to the East Coast. We wish you a speedy recovery and when those bionic fins are fitted, any current swimming records I'm willing to bet will be smoked and Dan will hold all the new records! So put'em on notice Dan!

  3. Tell him the Polar Bear will bring him a Skull Splitter as soon as it's authorized.

  4. What a remarkable young man! Praying for Dan and his family. Thank you for your service and for being such an inspiration! God Bless!

  5. Leslie, your words and updates bring a smile to my face. Dan comes from a family of strong faith, love, and support. It has been an honor knowing your mother, and calling her my friend. Dan is a hero in every true sense of the word! We will keep the prayers coming, you keep the positive updates coming! Bless you all! ~ Mistee Boatright

  6. All I can say is how incredible it feels to read such an inspiring and upbeat website about a guy who sacrificed so much. In many cases we could be reading about sorrow and the horror this man went through but it's not like that. Dan and his family seem to have no intention to look at it that way, they simply choose to look forward and live in amazement at what Dan still has in his life and the amazing progress he continues to make in such a short period of time! Dan, you rock!! - Caitlyn Chance