Independence Day… and what it means to me

Nick today

Today is my son’s sixth birthday… he is thirty one years old.

I ought, perhaps, to clarify. It is the 4th July. What, to the US, is Independence Day, was long ago renamed in our household as Nick’s re-birthday. And in that simple prefix lies a story of hope.

Many readers are aware of my son’s story; stabbed through the brain and left for dead in a Bournemouth alley on July 4th 2009. The injuries were so severe that a murder investigation was underway before we had reached the hospital. He was not expected to survive. He needed immediate surgery to remove shards of bone from the brain, where they had been driven by the force of the blow. Nick had been in the deepest level of coma since the attack. It would be weeks before he woke, weeks when his vital signs were dangerous and the pressure inside his skull, from swelling and bleeding, was so high we were given no hope.

As his body healed, the risk of death from the immediate injury began to recede, though there were still many complications that could have taken him from us. The fear was in some ways, even worse then. We knew that with luck, he would live… but how? We were warned that his memory, cognitive abilities, logic, and language would all be irrevocably impaired. Everything, in fact, that made my son who he was. Then, in a cruel twist, a scan showed the damage to have been far worse that had at first been believed. And that was without the continuing secondary damage as his brain swelled.

We were warned that the most likely outcome could be a fate worse than death. My biggest fear for my son was that he would retain awareness in a body that could no longer function, unable to communicate, or express the being that dwells within. Unable to be Nick.

That, we were told, was very, very likely. And there was no more they could do.

My son, however, had other ideas.

“You have a miracle on your hands,” said the internationally renowned doctor, grinning like a schoolboy and catching me in a bear hug I will never forget. Nick, even at this early stage, had shown he was still in there and fighting his way back.

I have told elsewhere of those days… today is not about how I felt then, but about what my son has achieved… and what he is going to do with it.

It was a long, long journey. Victories came daily, but they were often so small…infinitesimally small… that only those constantly present would notice, or begin to appreciate their magnitude. And it wasn’t for want of trying.

I have never, ever, seen anyone work so hard. Even before he was discharged from hospital he had added a strenuous set of exercises to his daily regime to supplement the rehab he was getting. Strenuous in the extreme… and all to be able to lift a glass of water or a one kilo weight. It is unimaginable, and impossible to describe, how hard that was, with a body that had woken half paralysed and completely uncoordinated.

Eventually, after six months in various hospitals, he was able to come home. Rest? No. From the moment he woke to the time he went to sleep there were exercises, home-made speech therapy, innovative ideas to target his problems, not the generic ones catered for by manufacturers. There were the ‘reins’ made from pipe lagging and luggage straps. Footholders made from ice-cream tubs. You don’t want to know what we did to the yoga mat… Double sided tape, children’s toys, Dr Seuss books to read aloud, video games… anything at all that could target an area that refused to work. Gadgetry we could adapt or ‘misuse’ to serve Nick’s need… It was constant… up to sixteen hours a day, every day. And all the while learning about the brain, the nervous system and anything else we could think of that might possibly… no matter how farfetched… serve to help recovery.

And why? Given the prognosis… given the obvious damage…? Because we had hope. And we refused to stop believing.

That, of course, was wholly unrealistic.

The medical profession had long since made it clear there was little more they could offer to help things get better. They could only help maintain what he had gained. Since that time there has been steady progress. Slow, tiny… but every day.

Our belief was not based on logic. Our hope had no root in cold, hard facts. We recognised them, knowing that every day could be ’it’… that limit of recovery beyond which it was not possible to pass. We acknowledged the damage, the dubious likelihood of any further recovery.

Optimism need not be blind… it can see quite clearly, but simply chooses belief in a better outcome and works towards it.

Today my son lives in his own home… a rather swish place he named Possum Palace, after the tattoo he indulged in to mark his determination… It says, ‘possum ergo facit’… ‘I can, therefore I do’.

And he does.

Nick is currently working with the Royal Bucks Hospital, close to his home, having decided he needed professional input to get him through the last steps towards his first steps… and the staff at this private facility have been incredible. The hospital has also enlisted my son to help them with a project designed to encourage hope in others with similar challenges to face. This is something Nick is passionate about. To listen to him when he speaks about it is to know, without a shadow of a doubt, that the fluency comes from a mind utterly intact, even though the brain itself may still need work.

