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.


An Embrace from the Faithful One

February 8, 2010

From Tony, Erin’s Father:  I’ve been going to the gym every morning and working out with Erin all this week.  Hopefully we can keep this up.  It also affords me an opportunity to get the scoop on the latest with Sam.  Erin told me that yesterday Sam and quite a break-through in his physical therapy.  He was laying on his left side on the therapy table and his therapist asked him to turn over.  He was able to move his upper body so that he was facing the ceiling—but what he was able to do for the first time, was to move his right leg up and then straighten his whole body so that he was totally facing the ceiling.  That wasn’t the only thing that he did—while laying down on the table and his knees up (with his feet flat on the table), he was able to move his right leg down to the right touching the mat and then back up to touch his left knee.  He had done this a few times in the past—only one time and they he couldn’t do any more, but this time, he did it seven times in a row…arm on wheelchair1_9_2010rested a few minutes and then did it three more times.  As he was doing it, the therapist said, “I think he’s having a break-through”. 

Speaking of Sam’s right side, Erin and the therapist have been working on his right arm which has been improving lately.  The photo shows him pushing his wheel chair with his left are, but they have been noticing some movement in his right arm as he tries to use both hands to propel him along.  Very small improvement, but none-the-less, a significant  improvement on his right side. 

For those of who of you who are using facebook, there is a “group” called “Support for Sgt Samuel Nichols”.  Just search for this group in facebook and join.  Erin and I will start adding quickie updates on this facebook page.  The group page was started by Patrick Couhie who happens to be the Navy Corpsman who first brought medical add to Sam right after the roadside bomb hit their convoy.  I’m sure Patrick’s quick actions are the reason Sam is with Holly meeting Sam for the firs time1-14-2010us today.  I hope to start adding more frequent updates in this blog too…I tend to wait until I have almost too much information and then life happens and I put off updates for weeks at a time!  I will try to do better. 

Speaking of life happening, Erin’s sister, Allison had a baby on January 4th (Holly Quinn).  She was 6 pounds 10 ounces.  Allison brought Holly to see Sam about a week after she was born.  After holding Holly for about a half hour, Erin asked Sam, “what do you think of Holly?”.  And Sam, or course, had the perfect response.  He said, “I love her!”. 

From Sam’s Father Eric:
Good Morning All,

Isn’t it incredible that after 2 1/2 years since Sam’s injury, that the
interest in His recovery and progress hasn’t waned in the least? What is it about Sam’s particular case that makes He and Erin so special and the object of everyone’s prayers and good wishes? Have you asked yourself why you await word in the form of an update or new submission to his blog? The answer is simple really, and probably doesn’t escape most of you; but it was a real encouragement to me to glean this from a conference I recently attended. That is, "Faith is what sticks after you’ve had an embrace from the Faithful One". That couldn’t be more true for all of you. God selected each and everyone of you to pray for Sam and Erin, and in so doing laid on your hearts the faith by which to accomplish just that. Yes, their love is a classic story and of great human interest as well; but human interest stories come and go. Only what is done by God remains, and what he does is usually accomplished through people. Scripture is full of those examples, so we continue to stand together for Sam’s total restoration. His healing is already here; just ask God to show it to you….

We’ve had some very special friends from a sister church in Redding, Ca., (Bethel) come and pray for Sam and Erin. It is a 3 hour drive one way, and then they spent 4.5 hours praying with us, and then 3 hours back home. All of this on top of working that day and having to be back at work the next day. What an inspiring time that was too. They not only came here under the direction of the Holy Spirit for Sam, but for the rest of us as well. My faith soared as EricNSamPraying_2_6_2010 I observed a young couple on fire for the Lord, aggressively pray for Sam’s release. Their mentor, quietly praying in the background, and all 3 of them displaying the love of Jesus and the early apostles. We are truly thankful to them for their obedience and faithfulness to God’s directions. Also some ladies from our church choir, including my sister Jan and sister-in-law Debbie, came to sing some worship songs to Sam. It was wonderful to see Sam mouthing the words to "Jesus Loves Me"…The picture of Sam and I was taken during one of those prayer sessions; but what made it so special to me was while I was praying, Sam reached up and held the side of my face and neck. This melts my heart about as much when he says "I love you, Dad".

