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 http://ptsdcombat.blogspot.com/.  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 Syreeta.Cherry@va.gov, 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 http://www1.va.gov/oifoef/

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,
Eric

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Brain Injury of America Conference 2008

June 16, 2008

From Erin Nichols:

I’m finally organized enough after my mini-vacation to sit down and write about how rewarding last weekend was. For those of you who don’t know, last weekend I was fortunate enough to attend the Brain Injury Association of America Caregivers Conference, thanks to the generosity of the Wounded Warriors Project who paid my way. I really didn’t know what to expect, and to be honest I was somewhat dreading the trip; but I knew this was an opportunity that I could not refuse.

lee woodruff The conference began with keynote speaker Lee Woodruff, wife of NBC’s Bob Woodruff and co-author of “In an Instant: A Family’s Journey of Love and Healing.” Lee spoke very honestly and personally touched each one of us. As she was speaking I noticed a lot of nodding heads, including my own. She did a remarkable job of making a room of 100 or so people, all with different stories, feel our common connection. We all have a loved-one with a brain injury.

The content of the conference varied from lessons on taking care of ourselves as caregivers, to brain injury 101. They even offered breakout sessions on military specific issues such as Tri-care and VA benefits. The people conducting these lessons were all very knowledgeable in their respective areas and provided us with a wealth of information. Sometimes it’s good to know more than you need; you don’t always know what questions to ask, or you are afraid of the answer.

As enriching as the curriculum was, the greatest, and for me the most unexpected element of the conference was the people. I’m a very independent person (you know that if you’ve ever tried to help me), and I didn’t think I needed the camaraderie of other people in my situation; yet, it was so comforting and relaxing to be surrounded by people who almost always knew what I was talking about. During meals and between workshops we would swap stories and learn about each other’s loved-one.

From talking with other families, I learned how unique Sam’s situation is. Sam’s injury is not unique, but the fact that he has full-coverage insurance, 15+ hours of quality therapy a week and a doctor who not only knows what she is doing, but leads the field in neuropharmacology. Sam is afforded the benefit of expert care that most civilians cannot afford. I was shocked to learn that many civilians with TBI’s are treated by General Practitioners. GP’s are great if you’re relatively healthy, but brain injury medicine is highly specialized. Brain injury awareness can change this. We need more doctors to become Physiatrists (specialty in Physical Medicine and Rehab, PM&R), and insurance companies need to cover the cost. If you had a heart condition you would see a cardiologist; likewise, if you have a brain injury, you should see a doctor who specializes in brain injury.

I’d like to thank the Brain Injury Association of America and all of the weekend’s speakers for a wonderful conference. Also I’d like to thank the Wounded Warriors Project for making it possible for me to attend.

For more information on brain injury and brain injury awareness go to www.biausa.org.

Sam’s Medical Status:

Visit to Kentfield_6_15_08

On Saturday my wife Julie, my daughter, Allison, and myself went to Kentfield to visit Sam and Erin. Sam has been moved to room 412 which is in the far south-east corner of the hospital. It’s a really nice room because it is a “single” and it has a nice view of some trees.

Sam is still getting over the Seizures he had on Monday. He’s also just finishing up with a round of antibiotics for another bladder infection he’s been fighting. So—it wasn’t in much of a talking mood this weekend.

Sam is going to be put on a new drug called Provigil which is used for people with narcolepsy. His doctor is hoping the Provigil will help his attention span and thus improve many aspects of his daily interaction with the therapist. He’s also having an EEG today in the hopes that they will determine the cause of the seizure.


A conversation with Sam Nichols

May 12, 2008

From Sam’s father Eric:

Good Morning to You All!

