Alive Day Anniversary Three

July 20, 2010

Sam had his quarterly evaluation a few weeks ago.  They measure strength, range of motion and muscle tone.  Sam received a 5 (highest score) for strength by the physical and occupational therapist and showed an overall improvement, especially in his right arm and shoulder.  His memory retention has improved, but he still has problems with short-term memory loss.  Erin and Sam’s therapist work with him constantly to improve his memory retention.  Sam plays UNO with the staff and other patients and his card handling is getting better.  He can pick up a card from the UNO rack (usually by himself and pick the correct card for the situation.  Erin bought Sam a large size computer keyboard that is color coded and he and Erin have been working on the computer lately.  If you haven’t done so, you can “friend” him on facebook.  He doesn’t say to much…usually short sentences, but I actually watched him myself as he typed out words on his own.  Never thought I would see him doing that! 

Erin sent us a video last week of Sam doing physical therapy.  The big news is that he was moving his left leg on his own power from left to right as it balanced on the exercise ball.  You can tell by her voice (in the  video) that his physical therapist, Kerrie, was very excited about his movement.  Erin later told me that they were both trying to be very calm and not show much excitement so that Sam would think that the movement was expected and normal for him. 

Sam moving his left leg in therapy

We’re coming up pretty quickly on the third anniversary of Sam’s injury or “alive day” which is July 24th.  Remember, on that day, four of Sam’s buddies lost their lives.  You can read about them at this link Fallen Heroes of Kilo 3/12 …there are some very nice comments from some of the Marines and Navy corpsmen who knew our fallen heroes.   You might also want to leave a comment under this blog post and wish Sam and Erin a happy anniversary.  They will be married seven years on the 27th of July.


Iron Man Too!

May 25, 2010

Iron Man 2

From Sam’s father Eric: Wendy and I were able to attend the current Marvel rage at our local theatre last Saturday, of Iron Man 2. What made this especially fun, is the fact we were able to go with Sam and Erin. Even with a UTI (Urinary Tract Infection), Sam sat and watched with interest; a movie with incredible special effects. He acted like He and Erin were on a first date, as He hugged Her, held Her hand, and leaned His head towards Hers. It was darling, and every bit as entertaining as the movie. As I sat and watched, I couldn’t help but think of the many analogies that Sam shares with this fictional character.  Surrounded by Iron, (wheelchair) Courageous, compassionate, but above all, a belief in what he was doing was the right thing. Call me biased, but Sam goes far beyond the movie in the areas of Iron Will, Courage to meet the challenges of his daily life, and the sheer determination to accomplish all that is set before him as the right thing to do. Just as the movie and comic book before it claims; mere human strengths are not enough to meet these adversities. Unlike the pulp fiction, we know exactly where Sam’s supernatural powers come from.

SamPlaysChessSam is the redeemed of the Lord Jesus Christ and Disciple of the Most High God. He has faith that the Lord God is true to His Word, and is even now restored unto optimum health. Scripture says that He that believes, (on the Lord Jesus) IS healed. Not will be or can be, but IS. Simply because His manifestation of healing hasn’t been shown yet, does not mean that He doesn’t have it. God’s timing is not our own, and God knows when the right time is for Sam’s healing to be revealed to the world. We celebrate His healing now; party when Sam can join us. In the meantime, God is teaching Sam and Erin supernatural love, patience, determination, and compassion for the others with lots worse than Sam’s.

popeye arms! Sam continues to improve, even if it is with baby steps. Sam’s overall coordination and flexibility are accelerating with his aggressive physical therapy. Many TBI’s lose their physical prowess due to either inactivity or the lack of transmissions to the muscles. Sam hasn’t lost his; the strength on his right side is extraordinary. He enjoys flexing and showing off his arm strength when ever he sees me. When God is ready, he has the basic muscular structure already in place to rise and walk out of that chair. Sam’s wit and clever responses demonstrates for all his total presence of mind. I
asked him if he loved Erin recently, and his response was simple   and brief but spoke volumes; it was, "So Much". Yesterday, I sent a text inquiring as to their day; and Sam said simply, "Prime"—to Photo_042910_the endwhich Erin agreed. As our dear family of friends who pray for the manifestation of Sam’s healing, I ask you to not forget Erin. Her characteristics of Iron like loyalty, dedication, and simply an IRON Love for Sam continues to be as strong as Sam’s resolve for restoration. She willingly oversees his therapies, keeps him company, entertains him, and challenges him to go further. All the while working recently at a few weddings of family and friends, helping with her darling niece, Holly, and finishing college classes with A+ averages. I am thankful to God for her and as proud as any father-in-law can be…

Much love,

PS:  If you are a facebook user, do a search on “Support for Sgt Samuel Nichols” to find the facebook page started by a Navy Corpsman who served with Sam in Iraq.

