The Fear of My Life  

Dr. Al Danenberg Nutritional Periodontist

September 9, 2019 [printfriendly]




The Fear of My Life


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


The Hurricane


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.”




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  1. I appreciate and admire your vulnerability and your bravery. As someone with 4 autoimmune diseases and who has had 5 broken ribs and a leg fractured in 3 places, I know pain can be scary and intimidating. I love the fact that you have taken ownership of everything and continue to share your journey. Thank you.
    Remaining ever hopeful with you & wishing you comfort.


  3. Hi Al, this is Ian in London. Thank you for sharing this trip to hell, and revealing transcendent courage in the face of it.

    I am looking forward to reading your posts for years to come. As the say, what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger, well at least for unstoppable people like you.

    My thoughts are with you.

  4. “It’s not the size of the dog in a fight, but the size of the fight in the dog” – you sir are a pit bull!

  5. Al, keep the chin up! You can do this! You’re a hero to many and I read your blog posts regularly. You’ve inspired me and countless others with your clarity, bravery and transparency. God speed my friend. Jerry

  6. Thank you so much for your stories- these are so helpful to us that are also experiencing many difficulties and challenges and critical decisions. I read all your posts but don’t usually comment, but I want you to know that you are absolutely and totally appreciated!

  7. Praying for your strength Doc. You are an inspiration.
    Steve M.

    • I saw you at the dental convention a few years ago. I was so impressed by your lecture. You truly made a difference in my life as a hygienist. Thank you for your gift of time. Sending you strength and peace through the universe ..

  8. Unimaginable. Scary. Your strength is awe -inspiring. Heartfelt sorrow. Wishing continued peace and pain management. Love to you and your family. Namaste. ????

  9. There’s yet more to learn and more to teach! There is still an abundance of life in you‼️????
    You teach us, that regardless of a storm around you, maintain an upright positive attitude‼️????????????????

  10. Dr Dan, I feel nothing but admiration, and in am awe of you on your journey. Continuing positive energies your way.

  11. Your courage to share is astounding. Thanks for your tenacity and showing me how to walk a difficult road with dignity. Much love.

  12. Your courage is just overwhelming- thank you for sharing your most personal thoughts.

  13. Dr Danenberg, you are simply amazing. You are so brave. To be in fear and to continue strong in your journey is so courageous and inspiring. You make me reexamine myself with every blog post. Thank you for not giving up and not giving in. You are a blessing and a teacher of not just dentistry, but of life. I’m in awe of your life force. It is STRONG. You are something else. Hugs to you.

  14. I am sorry to learn of your harrowing close calls coupled with a natural disaster. I am sending positive thoughts, energy, and love your way.

  15. Thanks much for this update of September 9, 2019. I hope to meet you in Heaven. God Bless

  16. You have taught me about periodontal disease for years. Now you are teaching me about living life no matter what is happening to you. Thank you for always being a huge inspiration to me. I pray for your healing.

  17. Dear Dr Danenberg, my daily prayers for you and your family. May God heal your body. God willing, you will be writing more blogs. I always read your articles ever since I discovered you on Will Revak’s website.

  18. Dear Doctor Al, Thank you for your courage and underlay of humor. I look forward to many more years of emails about your journey and I wish you many blessings!
    Nancy (Ithaca New York)

  19. Hi Dr Danenberg, I am praying for you and sending you love

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