What a great weekend! I’m sure you all had the opportunity to pay tribute to your Mom or A Mom somewhere…we had a BBQ at my house and I had the grill honors…My Sisters and Brother’s wives all did the side items and it came together very nicely…The grandkids did the desserts and the Fruit Pizza, the Orange Juice Cake, and the Chocolate Frosted Brownies are enough to tempt anyone off their diet…Ha! We had some very special guests as Erin was in town to honor her Mother and Grandmothers and we were able to have Tony, Julie, and Erin have Sam praying with Eric May 10 Kentfieldlunch with us…It is sooooo good that Erin takes the short weekend away from Sam’s side; not just because it’s Mother’s Day, but because she needs the occasional distraction to refresh her mind and spirit with thoughts and feelings of other things…She spends much of her time telling about God’s goodness to Her and Sam, and of Sam’s progress, to friends and relatives she hasn’t seen in a while. She does it willingly and almost as a duty; and as I sat and observed I spoke a silent blessing on her for her faithfulness. (She also keeps in touch with the nurse’s desk and knows up to the minute where Sam is at all times)…Julie, (Erin’s Mom) brought us gifts even though it was Mother’s Day…She brought Donny and I, T-shirts with Sam’s picture in his dress blues on the front and back; and the text that reads “Please Pray for Our Recovering Iraqi Veteran”; and on the back the web link prayforSam.com , which leads to his blog…What an incredible sweet thing to do…A walking advertisement for soliciting prayer for Sam…Kudos Julie…

I had the distinct pleasure of visiting with Sam on Saturday and he looks so good. (Please see the photos attached from that visit)…I got there maybe an hour or so after Erin left and he was watching the discovery channel (one of his favorites)…he loves the animal stories and regular features like World’s Dirtiest Jobs, etc…When he saw me he gives his usual wave hello; and when I ask him for a hug and a kiss, he lifts his right arm all the way up as if to say, Get over here…He wraps his arm around my back and pats my back, as I kiss his cheek…I say I love you, Sam; and he says so distinctly, I love you too…Sam’s Mother and I raised the boys to show affection freely and rarely do we see each other or even speak on the phone, that we don’t remind each other of our love. This isn’t that unique, I’m sure; but when they would see me with their friends when they were teenagers and still give me a hug and a kiss is quite remarkable, I think…At any rate, he was talkative when I arrived so we had quite a conversation; discussing his Mom and Brothers, the presidential campaigns, and of course some prayer time together…One of the pictures is he holding my hand and praying the Lord’s Prayer…He repeats what I say and sometimes I can see he is frustrated because he can’t form the words I just said…I don’t see that as a problem, as I know adults that can’t Sam laughing at TV show May 10 Kentfieldsay the word aluminum or film….BUT he does a masterful job in my opinion, and he is glad to have said it when we are done…We can have an even more in depth conversation since Erin has taught him some other ways to answer. It is not just yes or no anymore, as we all know that there even degrees to yes or no…When he doesn’t know or just can’t remember he throws up his hand, all five fingers fully extended, in a gesture that emphasizes, “I don’t know”; and he is good at using it…he even uses his eyebrows and maybe a shoulder shrug to underscore it. After an hour or so of conversation and prayer; I believe he is fatigued and wants to rest. He is non conversational at this point although does acknowledge a CNA he hasn’t seen in a month by saying his name…A loud and froggy Michael…He seems restless and will occasionally utter some words I’m not sure of, but tries to watch t.v…While he is watching, (and I am watching him) he begins to laugh…I’m astounded and excited…It is sort of like heh, heh, heh-heh-heh, heh…it is loud and he seems to be smiling while he is laughing…I whip out my phone and am able to capture it for you to see…(The second picture)…I look to see what was so funny on the set and I have to do a double take…There is a documentary about the Alcoa Company building a processing plant in Iceland and their challenges there…What? So I’m still not sure what was so funny, but it was
so good to hear him laugh…

I know Erin has said that there was a test to see if he could swallow well enough, and that maybe it will determine if he can safely begin eating and drinking something. I’m not exactly sure of the results of that test so I’ll wait till next time to report on that, or maybe Tony or Erin will touch on that in the blog…

Thank you all again for your continued prayers…Scripture says that the prayers of the righteous avail much and that God seeks an opportunity to implement his word so that it will not return to him void…It is on that word that I take as promise of his healing for Sam and it is obviously not going to return to him as empty; but see Sam and Erin fully restored and even better than before…
Much Love which brings Hope, which creates Faith and we all know that it is Faith which God honors….