First Annual California TBI Advisory Board Conference

January 11, 2009

TBI Advisory Board Conference

A friend of mine with the California Department of Aging sent me some information on First annual Statewide TBI Advisory Board Conference which is being held in Sacramento on February 9-10, 2009 at the Holiday Inn Capitol Plaza at 300 J Street.  Hopefully myself and Erin will be able to attend this conference.

The target audience for this conference is anyone interested in traumatic brain injury including family members, caretakers, case managers/service coordinators, rehabilitation specialist, neuro/psychologist, counselors, physicians, and others who service individuals with traumatic brain injuries.

One of the workshops at the conference that really caught my eye is called “Serving Returning Service members with TBI which is being moderated by Ted Puntillo, Deputy Secretary California Department of Veteran Affairs.

The purpose of the conference is four fold:

  1. Raise the visibility of traumatic brain injury among policy makers and program administrators
  2. Promote innovative and successful services and systems to meet the diverse needs of persons with traumatic brain injury
  3. Promote collaboration among stakeholders to address challenges faced by individuals with traumatic brain injury and their families
  4. Promote opportunities for coordination of resources and services, and provide information to individuals with traumatic brain injury and their families

A conference brochure is available at California Department of Mental Health Website at:

Registration information can be found by going to the website:

Sam’s medical status:

Happy New Year to All,

My Dad was the product of the dust bowl era when many of the people that lived in Oklahoma and surrounding states migrated to California for a better way of life. At 16, my Dad was thrust into the working role in order to help support his family which included 3 younger brothers. His formal education came to screeching halt and Dad never lost that "Okie" vocabulary that was his by environment. An immature teenager viewed this "ignorance" as a flaw and my relations with my Dad were strained. It wasn’t until God got a firm grip on me that I realized that my Okie Dad was brilliant. He was a self taught, Journeyman Industrial Electrician. This was a feat I could never even dream of accomplishing. When I saw this quote from Mark Twain a few years before my Dad passed away; I finally got it. "When I was 18, I found my Dad ignorant; by the time I was 21, I was surprised by how much my Dad had learned in 3 short years." My sister has explained in her writings that we sometimes view God as we view our natural fathers. That is, if our father abandons us, we see God as distant; or if our father is harsh, we see God as stern and lacking love….One unique thing about my Dad was his predictable generous nature. Dad would follow us out to our cars after a visit home, and literally empty his wallet (he called it a billfold) into our hands. He would give us all he had to give, even if it were only a few dollars or his entire cash allotment for the week; and he did it for all of his kids…(6 of us) It was so regular, we expected it…Well, to the point of my story about my Dad…last week I stated that I was expecting God to move in Sam and Erin’s lives because the medical community had kind of come to a stalemate over some of Sam’s treatment…I prayed about it with some very strong prayer support from some amazing Christians, and God just doesn’t say No…These are reports from Erin that I received by text, phone calls, and actually being able to spend time with Sam on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day….

First Erin reported that Sam became unhappy with his catheter and wanted to use the restroom. He fought his way through the door of the restroom himself using his strong right arm to maneuver his wheelchair into position. He couldn’t go but the doctors were very encouraged that he had not only the sensation to go, but the presence of mind to initiate the move to the restroom. Next as Erin gave Sam a haircut, she presented him with a mirror and asked how he thought he looked? He replied, "sexy as hell". Ha! That’s my boy….One evening Sam informed Erin that "she was in his way"; even brushing her foot off of his wheelchair. She asked where he was going, and he replied, "I’m going to bed" and then SamWrites attempted to get out of his chair and into bed. One afternoon Erin was doing a Mad-lib with Sam and asked for an adjective. He had trouble getting it out so he took the pen from her hand a wrote the word on a poster board. The word is GREAT and is shown by the first picture. It is hard to see at first, but when I blew it up on my computer screen, it was easily read…And finally, one afternoon, Sam said to Erin that "they should go home now." Erin didn’t think too much about it as she in the past has had to remind him of his injuries and explain the need to stay in the hospital for now. She did that again and she thought he was pacified. Approximately 10 minutes passed, and he thoughtfully declared "he didn’t need to be there" and again tried to get out of bed…Well, I was so happy to hear that out of his own mouth…I truly see it as a faith statement, and some more of that is just what Dr Jesus has ordered. As he progresses in his mind to see what he already holds to be true in his spirit, He will progress exponentially. The fact that he doesn’t see himself as injured, and in need of round the clock care speaks volumes to me…This week is a movement by God on Sam and Erin’s behalf and nothing under the sun will convince me otherwise…

