Written by, Jamie Sorensen
Our story began more than fifteen years ago. I met my husband, Nicholas, in high school; we were just acquaintances in our junior year. Nich sat behind me in our history class; he usually slept, or doodled on his homework, and then asked to copy my notes. He was very outgoing, social, and flirtatious. We were complete opposites and after high school, we went our separate ways.
On Saturday July 24th, 1999, at age eighteen, Nicholas was involved in a horrific rollover car accident. After spending a week at the Sand Dunes, Nich, his friends and family, were driving home in three separate cars. Nich’s family was in front, followed by Nich and his two best friends Melissa and Sean, and bringing up the rear was Melissa’s family. Nich’s Mom, Dad, and sister, in the lead car, lost sight of Nich and his friends, so they pulled into a rest stop to wait for them to catch up. That unfortunately never happened.
At approximately 6:34 p.m. near Tremonton, Utah, the Highway Patrol received multiple phone calls from witnesses, saying that a white Jeep hit the center median, swerved, over corrected, and rolled two or three times end over end. Nich and his friends were thrown from the vehicle. The driver, Sean, had the least extensive injuries; he was awake and talking. Nich, unconscious was taken by ambulance to the local hospital in Tremonton. Melissa, suffered the most serious injuries, and was life lighted to the University of Utah hospital. Tragically, she did not survive.
Nich was at the Tremonton hospital for a short time. He had difficulty breathing, because his lungs were filling with fluid. They transported him immediately by ambulance, to the McKay-Dee hospital in Ogden, Utah for two days, and then another transfer to Cottonwood hospital, for the next three days. Upon his release, he was referred to a neurologist (for the brain injury), and attended rehab three times a week for six weeks. He had to re-learn how to walk, talk, eat, and do all the everyday functions we take for granted. With the Traumatic Brain Injury, he began having multiple seizures.
In 2007, I stumbled upon Nich’s name online, through our high schools web page on MySpace. We were both coming out of unhappy and unhealthy marriages. I sent him a message saying “Hello do you remember me?” Surprisingly he did! We started talking a lot; learning everything about each other since our junior year of high school. We dated for a year and were married, February 17, 2008.
I knew, about Nich’s horrible accident before we got married, but I couldn’t have fully known what my responsibilities would be as the wife of a TBI survivor. You can’t prepare for things you’re going to have to deal with until you’re actually living with that person on a daily basis.
Nich has had two major grand mall seizures since the accident, but he suffers from petite mal seizures almost daily. He’s currently on three different seizure medications, all at maximum dosages, which keep the seizures at bay for the most part. A year and a half ago, Nich blacked out, fell and hit his head in the shower, causing another concussion. Two days later a golf ball size hematoma showed up on his head, and he started throwing up. The concussion caused his seizures to become more prevalent again. His driver’s license was taken away and since then, he’s had some major setbacks. He often forgets how he got from upstairs to downstairs. He has fallen down our staircase due to another black out.
I could’ve never expected many of the things we’ve had to deal with the past six years, but I don’t regret a single second of it. It’s taken a lot of patience and understanding. I’ve had to learn how my husband’s brain works. I’ve had to change my expectations and how I do and say things to him. Nich is one of the strongest people I’ve ever known. He is loving, kind and compassionate. He says what he’s thinking, when he is thinking it. He is romantic, sensitive, and takes great care of me and our three kids. He constantly puts our needs before his own, and is always seeking ways to make others happy. I feel so lucky to have my husband at home with our kids every day; he’s a tremendous father. I feel so blessed to be married to my best friend who helps me appreciate the little things in life. I try to be thankful for what we have, and try not to stress about the things we don’t. My husband and I look forward to every day we get to spend together.
It’s true, I wouldn’t have married that “boy” I knew back in High School, but the man I know now (post TBI, and accident), is the love of my life.
Jamie will share more of their story next Sunday, with Survivor—Nich’s Story, Part 2. Thank you for sharing your heartfelt story.