Eric


The Caring for Wounded Warriors Act of 2008

May 5, 2008

There’s a new bill that was just referred to the Committee on Veterans Affairs by the Senate on 4/28/2008 called The Caring for Wounded Warriors Act of 2008 S.2921. There isn’t much information out on the bill as of yet, but it is endorsed by the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA). The legislation was introduced to the Senate by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. Here is a summary of the bill:

A bill to require pilot programs on training and certification for family caregiver personal care attendants for veterans and members of the Armed Forces with traumatic brain injury, to require a pilot program on provision of respite care to such veterans and members, and for other purposes.

The bill sounds like a perfect fit for people like Erin. There are so many more wives and family members out there in the same situation. I’ll keep you updated on this legislation.

Photo_050308_005 Sam’s medical status: On Saturday my wife Julie and I went down to Kentfield to visit Sam and Erin. Sam has another bacterial infection which doesn’t seem to be too big of an issue. A little silver lining to this situation is that he’ll have his own room for a while. He’s now in room 118 if you’re thinking about visiting. The rooms are pretty small in this hospital, so now friends and family will have a little bit of elbow room when they visit. He also has to wear a mask when he’s out of the room so you may see some pictures of him with his face covered if he’s out of the room in his wheel chair.

The picture’s that I’m sharing with you today were taken on Saturday. Erin had just shaved Sam’s face. She handed him the brush and told him to brush his hair which he gladly did. I was very surprised at how well he moved it around his head. The only problem he had was moving the brush over to the far left side of his head.

In the other photo, Erin is talking to Sam and asking him to complete her sentences. I was standing about five or six feet away from him and actually heard very clearly some of the words he was saying. Other times, erin getting sam to say words_5_3_2008Erin had to get her ear right up next to his mouth to hear him—but, he is still doing so well.

Erin noticed something very interesting during all her question and answer sessions with Sam. It seems he has about a two year gap in his memory. For example he doesn’t remember that they bought a new car a few years back—He still thinks they have their truck. He also didn’t remember being promoted to Sergeant. The most interesting thing…he doesn’t remember how he got hurt. Erin said he thinks he was home when he got in his accident. I guess for now, it’s better that he doesn’t remember what really happened.

On Friday Erin sent me a photo from her cell phone of Sam taking a ride in a motorized wheel-chair. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find the photo, but the next time he takes it out for a spin, I’ll have her send me another photo and I’ll post it in the FLICKR strip. This particular wheel chair didn’t have all the neck and back support that his regular wheel chair has, but Erin said he was doing really well keeping his neck and trunk upright. He also did pretty well at moving himself around after Erin gave him instructions. Another step towards independence!

Of course, my favorite part of the day was watching Erin kissing and hugging Sam. He’s pretty good at kissing her and now he can get his right arm around her and give her a really nice hug back. I wish I could bottle up the love these two share with each other. Regardless of Sam’s difficultly in speaking, there is no lack of communication between these two young people.

From Erin as of Tuesday May 6th:

As of today Sam is back in room 129. The bacteria that bought him a private room is gone and a new patient with a different bug came in today, kicking Sam back to his old room. It’s not bad, but he was able to rest a lot better without a roommate.

Sam had a very verbal day today. during his mid-day break, I asked him what he wanted to do and he said,”go to sleep.” I think this was the first phrase he said without repeating after me. I’ve started asking him open-ended questions instead of yes and no, and he’s really stepping it up. I’m able to understand more and more of what he’s saying, and his voice is coming out more and more. He sounds like a frog. he’s so cute.


Treating our Severely Injured Troops Closer to Home

April 8, 2008

ABC Newsman Bob Woodruff says U.S troops should have the same care he received, and at facilities closer to their families. Mr Woodruff has literally walked in Sam’s shoes. While reporting in Iraq two years ago, he suffered traumatic brain injury after being hit by a road side bomb. He spent a few months at the Bethesda National Naval Medical Center and then was transferred to a hospital closer to his home in New York.