SamnFootball_Dec_08 The picture of Sam preparing to throw a football was taken on Christmas Day. Julie, (Erin’s Mom) had wrapped about a dozen gifts for Sam and had brought them down for him to unwrap. He did a masterful job at opening the packages, using the seams of the paper, and tearing when appropriate…The tone from his injuries locks his jaw something fierce, but he was able to gargle out a Merry Christmas to Donny, Brandi, and I on Christmas Day…He was happy to have us around and had me tell him the nativity story; not once, but twice on Christmas Day….

Much love,

Welcome to

October 2, 2008

I found a wonderful TBI resource on the web and would like to pass the information on to all who are interesting in learning more about Traumatic Brain Injury:

Welcome to Brainline

We are pleased to introduce, an exciting new resource on preventing, treating, and living with traumatic brain injury. is a comprehensive website where people can find authoritative, useful, and timely information and resources.

Please visit to find:
– Fact sheets and TBI basics
– Personal stories
– Video interviews and roundtable discussions with experts in the field
– Information on symptoms and treatments
– Strategies and tools
– Research and resources
– And more

BrainLine includes special sections for people with TBI, their families and friends, and the professionals who work with them. With new information featured each week, the site is designed to be a helpful place where people can gather information, learn about new research, and find a community of support and hope.

Please let us know what you think of the site by sending us feedback at

Sam’s medical status:

Hi to all,

I’m a little late with this weeks update but still have some interesting news about Sam.  Erin and the staff at Kentfield have been having fits trying to figure out why Sam is having so many seizures lately.  It turns out they may be over-reacting and he may not be having seizures at all.  Erin noticed that the “seizure activity” always happens around the same time of the day in the afternoon.  She also remembered that Sam’s seizure activity really spiked when he had a roommate about a month back.  Putting two and two together, they now suspect that Sam is not getting enough rest (sleep) and is getting very tired in the afternoon.  When he’s taking his nap, which seems to come on pretty sudden, he had a tendency to twitch his legs.  They are now thinking he has Restless Legs Syndrome and all the seizure type activity they are seeing is actually just Sam taking a nap. So—they are backing off with the seizure meds they have been giving him and have changed his schedule around to allow for a mid-day nap (11AM until 130PM).  The doctor is also requesting that Sam stay in a room by himself to allow for better rest and sleep.

Sam is going to have an Endoscopy sometime this week or the next to take a look at his esophagus.  They are looking at giving him Botox treatment to help with his swallowing.  The hope is that he will eventually be able to take in fluids through his mouth.

Sam is going to eventually have tendon surgery in his right leg to correct his foot drop issue, but for now, the plan is to wait until he returns to the VA hospital in Palo Alto.  Speaking of Palo Alto, it looks like Sam and Erin will be headed back there sometime towards the end of this month (October).  Sam has come a long way since being at Kentfield, but he is now ready to go back to Palo Alto and continue with the next level of therapy.

