Nicole and I met in 2009 in Tacoma, WA. I was stationed at Fort Lewis as a combat medic, a few months after my first deployment. She was going to the International Academy Of Design And Technology studying to be a fashion merchandiser. I got a call from a friend who said he and his fiancée were at one of my favorite bars, and wanted to know if I’d like to come out. It wasn’t a set up, but that’s all it took. Nicole and I hit it off and we never looked back.
In September 2010, 14 months after my first deployment I was deployed to Iraq for a second time. Although my first tour was fraught with much more danger, it only takes one incident to change your life forever. On May 29, 2010 I was struck by shrapnel from an IED that left me paralyzed from the neck down.
Needless to say, that event changed both of our lives. Nicole pulled up her roots in Washington and flew out to Washington DC to be by my side. After DC, we moved to the Minneapolis VA where I carried out the majority of my rehab. Nicole never left my side, except for the few days she went back to Washington to pack up her stuff to move out to the Midwest. She went through every therapy, every struggle, and every fight with grace. After Minneapolis we moved to my hometown of Waterloo, IA where we spent a year living on my parents farm, getting back on our feet and seeing what it would be like to live on our own with this new injury.
After a year in Iowa, in 2012 we moved back out to the Pacific Northwest, a place we both consider home, to settle in Woodinville, WA. Since then we’ve both grown closer than ever and have learned as much as we can about the struggle that can be living with a spinal cord injury. I know we certainly haven’t, and I don’t know that anyone with spinal cord injury can say this, but we will never know everything of what to expect. Things change, my body will react in different ways, but we do everything to cope and adjust and love one another as best we can.
This autumn (September 2015) we will be expecting our first children; boy and girl twins! There are no words that can express how excited and thrilled we both are to undertake this new journey! Not that we don’t already have children in a sense… We have two dogs. Emma is a miniature shorthaired Dachshund, and Tank is half St. Bernard and half Golden Retriever. You wouldn’t know it looking at him though. He just looks like a giant black lab, weighing in at 120 pounds!