The Highs and Lows of TBI

Sam’s Medical Status (from Eric his father): I have much to tell you all as it was a very busy week for Sam and  Erin…a week with record highs and events that could be construed as challenging if we didn’t know the outcome of this journey in advance…I don’t have to be psychic nor even able to tell the future. Unlike a conventional war where the battles are fought to determine the outcome of the war; Our sam_july 08_kentfieldwar is already won, and now the battles are easier when we know how they will play to our favor. In John 15:7-8, Jesus said, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” Well, we’ve chosen to remain in Christ and keep Jesus’ words in us and have claimed Sam’s healing and total restoration on that basis. It’s done in heaven and will be on earth as well. No circumstance will change that belief as we clamp on to that truth and never let go.

The most exciting news came about midweek when Erin called to share that Sam had moved his left side for the first time in almost a year. Oh my goodness! This is huge! What incredible news…we couldn’t have been more jazzed if we were told he got up and ran down the halls!!!!He told Erin a month ago that he hated his left arm because he was unable to move it…He gets that arm and leg worked out practically daily by his physical therapists. He has one in particular; a quiet and diminutive lady, (only in stature) that cares a great deal for Sam. Erin has overheard her through her mask, praying in the name of Jesus for Sam while she stretches him out. This week she said, “Sam, stretch out your left arm. His arm jerked by the shoulder, his hand moved and he moved his fingers…Praise God!

Another day Sam was observing “shift change” at the hospital…a radiologist was frustrated because she had to get an x-ray before she left and couldn’t find anyone to help her with Sam. It was slightly chaotic and Sam said to Erin, “I’m having fun.” This is just like Sam’s often dry and subtle humor. He is also favoring an expression of “just a little bit”…like are you in pain Sam? He makes about an inch between his thumb and forefinger and says, “Just a little bit”…Ha! On Friday, 4th of July, he asked Erin if it was Friday or Saturday? He was confused because of the irregularity in his therapy schedule…Erin explained it was a holiday and she asked him if he knew which holiday it was…he answered, “Any day you’re here is a holiday”…He was also visited by his buddies from his old unit, Kilo Battery….5 of America’s very finest young Marines had made a special trip up to the bay area just to visit their good friend…Their genuine interest in Sam’s welfare is obvious as they ask questions, inquire about Erin, make jokes, and tell great things about their beloved SGT Nichols…I’m always so impressed when I am around these guys for their professionalism, their camaraderie, and their brotherhood. These are the kind of young men that makes me feel comfortable about America’s future.

By Sunday, he had a large seizure and was unresponsive…he took a little trip by ambulance (flashing red lights and all) to the Marin General Hospital emergency room. The biggest fear from the seizures is the lack of oxygen and the interruption of breathing, so they installed an airway and sedated him heavily…It was shades of Bethesda at a worse time for him, so it very understandably took a toll on Erin…I arrived early this morning and found him in ICU under very close and attentive care. Erin arrived soon after and filled me in on many details of the two Sam_7_2_08_Kentfielddays. He looked comfortable and at peace, although he had a twitch in his left side; eye and mouth (this indicates some seizure activity on a small scale)…Erin and I stood next to him and as I laid my hands on him she rested her cheek on his right hand and we prayed…She began to weep, but I noticed it wasn’t tears of fear or anxiety, but of relief and joy. We thanked God for yet again sparing Sam and protecting his work in progress. We ended our prayer by rededicating his total care to the Jehovah Raphae, (The Lord who is our healer)…At the end of our prayer Erin said something to him and he answered her even though his eyes were still closed. We asked him several more questions and he answered quite well. Erin asked if she could spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on their approaching anniversary. He answered hundreds. (he’s no dummy! Ha!) She asked how many hundreds and he said 5; 1 on him and 4 on her…she thought that was fair…Ha! She wanted to know if she could get him a gold bracelet with his initials on it and he said emphatically NO! We laughed…By late afternoon, Erin reported that he was breathing fine on his own and they removed the airway…He was awake, alert, and they were even talking of sending him back to Kentfield by tomorrow.

We rejoice in the good times and we rejoice in the times of challenge because we sure of one thing…God’s promises to heal Sam…those don’t change even if his condition or circumstance may change, “just a little bit” to quote one tough Marine….the picture is of Sam raising one eyebrow; a feat not easy even for a person with no injuries….

Much love,


12 Responses to The Highs and Lows of TBI

  1. Ms. Marti says:

    I came across your page when doing background research for an article.

    Sam, you are an amazing person! Keep up the great work! It truly shows you are and always will be a Marine, as you dig deep to keep moving forward and making progress!

    Thank you for protecting our country! We can never truly repay the debt we owe you for your sacrifices.

    You and your family are true heroes, each in your own special way! God Bless you all.

  2. julie says:

    I’m always so humbled and spiritually moved when I read of the progress and challenges along the way of Sam’s recovery. Sam…you are so blessed to have such a loving family with such powerful belief and faith. I have no doubts you know that already. Keep fighting..keep the faith, because you are doing great. Sometimes small set backs are a way of gearing up for the next big step forward in keep trusting and believing that you are in process, within the promise of healing. Bless you all.

    julie morelli
    Soldiers’ Angel

  3. Kris Abbruzzi says:

    Hi there Sam, Erin & the Nichols & Neria families –

    Just stopping by to let you all know that each and every day you are all in my thoughts and my prayers. A week of highs and “lows” is right – holy cow! How frightening to say the least the trip to Marin must have been. But yes you are soooooo right, He IS protecting His work! I hope you’re back at Kentfield today Sam, and can continue to make remarkable steps towards your full restoration. You have been kicking serious butt and you will continue to do so!