Sept 16-18: Advisory Committee on OIF/OEF Veterans and Families at the Palo Alto VA Hospital

September 12, 2008

department of veterans affairs emblem I received this important information from  Erin will be attending this meeting and will be speaking before the VA advisory committee:

Please pass this on, especially to those in the area who may wish to add their voices, experiences.  Details in extended below:

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) gives notice under Public Law 92–463 (Federal Advisory Committee Act) that the Advisory Committee on OIF/OEF Veterans and Families will conduct a meeting and a site visit in the Palo Alto, California area on September 16–18, 2008. Committee activities will include tours and briefings at various VA facilities.
The purpose of the Committee is to advise the Secretary of Veterans Affairs on the full spectrum of health care, benefits delivery and related family support issues that confront service members during their transition from active duty to veteran status and during their post-service years.
The Committee will focus on the concerns of all men and women with active military service in Operation Iraqi Freedom and/or Operation Enduring Freedom, but will pay particular attention to severely disabled veterans and their families.
The agenda for the September 16–18 meeting will include briefings on recent site visits, discussions on proposed recommendations to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and tours of the VA Medical Center. The Committee will discuss its findings and observations based on previous Committee meetings, site visits, written reports, and personal experiences.

Here are the specifics of the visit by the advisory committee:

On Tuesday, September 16, from 9 a.m. until 12 noon, the Committee will meet at The Cabana Hotel Palo Alto, 4290 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA. In the afternoon, the Committee will meet at the Palo Alto VA Medical Center, tour the facility and receive briefings from staff.
On Wednesday, September 17, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon, the Committee will meet in closed session. The Committee will be meeting with clinicians and individual patients receiving services at VA’s Menlo Park facility. The session will be closed to protect the privacy of the patients and to minimize possible interference with the delivery of medical services. Closing the meeting is in compliance with 5 U.S.C. Sec 552b(c)(6). In the afternoon, from 2 p.m.–5 p.m., the Committee will meet in open session at The Cabana Hotel Palo Alto, 4290 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA.
On Thursday, September 18, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Committee will meet in open session at The Cabana Hotel Palo Alto, 4290 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA. The meeting will include time reserved for public comments. ******Individuals wishing to make oral statements must pre-register not later than September 10, 2008****** by contacting Syreeta Cherry via e-mail at, and by submitting 1–2 page summaries of their statements for inclusion in the official record of the meeting. Oral statements by the public will be limited to five minutes each and will be received at 3 p.m.–3:30 p.m. on September 17, and 1 p.m.–1:30 p.m. on September 18. Interested individuals may also submit written statements for the Committee’s review to the Advisory Committee on OIF/OEF Veterans and Families (008), Department of Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20420.
Any member of the public seeking additional information should contact Laura O’Shea, Designated Federal Officer, at (202) 461–5765.

For more information on the advisory committee for OIF/OEF veterans and families, go to

Sam’s medical status:

Good Day All,
Sam &Erin_Kentfield_9_10_2008
I got to Kentfield in time yesterday morning to watch Erin give Sam a professional shave. Sam has an extremely coarse beard and I’m very surprised she wouldn’t nick him more, but inevitably she did. A little, tiny, dot appeared and she apologized profusely. She playfully bantered, “are you going to smack me”? His hand came up quickly and in a most gentle gesture just stroked her face with love and appreciation…just precious. The first picture is of Sam and Erin after that shave. I asked him to smile, and that kind of crooked Elvis smile is what he achieved. Aren’t they a handsome couple?

He seems much improved from last week’s visit and that one was pretty good.  He still shows some signs of seizures, but they are largely diminished. His body seems to be adapting to the anticonvulsant medication called Dilantin; so he is less groggy and is back to his old self in all of his therapies.  Usually he just does one or two of the primary body exercises; but yesterday he did the standing frame, the prone position, (on his stomach) and sitting balance for his core and lower back. Two, eSam's Best Moto_Kentfield_9_10_2008xtra long sessions, in addition to occupational and speech therapies. Erin reports that they are using a “silver” catheter to reduce the chance of infection. Erin said their “arguments” usually are over who is the most awesome; but one day Erin was telling the nurse something and Sam said; “No I didn’t” and maintained his innocence. Whether accurate or not; it was good to hear his independent thought. Ha! See the second shot for Sam’s best motivation….

