Sunday, June 29, 2008

Update #48

A message from Lisa, Nick’s mom:

I cannot believe it has almost been 6 months since my last update. It pleasantly surprises me to have people ask “How Nick is doing.”

Well Jan. 11th our dear friends put on a Golf 4 Nick tournament. It was a beautiful event, day and evening.

In Feb. he started attending meetings with his scout troop again. This has been great for him – another part of his life returned. At the end of July he will be going with them to Camp Whittsett for 1 week. We are very excited for him.

Then in March, he went with his 8th grade class and dad to Washington D.C. for a week. This was a jam packed week from early morning till late at night but it was quite memorable.

April brought us a surprise. We had noticed for a few weeks that Nick’s short term memory loss had worsened and he was exhausted all the time. April 7th, we went for an appointment with the neurologist and that afternoon Nick was checked into Children’s Hospital. He had the full work up including an MRA. They were checking to make sure he was not having mini strokes. The tests came back negative on April 9th at 6pm, the evening of Nick’s 14th birthday. He was released and I drove him from the hospital straight to youth group where we had a surprise pizza party for him.

A week later he had a sleep study and he has apnea, but it’s nothing that a machine can’t help him with. Nick didn’t let any of this stop him in April. Knowing he wants to pass the 100 yard swim test at Boy Scout camp he decided he should take swim lessons. So he started private lessons twice a week and continued until just last week. The pool is a haven for him – in the pool he is free of his wheelchair and he is “normal.” And at the end of the month he found out that he will be going to High Tech High International for the fall.

May 3rd was the one year mark of Nicholas’ stroke and the day many of you became part of our family. While we did go through some grieving we also recalled an amazing year of support, new friendships, stories shared and God’s love manifested to each of us in a tangible way – we experienced “Jesus with skin on.” Of course Nick would have no part of any sadness and he did an “all-nighter” with his youth group. On Sunday we celebrated with our church. A week later he volunteered to work at family camp clearing tables and serving food.

That brings us to June. Nick was inducted into the Order of the Arrow (this is an honor society in Boy Scouts). It was an overnight under the stars and participating in community service work that completed the ceremony. June 19th Nicholas graduated from the 8th grade at Literacy First Charter. While this was great, nothing really compared to how he received his diploma. You see last October, he told his principal that he wanted to walk with his class at graduation. Well he did walk. In the procession with 2 forearm crutches and then he walked up some steps and across the stage with 1 crutch to receive his diploma.

Just 6 weeks earlier I watched my son practice walking on the lawn at his physical therapy. On this day, he fell at least a half dozen times and each time he would get right up – he never grumbled, looked dismayed or showed any discouragement. He even shooed his therapist away and told him to stand several feet away. Nick didn’t know I was there at the end of the parking lot watching from my car with tears streaming down my face. He also didn’t know how in those 20 minutes of observing him, he ministered to me. I was feeling down about some things and in watching him I gathered my strength and realized, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” While in rehabilitation I would have him repeat this verse.

Little did I know I would watch this played out right before my eyes. By God’s grace, children really can minister to us if we let them.

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” Confucius

Our other children have also stood up to the challenge to do their best. D.J. graduated from High Tech High International and will attend Azusa Pacific in the fall. Amanda finished sophomore year with a 4.0 GPA and Connor had his first year of preschool.

An incredible year it has been! On my calendar this month it says “The word [fellowship] has lost most of its biblical meaning. ‘Fellowship’ now usually refers to casual conversation, socializing, food and fun… Real fellowship is experiencing life together. ‘Share one another’s troubles and problems, and in this way obey the law of Christ.’ Gal.6:2”

Thank you for Real Fellowship.



Update #48 Photos

Nick & Connor at the golf tourney

Surprise b-day party at Nick's youth group

Pastor Craig tries to keep his composure
while recognizing Nick's accomplishments in one year

Nick leads the processional of his classmates

Nick standing for the pledge of allegiance

Nick gives a rose to mom

Nick walks to the stage to receive his certificate

Principal Keogh pats Nick on the back

Walking across the stage

And he gets his certificate!

The audience gives him a standing ovation

"Presenting the Class of 2008!"

Nick & Connor hanging out after the ceremony

Nick & Timmy hamming it up at the after party

So cool. SO cool.

Mackin' out

Reading his grad cards

"I want this many."

