Monday, October 17, 2016

Update on Danny


A letter from Danny's mom,

On May 6, 2011, a man broke into my daughter's home. He forever changed all of our lives that day. He hid in the dark early morning hours, and forced his way in. This man attacked my daughter, stabbing her multiple times. Her brother, Danny, heard her screams, and ran to her aid, changing his life forever.

I'd tried all morning to reach my daughter, and then my son, by phone, text, and email. It was very unusual not hearing from them. Concerned, I called my husband, who was working at a job site, and told him. I thought I was being paranoid, but he needed to go check on them. He proceeded to pack up his gear. In the
meantime, my children's one year old shepherd had barked for six hours straight. This puppy woke our daughter.  Her barking saved our son's life. My daughter called me, knowing she was sick and hurt, but not what was wrong. My daughter fought blood loss and multiple injuries to make that call. That call saved both of their lives. My youngest son, Kyle, got home, and I sent him too. He and his dad, Jim, got there right behind each other. I sent them into a nightmare, neither will ever forget. Things like this just don't happen in real life. It's too horrid to be real; but it is.

I've been told it's the worst crime scene the police and EMTs had ever seen. My two children, laid in pools of their own blood for 6 hours before help arrived. They were stabbed in the brain, chest, neck, and arm. Once I heard from Jim, he told me to go to UC Hospital because my children would be aircared there.

Danny had to be resuscitated at sight. He barely made it to Mercy Fairfield Hospital. Aircare picked him up there. At that time, my daughter was already at UC Hospital, arriving by aircare. I was told she would have brain surgery, and then turned around and was told Danny had arrived and would be having brain surgery. Can you even imagine?

After receiving that news, I had to call my other son, Ryan (a US Army MP). He was stationed in Seattle after being deployed in Iraq for a year. I had to tell him we didn't know if they would live or not, it didn't look good, and to get home as fast as he could. Because this was a high profile case, we were told by law enforcement to not talk to anyone, and were placed on lock down. We were asked to maintain our silence. We did. We talked to no one, and just waited to see if our children would live.

Our daughter, is back to work. She has worked hard to reclaim her life. We try to shield her from the curious! Because of our silence no one knows how badly our son, Danny, was hurt. Danny was stabbed 19 times in the brain. His right hand had multiple defense wounds. His tendons were severed. He was kicked so hard his spleen was lacerated. Danny's injuries have been compared to Congress Woman Gabby Gifford. His skull was so crushed it took a year, minus two days, to get a skull cap replacement in.



Danny has had five surgeries in the first year. Now we're fighting to get his life back. Danny has aphasia, which means he has trouble talking, reading, and writing, devastating to a young man who had just finished law school. He wanted to be a defense attorney, to make a difference.

Danny used to play the drums, but can no longer use his right arm. Danny walks with a limp, but he walks two miles every day. Danny is our hero. He saved our daughter's life, but at a great cost. Danny loves sports. He played baseball, football, and soccer. He loved to read, and play the drums. He's lost it all. We are fighting to get his life back.

Danny has fought hard in the past five and a half years. The first six months he fought just to stay alive. The skin wouldn't heal on his head and he got an infection on his brain. Danny was just so sick. The antibiotic treatments were horrid.

Finally, in January 2012, he started to feel better, this was four surgeries later. He had been in speech, occupational, and physical therapy not really making a lot of progress. He was just too sick and too tired. In January, we put Danny on some natural vitamins, with doctor's approval. He seemed to improve a bit. His speech therapist noticed the difference.  His final surgery was one year minus 2 days, to replace part of his skull.

At this time, I was reading everything I could find. I found Hyperbarics and The University of Michigan Aphasia Program. We were worried Danny wasn't strong enough for the UMAP therapy. He spent most of his time still in bed. He didn't have a skull cap in place. We started the hyperbarics. Danny did 40 dives and we noticed a big improvement. He got his new skull cap and cried when he saw his new head. We stopped worrying so much about him falling. He was able to attend UMAP in the fall.




I walked in two weeks after he started their program and he said, "The girl is brushing her hair". Now, I wanted to cry. Danny has attended UMAP for a total of ten sessions, with great improvement. He still has a long way to go. He attends Speech and Occupational Therapy three days a week. He has a personal trainer for PT, three days a week as well. He's taking drum lessons again. He has shoulder and elbow movement and his range of motion is good. Now for the hand! He just got a new MyoPro brace for his arm. We are praying for a miracle but will settle for just improvement.




I search the web for government studies, and we go for it as long as it's not harmful to Danny. His doctor has been wonderful answering our question on new treatments.
As I tell Danny, we won't quit until he has his life back. It's a long bumpy road. Everyday there is a new challenge to be met and overcome. When he first came home he could say three words. We lifted him in and out of his wheel chair. He couldn't move his right arm.