The day was perfect and we went out to the deck in between his therapy sessions. Sam enjoys the outdoors, feeling the sunshine on his face and cool breeze, gently blowing. Erin will often push him down the bike trail; (it’s paved) so he gets better scenery than just what is afforded to him at the hospital. I did it once and it tuckered me out; goodness she must be strong for being so tiny…Ha! Yesterday though, we sat and visited and enjoyed the fact that it wasn’t hot like it has been so many days before…As we discussed his care, his cna came in to see if all was well and commented on how good looking he is. He gets that a lot, and it prompted Erin to remark that just about all his doctors, nurses, cna’s, and therapists are women.  This is not only true at Kentfield, but was also true at Palo Alto, Marin General, and Bethesda. It occurred to me that from a spiritual perspective, it couldn’t be more orchestrated by God. When God is given control over a situation, he sends the very best as a resolution to the problem that presents itself. In this case, Sam not only gets the very best medical care possible, but he gets it delivered by caring, nurturing, and loving people.  In Proverbs, Solomon speaks of the “Spirit of Wisdom” in the feminine gender, and have realized for a long time that women possess a certain wisdom that men just don’t have. When God created Eve, he gave her some more of himself then he previously did when he created Adam. Together, we best represent what God truly looks like. Having been surrounded by women all my life; (Mom, Sisters, Sam’s Mom, Aunts and cousins, In-laws, Friends) this truth has been evidenced time and time again. My sister Jan, pointed out recently that God the Father is our idea of an Earthly Dad. Authoritative, just, fair, and of course loving. Jesus is our big brother, getting us out of scrapes and going to bat for us with the Father. The Holy Spirit plays the Mom’s role by bringing us comfort and nurturing just when we need it most. So I say that Sam is largely in the hands of women by design and not by accident; and I thank God for the dedicated women working to restore Sam.  This in no way diminishes my respect for the gentlemen that have given Sam such excellent care to this point, and the several kind and caring men that will have much to do with Sam’s recovery before it is complete.

Just to show Sam’s humor is so Sam Brushing_kentfield_9_9_2008present and ever regaining it’s mobility….Erin was helping him brush his teeth. They have a dental quality brush that suctions out the water and toothpaste as she brushes. Sam does a pretty good job on his own, but Erin helps him to get every square inch of his mouth. As she brushed yesterday, his gums bled a little prompting her to remark that Sam needed to remind her more often to have her help him brush.  As she turned to go wash out the brush in the bathroom sink; Sam called out
in a loud voice, “ERIN”! She was somewhat startled, and turned around to hear Sam say, “BRUSH MY TEETH”! Well, she did ask for a reminder, and through much laughter, she dubbed him “Smart Ass”! Ha!

Much Love,

Pentagon to spend $300M for study of TBI and PTSD

August 6, 2008

erin beaver creek wounded warrior project spa weekend_edited-1

Wounded Warrior Project:  The above picture was taken at The Charter Hotel at  Beaver Creek, Colorado.  Erin and 18 other wives of wounded Marines and Soldiers were invited to this weekend get-away by the Wounded Warrior Project.  As with the recent trip Erin took to the Brain Injury Association of American Caregivers Conference in Dallas/Ft Worth, all expenses for this trip were paid by the Wounded Warrior Project.  The picture above is a little small, so if you’re having trouble finding Erin, she is kneeling in the front row, third from the left.

Erin had a wonderful time in Beaver Creek.  She said she was really able to connect with all these girls and wishes she had more time to get to know more of them.  The girls were given facials, massages and participated in group therapy sessions.  When we texted Erin on Friday night, she said she was having a great time at the “pajama bunko” party.  One of the girls is going to start a MySpace page so that all of them can continue to stay connected.

If you are not already contributing to a charity that supports veterans and their families, the Wounded Warrior Project is a worthy cause.  They, along with the Marine Corps Semper Fi Foundation and Soldier’s Angeles were there waiting for Erin when she and Sam first arrived in Bethesda NNMC and they continue to be there for Sam and Erin and our whole family today.

DoD Research Funds for TBI and PTSD:  Wonderful news in the TBI research world.  The Pentagon is spending $300 million dollars for research related to TBI and PTSD.  This includes research on 20 different medications related to TBI.  When Erin was at the Brain Injury Association of America Caregivers Conference last week, she mentioned that many caregivers of non-military TBI patients we so thankful that the military TBI issues were giving all TBI research much needed publicity.  It’s estimated that 1.4 million Americans suffer from TBI each year—235,000 of those cases are serious enough to require hospital care (based on findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  To read more on this topic, see this article from USA Today.