There is more to recovery than just getting body and brain back online. There does need to be an acceptance that there will be limits… but that doesn’t mean they cannot be pushed or surpassed, nor does it mean that a way cannot be found to achieve a goal in unorthodox fashion. There must also be an acceptance of what is… it is all too easy to look back on what was and what has been lost. Nick seldom looks back… he is too busy appreciating the beauty in the world, a beauty he failed to see as a successful young businessman. He doesn’t even look back at how far he has come, not unless someone or something means he has to… and then I hope, he is just as amazed as the rest of us at what he has achieved.

We talk sometimes about the way this apparent tragedy had brought unexpected gifts… and there are many. How many of us wish there was a ‘reset’ button on life to give us a second chance? July 4th 2009 was a reboot… ‘a beginning,’ he says, ‘not an ending…’ I rather think he is going to make the most of it. So far, he isn’t doing too badly 😉

Happy re-birthday, Nick!

IMG_0141

You can read more of Nick’s story on the blog, or better still, read his own words by clicking the links:

Possum ergo Facit

Aim for the Moon

I wouldn’t change a thing

Other than my voice

Waste no more time

May Day Magic

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com.
This entry was posted in Life, Nick Verron, Surviving brain injury and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

136 Responses to Independence Day… and what it means to me

  1. Happy Birthday to your awesome Nick! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. jlmandrill says:

    Wonderful story. Thank you. And good luck to Nick.

    Like

  3. What an amazing story!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. thanks for sharing with us Nick’s milestone. Happy birthday Nick!!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Kate Loveton says:

    Sue, I did not know this story. I am awed by your son’s perseverance, I am touched by his story, and I salute his bravery – and that of his family. Happy birthday, Nick. You are an amazing man.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Kate Loveton says:

    Reblogged this on Odyssey of a Novice Writer and commented:
    It’s Independence Day in my country, a time when many of us remember the men who forged a nation well over two hundred years ago. We consider these men American heroes: Jefferson, Washington, Franklin, and others whose memory and courage we salute.

    On this Independence Day, I’d like to share the story of another hero. On her blog, Sue Vincent shared the amazing odyssey of her son, Nick, and his ‘re-birthday’ on the 4th of July. Please read this story – you will be as impressed with the courage of Nick and his family as I am.

    Happy ‘re-birthday’ to another 4th of July hero: Nick.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Darcy says:

    Happy rebirthday, Nick, now and always. Punctuated by a celebratory thunderstorm in lieu of fireworks. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  8. TanGental says:

    Well it sounds like a perfect idea and as much a rebirth for you as for Nick. Hope the sun shines in all its ways, metaphorical and literal on you guys today.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. C.E.Robinson says:

    Sue, what an incredible story! Thank you for sharing it. Happy Birthday to you & Nick! Have a wonder-filled July 4th. Blessings! Christine

    Liked by 1 person

  10. alienorajt says:

    Immensely moving, Sue. Happy re-birthday, Nick! xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Norah says:

    Sue, I hadn’t heard Nick story before as we have just met. I cried for the pain of what you all went through. Then my tears turned to amazement and admiration for your courage, determination and persistence. Nick has achieved so much more and shown what is possible. And you were there supporting him every step of the way. It is an inspirational story and I’m so pleased to have met your and heard the story. I wish Nick a re-birthday as awesome as he is. It is a wonderful thing to not look back, to appreciate the now and step toward the future. I wish you joy as you share your new life with Nick. That you maintained optimism and hope throughout the ordeal is absolutely wonderful.
    I share my birthday with the re-birthday of a a very special friend. She was very badly injured in a car accident on my 40th birthday. We are very lucky to have her. She fought a hard battle too, but perhaps not to the same degree as was required of Nick. It is a day now with a double significance. In the first few years it was a struggle to not think of what had been, and almost been, lost. But my friend has an amazing energy and makes the most of every moment of life. We now celebrate her life, with mine, as well as on her birthday.
    Look after yourselves. Enjoy this day, and every day. Best wishes. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. An amazing testimony to the fortitude of which the human spirit is capable, not only for Nick (whom I salute), but for you, his parents, for your doubtless countless hours of effort, sacrifice, heartache and, yes, triumph. Thank you so much for sharing this.