The military currently treats our wounded warriors with traumatic brain injury in only one of four military hospitals dispersed throughout the United States. While staying at the Palo Alto VA Polytrama center, Erin met families from all over the western United States—Oregon, Washington, Colorado and even Alaska.

Bob Woodruff and his wife Lee, recently spoke at a fundraiser for the Drake Center, a rehabilitative hospital in Cincinnati. One of their main points was that our military personal with TBI need to be sent to private facilities closer to their family. It has been a long and hard struggle for both the Nichols and Neria family having to drive back and forth to Palo Alto and now Kentfield on a weekly basis. Although there have been some wonderful military charities that has helped us with travel expenses, the military doesn’t provide anything to the families of our wounded troops. The least they can do is send our wounded to facilities closer to their home.

To read the full story about the Woodruff’s visit to the Drake Center, click here…

Sam’s medical status: Yesterday Sam was transported back to the Kentfield Rehabilitation hospital from Marin General Hospital. Erin said he seemed a little apprehensive and nervous when he arrived back. After a few of the nurses came in to say hi, he started to recognize them and felt much better.

Because everything he’s gone through in the past week, Sam has taken a few steps backwards. Erin said he kept telling her he was bored at Marin General and she thinks that was making him more lethargic. He’s going to be put back on an increasing regime of bromocriptine which was stimulating his speaking before last week. Erin expects after a full week of therapy and his new drug, he’ll be back to improving. Remember, before he got sick he was really starting to hit another level of consciousness.

The doctors at Marin General did find something very interesting. Occasionally it has been thought that Sam has had pneumonia because of a mass that has been seen in the lower left lobe of his lung. The doctors at Marin General determined that this was actually a part of his spleen (it was removed in Germany due to his injuries). The actual cause of his fever this past week was mostly due to a urinary tract infection which is now under control. He still has pseudomonas which is a bacteria that can cause urinary tract infections and/or systemic infections—but it is under control.

Sam_bethesda_ICUBernadine's visit to Sam and Erin at Marin General II 4_4_08

Now for an explanation of the pictures—I didn’t share any pictures of Sam for the first 6 months that I’ve maintained this blog. I just didn’t feel comfortable because I knew the pictures were so bad. The picture above on the left was taken after Sam came out of ICU at the Bethesda National Naval Medical Center in August of last year. As you can see, he was pretty bad off at the time. I remember when I first came in to see him, I had to leave the room occasionally because I got so emotional seeing him with all the tubes and wires hanging from him. The picture on the right was taken on Friday by my friend Bernadine. Sam was still not feeling too good, but he was still impressive. I’ll let Bernadine (who I consider my big sister) tell the story of her visit:

Kelley and I took off for the bay area yesterday around 9 so we could stop in Marin County to see Erin & Sam…….I got there while she was in the bathroom, and I was so happy to see Sam so alert, and went in and ran up to his bed and gave him a kiss telling him who it was and he seemed visibly aware I was there for sure! Then Erin came in and she got him to say my name!! very cool!!

He cracks me up the way he does his blowing [see the FLICKR photo to the right], she said he does that to piss her off, ha……..but she also thinks it comes from all the practice of blowing to learn speech! She asked him all sorts of questions to which he signed yes or no…Dr. Erin filled me in on a lot and told me she is going back to school to study Physical Therapy………….she is truly amazing [she hopes to go to Stanford].

I know its hard on Tony, as it was on my mom and dad, to realized the life you thought your daughter would have is not quite as expected [Bernadine has TWO special needs daughters!]. But I also truly believe Erin has accepted this cross in her life with so much love and grace, she will walk along with our Lord all the way, and she will be okay. It was so great to see the progress Sam HAS made…

Yes—Bernadine made me cry when I read that. Bernadine was on her way to Redwood City with her daughter Kelley, 18, for an appointment at Kaiser. Kelley is going to be having brain surgery soon to help relieve the seizures she has been having for much of her life. Keep Bernadine and Kelley in your prayers.


