It was November 18th, 2010.
10 years ago today. WOW.
I was, let's say, "taking a semester off" from College.
I had just moved home and was back in my old Orange bedroom in my Mom's basement.
My brother, Nick, was a Freshman in HS
Every day, my mom would turn the shower on and wake him up to get ready for school
This particular morning started the same, but progressed a bit different
She turned the shower on
Tried to wake my brother up
But he was not very responsive
He grumbled a bit
Shifted the way he was laying
She thought he was just ignoring her and trying to get out of going to school.
She turned the light on
He squinted open his eyes
and had a Grand Mal seizure.
My Mom's room and my brother's room were on the top floor of our 3 story townhouse
I was awakened by my Mom screaming from the top floor for me to wake up
SOMETHING'S WRONG WITH NICK!"
I will never forget that shrieking sound.
It woke me up immediately, I guess something only a Mother's voice can do
and I felt none of the usual disorientation when you're thrust from slumber.
it was fight or flight for sure.
I ran upstairs, calling 911 on the way
I see him laying on the bed, with a small puddle of orange something on the bed by his mouth
The medical TV show "House" was popular at the time so I immediately thought this must be one of those WTF cases from House because why would there be orange liquid coming from his mouth???
(Turns out it was bloody drool, he bit his tongue during the seizure)
I remember saying something to him big brother-ish like "Nick, (It's me dude stop faking) you good?"
He grumbled a little, but was still VERY out of it lying there half asleep.
My mom explained to me what she saw and we were both pretty freaked out
EMS got there, got him up - he was visibly confused why they were all there - he then decided to just go to the bathroom on his own like everything was normal
They explained to him why they were there, what happened, etc. and got him into the ambulance.
He doesn't remember any of it (a post-seizure side effect)
He regained his memory in the ambulance.
My mom was terrified
As was I, just wracking my brain with what the hell could have happened and wondering if there was a House episode explaining this.
Turns out he has Cerebral Palsy (which we only officially learned about 4 years ago)
He had a stroke in utero
Which led to a "dead spot" on the right side of his brain.
It literally just looks like a black hole in his brain on the MRI.
The location of the spot neurologically causes him to be seizure-prone, as well as explains the minimal feeling and numbness he experiences on the left side of his entire body.
We all thought he was full of shit when he couldn't play the Recorder in elementary school music class
Turns out he actually couldn't really feel the holes with his left hand
It was his "normal"
And you would have no clue if you saw him, in general or athletically, that he has such a condition.
Most people with more severe forms of cerebral palsy have very visible abnormalities typically affecting one side of their body's extremities.
In his case, you would have to have a very trained eye to watch him do something and see any abnormality.
But we were realizing it was something he felt, that was invisible to us, and he had been playing sports his whole life and overcoming a disability that nobody knew he had.
The first neurologist he saw told him he wouldn't play soccer or contact sports again.
So we found a new neurologist, and he continued to excel at Soccer through High School and College.
In May 2017, while still playing at Radford University
Nick saw a post on Instagram by US Soccer
Promoting tryouts for the US Paralympic 7-a-side National Team.
If you've had a stroke, traumatic brain injury, or cerebral palsy, you could qualify to play and ultimately represent our country.
Having never heard of such a team, he sent the post to me and kind of jokingly said "lol, soooo you think i would qualify?"
I replied by saying hell yea bro it's worth a shot.
They ended up seeing our thread and reached out to him.
Asked him to send his medical records, etc.
Flew him out to Chicago for a week of camp/tryouts.
And the rest is history.
In his 3 years with the team, he has scored 34 goals in 25 games.
My favorite being a goosebump-worthy last-minute come-from-behind-down 2-0 game-winner against #2 in the World - Iran, to win first place in their group stage at the IFCPF World Cup last year in Spain. You can watch it here.
He's also traveled to Chile, Ecuador, Argentina, England, and Peru for tournaments with the team finishing no lower than 5th place.
The team has since climbed to #4 in the World Rankings only behind Ukraine, Iran, and Brazil.
Last year, Nick was named the 2019 US Soccer Player of The Year with a Disability after also being nominated for the award in 2018.
Prior to Covid - The 2020 soccer schedule for the team had no big tournaments and Paralympic Soccer was excluded as an event from the Summer's Olympic/Paralympic Games.
That didn't stop Nick from wanting to win a medal in Tokyo, so Nick set his sights on making history & becoming a dual-sport athlete.
He wanted to run Track.
The training began and halted prior to the official trials as the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics was postponed due to Covid.
Nick is now training to run track at the 2021 Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
He has spent a lot of time during the quarantine months talking about his journey and current situation on different platforms across the country and he is proud to not only represent the USA, but inspire young kids and athletes who have similar conditions and think there is no future for them in sports.
You can read more about Nick's journey at www.nickmayhugh.com - where you can also find his social media handles.
*Nick has been on a seizure medication and has not had a seizure since.
Happy 10 Years seizure-free, bro! I love you!