    Like

  13. jenanita01 says:

    Wishing Nick all the joy in the world…a truly inspiring story of courage and determination…love you both.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Happy Birthday Nick. I hope one day to meet both you and your wonderful mum.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. …I knew part of the story as I follow your blog constantly… I have first-hand personal knowledge of a similar sense of re-birth, the fabulous ‘second chance’, and am grateful every day for it… Nick’s story( and yours, m’Lady, Sue) reinforces for me how fortunate i am to be still breathing and annoying the hell out of folks ! LUVZYEEZ both !

    cheeers

    Seumas

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Julia Lund says:

    What an inspirational story. Determination and resilience flying in the face of expectations in such a spectacular way – I stand in awe.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Anonymous says:

    Two amazing survivors! xxx

    Like

  18. Julia Lund says:

    Reblogged this on Julia Lund and commented:
    This really is a story worth hearing and sharing. Determination and resilience flying in the face of expectations in the most spectacular way.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Reblogged this on Barrow Blogs: and commented:
    An inspirational story that must give hope to so many others. Thoughts and hopes for more success, with you both today.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. A great story of hope, revival and determination to keep going. Happy birthday Nick.

    Like

  21. Happy Birthday Nick! I’m on my way over to your blog now 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  22. A true inspiration!!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. humbling – inspirational – God bless him always

    Liked by 1 person

  24. I read so much about this courageous young man when I first followed your blog, Sue. Happy Day of Rebirth to Nick, for his amazing courage. And a heartfelt salute to you, Sue, for your optimism and perseverance. We can only imagine what these past 6 years have been like for your family. You are a true inspiration to us all. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Wow! What an inspiration! Happy Re-Birthday Nick!

    Liked by 1 person

  26. 1WriteWay says:

    I did not know Nick’s story so I’m grateful to you for sharing it again. Indeed, his story adds a special meaning to 4th of July, my country’s celebration of independence. Happy Re-Birthday to Nick! And congratulations to you: your faith in your son, your love for him and belief in him has helped him get this far, farther than anyone would have imagined.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. SUE, THANK YUOU FOR SHARING NICK’S STORY – AND A VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO HIM! YOU HAVE SHOWN HOW FAITH AND HOPE CAN WORK MIRACLES! GOD BLESS YOU AND YOUR FAMILY.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Eliza Waters says:

    Nick is definitely one of my inspirational heroes. He proves that what one believes, one achieves. Happy 6th rebirth-day, Nick! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Mary Smith says:

    A very happy re-birthday to Nick – a truly inspirational man. I knew the story but hadn’t read any of Nick’s blog posts and I am very glad I spent time today reading them.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. sknicholls says:

    Wow, Sue! I knew he had been involved in a tragedy, but the extent of it and his perseverance through recovery wasn’t known to me. What an inspiration to others. I’m glad he has the hospital gig. My husband is in a different sort of recovery group that mandates they share what was so freely given to them. Experience, strength and hope. I believe that’s a crucial element to sustain the passion of all recovery efforts. Happiest re-birthday, Nick. You have one helluva mom!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sue Vincent says:

      Thanks, Susan. It was bad.
      That sharing matters such a lot to those at the start of their own road, doesn’t it? Nick often speaks of those who encouraged him by their own example.

      Like

  31. dweezer19 says:

    Much love and congrats! Happy Birthday and for every new day that brings progress Nick!

    Like

  32. JunkChuck says:

    This makes my day–and it’s early still! Thanks for sharing your story with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. What an inspiring story. I wish your son the best, and happy birthday.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. trentpmcd says:

    Happy re-birthday, Nick! It is an amazing story. The brain is extremely plastic and can reform itself in amazing ways, but it won’t unless pushed to do it, as your son has pushed his to rewire itself.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. macjam47 says:

    Happy Day of Rebirth to Nick. He has been through so much, as have you, and he is seeing the fruit of his hard work and perseverance. His journey back is courageous.

