Nicholas Evans of Spring Hill, Florida, had just scored an exceptional 1450 on his SAT and was planning on majoring in meteorology at Florida State University.
In 1999, he had a bright academic future even though he was having severe migraine headaches affecting his studies. Then when Nicholas turned 18, a neurologist discovered an arachnoid cyst on his brain.
“The neurologist thought she could remove (the cyst) and it would stop his migraines,” said Nicholas’ 52-year-old mother Tena Evans, who reads this column in Hernando (FL) Today. “But they messed up the surgery and caused a brain lesion. Nick hemorrhaged and had a massive stroke.”
Nicholas was paralyzed on one side and his memory “was pretty much wiped out,” said Tena. Nicholas couldn’t walk and could recognize only his mother and sister. After a while, all but one of his friends deserted him. In the years ahead, Nicholas eventually became a spokesperson for opposing medical malpractice caps through his appearances on “The John Walsh Show” and NBC, and articles in newspapers. His lawsuit fight lasted ten years.
Today, after years of therapy, 30-year-old Nicholas seems fine outwardly and walks, but has a brain shunt, short-term memory difficulties and other cognitive challenges, and an inability to drive or handle finances. He carries a deep-seated fear of seeing another doctor and having history repeat itself. Also, the botched operation that was supposed to end his migraine headaches didn’t.
Nicholas often experiences difficulty making friends because, said his mother, he is too disabled for some potential friends and not disabled enough for others. He doesn’t fit either group. However, he does enjoy bowling and volunteer teaching people with disabilities at an education center how to become self-sufficient and create resumes. He had been visiting the center initially only as a client, but the staff liked him so much they asked him to teach.
To people who just had something similar happen, Tena said, “I have always believed things happen for a reason. What happened to Nick was truly traumatic and heartbreaking, but yet the other side of it is today he is the most wonderful man and incredible to have in my life. All our family and friends who have embraced Nick absolutely love him. I would tell people to try to accept what has happened to them and count their blessings because something good can always come of it.”