Some might think Sam has plateaued in his progress forward. This is not so, but maybe have to see the daily details of all that he does or is able to do. Erin continues to make him her full time job and is responsible for all of his immediate care. She asks the right questions when appropriate, and gives good reports every time I see her. Her spirits are high and defeat isn’t in her vocabulary. She approaches everyday with new enthusiasm and it is infectious of all those around her. She edifies the other patient’s families and answers many of their questions. She attends class a few nights per week as she studies sign language for an eventual career in speech therapy. We love her and try to support her in all that she does. Her sister’s new baby has made her a doting Aunt, and that too is precious…

Much Love,
Eric


IAVA: Stronger Together

July 1, 2009

Help the IRAQ and AFGHANISTAN VETERANS of AMERICA reach 4000 views of their newest recruitment video by July 4th.  Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America is the nation’s first and largest group dedicated to the Troops and Veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the civilian supporters of those Troops and Veterans.

Sam’s Medical Status: 

In our last update to the blog, I mentioned that Sam was at Sutter Roseville Emergency.  He was there for 4 days before being released back to CareMeridian in Granite Bay.  He was given a PICC line at the hospital to allow him to receive antibiotics intravenously.  By the time he left the hospital his temperature was back to normal.  He had a few more days where his temperature went up slightly, but nothing that would cause alarm.

There has been a few very nice improvements in Sam’s recovery lately.  Eric mentioned in the last blog post that Sam was sucking on a dum-bum sucker which is very cool.  Last week during therapy, Sam was asked to grab his left leg (he hasn’t had any movement with Granite Bay_6_30_2009either his left hand, arm or leg since getting injured).  Without any encouragement, Sam reached for his left leg using both his right and left arm!  It wasn’t a lot of movement with his left arm, but a significant movement for him.  Later while my wife Julie was with him, he lifted up his left arm again.  Erin told me on the phone last night that he is getting more aware of his left side.  For example, he’s been moving his left arm with his right hand to position it.  His frustration level with his left side not working seems to be increasing…a good sign that he is aware of his disability and his brain is working to get things moving again.

Another really exciting improvement has been with Sam’s short term memory.  Erin is always working on Sam’s memory skills and he is very good at remembering things from 2 years ago and beyond, but not so much with more recent events.  For example, the day after Sam and Erin went to see the new star trek Eric and Wendy_6_30_2009movie, he didn’t remember going.  But—recently Erin asked Sam what big news occurred in my younger daughter’s life and he remembered that she recently told him she was pregnant (Julie and I will be grandparents for the first time!).  He’s also been remembering other big events like his father Eric getting married a few weeks ago to Wendy.  By the way, Eric met Wendy thought this blog.  Wendy is an RN from St. Louis…she came across Sam’s blog one day and started leaving occasional notes.  Eventually Eric started noticing her beautiful faith filled comments and encouragement she was giving Sam and Erin.  They started emailing each other, eventually met, and now are married!  I’m sure there’s more interesting details to the story, so I’ll let Eric make any corrections or additions where needed.

Peace and Love to all,

Tony


Add Your Name to the Open Letter to the President

January 25, 2009

IAVA Logo

President Obama IAVA Action Alert

Over the past year and a half, my daughter Erin has spent 8 to 14 hours a day in various military hospitals at the bedside of her husband Sam, a US Marine severely injured in Iraq by a roadside bomb.  It has become Erin’s dream to go back to school to become a speech therapist so that she can help Sam and other wounded veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars learn to speak again.  She hopes to one day work in a veterans hospital.  One of the provisions of the new GI Bill is the option to allow servicemembers to transfer their GI Bill education funding to a spouse or dependent.  But—the military has been dragging its feet on getting the regulations in place, so servicemembers are still waiting for that benefit.  The Obama Administration can and must get the bureaucracy moving and make this benefit a reality.