Sam’s medical status:

Good Evening All,

Erin lent her expertise to the “Wounded Warrior Battalion’s” workshop in Denver this past weekend; so it was Kelley’s and my distinct pleasure to sit and visit with Sam. On Saturday, Kelley took some friends with her that were so excited to be there and pray for Sam. I got the impression they were from a Spanish speaking church and were elated to hear Sam use his voice to talk to Erin by phone. They were blessed, but were a blessing to Sam as well. If we could ask for another prayer this evening; Sam’s Uncle, Rick Hendricks, collapsed at work today and was unresponsive for several hours…We immediately had dozens and dozens of spirit filled believers praying for him and he regained consciousness this evening. Sam in his own voice, “gargled” out this prayer: “Heavenly Father, In Jesus name, we call Rick the healed of God.” They are doing tests tonight to determine the cause of the incident but we are believing the same power that moves Sam along will restore Rick as well.

Sam had a fantastic week full of therapy sessions and tests. He has 3 successive EEG’s and no sign of any seizure activity…He is off of the stronger anti-convulsants and just takes one mild one for now…He doesn’t seem to be displaying severe symptoms of any iSam in PT_Kentfield_08_03_08infections either so it is full steam ahead for progress again. The therapists are jazzed to see him back in the “work mode” as he breaks his own record daily for sitting up unassisted. The first picture is of Sam sitting to rebuild the muscles in his core…After a few minutes, he began to tip sideways and he said, “Oh S_ _t! Ha! Erin and the therapists roared…Can’t get all the Marine out of the boy…Ha! The other picture during Physical Therapy is Erin giving him ample reason to work hard. A kiss for motivation…If you look hard you can see the Anniversary ring that Sam gave Erin for their 5th wedding anniversary. Erin was the envy of the nursing staff and they all wanted to know from Sam where their ring was…Sam was hilarious playing to their requests…The last picture is of Erin throwing some jabs at Sam with Sam & Erin Kissing_Kentfield_8_4_08his night time mitten. It is used to keep him from pulling out essential tubes and such…He is getting very fast with his response time in blocking her…

The last two days he didn’t want the T.V. on at all…he wanted some  reading done for him; and seemed quite content to hear some stories…he listened intently and interacted on several occasions…at one point I looked at him and he seemed to be deep in thought so I asked him what he was thinking about? He threw up his hand as if to say nothing or I don’t know…To be funny, I said while you’re sitting there why don’t you solve world hSam & Erin Boxing_kentfield_8_4_2008unger? Without missing a beat he slowly raised his hand to his chin  and began to stroke it in a very thoughtful way…What a character…Yesterday when I arrived I mentioned that maybe we could call Donny later. In about 30 minutes he initiated a phone call by making glasses with his fingers to indicate “Donny” and then did the phone thing to his ear…Erin says that is big for him to initiate that by himself…today he tried to reach behind himself for the pull chain for the overhead light…I doubt if I could have come any closer…

In a two or three week period here we have many celebrations to enjoy with Sam and Erin. His “alive day” (July 24th); Their 5th wedding anniversary (July 27th); and now Sam’s 24th birthday on August 12th…Last year he turned 23 in a coma in Bethesda Naval Hospital’s intensive care unit. Look where God has led him in just one year…Can you see in your mind where he will be on his 25th b’day? I am stating unequivocally that he will be walking and talking perfectly by then…Let me just say a word about their anniversary…My sister said that if you think you are in touch with your emotions, just try and tell someone how you feel about them with out thinking about it in advance…you stumble, stammer, and usually crash and burn…I talked to Erin about their anniversary and tried to delicately find out how her feelings had either been changed or does she do what she does because their love was so perfect before the accident? She did not stutter or hesitate; she said they were best friends, had become closer before the events of last year, and they both had always put each other needs before their own…As I choked down the lump in my throat; I could see it…just as she described it…100% accurate; borne out by actions and not just words…That is how God works; and He is working through Erin…

Much Love,

The Brain Trauma Vets

June 24, 2008

“We are facing a massive mental health problem as a result of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As a country, we have not responded adequately to this problem. Unless we act urgently and wisely, we’ll be dealing with an epidemic of service-related psychological wounds for years to come.”