The fam

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Update #47

Special Message:

This Friday is Nick’s golf tourney! Tomorrow (Monday) is the deadline for last minute sponsors and gifts for the raffle/auction and there’s still room for more golfers. Get all the info here...

A message from Lisa, Nick’s mom:

Do you remember the pictures of my son lying in the PICU with a machine breathing for him and 19 different tubes going in and out of him? (see that photo) Do you remember what your thoughts were?

Did you have the faith of a mustard seed or did you feel like the disciples who were told by Jesus to seat the crowd of 5000 men, women and children and then feed them from the 5 loaves and 2 fish (Matt. 14:13-21)?

No way, God! Are You going to pull this one off?!

Then immediately after he performed that miracle he tests their faith again. He takes them out on this boat and Jesus goes to pray by himself. When he gets back, the boat has drifted out and the wind and waves are crashing all around. So instead of waiting for them to come to him, he takes off walking on the water toward them! They freak and say it is a ghost.

He says "Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid....You of little faith, why did you doubt?" (Matt. 14:22-36)

Wow, he really socked it to them that day! So, when they couldn't - or didn't believe - he still came through for them. At least that is how I view it.

But what if they would have run out of food or if the waves would have knocked Jesus over? Would I still see it that way? Would their faith still have grown from those experiences?

God has been the Great Physician these past 8 months for Nick - I can't see it any other way. Yet I have this one area of my life that I am just out on that boat with the waves and wind feeling like they are going to swallow me. And even though I know firsthand the works of my God, I struggle and question with what I sometimes see as the hypocrisy of my faith. Can I step out and grab hold of His Mighty Hand once again even if the ending doesn't turn out the way I want it to? If you feel so inclined, please pray for His strength and discernment in my life.

I pray that strength for my children also, as they continue to come out of the shell-shock of this experience with their brother and find a place in their lives to continue building a solid faith.

I pray for Nicholas, too. We had been dealing with this for a couple months when he woke up from his coma. I will never forget him asking me how long he was "gone for." When I told him 2 months, he said, "That's weird." It seems like he keeps trying to catch up with where he has been and is now.

So where is Nick in his recovery?

Well, Oct. 30th he could stand for 3 minutes unassisted. It took a lot of concentration to stay balanced.

On Nov. 20th he started the hyperbaric oxygen treatments - he has had 30 treatments and when I tested him the other day (it was 8 weeks since his last test), he stood for 16 minutes! He was rock steady, with little thought to the task. The only reason he fell over was because his little brother tackled him!

He uses his walker for half to 3/4 of a day and can do several pushups. The tremors in his hands are pretty obsolete too. In spite of all this progress, he is not as confident as he was before that he will walk. (The tortoise is taking longer than he would like to cross the finish line.) Pray his doubts will be wiped away.

This week is the golf tournament for Nick. Thank you to all of our angels that are working so hard to make this happen.

Thank you for walking this journey with us in 2007 and may we all keep our eyes on Him and not our circumstances in 2008.

Love you all,


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Update #46

As you may know a group of the Brinkerhoff’s friends are doing a golf tournament to benefit Nick’s continued medical and therapy expenses. It’s on Friday, January 11 in El Cajon.

You can get all the info here.

Good news! As of today we’ve broken even for our expenses with the golf course! From here on all golfer registrations go completely to the Brinkerhoffs.

Some amazing people have donated incredible auction and raffle items (like a week in a Maui condo, a jersey signed by Tom Brady, etc.).

First, will you consider participating that day – either as a golfer or just attend the dinner & live auction?

Second, would you let your golfing friends here in San Diego know about it?

Third, would you consider volunteering on the day of the tournament? We need a couple dozen folks to help us pull this off. If you can help, please email us.

This is a very tangible way you can help with Nick’s continued recovery!



Monday, December 3, 2007

Update #45

From Nick’s mom, Lisa:


"Triumph Over Tragedy" is the name of an up-and-coming band at my son and daughter's high school. I love that name. Those words float through my mind every once in awhile, which then leads me to think of all the blessings that have come from Nick's stroke. I hesitate to say that because not everyone feels that way right now, but that has been the leading of my heart through all of this.

Nick loves planes. On November 17th, Nicholas participated in Challenge Air. It was awesome! Kids with physical challenges take a half-hour flight class and then volunteer pilots take them up (with 2 family members) to fly over San Diego for 1/2 an hour. Nick was given the controls for 15 minutes of the flight! The goal of this day is to give kids the vision of going beyond their wheel chairs and seeing that the sky is the limit.


