By Danny Heinsohn, (an award winning philanthropist, high performance business coach, author, and keynote speaker.)
Every once in a while we need an upgrade. Upgrades enable a higher level of performance and sometimes allow us to reflect on the path we’ve travelled. Like loading a program from The Matrix they also contain new features.
I’m trying to free your mind Neo. But I can only show you the door. You’re the one who must walk through it. -Morpheus
17 years ago a synthetic plate (stronger than bone, held in by titanium screws) was installed in my head to repair the cranial defect that resulted from a brain cancer diagnosis. 17 years it’s been in my head and you can say we’ve become quite fond of each other. We’ve endured several harsh environments in Ironman swims, Class 4 whitewater, and 100’s of thousands of miles traveling the country to assemble business deals with the biggest names in professional sports and corporate sponsorship. It’s been a great ride.
Last spring, symptoms of an infection led to anti-biotic treatment and it was neutralized. Towards the end of July it resurfaced on my cranial scar and my family physician said, “you need to see a neurosurgeon.”
Over the past 17 years there has been a slow accumulation of calcium build up around the plate in my head, which ultimately led to the infection. I knew the day may come but I had no idea how or when.
On 9/30/16, Dr. Demers of Sierra Neurosurgery removed the novelty.
The medical team couldn’t believe I wasn’t a lot sicker considering the mess they had to clean in my head. And in that 3.5-inch bowl is no graham cracker; it’s the cemented mesh they removed which acted as a bone flap all these years. The medical team spent a lot of surgical time breaking those pieces apart with pliers and a drill. The screws that were in my head had bone growing into them. The original size of my skull that was cut out in 1999 was about the size of a baseball card.
Dr. Demers said there was a balance between my immune system and the infection because I never felt sick over the past several months. It was a low grade infection best treated through surgery followed by IV therapy, to ensure long term success.
The operation lasted nearly 3 hours (1.5 hours longer than expected) and they did not have to operate on my brain at all. There are dozens of staples in my head that will act as stitches for 10-14 days until they are removed. A PICC line was installed below my left bicep one day before my release. I spent a total of 5 days in the hospital and was released Tuesday afternoon (10/4) around 4:30pm. From here it’s 6 weeks of daily IV treatment and oral antibiotics. Then we will see how my body stabilizes on it’s own for 2-3 weeks. Once stabilized we can repair the cranial defect with a custom fitted titanium plate.
My hope is that before the end of December I’ll have a brand new titanium plate in my head to begin the software upload (as I recover) to “Danny 5.0” a cyborg specialized in the arts of keynote speaking, awarding scholarships for young adult survivors of cancer, and high performance business coaching.
In parting I will leave you with a few words I shared with my Facebook community.
- View setbacks as opportunities, and be kind. You never know how a smile or a small act of kindness will change someone’s life.
- Making the most with what we have is all we can ask for and expect of ourselves. Don’t stress about the things you can’t control and focus on the results of those you can.
DANNY HEINSOHN is an award winning philanthropist, high performance business coach, author, and keynote speaker. Diagnosed with brain cancer after college graduation, he went on to become a highly successful sports executive, cycling coach, USA Triathlon All-American, and is the founder of My Hometown Heroes, a national scholarship fund for young adult cancer survivors. Danny has a passion for helping others achieve sustainable and repeatable success. Upon the release of his book in 2014 (For A Reason), Heinsohn was nationally recognized with the OM Foundation Award and SportsTravel Humanitarian award. Locally he was invited to speak at TEDxReno and was the recipient of the 2015 YPN Twenty Under 40 Award. Learn more at www.dannyheinsohn.com.