–Bobby Muller, President Veterans For America

I read a very thoroughly researched document by Conn Hallinan describing traumatic brain injury as it relates to our service men and women fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.  It’s fairly long, but briefly hits on all the major areas affecting our brain injured veterans.  The good news is that we are saving so many service members who have been injured in Iraq and Afghanistan.  I believe the ratio of deaths versus injuries is 1 to 17 (1 death per 17 injuries) in our current conflict.  In Vietnam it was a 1 to 3 ratio and in World War II it was a 1 to 1 ratio.  The bad news is that as these wars continue on and on with no end in sight, the count of brain injured veterans continues to grow.  Many veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan who were near IED blast don’t even know they sustained brain injury and the symptoms of their injury may not show up for years.  To read the complete story,  click here.

Sam’s medical status from Sam’s father Eric:

I spent the most uplifting day yesterday with Sam and Erin and am excited to relate the events to you…Sam has been having some seizures which are not all that uncommon with TBI’s.  It was confirmed this week by an EEG which showed some seizure activity in his left frontal lobe. This is the area that controls the speech
process…(not the speech content; for we know that he is totally cognizant of what he wants to say) but the actual mechanical process of delivering the message. It’s a standard operating procedure to give a patient a tranquilizer of sorts (something in the Valium family) after a seizure to relax the area of the brain affected and allow them adequate time for rest. They should become sleepy and at very least a little groggy. Three separate times, the exact opposite has occurred. He became very “awake” and quite chatty. His primary care physician got to witness both a seizure and the episode after, so She and Erin decided upon a test to see if it would happen again. Yesterday at approx 1:30pm they gave him a dose of this medicine and he then went right to physical therapy. He was groggy and even a little weak as he stood in the standing frame, responding slowly to the techs, but as usual to Erin…towards the end of the session, as the meds seem to be absorbed and “kick in”, he seem to become much more animated.

sam and erin trying to look cool_kentfield_8_22_08 By the time he was back in his chair and headed back to his room for speech therapy, he was fully awake. Katie, the speech therapist was so impressed and commented his improvement was at least 50% over her last session with him…His doctor asked to be paged at this time and she arrived and immediately became interested in his apparent progress…She asked Sam a lot of questions, sometimes with Erin’s help; but he answered with his voice! She asked him what year it was and he answered 2005. Oops. She asked him if he knew where he was and at first he said a house, but later changed it to hospital. My brother Greg and my son Donny both called yesterday during this time and got to hear Sam say hello to them on the phone. While I was standing away from Sam and Erin and finishing my conversations, Erin asked who that man was and he said, “My Dad”. She asked him what was he doing here, and he answered without hesitation, “Talking on the phone”. Ha!

Erin called this reaction a paradox…a mysterious outcome, or a result not expected from the stimulus given him. Of course it is…but from where? An accident or a coincidence? That I don’t believe. Erin and I discussed this last week when he first had the seizures and his talkative time right after. We surmised then that the Holy Spirit was at work, stirring him for another great advancement. Don’t get me wrong; I take nothing away from the doctors and all of the medical professionals. I so admire them and absolutely feel they are God’s instruments here on Earth. The love and care they put into their work is just awe invoking to me and I will forever be in their debt. BUT, I also refuse to share God’s credit and glory with the doctors. If it hadn’t been for the seizures, they wouldn’t have given an already sleepy patient tranquilizers; so I dare to hear someone say that God isn’t in control of all of Sam’s care and rehab…Oooh, that sounds kind of mean, but I know this as well as I know anything else…

The infectious disease doctor was in to talk about Sam’s recurring infections. He thinks after much testing and bouts with antibiotics, that Sam may have a very small piece of infected shrapnel in his abdomen somewhere; or the bacteria may be hiding of all places in his prostate…Again, I emphasize that in Jeremiah 32:27 it says; “Behold, I am the Lord, Is anything too difficult for me?” and these problems although severe are nothing for the creator of the universe…Sam said yesterday that he wants 3 children and a 4 bedroom house so I believe on that faith, God will move to protect his prostate. That is my prayer of the week…Will you join me in that?

It is such a joy to visit with Sam and Erin and I always come away with much more than I bring. Erin was jazzed yesterday and highly encouraged, and to see her beaming smile just made my weekend. We laughed, we prayed, we celebrated Sam’s great favor with God and men…They had gotten me a large volume with 3 books by my favorite author for Father’s day, and Sam handed it to me, said Happy Father’s day and hugged me. Tears well up when I think of all of their challenges and they have the love to take the time to honor me…I can only think and say a big thank you to God for the privilege of being this boy’s father…

Until next time, Much Love…