We have mentioned some alternative therapy for Nick, well on November 20th he started receiving 90 minute treatments at the Hyperbaric Center. A group called Gracie’s Hope gave Nick a grant for 100 treatments! He goes 5 days a week. They have great hope for Nicholas.


The other day we were at the mall and out of nowhere an arm was wrapped around my shoulder. The person was in my "blind spot" so I couldn’t see who it was. I just felt this "big embrace." It turned out to be someone we have been in scouting with for many years who stopped to say, "You have been in our thoughts and prayers." As I went to sleep that night, I could still feel her "big embrace" (and she's tiny). It felt like a hug from God!

This reminded me of how important touch is to us. While Nick was in his coma, I would give him a head-to-toe massage twice a day (healing touch). And as I did this I would have worship music playing in the background (trying to touch his soul), and I would talk to him about past events and of the future (trying to touch his mind and heart). There were very few moments when we weren't trying to touch him.

A friend shared with me that her dad , who has dementia, loves to have his head stroked (touched).

There were many who believed and touched Jesus' clothes and were healed (Matt. 9:21, Matt. 14:36). Jesus welcomed the children to touch him (Lk.18:15). And he invited his disciples to touch him after his resurrection (Lk. 24:39). But it is with Thomas that I see myself at times - he couldn't believe until he touched the wounds of Jesus (Jn. 20:25). God knows how kinesthetic we are - he knows we have got to be all over it! Not all people "just believe" - some of us have to touch Him - over and over before we get it. He is Real. He is here.
And we need to keep touching one another in many ways.

Blessings, Lisa

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Update #44

Golf 4 Nick Tournament info!

From Lisa, Nick’s mom:

First, thank you for being patient with the lag in updates.

Second, thank you for your support in all forms. Some of the blessings have come in the form of a guy at my brother’s work who sent us a check (and we have never met), Jamba Cards and Yogurt Mill certificates (my kid’s favorite treats), cash that was given to us without the family knowing exactly why they were led to (it was the perfect amount for our consultation with the hyperbaric specialist), the beautiful bathroom that was completed 3 weeks ago, to the staff at Literacy First (Nicks’ school) and his friends who love and support him (they are so cool!), cards, emails and texts messages to each member of the family, our van payment taken care of till Feb. (anonymous servants!), seeing an old friend at the grocery store or a new friend at church telling me how they continue to pray (I have no doubt that these prayers have been the reason some mornings that I was able to get my bones out of bed), and having men and women come talk to me with tears in their eyes and boldly share how through our experience the Holy Spirit has strengthened their faith.

I am thankful that each act of kindness humbles me - I don't ever want to be at a point in my life that I am not WOWed and speechless by such love!

"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13

Nick completed all of his school testing and they have come up with a workable plan. Starting Nov. 5th he will be at school all day, but will go to the first 4 classes and then in the afternoon he will do his speech, occupational therapy and resource (which is extra help in class work) - this is all through the school district. The medical side will see him after school which is physical therapy, occupational and speech. This is through the Sevick Center and Children's Hospital.

Nick uses his walker around the house. And he can now stand for 3 minutes unassisted. His goal is to walk with a cane at his 8th grade graduation this year. He thinks he wants a companion bird so he has been doing the research to convince us that this is a good idea. He will be getting a sport wheel chair in December and is looking at adaptive sports. He goes to youth group and the movies with friends.

Nicholas is looking forward in hope for a complete recovery, but living today in faith.

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful." Hebrews 10:23

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Update #43

From Lisa, Nick’s mom:

On Friday, Sept. 14th Nicholas went to school with Shelby, the Child Life Specialist at Children's. Shelby helps both the returning student and the other students feel more comfortable with the reentry into school. She recapped everything for them and then did questions and answers.

Nicholas did great; he would call on the kids by name and then answered their question. He was able to show them he was still Nick - he just talks differently and is in a wheelchair.

The following Monday he started 8th grade. He goes from 8:00 - 11am and is taking Language Arts and Algebra. He came into the middle of a novel and a review of the past month in math, but that didn't stop him from raising his hand to answer questions (some were right, some wrong). I guess I shouldn't be surprised but I was! He continues to pleasantly surprise us. He will be adding more classes as the weeks go by.

While I enjoy going through 8th grade again and faking my way through Algebra, this week the school is interviewing for his aide. This will be great for him, since he really doesn't enjoy having mom around!

