Your Vote Can Help This Young New York Mom-Nicole Piper Adams
Two years ago, I wrote a story about a young New York mother who is one of the bravest people I know. Nicole Piper Adams continues to fight and could use your help. It costs nothing more than a few minutes to vote for her. Here is how you can do just that and then a reprint of that story from January 2010.
From her father, Marty Piper: My daughter Nicole needs help. When she was pregnant in 2007, Nicole and the baby growing inside her both survived a risky surgery to remove a tumor on Nicole’s brain stem. Now Nicole is fighting to regain the physical losses she sustained, and to help raise her two daughters.
My mission is to drum up the support she needs to speed her recovery. Please take a few minutes to look at her links, including two touching videos on her story from our local newspaper. I’m sure you’ll agree, Nicole can use all the help we can muster.
Nicole is now in a Q6 power chair, we have no way to transport this chair at this time. You can vote here.
Nearly three years ago, Nikki Adams had some news—some very good news. But Nikki wasn’t one to just blurt out an announcement like this. No, that just wasn’t her way. She let her closest confidant in on a secret and made a shirt that heralded in news that would change her life in so many ways. That confidant was her then 2-year-old daughter Amelia. Nikki dressed her in a shirt that said, “I’m going to be a big sister!” Yes, after trying for a while, Nikki and her husband Dave were about to add to their young family. All was good. It was Easter Sunday, 2007.
Marty and Carol Piper raised what they call a rebel. “We were Pepsi people,” Marty said. “When Nikki was old enough to choose, she went with Coke,” he laughed. “She always marched to her own beat.” Nikki was the oldest and big sister to the Pipers’ second daughter Shannon. Having a loving mother and a young sister to look after helped make Nikki not only a great mom, but a fiercely protective one. She would make sure no harm would come to her babies.
The pregnancy was going well but Nikki’s health wasn’t. Severe headaches and vomiting were thought to be just a bad first trimester. If only that were the case. “Doctors found a tumor the size of a pea near her brain stem,” Marty recalled. “They wanted to operate and remove it but warned Nikki that she could lose the baby.” She wouldn’t have it. She vowed to hold off on the surgery to save her child. But the tumor grew. In 6 weeks, it swelled to the size of a thumb. It was now critical to remove it before both Nikki and the baby died.
“It was serious,” Marty said, “but the doctors said that there was an 80-85% chance she’d be just fine.”
On June 29, 2007 Nikki closed her eyes as the anesthesia flowed into her body. Her biggest fear was she’d lose the baby. The surgery began at 8 a.m. Twelve hours later, the surgeon came out to tell the Pipers that things were going well and they should get something to eat. They returned a short time later and found their world turned upside down.
“Her brain swelled during the surgery,” Marty recalled. “They had to cut, cut, cut to keep her brain in her head. It was a life or death situation so to get everything out, they had to take some of her cerebellum.”
Nikki slipped into a coma. Her baby, however was still strong inside her. In fact, while still in the coma, little Piper Adams was born by c-section.
“When she came out of the month-long coma, we told her Piper was alive and well. She couldn’t communicate with us then but we could tell she couldn’t believe it,” Carol said. It took about 6 months before Nikki was alert enough to understand what had happened.
“She understands everything,” Carol said. “And she can communicate perfectly. It’s just not the way you or I do. She uses a group letter board. The alphabet is broken up into 5 rows. She’ll raise her hand if she wants to say something and say “Row 1, Row 2” and if she shakes her head, that’s the row where the letter is. If you read the letters across the row, she’ll stop you when the you get to the letter she wants. Because her eye sight is so poor now, she memorized it within an hour. Her cognitive functions are still intact.”
She’s made great strides with walking. She still needs a lot of support and part of the problem is that she’s partially paralyzed. She has movement in all parts of her body but it’s limited. As far as walking in the future, Carol said, “We don’t give up hope, she doesn’t give up hope, some of her therapists don’t give up hope. We see slight improvements however recently the state medical program cut back on her physical and occupational therapy. So we’re not seeing the improvements we did see when she was getting them. We have a couple of therapists who come to the house volunteering their time because they like her.”
Because of her medical needs, Nikki currently lives in the home she grew up in with her parents in Marcellus, New York. Amelia and Piper live in the couple’s home and come over to visit a couple of times a week.
“Being with her kids is what keeps her alive,” Marty said.
Her spirits are up and down. She loves a good joke, she even tells jokes. She laughs and then an hour later she might be crying. She does get frustrated because she can’t do what she used to do. But, Carol adds, her good friends are wonderful. They come over all the time. “They have her on what they call the 5 year plan. Their hopes are that 5 years from the date of the operation, Nikki will be back up. And they joke around and have a great time. When they’re here they’ll laugh, busting a gut telling stories and things that are going on with them.”
But not too far down from what appears to be a blank expression, is the same Nikki her family loves. She still loves her music, in particular the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Pink. She enjoys listening to television and even shopping online. At the same time, like her family, she’s filled with the hope someone, someday will be able to help her walk with her children.
“We’re trying to push this forward and find some alternatives for healing with things like stem cell research,” Carol said. “We ask people around here and no one seems to know anything about it. We run into a brick wall. We’ve talked to doctors, the hospital, and neurosurgeons. They say ‘yeah you can pursue that’ but when we ask how, they say to look it up and find out what’s out there.”
While Carol spends a lot of her time taking care of Nikki’s needs, Marty is desperately looking for help anywhere he can find it. He opened a Facebook account to help spread her story. “In 2008, NASCAR legend Ernie Irvan came to Syracuse to break ground on a brain injury hospital wing so I went down there and introduced myself to his agent. I gave him a video about Nikki and her story. He put them in his brief case. I just wanted to get her story out there.”
“Since the surgery, I spent about a year in shock,” Marty said, “before I could even do anything. And then I got the idea in my head to get her story out, that maybe someone like Oprah would be interested. We don’t want money. We don’t want lawyers. We want someone who can help—someone who’s willing to try to get my Nikki back on her feet. If I had $100 million, I’d burn it today if someone could come in here and stand her up out of that chair.”
If you or someone you know can help Nikki, and again, this is not in a financial or legal way, but rather someone in the medical community who can embrace her and at the very least offer hope toward a better way of life for her, contact her father Marty at firstname.lastname@example.org.