What I Now Know: Mike Nichols

Posted by Reeve Staff in Daily Dose on September 17, 2019 # What I Now Know, SCI Awareness

Dear Mike,

You were a teenager without a care in the world. Your greatest concern was when your next game was but now your life just changed an instant. You were doing what you loved most—playing hockey—when you were checked from behind and hit the boards head first. You knew something was wrong when you couldn’t feel anything or move your legs. Your dad rushed over, and your coach was by your side. It was bad, but you still hoped it was just a stinger and that the lack of feeling would come back

You are airlifted by a helicopter to receive the best care possible. You will have doctors and nurses in and out of your room. There are a lot of whispers and hushed voices. For the sake of your family, you try to stay upbeat. Nothing makes you feel worse than seeing your mom upset. The last thing you say to your mom is don’t worry I’ll be back next game.

You finally find out you have a spinal cord injury at C-5. You can’t move your legs and you also have very limited movement in your arms. You start to wonder what life will be like. Will you ever walk again? Will you ever get back on the ice? You will have a rough start to recovery with a number of medical setbacks like a stroke, a yeast infection, and high fevers. It sucks and you are dealing with pain all over your body, including your legs which you never thought was possible.

You will eventually go home and, in a way, it’s even harder to deal with than the hospital. It’s a reminder of what life was like before your injury, but you start to settle in. You realize the strength and love of your family. They keep you pushing forward and make sure you are as healthy as possible. You start to meet other people living with a spinal cord injury like Eric LeGrand. He becomes a big brother, a mentor and friend.

Hockey is still in your life. You never once blamed the sport or thought to stop watching. You miss the breeze you felt when skating around the rink. It was hard at first to watch a game live—something about the smell of the ice, and the sound of the skates on the ice—but hockey is in your blood. You are adopted by the New Jersey Devils (even though you still like the Rangers too) and they have been exceptional supporters to you and your family. You also become close with Boomer and Carton from WFAN. A charity game is played every year in your honor at the Prudential Center with hockey greats taking to the ice. You wish hockey wasn’t so cold. You can’t regulate your temperature and you will need to layer up to stay warm. Small price to pay for the love of the game.

You will go to school and start to develop an interest in becoming an on-air talent for radio. You’ve realized how much the radio has helped you and you want to do the same for others. You want to go into broadcasting to discuss sports, life, and everything because you realize you have a powerful voice.

You have dark days, but you always manage to find the light. You are one of the lucky ones. You have people who love you unconditionally and will be by your side no matter what.

What I now know is life may have changed after a spinal cord injury, but you can still set high goals and achieve your dreams. You just need to keep pushing and never settle.

The first seventeen years of your life were lived for pleasure. Now you live for purpose.

Stay strong. I promise there are brighter days ahead.

Mike Nichols