    Like

  36. John Maberry says:

    Wow! Happy Re-Birthday to Nick. Determination is indeed the key; nothing is impossible to those who refuse to give up. But this is an extraordinary example.

    Liked by 1 person

  37. Happy re-birthday to Nick. It’s a story that never gets old. I do love miracles.

    Like

  38. Kev says:

    Happy 4th Sue… hope you got Nick a cake with 6 candles on it. 😉

    Like

  39. A very happy birthday!

    Like

  40. Sacha Black says:

    I only knew part of this story, Sue, my god what a survivor, a hero, an inspiration. Have to say this post made me shed a tear. Your families perseverance and strength is Phenomenal, it’s an inspiration that gives us all hope.

    Happy re birthday Nick, the sixth of many more to come.

    Like

  41. noelleg44 says:

    I o0ove that his new birthday begins on our Independence Day. He’s a miracle man, for sure, and I know where his grit and determination comes from. Happy Birthday to you both!

    Like

  42. gloria says:

    What a wonderful testimony of determination when all hope was lost to the drs… our bodies defy the odds . congratulations on your achievments and a very happy birthday to you Nick, may you continue to attain all the goals you set yourself.. and may God bless you continually
    as you surround yourself with positive people like your mum.

    Like

  43. markbialczak says:

    Happy Re-Birthday, Nick. Congratulations on your amazing dedication, energy, determination, courage and progress! You’re an inspiration to the world.

    Like

  44. Dalo 2013 says:

    Touching and uplifting story of what life really means (true independence day in finding the courage and bravery to really call this life your own – Happy Birthday Nick!).

    Like

  45. What a remarkable and uplifting story. My best wishes to Nick and those who love him most.

    Like

  46. Susan Scott says:

    Happy Birthday Nick! You are an inspiration to us all, your Mum too. Keep on truckin’ – the world is yours.

    Like

  47. Karen says:

    So inspiring…yet again! It is wonderful, too, to hear of Nick’s being asked to help out on a project at the Royal B hospital – yay! I hope it really goes well and that his ‘hands on’ input will be exactly what might be needed…(and, perhaps, some music now and then, too, for some of the patients). And here’s to his wonderful mum for her tenacity, so hats off to you both, you’re a continuing Inspiration to all of us in many ways

    Like

  48. denis1950 says:

    Sue as a relative newcomer to your blog I knew nothing of Nicks struggle and your support for him during these last 6 years. What amazing strength you both have.

    Like

  49. Meredith says:

    I got to know you before I read about Nick. What a miraculous story!

    Like

  50. Happy Re-Birthday Nick!!! You make life look so good, and worthy of the effort!

    Like

  51. I didn’t know the complete story until now. It’s fantastic. Happy Birthday Nick! (Sorry I’m a little late.) and may you have many, many more. 🙂

    Like

  52. Mike says:

    What an amazing story.

    Like

  53. An inspirational and touching story. Thank you so much for sharing it with us ❤

    Like

  54. kirizar says:

    I…how can a comment possibly match what you wrote above? It can’t. So I won’t try. I will say, I heard you. I hear you. I will try to take this with me.

    Like

  55. It’s such an awesome story. So very inspiring and moving. Congratulations to you and your amazing son! And happy birthday to him! xxellen

    Like

  56. Wow! What an amazing, incredible, inspiring story! You already know Nick is 1 in a million man.
    Happy rebirth, Nick!

    Like

  57. Pete Hulme says:

    As always, truly inspiring, Sue. Thanks for sharing and sorry to be so late responding — things are a touch hectic!

    Like

  58. Glynis Jolly says:

    I had a stroke on the 4th of July 1972 that left me severely disabled. Yet, I’m still truckin’ along. Please tell your son to never stop being persistent. I’m rooting for him. 😀 ❤

    Like

  59. Glendon says:

    Thank you for sharing Nick’s story

    Like

  60. jjspina says:

    Wow, I didn’t know this incredible story about your son’s injuries. He is truly an inspiration to all who must overcome seemingly unsurmountable obstacles. Congratulations to him for his amazing perseverance and courage. You too, Sue, are an inspirational person to raise such a wonderful young man. May God bless you both! Xo

    Like

  61. Opher says:

    A heart-warming story. I wish you all the best Opher

    Like

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