A Story from Our Hospice Program: Danny Davis

Danny Davis’ life has been full of adventure and travel, from rural Missouri to Japan and Germany. Now, the Marine Corp veteran and his wife, Nancy, call Des Moines home, but home is more than just a place, it’s the people there. 

For Danny and Nancy their home includes nurse Brittany Rielley and other home health nurses from EveryStep Hospice who help the couple manage Danny’s deteriorating health.

Danny’s relationship with EveryStep Hospice only began in recent years, it was a long time in the making.

As a young boy Danny and his family moved from Mansfield, Missouri to Sapulpa, Oklahoma following the death of his father. From there, Danny attended military school and two months of college at Oklahoma State University before enlisting in the military.

“I couldn’t stand it,” Danny recalls, noting that his friends all joined the military earlier, having lied about their ages. “I wouldn’t lie about my age, but I really wanted to join.”

Once rightfully enlisted, Danny found himself working on radio-communications at a Navy air base near Los Angeles. He subsequently served two tours in Japan working his way up the ranks. Danny’s duties included working on nuclear devices. It’s this job that Danny believes led to his deteriorating health. 

“They didn’t know that stuff causes cancer,” he said of the lax security procedures in place at the time.

Following his military service, Danny moved back to the U.S. where he worked for a radio-television company before moving to Germany and then to California. Eventually, he landed in Omaha, Nebraska where he met his second wife, Nancy. Together they moved to Des Moines where Danny retired after ten years at Des Moines Area Community College.

While most people in Danny’s shoes would be enjoying retirement, he found himself dealing with health issues. Those years in the military and nuclear weapons testing had finally caught up to him. Where before Danny was an active character and spent most of his professional life traveling, Danny was spending a significant amount of time at home.

After struggling to juggle doctor’s appointments, home life, and Nancy’s work, the couple realized they needed help. That’s where EveryStep Hospice and nurse Brittany Rielley came in. 

“I never knew who to call, now Brittany takes care of it all,” Nancy said, noting that Brittany comes to the home for weekly check-ups, medication checks, charting, and is on call during certain periods of time. Beyond that, she sets up their appointments and ensures Danny and Nancy know how to get into contact with someone while she’s not available.

Danny knows he can count on Brittany for exceptional care and she is an important part of their family. 

“She’s his granddaughter,” Nancy states. Danny agrees, and always greets her with a hug.

EveryStep Hospice strives to make clients comfortable and familiar with their staff. This includes counseling and religious services. The chaplain that works for EveryStep Hospice went as far as making a trip to the Davis’ house on Easter to serve communion.

Beyond basic services and a personal connection, Danny thinks EveryStep Hospice is “one of the best things there is” because Brittany will educate him and Nancy to take better care of themselves while she’s gone. “She finds easier ways of doing things…if I’m not putting a bandage on correctly she’ll teach me” Nancy said.

Danny says he’s benefitted in every way and it didn’t cost them anything. Medicaid covers the expense of home care and everything EveryStep Hospice does; from catheter care to counseling services, everything’s taken care of. 

“I would recommend it to anyone… they’re absolutely fantastic,” Danny says.

EveryStep Hospice also provides Nancy with peace of mind. For instance, she was recently able to go on a work trip knowing that Brittany and other EveryStep Hospice nurses were taking care of Danny. 

“It’s a stressful time…but to have that support is powerful… they’re an incredible part of our life. I can’t imagine going through what we’re going through without them. Our relationship has gotten so much better,” Nancy said.  

Brittany takes pride in her role in their lives. She says, “that’s exactly what [EveryStep] is about, making people’s lives a little easier…any way we can.”

Many have benefitted from an experience with EveryStep in similar ways. Whether you or someone you know could benefit, make the call to 515-274-3400 or email info@everystep.org.

This story is an edited excerpt of a piece written by Drake University student Josh Eiler.