Sunday, August 1, 2010

Choices, A post from Danica's daddy

Monica and I made a pact that we would have a date night once every three months to help retain our sanity and strengthen our marriage. Fine wine and a five star dinner on a shoestring budget is our passion of choice where we can sit for hours with optional peaceful silence or relationship building conversation. We comment on each facet of the dining experience and linger at our table as long as we can soaking in the atmosphere and one another's company. The simple enjoyment together brings us closer during this tough time, and we are extremely grateful we can “escape” four times a year. We are also thankful that Monica’s parents live so close to care for our daughters.

A few days ago while randomly clicking on various websites, I stumbled upon a story where a town in Southern Ohio had hit hard times with unemployment and a local church was feeding the very young and the very old. Families with small children were lined up waiting in the heat for food. That image stuck in my mind until the everyday happenings and events in my life covered up the thought. In other words, my mind had other things to concern itself with, and specifically I’m concerned with what is occurring in my life. We are subjected to so much sadness and tragedy in our electronic world. For the most part we have to concern ourselves with our own problems and not the plight of strangers or we’ll neglect the health and security of our friends and loved ones. But each day we are given choices to act, react, or remain silent. I am someone who, on average, would choose to remain silent. I understand my place in the world, what I am capable of, and work with what I am given. Others choose to react, to discuss the issue and state their opinion letting others know they are concerned. Then there are those who act with a compassionate response saying they are going to be the difference and be part of change. We all make our decisions based on several variables in life and we are forced to make the choice to remain silent, react, or act on many issues on a daily basis.

When we discovered that Danica had cranio-cervical assimilation after her first Chiari decompression, I chose to ignore the situation. There is nothing wrong with Danica. She was happy, playful and active. Even though her neck was becoming crooked again, as a father I could find no fault in my beautiful daughter. When she was falling more and not sleeping I tried to explain these things away. Monica is with her, especially at night when her symptoms become the worst. She has been the one fighting these past months to get me to understand the changes in her meant something neurological was happening. Danica had an MRI this past Wednesday that showed her cerebellar tonsil is herniated further, and she has less CSF flow than her MRI showed in April. It’s now time to act, and we have chosen our path to give Danica the best odds for a normal childhood and to keep her safe. We will travel to Cincinnati next week and have the final appointments and pre-surgery scans on Wednesday, the 10th.

While a few "close to us" still seem to remain strangely silent regarding our current plight, almost all who have become familiar with Danica have chosen to react and/or act and for that I will eternally be thankful. We have received support from all over the world as we prepare for several months of difficult recovery. The ChicfilA fundraiser, private donations, cards, emails and phone calls have made a huge difference in our lives these past months. I’ve been very self centered in the past. I am distant from my family and friends. Monica is the one who sends out the cards and gift baskets and practices random acts of kindness. Monica remembers the birthdays and special occasions and has gracefully recorded Danica's difficult journey. Our soon to be three year old girl has the fight of her life ahead of her. She cannot fully understand and does not ask why. She fights off the tears when feeling pain or facing fear. It seemed easier for me to ignore and make believe all was “perfect,” but this was the wrong choice. To everyone who has chosen to react and act on behalf of Danica all I can say is thank you from all of my heart—our hearts. The response has been overwhelming. You encourage and strengthen us as we move forward.

I understand there are children and families worse off than we are let alone can afford to go out to dinner even once a year. Though it’s impractical to support everyone, please think of those close to you and choose not to remain silent. Choose to read their story. Let them know, often, that you are thinking about them, and you will be making a difference. We will ride out the storm of the next hard months in the shelter of our God and your simple choices to love us well. I pray my heart is truly changed, and I am given the opportunity sooner than later to act and react through the example you have shown.


  1. Dan, this is just beautiful... your heart, your humility, your wisdom all shine with the love of a father. Thank you for sharing with us and letting us see your life together from your eyes. I pray for y'all all the time!

  2. Dan,
    It is late, but I just wanted to say thank you for your very honest words. What an encouragement to hear them. Hearing that you recognized your heart, and your changing heart, through this heart rending situation you and your family are enduring...hearing that God's people are ministering and meeting needs, it is all encouraging. I pray peace for you and Monica, that your marriage would be one to grow stronger in these trials, and not weaker. Two is better than one...for a three stranded cord (you, Monica and the Lord) is stronger, far stronger than one. Always remember, I almost forgot that once-- TWO IS BETTER THAN ONE. I pray for healing for Danica, and precious days ahead for your family. God does refine us in our trials. He will be faithful to you. I continue to pray for Danica.

  3. Dear Dan,
    I am so grateful for your love for my dear sister and your beautiful girls! Continue to hold on to each other and to the Lord and HE will see you through! You are all so special to us and are in our prayers daily!

  4. Dan, you really touched my heart. Thanks for sharing your heart and encouraging me to share mine.

    Thinking of you and your family.

  5. Dan, that was very well written from a dads prospective. I spoke to Monica last night for a while and now reading this my Dan and yourself sound much to alike :). Our son Brayden is facing his 2nd chiari surgery very soon and we are still trying to find the peace and deal with the news. I pray for your family every night when I say my list of prayers. Little Danica seems so strong and so happy I really still have issues coming to terms and understandings of these things but have learned to deal with them. I pray this surgery helps her tremendously and that she will be sooooo much better after recovery! Thank you for posting from a dads point of view. We only hear from us moms too often and like you said 2 is much better than 1. :)

  6. I am just seeing this but had to say thank you for your honesty. I know it is usually hard for alot of men to verbalize their fears and feelings. Your family is blessed to have you. Prayers are coming from Pa. Pinky

  7. Dan, that was beautifully written, and it comes from your heart. Thank you for your message. I will continue to pray for Danica and all of you. God bless you.

    Love, Carol

  8. Dan, I have never met you, but what a joy to read your post. You have encouraged me. Monica is truly blessed. We are praying for you and your family. I can't really imagine what you all are going through, but I know that God has gone before you. He is already there. Keep holding on to Him. Much love, Aunt Chris