Though born in 1985, I tell people I was re-born in 2017...
…here’s the story:
I woke up to a cramped, plastic coffin which instantly evaporated the air in my lungs. I was confined to a table, unable to move my arms, legs, and even my head. Tears began to tremble at the corners of my eyes. The tube I was in was no more than a couple inches from my eyes, and no matter how much I struggled I just couldn’t get out of what was keeping me in place. I was trapped and scared for the first time in my life.
Suddenly a lady’s voice came over a speaker from somewhere unknown, trying to comfort and reassure me that everything was all right and that it wouldn’t be much longer.
Panic and horror had already taken its hold over my mind and I continued to fight whatever was keeping me in place, despite how soft and comforting her voice sounded.
Reluctantly, I felt the table beneath me begin to move. The movement was never-ending, but I eventually saw the lights of a ceiling. I had no idea where I was, or what was going on.
Seconds later, a lady approached and began to unclasp me from my shackles. It was at that point that I realized I had no control of my body. I was truly unable to move any muscle of my body, speak coherently, and unable to comprehend whatever was going on. The lady firmly hugged my body and lifted me to a sitting position. My head slumped forward – chin-to-chest. I could see from my blurred peripherals that I was inside of a room with a giant machine behind me.
I could feel the lady rub my back as a mother would, to comfort her child. It had the same effect on me and I was able to, once again, regain my ability to breath at a soft pace. I was asked if I was ready to go back into the machine, and something about the lady’s voice told me to trust her. Everything was still a blur, but I gave her the okay with my eyes that I was ready to go back into the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machine.
Locked again to the table, I began to feel the machine move back toward that nightmarish tube. Every ounce in my body focused on my breathing, but seconds after I was inside the tube, and the ceilings light was shaded by its surroundings, I blacked out.
2017 – My First Coma
That’s right…that story above is a true event which occurred in the several weeks I was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit.
It was March 2017 when I went to sleep one night thinking it was going to be like any other night. That one night would be the first of many painful ones for the next few weeks.
This was my first experience with what I would later be diagnosed with as having “epilepsy,” and what I went through during those painful moments were known as “Grand Mal Status Epilepticus” seizures. To demonstrate a fraction a moment in time, I had over 300 seizures within a 24-hour time-block at one point, my body temperature soared to 102 degrees, and I had a resting heartrate of 160 bps. It was a painful three weeks physically, emotionally and psychologically.
Once things began to settle down a few weeks later, it was onto the next phase of my recovery: re-training everything.
When I say “re-training of everything.” I mean everything! Training how to hold a pencil, re-learning how to walk again, connecting a line between two dots, and even adding simple numbers such as 2 + 2. My brain was so swollen that there was such a disconnect between what I knew I had to do in my mind to what I had to do with my hands. I was a mess, and it deeply affected me emotionally. But seconds turned into minutes; minutes turned into hours; and hours turned into days. I was at a point where I could perform the basic skills again – it was tiring.
And, though it was tiring and trying, I came out a different person from it. It was after this incident where passion overtook my way of thinking. This is where my desire to write my first book From Nicholas To Christmas began – a passion which always resided deep within, but I was too afraid to make something of it.
Through support from my wife and parents, I was able to mold this dream into a reality. I began to write and develop my book immediately. That old expression “Live like you may not have a tomorrow.” never hit me more (…literally!).
From April 2017 on, I began to write. It was also during this time that the Marine Corps found me medically unfit to serve, so this was also the beginning of my departure from a decade-long occupation.
Fast forward to November 2018, the administrative process was complete, and I was ready to depart in February of 2019.
Up to this point the book was coming together rather nicely – the book cover was finished, the story was in the editing process with Debra Hartman at www.theprobookeditor.com, and I was driven to continually move the book along to the next level.
New Year’s Eve 2018
The plan for New Year’s Eve 2018 was going to be a quiet one: there was already much to do during that time (e.g. looking for houses, finishing with last-minute administrative needs from the military, etc.), so the idea was to keep it low-key.
December 29th, 2018 was to be like any other day, but that’s far from the truth. All it took was one afternoon nap.
Without any warning signs, the same thing which happened 20 months ago hit me again. Rushed to the hospital, I was, again, introduced to my second coma, only this incident would be a little worse than the first.
2018/2019 – My Second Coma
When you’re subconsciously/unconsciously fighting for your life, there’s no sense of what’s going on, aside from the intense pain your body is feeling. You just keep fighting.
Like the first, I again had approximately 300-400 seizures within a 24-hour time span. Also, like the first, it was painful beyond explanation.
My lungs collapsed during this time, and I developed pneumonia as well. Sadly, my wife, parents and in-laws were beginning to feel that terrible feeling that, at any moment, they’ll receive news that I didn’t make it.
Thankfully I pushed through, and I wouldn't done it without the people you see in the pictures above. My wife (Kari) and parents (Cheryl and Roger) were there the entire time. As you can see, they even slept in the most comfortable of places -- one of which was a little too small for my dad.
I had to go through the same strenuous tasks of re-training motor skills, but it was far better than having to wake up in another MRI coffin. But it was also during this second incident where I learned I would have to undergo brain surgery in less than two months.
…the brain surgery was a success and the neurosurgeon at Walter Reed Hospital did a phenomenal job!
After suffering some minor set-backs from that second incident, my spirit couldn’t have been more jump-started into making my first book become more of a reality than ever before.
Since 2017, my passion to work is like the following quote:
“Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
– Mark Twain
And my passion to live?...
Live life like you may not have a minute to live.
This is why I tell people that my life completely changed after 2017 and I was “reborn.” Not only did my way of thinking completely change, but I met my beautiful wife, where, in 2018, we got married in the gorgeous mountains of Colorado.
Now, if you're interested in contacting me, please (Click Here) and send me a message! :)
Credit for the professionally-taken photos go to Ashlee Crowden Photography at
Please take the time and visit her site for some of her amazing work.