Taking over for Nick

when I decided to take over as Nick’s legal guardian, I had no idea of the emotional, mental and physical toll it would take on me. Please don’t misunderstand me, I wouldn’t change that decision for a minute. I became a nurse to help people, and now my brother needed that help. Our mother had primary guardianship of Nick for almost 2 years when the toll of caring for Nick, and trying to find help for him, became overwhelming for her. Now it was my turn. Nick is the oldest of 4 children born to our parents and I was the second oldest. It felt completely natural to take over the lead role in the lineup. I have always been “bossy” and a leader and this felt like the natural thing to do. I adore my family and was blessed enough to be a caregiver by God’s grace.

When my sisters and I went to visit Nick in the VA nursing home, he was scared, had yellow streaks on his legs and yellow heals from urine and lack of care. Most of the folks at the VA truly cared and worked very hard. However, being short staffed and lacking in resources, hindered the care for Nick. My sisters and I found Nick in poor shape and living in a sterile environment that looked more like a lock down facility than a place of comfort and compassion. I definitely was reminded of the movie, “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest”. I was just afraid we would run into nurse Ratchet.

We proceeded to give Nick a bed bath and brush his teeth and hair. That was the day that I realized; what my parent’s had been shown about the VA nursing home and the “excellent” care he would receive, was not accurate. How could I stand by and watch my big brother go through this, when I could do something? I couldn’t and didn’t. I consulted with my sisters, then called my parent’s and asked them if it would be okay if I took over Nick’s care. Not a single person could give us an accurate diagnosis, or tell us what exactly was afflicting Nick. Sure, there were lots of theories, but nothing concrete. To this day, almost 4 years after his death, there is still question as to what was going on in Nick’s body, and what was causing all these symptoms.

I remember working full time as a nurse and also working full time caring for Nick. I remember being on the phone all day long trying to find answers, trying to find the best care, trying to sift through all the governmental red tape. I would talk in my sleep. Wake up crying. Have the feeling of not being able to catch my breath. I didn’t fully understand the amount of work that was involved in taking on Nick’s care. I definitely had a better appreciation for what my Mom and Dad, and others have gone through.

I remember asking for help and not receiving help. I remember people coming in and out to help a bit, here and there. I remember others not exactly sure how to help, so they avoided me. I remember there being times that people would volunteer to make phone calls, But, because I had been making the daily phone calls, and had already traveled the many paths to find help, it would take longer for me to explain to someone what needed to be done, than to make the phone calls myself. I think if there wasn’t such an urgency, and an obvious time line, it would have been fine letting others make phone calls. Nick was losing ground everyday and the urgency to find help became a battle against time. I realize that I am not the only one in the world that has had to deal with such issues, but I did feel so alone. I know that I took too much on my own shoulders, but I couldn’t let Nick “fall“. I would have done anything to save him.



The first time visiting Nick at the VA Nick Avery’s Story and brushing his teeth


Nick Avery’s Story

Nick Avery's Story.

Fundraiser for Nick!

Fundraiser for Nick!.

Traumatic Brain Injury is not a mishap

Traumatic Brain Injury is not a mishap.

channel 3 news We have GREAT news! Nick’s family met with Channel 3 News out of Kalamazoo Michigan and they want to do a news story about Nick, his battle to find a diagnosis and now his fight for adequate treatment. We are excited to say the least. Hopefully the news story will raise more interest for Nick and others like him struggling with the “system” that makes these veterans jump through hoops to gain any assistance for adequate care. We are praying, crossing our fingers, and toes in the hopes that Nick will be able to stay at the Eisenhower Center in Ann Arbor for continued treatment. God is good!

News Alert!

Fundraising for Nick’s cause and care!

Fundraising for Nick's cause and care!.

Fundraising for Nick’s cause and care!

Fundraising for Nick's cause and care!

Hello my friends! Nick’s family is looking into ways to raise funds for Nick’s rehab and care at the Eisenhower Center as the VA has pulled the plug. I no longer have time to fight with them for coverage of Nick’s care and Nick needs the care as well as the rehab, sooooo…… We are looking into different ways to raise funds, (i.e.) Benefit dinner, t-shirts if you donate, future run, etc…. so please be on the lookout for a future benefit to take place. I will keep you all posted on dates, times, location. Nick does receive disability from the military, but it is not enough to cover all his cost, this is why the need for fundraising. All proceeds will go into helping Nick and his goal in “getting my brain back” as he has said so many times.

We are looking at getting him seen by a physician outside the VA realm for a second opinion and maybe more clarification on the route needed for Nick’s care and treatment. I find the fact that we have to go outside the “system” in order to find care, treatment, and support, absolutely dumbfounding as it is clear to me that if a person serves their country and sacrifices “ALL”, they surley deserve to be taken care of in a quality fashion and not over medicated, left in a nursing home with no stimulation to rot away, and clearly receive the best care possible. Do you not agree? Nick and other the other soilders deserve being treated with respect, honor, and dignity. Nick, in a lot of ways has not. Yes, there are those who have supported him and us that are in the system, but they are only a few amongst many. Thank God for those who have had the compassion to help us “Fight 4 Nick”.

So please stay tuned as we will be announcing information soon on fundraising events. Thank you all for supporting Nick, it means so much to him and his family. Nick is updated frequently on what is happening for him behind the scene. In Nick’s own words, “Oh really? That’s good.”