Dan Greathouse: “Doc, I Want My Brain Back”

Dec 21, 2013 by

00d2a816ccca8c48b290d3b74eddce349d6c2076-thumbMichael F. Shaughnessy –

  1. Dan you have just published a book on Kindle entitled “Doc I Want My Brain Back “. What brought this about?

Yes, I have just published my first book, recounting my personal experience with brain injury and brain injury repair with hyperbaric oxygen therapy. My brain scans are in The Oxygen Revolution, written by Harch and McCullough. It turns out that my successful case was the first well-documented case of brain injury repair in the United States and the tip of the iceberg, so to speak, which lead Dr. Harch to explore the use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy for neurorehabilitation. I have always felt compelled to tell my story, but now more than ever. The authorities continue to drag their feet for approval and funding for hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which has the potential for helping so many suffering souls. I would like to help prevent the twenty-two veteran suicides that are occurring each day. There is no hell on earth like the hell of brain injury.

  1. When did your accident occur and what immediately transpired?

My scuba accident, which resulted in brain decompression sickness, occurred on a weekend diving trip at Lake Powell in May 1991. The initial symptoms were so subtle that I discounted them, and so did my dive instructor. I began to experience fatigue, and on the following day, my balance problems began. When you read my book, you can follow the increasing unraveling of my neurological abilities, including the loss of my lifelong passion—music performance and singing.

  1. What role did hyperbaric oxygen play in your recovery?

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy allowed an increased blood flow to the “bruised” or “idling” neurons in my brain which had been damaged by the expanding gases in the blood stream as I ascended much too quickly from a multilevel dive. During the treatment phase, the increased blood flow and pure oxygen under just the correct amount of pressure, switched back on these neurons, returning my balance, fine motor skills, memory abilities, and thinking abilities, which eliminated my clinical depression, stopped my suicidal ideation, and essentially restored my life.

  1. You have some musical talents also- how did that aid in your recovery, if at all?

I have played piano, guitar, electric bass, harmonica, trombone, and sang since my youth. Because of the damage to my brain, I lost these abilities. My internal rhythm and pitch processing were nonexistent. The hyperbaric oxygen therapy healed the idling neurons, essentially switching back on my abilities. In fact, one day during one of the treatments, as I lay on my back in the monoplace hyperbaric chamber, I began singing very loudly an old rock-n-roll song, “Boney Maroney.” The staff was alarmed, thinking that I was having a convulsion. I calmed them by telling them how overjoyed I was that my musical abilities were returning.

  1. What role did your parents play?

Had it not been for my parents, I would not be alive today. I would have become another suicide statistic. My father, in particular, researched treatment for decompression sickness and never gave up on medical help for me. My mother attended all of my medical appointments, took notes, asked questions, and advocated for me when I could not advocate for myself. Most of all, they stood beside me, encouraged me, prayed for me, loved me, and never gave up on me.

  1. Apparently, some physicians felt that you had a psychiatric condition- Tell us about that?

Because I contacted the Diver’s Alert Network (DAN) much too late for treatment, I was referred to a neurologist who could find nothing wrong with me according to the MRI he ordered. Subsequently, as my symptoms worsened, the remaining doctors could find nothing wrong with the tests and procedures available to them at the time. I went to more than thirty medical professionals; consequently, the final diagnosis was mental illness, resulting in commitment to the state mental hospital.

From one mental hospital into which I had checked myself because of my severe depression, I was taken in handcuffs to jail to await commitment. When I was finally released to Dr. Paul G. Harch in New Orleans, he was able to conduct a SPECT brain image that confirmed brain injury.

  1. Since your recovery, you have done some graduate work at George Washington University- tell us about that.

Yes, I completed coursework with The George Washington University with a focus on acquired brain injury and the services that are available for individuals and their families when the tragedy of brain injury occurs. I learned a great deal about brain injury and networking with professionals in the field. Perhaps the most eye-opening experience was the selected readings (books) written by people who either suffered from a brain injury or family members who provided care for loved ones who had suffered brain injuries. The readings dealt with traditional rehabilitation and therapies, none of which were as dramatic or quick as my experience with hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

  1. About how long did your “recovery take “?

The hyperbaric oxygen therapy was completed in forty days. I then returned for an additional week of therapy during December of 1991. I have not had any further hyperbaric oxygen treatments since that time. Although the most dramatic and noticeable recovery events transpired during the first two months of treatment, I would have to say that I experienced more subtle recovery throughout that year as my brain returned to normal.

  1. You have been supportive of Dr. Paul Harch and his endeavors- Tell us about Dr. Harch and what he is trying to accomplish?

Dr. Harch continues to treat patients from around the world, including children who have been diagnosed with autism, fetal alcoholism, learning disabilities, traumatic brain injuries, etc. He has published numerous scientific studies that provide strong evidence of the use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy in the treatment of numerous medical maladies. He has a particular focus on helping returning veterans who are suffering with traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder.

  1. Where can interested readers get the book, and what are you going to be doing with some of the profits?

My book is available for the Kindle and for the Nook. In addition to these e-books, it is also available through Smashwords. It is not necessary to own a Kindle or Nook in order to read the e-book. All that is needed is a free downloaded application to a personal computer or IPad. A paperback version is also available through Amazon.com. I am donating 22% of all book proceeds to the Greater New Orleans Foundation, specifically to the Harch Hyperbaric Research Fund for the treatment of veterans who suffer with TBI and PTSD.

  1. What have I neglected to ask? What role did other family members play during this ordeal?

My brother provided respite care for my parents who were overwhelmed with exhaustion as they attempted to keep me calm and hopeful during my darkest hours. The crucial role of the caretaker is frequently overlooked in these stories.

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