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My Story

Nick was on vacation with his family in Maui when he sustained a Spinal Cord Injury while swimming in the ocean.  He had two surgeries and was in the ICU for 19 days and spent 9 weeks in rehab at Nation Rehab Hospital in DC.

He is home now and is giving his all toward recovery as an outpatient at NRH.

We started this journey with a much anticipated vacation back to Nick's birthplace, Maui, Hawaii.  We lived there for 2 1/2 years and have always told Alex and Nick that we would return.  This year was the year to make the trip.  We were celebrating Alex's graduation from Lake Braddock and Nick's 17th birthday (July 31st).  We flew into Maui on Tuesday, July 24th - we were very excited to be back home again.  Even though the kids were too young to remember our time in Maui they have relived it several times with numerous accounts of our wonderful time there with family and friends who visited us.  We went to Wailea Beach that night, had dinner at a local restaurant, breakfast the next morning at Duo's at the Four Seasons Resort and then to Wailea Golf Course to visit some of Steve's old co-workers.  We made a tee time for that Friday.  Nick received a call from the head coach of Christopher Newport University that morning interested in talking to him about playing for that school.  Nick decided he should wait to call him after our visit to "Big Beach".  At around 12noon we arrived at Big Beach and went straight to the water.  The waves weren't as big as they normally are.  Alex and I went back to our towels while Steve and Nick stayed in the water (they are always the last ones to leave!).  The next thing I know there is a lifeguard buggy that passes our towels and then another one.  Out of curiosity I walked toward the water wondering who was hurt.  There was a group of people by the water and I saw someone lying on the sand.  I noticed Steve hovering over someone and than I saw Nick's feet.  This was the beginning of our vacation.  We stayed in the hospital for 19 days in ICU at the same hospital he was born in 17 years ago. 

Nick continues to work hard in acute rehab and we are coming close to a discharge date.  We are targeting mid October for Nick to come home.  Currently, home modifications are being made to get ready for Nick's second Homecoming!  After acute rehab, Nick will continue with outpatient therapy every day for a few hours for about 6-8 months.  Nick started school in January part time taking Honors English 12 and Government while still taking Geosystems on line to get his Advanced Studies Diploma.  He is on the Lake Braddock Baseball Team cheering his teammates on and looks forward to graduation on Wednesday, June 19th when he can walk across the stage to receive his diploma from Principal Dave Thomas.

Here we are, Thanksgiving 2014 and since the last entry Nick was able to walk across that stage to receive his high school diploma to a standing ovation at the Patriot Center at George Mason University.  He is now taking classes at George Mason.  He is continuing with his therapy once a week at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in D.C. along with working out with his personal trainers at home 2-3 times a week. He has been asked to participate in the pilot program at George Mason for their Rehabilitation Science department in conjunction with NRH.  We hope to start in December.  Nick is in training to walk 2.6 miles at the Rehobeth Beach Marathon on Dec. 7th.!  Nick is using a walker and his forearm crutches more often than his wheelchair. Progress has been steady and always amazing!

Thank you for following his story!


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Sylvie Balenger posted a new journal entry, "Update on Rehab and Job Hunting".

Hello Everyone,For the last 2 weeks Nick has been participating in the Rehab Science Program at George Mason and has gone through several tests.  I have met the doctoral ... Read more

Viola Tovar signed Nick's Guestbook.

Hi Nick, Your incredible strength and courage continues to inspire all of us who read your journals and those who we tell your story.  We patiently wait on new journal ... Read more

susan greene signed Nick's Guestbook.

Nick, The Rehab Science Program seems like a great opportunity!  I'm so happy for you that that walker might start collecting dust.  Good luck in Cali w/ Project Walk! ... Read more

linda charest signed Nick's Guestbook.

Hey Nick - Look who's all grown up now!  LOL - Really, we totally concur with your decision to to be more independent by going solo on the Rehab Science program.  And ... Read more

Tamara Balenger posted a new journal entry, "All Programs a Go!".

Nick met with Dr. Guccione, 3 doctoral students and his personal trainer David on Friday at George Mason to launch his part in the Rehab Science program. He was there for ... Read more

Viola Tovar signed Nick's Guestbook.

Hola Balenger Family, Mucho Bueno happenings in the Balenger household! Love reading about it all...kicking the walker to the crub, awesome grades, job interviews, chefs ... Read more

Jackie Gadoua-Jan signed Nick's Guestbook.

I always get in a better mood when I read these updates as SO MUCH positive energy is happening in the  Balenger household!!! I too would like to borrow your chefs!!!  ... Read more

linda charest signed Nick's Guestbook.

Hello and wowza!  Talk about an update chock full o'good news! Bye-Bye walker, great grades/attendance/job search.  Congrats on the new job, Alex!  Poor Mom, banished ... Read more

Donna Davis signed Nick's Guestbook.

Hi Nick,As I was reading the journal entry, the song "Happy" came on the radio - I danced to the song in celebration of your continued determination and successes :-) ... Read more

Cindy Mark signed Nick's Guestbook.

Wow, can Nick come stay with us for awhile? I would love someone to make dinner, even just one night a week :). Congrats on saying good bye to the walker in the house. And ... Read more

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