    Stay strong Sam, stay strong Erin, Eric & Families. You are all some of THE strongest people on the planet – you are all so incredible, so inspiring. You are all brave heroes and brave warriors. God bless you. Please know and never forget that thoughts, prayers, support and load upon load of angel hugs are always being sent your way. Hugs to you all.

    – Kris, a Soldiers’ Angel from RI

  4. Lori Duffy says:

    I love getting Sam’s updates and progress reports! Truly Sam and his entire family are an inspiration to those of us who are praying for his complete healing. When I read of your immovable faith, I imagine our God beaming radiantly with pure pleasure. I sense that God has great plans for Sam and Erin’s future…that His purposes are being fulfilled now through Sam and Erin’s faith walk and that he has much more in store.

    When I saw the picture of Sam, my heart rejoiced and I touched the computer screen with my fingers upon his body. Amazingly, I felt the Holy Spirit radiate throughout my body and I began praying in the spirit. Wow! God is truly taking all prayers from all people for Sam’s complete healing and restoration.

    Thank you for continuing to keep us updated. May God Bless You Always!

    In Christ’s Love,

  5. Tony Neria says:

    thank you for all your comments. They are very comforting to our families.

    Erin texted us after they returned to Kentfield from Marin General today and said, “Sam yawned really loud and I laughed. Before he finished yawning he said “what’s so funny?”

  6. Lori Peoria says:

    What a true Marine!!! Oohrah!

  7. In Romans, it says”What shall we say to these things…if God be for us who can be against us”

    I wish that we could be there to comfort you, but God is there with you, in our behalf, so please look up, and keep the faith. We Love You all, in Jesus
    Larry & Susan

  8. V says:

    Psalm 18:2
    The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

    One can only imagine the everyday challenges that Sam and Erin struggle with, but I know God has given Erin the patience and love she needs to bring Sam back to good health. Erin is an inspiration and a hero.
    Whenever I read Sam’s updates it reminds me not to sweat the small stuff…life is too short and too precious.

  9. "Doc" James Hansen says:

    HI Sam,Erin and Tony!
    I’m always so happy to see all the great progress Sam is making,and all the hard work you do supporting him.You all serve as a great sorce of modovation.
    I my self was diegnosed with a miner TBI(and somthing called Chiari-Malformation) a few months ago,after my left side went (and remains)numb. need less to say things have been challeging at times,but I try to follow Sams example.
    I will have a minor brain surgery on augest first to try and improve things,but one way or another a TBI,PTST,or “Chiari” are not going to keep me down.I,like Sam will contine to get better,with God’s help,and the support of my Wife,family,and frends!
    Thank you for all you’ve done,and continue to do! Doc Hansen

  10. Carol Calloway says:

    As I read today’s blog, I cried for the success of Sam’s and the support of one tough Marine wife, Erin. To say “Thank you, Sam” for what you have done for the USA seems so little but to that I add my daily prayers for all of you: Sam, Erin, the medical staff of the hospital, and both the Nichols and Neria families. May God bless you all! I am proud of all of you!

  11. Jerry says:


    The fact is currently the medical establishment does not understand much about the brain. We, as a society, know very well how to cover up the problem with medications and insuring that the individual will not recover. To me the idea is bogus!

    I have recovered from a Severe Traumatic Brain Injury and I know how to replicate the results with 100% effectiveness. No two brain injuries are the same but it is also true that no two fractures of a bone are the same either but we know how to heal a broken bone and I know how to recover (from first hand experience) from brain injuries. Ironically enough I’ve never broken a bone!

    My name is Jerry and I was recently reprimanded at my job. I worked for a non profit organization in founded to help people with brain injuries, when they got word that I was telling people that it was very possible to recover from brain injuries I was approached by two corporate managers about how it was impossible to recover from brain injuries and they politely asked me to not speak of these “Lies”.

    I complied until one of the corporate managers told me that it was the Brain Injury Association of this state that filed a formal complaint with the director of the company when they heard that I was saying I knew how to help people actually recover. At that point I became OUTRAGED! I understood that the hospitals might not endorse the “No Brainer Recover Method” but I was under the impression that the Brain Injury Association of any state would be in support of promoting the recovery of Neural Trauma.

    I have worked with some of the top minds in the field and we all agree that we should still get some more knowledge and backing in order to allow “No Brainer Productions” to get to the place in must be to reach the people that need the educations. It will take at least $15,000 to get this ship off the ground so I would like to know HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE A PART OF HISTORY? We are ready to invest the money on the 22 of July.

    Any suggestion, referrals, ideas, or DONATIONS will be GREATLY appreciated!

  12. brainandspinalcord says:

    I came across your blog while doing research for our website/blog on TBI and SCI. We take very seriously the issue of TBI’s stemming from military service, and try to keep up on the latest information regarding that topic. Thanks for sharing your story, and if you would like to stop by our website or blog and give input or suggestions, we would very much appreciate it.

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