One Year Alive Day Anniversary for Sam Nichols

We are approaching a very significant date…July 24th is Sam’s “Alive Day”. This is the day he cheated death—the anniversary of his second birthday so to speak.  Because of the incredible job our corpsmen, nurses and doctors are doing, many service men and women are experiencing their “Alive Day” instead of dying in the battlefield.

Sam has come a long way in his fight for survival.  There have been many close calls over the past year…mostly in Bethesda, but even some at the VA hospital in Palo Alto and even some seizure activity recently at Kentfield.  But—Sam is a fighter…he is a Marine…and he has Erin and his family cheering him on.  And this is something very important to all of us in the immediate family–we have YOU praying for Sam and offering your encouragement.  The neighbors, church families, buddies from ROTC at Casa Robles, brother Marines, Semper Fi Foundation, Veterans Administration employees, Wounded Warriors Project, Soldier’s Angels, Doctors and Nurses and Kentfield…and so many more who offer prayers, support and good wishes.

On the anniversary of Sam’s “Alive Day” I just wanted to say thank you to all who have been reading this blog for the past year.  It humbles me so much that you take the time to keep up with Sam and Erin’s love story.  Sometimes I get so frustrated that Sam is still on a feeding tube and still has so far to go…but then I realize that he is with us…he IS getting stronger every day…and God has chosen to use Sam in a very special way to teach us what is really important in life.  I thank you for your prayers and the encouraging comments you leave when we post updates.  Your prayers and good wishes keep us going and keep us strong.

heros of kilo battery_KIA_7_24_2007
I would also like you to please click on the “Heroes of Kilo” tab at the top of the blog.  These are the young men who died in the IED attack that wounded Sam.  For the families of Corporal James McRae, Corporal Matthew Zindars, Lance Corporal Robert Lunch, Corpsman Daniel Noble, we continue to pray for your strength as I know this must be a very difficult time for you.  Your son’s names are on the “Hero Bracelet” that I and most of my family and many friends wear on our wrist every day.

Sam’s medical status from his father Eric:

Sam is feeling much better as he “detoxes” from nearly toxic levels of anti-convulsant drugs given him during his recent episode with seizures. The problem, I believe, exists with more than one Doctor prescribing medications to immediately resolve Sam’s symptoms in order to literally save him from a perceived life threatening situation. Am I holding them up to blame? Absolutely not! Instead, I bless them and pray for more of God’s wisdom to be upon them and their decisions. Sam’s primary care rehabilitative Doctor is Deborah Daugherty. A dynamic woman with over 25 years experience in treating traumatic brain injuries who is most recently completing a chapter on Neuropharmacology for a medical textbook. She is nationally known and Sam couldn’t be in better hands. She is attractive, (think Tina Fey from 30 Rock) has a tremendous bedside manner, (Erin relates that she delivers much hope) and I didn’t know this until Friday: that her husband’s name is Sam and her daughter’s name is Erin…no wonder my Sam and Erin are so special to her…She and Erin have a great relationship as I witnessed them betting on a Starbucks “Mocha” recently for something that related to Sam’s care. Erin related another spill-over miracle to me on Friday that happened to the man in the room next to Sam…Erin said that Dr Daughterty had to tell a family that there was little hope for a man who looked to be about 60 or so, that was just unresponsive to many medical attempts. Erin said that the Doc is so full of positive hope that he must have been in very bad shape. Within a few days of her talking to the family, his brain wave monitor began to show life, he woke from his coma; and as Erin and I went to lunch, we observed this gentleman watching T.V…. Wow! Thank you Lord…your mercies know no limits…Can you imagine the sheer joy Dr Daughterty had when she was able to call his family with the news?

Sam and Erin 7_18_2008_Kentfield One of the worst resulting symptoms from a TBI is muscle tone…No, it doesn’t mean the same as to a healthy person. When you hear it, it sounds positive; something that all would aspire to have, like being in shape. This tone is the tightening of his muscles to where he can’t control or move them. This is why his right side is weak, his left side immobile up until recently, and he has trouble speaking…Erin and Dr Daugherty theorize that the valium related drugs are relaxing him (and the tone) enough to overcome some of this challenge. This includes his jaw, tongue, and facial muscles. We believe this is why he becomes so chatty when he takes these drugs. The picture is of Erin massaging his jaw muscles in an effort to relieve some of that tension and encourage the use of his speech centers.

