Friday, October 9, 2009

Fresh Air

Thursday: After a month of being inside a hospital room, just as the walls were starting to close in, Dan made it outside!! Instead of the regular old range-of-motion exercises that he does every day for 2 hours, his PTs/OTs got creative and took him for an adventure. They got him out of his bed and into a horizontal-type wheelchair. This is the first time he’s made it out of bed so far, except to an OR table. We had no idea they were going to do that! We were in the waiting room talking to visitors when I saw his three physical therapists coming down the hall with an IV pole. I jumped off the couch and ran out of the room to find him hanging out in the hallway in his chair, with a Notre Dame t-shirt and shorts on (courtesy of the PT Dept.). It was awesome to see him! It took a team of three therapists, my mom, and myself to maneuver him in and out of elevators and doors with an IV pole and a his one remaining wound-vac, but we were successful. We got him to an outside courtyard, with trees and everything. He was so happy to be outside in the fresh air after a month of being inside NNMC, he teared up big-time. Whenever he does that he sets off a chain reaction and everybody cries. This was a huge milestone. Dan had been getting a little restless after a month in his hospital room. After a few minutes of quietly looking up at the sky and trees, he declared that he’d like to do this every day from now on. I hope we can make it happen! He has been working hard on what exercises he is able to do in his hospital bed every day and lets NOTHING interrupt PT sessions with Laura and her team. OT Kristen is a super addition to the team as is nutritionist Amy Jo, who is always smiling. Social worker Debbie is always there to address any need we may have as well. We've got some seriously great people on our side.

Thanks to everyone for your respect and understanding as far as limiting visits. This allows us to spend more quiet time with Dan in his room, just being there to ensure he gets enough sleep, nutrition and family support. His broken hand will be fixed today in surgery by a hand specialist. The team is also going to check out the remaining open wound on his thigh, one of the last ones left. Skin grafting should begin next week for that.

To JR: Navy SEAL shot in Iraq, thank you, thank you, thank you for your inspiring visit yesterday. You have endured so many difficulties from your war injuries, yet you are stronger than ever in so many aspects and so passionate about encouraging others, like Dan, who are just beginning this process. We admire the new and exciting work you are undertaking, coordinating services with benevolent organizations interested in supporting these guys into the far future. Our thanks to Adm. Mullen for his forward-looking vision in this regard!

We want to thank NNMC Casualty Affairs staff Brian O’Keefe, Damon Underwood, Todd Hazlett and Katie Campbell. They are simply the best at what they do. This small staff accomplishes so much each day. We see them roving around talking to patients, families and visitors and attending to their needs, in addition to escorting VIP visitors, hosting USO celebrity guests who wish to lend support to the troops and efficiently carrying out many other duties behind the scenes. Your dedication and PR skills are awesome! Do you guys sleep?

We send our heartfelt thanks to all Dan’s wonderful friends for your love, caring and support. You are the best! Truly, we feel part of a very large new family who’s adopted us.

Erin, Maryann and Lori – you have worked so hard on the Oct. 17 Aquathlon in La Jolla to benefit Dan – we stand in awe of your energy and organizational skills. Thank you so very much for what you are doing!

To the guys fighting for us in Afghanistan and other places – and your families -- you are in our prayers and thoughts every minute of every day. Thank you. We will be talking to you soon!

Love and blessings to all,

Dan’s Family


  1. i still can remember that first trip outside the cage of the hospital room after about 3 weeks. the purest feeling of bliss on the face of the planet...get out there whenever you can brother. it heals the soul which allows everything else to heal faster. glad jr got to see you and lift up your spirits...keep up the good, hard work sailor and as always, keep god and your fam close...haf

  2. I'm a surgical tech working in the OR at NNMC. I have had the privelage and honor of meeting Dan on a few of his visits to the OR. He truly is an amazing man. Everyone in the OR loves him. He lifts our spirits everytime. I know he will make an amazing recovery and will achieve miraculous goals in this new chapter of his life. I am praying for you and your family daily.
    May God continue to rain down His love on you,
    Amanda Williams

  3. Praying for many more days of fresh air and sunshine for Dan in the near future!

    Lauren Coia Friedman & family

  4. Dan,
    I am encouraged and grateful for who you are and how even in your challenges of life you continue to touch the lives around you. Keep it up and Godspeed brother. Just another Topekan Prayin for you. Godbless, Luke