News Coverage Wanes as Iraq War Goes into 5th Year

March 24, 2008

news coverage_IAVA Yesterday there was a significant amount of coverage in the news about war casualties in Iraq reaching the 4,000 mark. But after five years of war, Americans are getting weary with Iraq. There is only a very small percentage of Americans who are truly affected by the war. With the elections coming up, the mortgage melt down, the latest on Lindsay and Brittany—there isn’t a lot of time to cover things like war casualties, PTSD and TBI. It’s so depressing, isn’t it?

According to the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), only 3% of the news in February was dedicated to the war. An even more troubling statistic; only one in three Americans know how many American troops have died in Iraq! According to the Pew Research Center, press coverage of the war is at its lowest point since the war began. I’ll bet more people know who got voted off American idol last week!

Please take a minute now to sign an open letter to the media (sponsored by the IAVA) and demand that major networks increase their coverage of the Iraq war. Our troops are still in danger every hour of the day in Iraq. They are still fighting for their country. We must continue to keep them in our thoughts and prayers. We must not let our news media and our government allow the American public to detach themselves from the men and women who are dying for our country. We must also not allow the American public to forget that, yes, 4000 troops have now died in Iraq—-but many more wounded troops are returning with devastating injuries. It is our responsibility as voters and Americans to ensure these men and women who have served their country so bravely, will be given the best medical care possible.

Sam_physical therapy_3_22_08_kentfield Sam’s medical status: This picture to the right is of Sam during physical therapy at Kentfield. His right arm continues to get stronger. You can see in this “action shot” that he is punching up to meet Erin’s hand.

Last weekend Sam was put on the drug bromocriptine. According to Sam’s doctor, this drug has had success in stimulating the speech recovery of brain injury patients. They are starting him on a very small dosage and moving him up to around 12 milligrams per day depending on Sam’s reaction. On Tuesday Erin called and said that Sam was starting to mouth words much better and she was able to read his lips more easily. After his speech therapy on Tuesday Erin asked him how his therapy went and without any prompting, he spelled out for her (via the alphabet board) board “all right”.

The news kept getting better and better as the week went by: On Friday (Good Friday) Erin called her mother and asked her if she wanted to say hi to Sam. She put the phone up to Sam’s ear and said hi to him, and the most exciting thing happened—he said “hello” back to her! Yes—clear and fairly strong! Erin was just giggling with excitement!

Yesterday Erin came up to have Easter dinner with us here in Citrus Heights (Sacramento area) and right before we started to eat our dinner, Sam’s mother called (she was with Sam at Kentfield). She said he was doing great and very active. As she was leaving the room to go back home, she sneezed and again very clearly, heard Sam say “bless you”.

It was a truly “blessed” Easter for the Nichol’s and Neria families. Thank you for your prayers.


Prayer and Healing

January 30, 2008

A note from Erin about prayer:
I want to share with you all a recent concrete result of our prayers. About 2 weeks ago Eric (Sam’s dad) and Greg (Sam’s Uncle) came to visit, and we prayed specifically for the wound on Sam’s buttocks. The next day, as we went to change the dressing we saw significant improvement. I know my dad mentioned the improvement in a previous blog, but I really wanted to point out the timing of that improvement.

healing crossFor months we’ve been working on this wound, and even though he has a special skin-care bed and has had the wound-vac for a while now, we still hadn’t seen the improvement that we expected. The day after our prayer session, Sam’s doctor said the words “Wow Sam, you’ve really turned the corner here.” If you’ve never spent a lot of time with doctors before, they are, as a group hopefully pessimistic. To hear a genuinely happy comment from a doctor feels really good. The funny thing is when we (the wound care team and doctor and I) saw the improvement in the wound, they all gave credit to the wound-vac! I however knew that God was answering our prayer, just like He saved Sam’s right leg overnight. Praise God and know that he answers our prayers.

Erin

I can attest to the fact that the wound on Sam’s buttocks was absolutely horrifying to look at.  I saw it about three months ago when I was visiting Sam and Erin in Bethesda.  I just happened to walk into the room when they were turning Sam over and I got a full view which made me turn around and walk back out so that I could catch my breath. 

Prayer really does work and we all thank you for your prayers and faithfulness to God’s work in Sam and Erin’s lives. 

Tony