Erin continues to impress me with the different things she comes up  Sam_on_Harmonica_7_18_2008with to stimulate and encourage Sam’s recovery. The second picture is her assisting Sam with exercises on the harmonica. This simple, but yet complex task of blowing the instrument benefits his muscles, tongue control, strengthening of his airway, and audio coordination. He’ll be banging out the blues in no time at all…She also regularly has him fill in Mad-libs as I’ve reported in past updates. This last week, by use of his alphabet board, he spelled out the words “ghastly” and “papoose” in response to one of Erin’s mad-lib challenges. Not exactly common words that one might think of when playing a game, but then again; Sam is far from ordinary.

Thursday is the one year anniversary of the event that changed so many lives; in my family, friends, and people I’ve never even had the pleasure to meet. Erin’s Aunt Joy said it best; She will celebrate “Sam’s Life” on that day as will I; and I ask that all of you do the same. Remember God’s incredible goodness to Him and Erin over this past year; meeting every challenge with grace and mercy…And as we celebrate Sam’s life, let us remember to ask God to be with the families and friends of Sam’s “Brothers in Arms” that perished that day, giving them peace and comfort that can only come from him…

Sam IS restored…

Much love,


18 Responses to One Year Alive Day Anniversary for Sam Nichols

  1. stacy lee says:

    Will be thinking of you and your family on the 24th. Glad that Sam is improving more and more each day.

  2. julie morelli says:

    There is not a day goes by that I don’t have Sam, Erin & families in my prayers and thoughts. Thursday I will be right along with all of you in spirit and prayer, for God’s blessings on Sam as he battles his way to a strong recovery, with Erin who is an inspiration to us all for her faith, ingenuity, and Truest love and support of her amazing man, and with all of the family members, who hold strong with such incredible faith and love. I’ve learned so much from all of you.As always, I will also be asking God to be with the friends and families of Sam’s fallen brothers. They will never be forgotten. God continue to bless you all. Happy One year Sam…you are truly a blessing.

    julie morelli
    Soldiers’ Angel

  3. Barbara Sosman says:

    God bless you all and keep you safe in his hands. Let the 24th be a day of celebration for you, even as you remember those who are lost. Thank you, Tony, for this continuing service to your own Sam and Erin, as well as to all those who care about them.

    Barbara — Maine Troop Greeters member

  4. Dana Williams says:

    Sam, Erin, and families,

    Happy Live-day! I think of you constantly and continue to pray for you always.

    You are never far from my mind. It has been my privilege to know you.

    Fondest greetings in Christ our Lord,


  5. Jeannie says:

    woohoo ALIVE DAY! congrats, will be thinking of you and yours.
    I must say, Sam looks better with each photo I see of him!
    with deep admiration,
    Va. Bch, VA

  6. Lori Peoria says:

    I will be celebrating love on the 24th

    Soldiers’ Angels

  7. Kris Abbruzzi says:

    Hey there Sam, Erin, and Families –

    Wow – ALIVE DAY. God is GOOD. God is GREAT. Thinking of you Sam in a very super extra special way today. Gosh it’s staggering to think of what the past year has been like for you and your family. I can’t even begin to imagine. The hurdles and obstacles that you have all faced, and conquered. The strength, the courage, the determination, the true Faith and pure love that you and your family project is nothing short of incredible. You are all a true source of inspiration for me and so many others every single day.

    You’ve come so far Sam – it has been amazing to watch your restoration. Erin, wow what a woman you are. You are just incredible! And, I think you’re only 2 classes away from being a doctor now! 🙂 I know the road left to travel is a long one for you all, but please know and never forget that we’ll always be out here walking with you, praying with you, and praying for you. ALWAYS.

    And to Corporal James McRae, Corporal Matthew Zindars, Lance Corporal Robert Lynch, Corpsman Daniel Noble and their families, may God be with you today and always. The immeasurable sacrifices that they made will never, ever be forgotten. Ever. They are Sam’s angels, and they have been and always will be Sam’s brothers, walking the path with Sam, showing him the way.

    Thank you Sam, thank you Corporal James McRae, Corporal Matthew Zindars, Lance Corporal Robert Lynch, Corpsman Daniel Noble, thank you all of our heroes. Thank you all so very much for everything that you have done for this country. Thank you for everything that you have selflessly given of yourselves for us. I wish I knew how to adequately say thank you to you all for our way of life, for our freedom.