The next couple of weeks will be filled with testing from the medical and school end of things. It would be nice if they could share their results with one another but that's not how the system works.

The East County Posse continues to make changes to the house. They have widened his doorway, and gutted the bathroom. They will also be pouring 3 concrete ramps. We are so excited for these changes. They will give him the independence he craves.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Update #42

From Nick’s dad, Dwight:

Miracles: What are they? Webster says this: A highly improbable or extraordinary event, development, or accomplishment that brings very welcome consequences.

I say that a miracle could be as small as a slice of bread with peanut butter falling off the counter landing peanut butter up. Or as ginormus as some one’s life being blatantly spared when there was virtually no chance. We have all witnessed the latter with my son Nicholas.

We went from saying “Goodbye” to him; to now laughing with him and witnessing his miraculous recovery -I feel truly blessed to be part of it. Why God has chosen our family for this testimony I don’t exactly know, but I’m beginning to say, “Why NOT?”

You see, I personally struggle with feeling worthy of God’s love, but what I’ve seen in our church and family and from people we don’t even know, I can now say I feel “completely soaked” with God’s love. “Thank you all” to everyone for the love, prayers, and financial support. Thank you for being the messengers of God’s love to me and my family.

Words will never do justice to the gratitude we feel. Although the struggles are not over, I am surely convinced that God continues to have great plans for me and my family through this. I truly feel blessed to be a witness to such an amazing miracle.

Nick has been home a week now. As you can imagine we are happy to have him home. The adjustment process is settling in and just the depth of what he has been through. As Nick’s Dad, we enjoyed many outdoor activities together. I’m finding it very hard to grieve the loss of that part of my relationship with my son. I’m not saying I can never enjoy some of those things again, because I don’t know that, it’s just different now. What truly does make it easier is his spirit. He has been blessed with a lightheartedness and humor that is so amazing to me. It really helps me when I start to feel overwhelmed by seeing him struggle physically; as much as I deeply love our “new Nick,” I so miss the “old” one.

Some of his adjustments at home are things you would normally take for granted. Like being able to get up to get a drink or pick something up off the floor that you have dropped, or fix yourself something to eat. The adjustments we pray will be less and less as Nick gets stronger, but for now we all help him with his daily needs.

The East County Posse is remodeling the bathroom to be more accessible. They are widening some doorways and building ramps for easier access in and out of the house. What a blessing this group has been to us. Thanks so much to them!

Nick continues to get stronger, but it is very slow going. He can’t wait to get back to school. He starts today. He’ll be going for about 3 hours a day to start with and hopes to get to a full day A.S.A.P., although his Mom and I don’t see how that will work with all of his therapies.

Lisa and I are continuing to research what “other” therapies are out there for Nick that are “outside the box of medical protocol.” We are learning a lot. We will be getting a consultation at a renowned stroke clinic in Mission Viejo some time in the next couple weeks. We’ll keep you posted. The problem we’ll have with “alternative” therapies is that insurance will not cover them, so we are looking into fund raising strategies. A great friend from church, whose wife and him have been a great help to us with organizing meals and help at the house, is working on a golf tournament in January. Thanks so much Bob!

I apologize for being somewhat silent through all this turmoil of events, I just don’t articulate my thoughts and feelings very well. It takes a while to sort things out, especially when you are in survival mode. I do just want to reiterate my deepest thanks to everyone for all the help with gas cards, grocery cards, money, dinners, prayers, childcare and visitations. We would have sunk without them.

In closing, as we get into this part of Nick’s recovery we continue to ask for prayers of strength and wisdom. And as we let God help us to figure out our “New” life, and make choices to help further Nick’s recovery.

In the God we Trust,


Sunday, September 16, 2007

Update #41

From Dwight, Nick’s Dad:

Over the past three weeks, Nick has gone from standing on his own 10 seconds to 1½ minutes! He’s walked about 30 feet with a walker and very little assistance. Other than that not a lot more to update on his progress.

Nick came home last week and he’s doing a great job of getting used to getting around the house.

The Wednesday before he came home, our church’s middle school group came to visit Nick in the hospital – yes, the whole group! They sang songs, played silly games, and ate cupcakes. Nick loved it! You can see photos of that below.

We also have photos of him coming home below. We thought it only appropriate to bring him home in the same car he came home in when he was born. He was very excited to come home in the “Red Car.”

It’s great to have him home in spite of the adjustments…