Dr. Al Danenberg ● Nutritional Periodontist
September 9, 2019
Since Monday, August 12th, I experienced the scariest days of my life. There are some lessons here to learn just after I entered in-home hospice.
While I was using my walker to get around in my bathroom on August 12th, I put what I thought was normal weight on my right leg. I saw stars. My right leg crushed underneath me. I bounced off my right rib cage when I hit the bathroom floor. I totally fractured my right humerus in half.
Raw, piercing, indescribable pain pierced the entire right side of my body. I thought I died!
When you fear for your life, all things become overwhelming. The smallest wind amounts to a blizzard; the quietist whisper morphs into a scream. WHY?
Because you focus on the minutia.
That’s when a boring routine could be critical to follow to the letter – WHY?
Fear has an uncanny ability to substitute for a healthy routine.
For me, fear exploded when I shattered the right side of my body and had to be transported to the ER. I was in excruciating pain. These pathological bone fractures were caused by my lytic lesions within my incurable bone marrow cancer. My weakened skeleton allowed my own weight to break my bones.
After 24 hours in the Hospital ER, I was rushed to the Hospice Cottage by emergency personnel to stop the pain, reset my leg, and try to manage my discomfort in my right arm. I was overcome with overwhelming fear factors when the threat of hurricane Dorian became real.
The hurricane was bearing down on Charleston, SC on 9/4. It was only moving 1 mph but packed winds of 185 mph. While I was in the hospice cottage to manage my pain and fractures, hospice patients were screaming. Two patients had already died. The hospital abruptly changed its priority and was preparing for a complete evacuation within one day
By the afternoon on 9/4th, I was told I would be evacuated to my home where my family had to scramble to get a hospital bed to prepare for my evacuation. When I got to my home after a 2 ½-hour delay for the emergency transport, the power went out in my neighborhood for 36 hours. I was immobilized in an electric hospital bed that couldn’t run because there was no electricity and no air conditioning. So, I was sweating with no lights or any Communication from TV or telephone. I was scared to death.
I feared for my life.
Amazingly, things got better after the power was restored. The excruciating pain started to subside. Unfortunately, I allowed myself to be given heavy doses of narcotic medications. It was either the pain or the drugs – I chose the drugs. But I was able to wean off of them in a few days with the constant encouragement from my wife, children, their families, and an enormous support group.
Interestingly, I had a new complication from my strategic and aggressive narcotic regimen. I developed “narcotic-induced intractable diaphragmatic hiccups.” To treat them, I needed an antipsychotic drug.
My right side is still nonfunctional. I am receiving hospice pain management in my home to deal with my recovery, but the only drugs are Advil OTC.
But you should know that I’m going to get better. You should know that I’m going to keep going. And you should know that you’re going to hear a whole bunch more from me in the future.
There are greater powers controlling my destiny. My overriding concern is to maintain a quality of life. Have you ever heard me say this before?
One of my accomplishments from all this was to have learned advanced dictation techniques on my Mac. It’s amazing how quickly your thoughts can get down on paper as you utter them from your lips. My other accomplishment has been to pick up my life, turn it around, and get back to my healing cancer journey.
Check out my live virtual webinar presentation for the IAOMT Annual Dental Meeting in Boston, 9/13 at 4:10 PM. I’ll be speaking from my hospice bed in my home. I am dying to speak with you! The title is, “Unraveling the Mysteries of Dental Diseases.”