    God bless you Sam, Erin, The Nichols & Neria families, and to the McRae, Zindars, Lynch & Noble families. May He shower you all with the strength, peace and comfort that you all need each and every day. God bless you all.

    – Kris, a Soldiers’ Angel from RI

  8. Amanda says:

    Add me to the list of people who will celebrate the goodness of God. He has been faithful to bring so many around the family as they walk toward Sam’s recovery. I never forget to share with people the updates from you. Thank you for sharing your set backs and victories they continue to remind me what a price was paid for my benefit.

  9. Carol Calloway says:

    Thank God that Sam has made this “Alive Day” and I will pray there are many more to celebrate with each passing year. Thank you, Sam, for the work you did! Thank you, Erin, for standing by your husband through this difficult period. I wish I could better express my feeling for both of you and for the work that Sam was doing which caused him all of this agony and pain. but know that my love and prayers are with you and your families constantly.

    God bless you all.

  10. Patti says:

    Dear Sam, Erin, and Families,

    Just wanted to remind you all that you are forever in our hearts and prayers! It has been a Blessed year of many miracles. Thank you, again, for sharing The Miracle that is SamandErin with us. Here’s to another year of many more miracles!

    With Love and Big Hugs,
    The Kjenstad Family

  11. Steve Marquez says:

    Sam, Erin and family, thank God Sam could still be here with us. Ill pray for all of you and the fallen heroes of Kilo and their families. Im not much for words just know that I miss and love you Sam and Erin.

  12. Aunt Tammy says:

    Dear Sam and Erin,

    Alive Day! It’s great! We are thinking of you both today and next week (your 5th anniversary). We wish we could be there to celebrate with you.

    Love, Aunt Tammy, Uncle Daryl, and Ira

  13. ARP says:

    alive day 🙂 how wonderful it is that he’s come this far!!! i’m praying for him and erin still and of course keeping those that didn’t make it back in my thoughts today. take care.

  14. nicholl and phil mishaga says:

    Congratulations Sam and Erin!!! You have made it one year and proved many people wrong. This is such a huge day for you both, we can definitely relate, phil is coming up on his as well!! Congratulations on being alive Sam and your continued progress. You are in our prayers every single day, and even more so today. The strength that both of you have portrayed is absolutely amazing and will inspire anyone who falls into this same situation. God is GOOD, powerful and mighty, He has truly showed this through both of you!! Hope to see you soon!!
    The Mishaga’s

  15. Johnson family says:

    Sam & Erin,

    We were thinking of you yesterday. What a long way you have come! You are still in our prayers.
    God Bless You.

    David & Brittany Johnson

  16. Erin Nichols says:

    Hey loyal viewers,

    Thanks for sticking by us for a whole year. I’ll never be able to fully express my grattitude to the many, many people who have remained interested and genuinely concerned about Sam this past year. Your prayers and support are priceless. THANK YOU.

    He had a great day yesterday. He’s back on a daily regiment of Ativan which enables him to talk by relaxing the muscles involved. I kept having him say Viva Sam, while pumping his fist

    Someone asked me earlier today how we celebrated alive day. We didn’t do anything out of the ordinary, but I think I smiled all day. I told Sam that one year ago he was almost killed in Iraq and defied science by surviving. After I explained the significance of the day I asked what he thought about it. He said, “It’s a miracle.”

    Although it was an ordinary day full of therapy and routine, it felt extraordinary to be here with Sam one year after our lives changed forever.

  17. Jason says:


    Thanks for the update about Sam.

    That’s good to hear that Sam’s Ativan medication is helping with relaxing his muscles, as well as all the other physical therapy and treatments, etc. he has been receiving.

    I think that it was great that Sam’s Alive Day was just an “ordinary” day. Of the many people who have lost loved ones to war/illnesses/accidents etc, what they wouldn’t give to see their loved ones just one more time!

    “Ordinary” and “routine” may seem boring or unexciting, but at least we’re still here……we’re still breathing and we still be with the family, friends, and people we care about the most. And that, as you say, is truly “extraordinary”!

    God bless!

  18. hello sam and erin! how are you guys? its been awhile…our days back from palo alto really meant a lot to me! u guys were such an inspiration to me! seeing erin and the way she acted around sam gave me insight on the way I should expect a wife to act. we r back at palo alto for the ptrp program. how close are you guys? maybe we can get together sometime.

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