Today, Danny can walk miles. He just walked 11 miles in the flying pig marathon. It was quite an accomplishment for someone who couldn’t walk 11 step 5 years ago. His arm is moving, and he can say most words and several phases. Sentences are still difficult. He is reading and being read to on his kindle fire. He is also back to playing his drums.  His text, are not just yes and no anymore, but a couple words long now. It might not seem like a lot, but when I look back to the beginning of this nightmare, it's awesome how far he has come.

We applied for and received a English black lab as Danny’s service dog.  This dog is Danny's constant companion. As you know, Aphasia can leave you feeling  isolated.  ZACK is Danny’s best friend.

Danny misses his old life. He studied and worked hard to get where he was. It was taken away in a moment. There is no miracle cure, just a lot of hard work. Danny plans on returning to his law practice. They didn't think he'd even live. No one can say how far a brain injury can recover so that means he can recover. I believe in him. He'll do it. He is now relearning to drive. GO DANNY GO!!! He is truly becoming more and more independent. 

 

We can’t ever thank everyone enough for their continued help and support.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Sunday, January 24, 2016

A Letter from a Friend...

This is a letter sent to us recently from one of Danny's friends.


In May 2011 my friend made a courageous choice. He chose without thought to protect his sister from her attacker. This choice changed his life forever.

His act of heroism continues on almost 5 years after his brave choice. I have never met a person of such valor. Now that his sister is safe he continues to fight for his own recovery with a vengeance I have never seen.

Initially Danny was very dependent on his family for his physical and emotional wellbeing. He was only able to speak one to two word phrases, walked with a significant limp, with his arm bent in at the elbow due to his hemiplegia.

Danny’s entire family continue to provide him with an amazing support system. His Mom is constantly researching the latest treatment of TBI and was an amazing force behind Danny getting his invaluable service dog, hyper baric treatment, and ongoing cognitive and speech rehabilitation. She also is his health care advocate. His dad is his friend and will take him anywhere he needs to go. Danny’s brothers and sister are always there for him.


A lot of Danny’s strength comes from the person he will always be.  The person who did not think twice about putting his life on the line for the life of another human being. He is now living independently. He has support from his family and his trusty service dog. He could have easily given up on himself through this process. He gets on the computer and works on his speech and language skills daily. He readily shares his opinions, and his amazing love of life, his witty sense of humor. He brightens the days of all he comes in contact with.

He takes amazing care of and has unconditional love for his service dog.

He walks daily. I am not sure how far, but I know he is out for up to 2.5 hours at a time. He is currently training to walk the Flying Pig full marathon. He is really working hard in therapy and with a trainer to try and run again. He does not give up.

Danny was an avid drummer prior to his injury. He is now able to hold an adapted drum stick and is playing again with his right hand. He is also beginning to have motor control to write again with use of adapted writing utensils.  


As described in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 2013 7:887 Published online 2013, Dec 24: (Nudo, 2013), the injured brain is very plastic. Brain recovery occurs with repetition and practice of meaningful motor experiences. Danny is the epitome of neuroplasticity. He is excited by challenge and continues to improve his abilities in all areas of his life. He has also taken a great deal of responsibility for his recovery and continues to take full advantage of all resources he has access to. 

For Danny there are no limits on his recovery because he refuses to set them!!!

Danny I am so blessed to know you.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

As in the past, would you take a moment to say a prayer for Danny’s continued healing. They say there is power in pray. We ask that you do this on Christmas Eve at 6:00 PM.
 
I wanted to again thank each and everyone of you. Danny has come so far with your help. This last round at UMAP, WOW!!!! I can’t believe the improvement. Everyone who’s seen him is saying the same.
 
I was asked about the Fifth/Third Account. Yes, it is still open. The O’Keefe Family Assistance Fund or you can go to dannyokeefe.org and use the pay pal account.
 
We have delayed Danny’s next trip to UMAP until March. He is home for the next couple of months, taking therapy at Mercy Hospital. We love his therapists, Moe and Wes!!! They have worked with Danny for two years now and have become like family. He loves working with his personal trainer, Lisa as well! She donates her time to Danny.
 
He is now back to playing his drums. He told me it made him feel like he was getting a bit of his life back. He practices 3 hours each day. It’s a good work out for his arm and leg.
 
He’s been out with friends and family, just enjoying the holidays.  I took him Christmas shopping. It was one-stop shopping at Jungle Jim’s. We had a great time. Of course this was followed up with Skyline time.
 
From our family to yours, Merry Christmas and Happy New Years. Be safe.
Thank you, Kathy O’Keefe