In the coming months, President Obama has a unique opportunity to make a series of critical decisions impacting Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. Sign the open letter urging him to enact these four critical policies in his first 100 days:

    · Ensure that veterans don’t have to fight for funding for hospitals and clinics.

    · Prioritize veterans in the economic stimulus package.

    · Implement GI Bill transferability.

    · Aggressively address troops’ mental health injuries.

Click here to sign an open letter, asking President Obama to ensure veterans are a top priority.

Sam’s medical status: 

Sam is Sleepy_1_19_2009Erin reports that Sam is so fun lately. His clever and often unexpected sense of humor shines through and it is just delightful. Monday afternoon when I was there, Erin was still wearing a surgical mask around Sam so their contact wouldn’t result in catching Erin’s cold. Erin was just heading to the restroom, but Sam wanted a parting kiss. Erin feels bad that all she could do was kiss his hand; so I asked if I  could kiss him instead; and he looked at me rather funny. He held up his thumb and index finger close together to signal "just a little one"…Ha! Sam has always had a dry sense of humor with the ability to say something so funny; and deliver it with barely a smile or change in expression. It doesn’t seem that foreign to me now to hear or see Sam do something hilarious and not even crack a smile. One evening as Erin was preparing to leave for the evening, she asked Sam if there was anything she could do for him before she left…He said to her, "Why don’t you sleep right here?" motioning to the side of his bed…Erin said it tore at her heart…On Saturday, when I arrived, Sam was sleepy and subdued, but at total peace. He was comfortable and had no aches or pains; and just rested there with his eyes closed. He managed a wave hello when I got there, but quickly went back to a much deserved and needed nap. (See the picture)

[I’ve changed some names in the following section to protect the privacy of the people you will read about…Tony] After praying for my boy a bit, the family of Sam’s roommate arrived to visit. I had met them briefly the Monday before and found out that he was a musician…Mike [name changed] suffered a car accident in November and has a brain injury similar to Sam’s. His Mother, sister, and his brother had come to visit and bring Mike some family love. His Aunt arrived later for additional support. After Sam returned to napping I had the opportunity to sit with [the mother] in the employee breakroom/cafeteria, and over a cup of tea was able to listen to Mike’s story, and recount Sam’s journey thus far. Here is a family full of love for their injured son and brother, with great challenges that beset them. I think they found great comfort in hearing of all the challenges that Sam endured and conquered; and fell in love with Erin for her steadfast faithfulness. I am moved by their compassionate love for their family member; and did not miss an opportunity to be a witness for the healing power of Christ, and the power of Sam’s prayer army. When [Mike’s mother] told me of the negative medical reports, something in me quickened, as I saw this as an opportunity for God to show himself strong for yet another family and group of friends by healing yet another brain injury. So, again I am asking for prayer for another even as I did a while back for Johnny Murphy, another car accident victim and TBI recipient. Will you as a group, hold Mike up to the Lord, covering him and his family with the healing and comforting power of Jesus? What a glorious day it will be when the news of Mike’s healing reverberates through the rock and music industry, and God is the only source of his healing…

When I was leaving on Saturday; the family had just returned from treating Mike to the beautiful outside weather we were having that day. I overheard Mike’s brother talking to him in the hallway. I wasn’t trying to eavesdrop and hope this isn’t a violation of a brother’s private and intimate moment, but it touched me. Mike’s brother told him that he refused to accept a medical statement of any disability whatsoever. He reminded him of all the life he still has to experience and live. Regardless of anyone’s revelation in the faith healing process; Faith statements are still faith. It is something that God can work with. I shook Mike’s brother’s hand, commended him for his statement of faith, and asked him to keep it up. All the way home, I thought of Mike and his family. I called a few people to start the prayer chain I had promised for Mike’s family. It wasn’t until after worship time on Sunday that I realized, that Sam had been subdued and quiet so that I had time to focus on this roommate’s family…Isn’t God brilliant and oh so loving????

Much love,
Eric