“Alright, I know that you’re beat, Nick, but if
you want to get this right, we have to keep doing this over
and over.” Kevin sighed as Nick slumped back into his seat.
Nick had decided that he was ready to rehearse for the tour.
He could at least keep his voice in practice. Nick knew
that the dancing would be out of the question for a long
time. The guys reassured Nick that they would try to
accomodate his inability to walk, let alone stand for long
periods of time into the act. They all said that the fans
would understand and that there wouldn’t be any question
about them not doing the usual routines.
“Kev, I really have had enough.” Nick pleaded
with Kevin. His voice was starting to sound hoarse. Kevin
was such a perfectionist that he didn’t understand the
meaning of quit.
“Let’s take 10, dude.” Brian smacked Kevin on the
back. He tried to come to Nick’s rescue.
As Kevin walked away, Brian sat down next to Nick.
“He’ll get over it.” Brian said to Nick.
“No I won’t.” Kevin yelled back from the other
side of the room.
Brian winced when Kevin responded.
“I didn’t mean for him to have heard that.” Brian
smiled at Nick.
Nick couldn’t believe how tired he was and how
winded he got from rehearsing. He sat back and tried to
catch his breath.
“Do you want me to get you something?” Brian was
concerned. He could tell his friend was feeling down.
“Nope. I think I’ll stand for a few minutes, I
feel kinda funny, must be my foot fell asleep sitting here
this long.” Nick said as he attempted to stand.
Brian grabbed the walker that had been placed
behind Nick’s chair.
“Do you wanna go for a walk?” Brian asked as he
placed the walker in front of Nick.
“Yeah, lets.” Nick slowly took a few faltering
steps. Brian put his hand on Nick’s back as he started to
“Whoa, easy there, buddy.” Brian said as he
prevented Nick from falling back into the chair.
They got halfway across the room and Brian noticed
that Nick’s steps were slowing and becoming more difficult.
He looked at Nick’s face to see what he was thinking or if
he was aware of anything going wrong. Nick looked like he
was concentraiting intently. As each step went on, his left
leg was dragging more and more. Suddenly, without warning,
the leg gave out and Nick fell.
“Nick, are you okay?” Brian tried to help Nick
Nick laid there shocked. He tried to do quick
inventory to see if everything was okay. It was then when
he noticed the sickening pins and needles pain in both of
his legs. They felt numb.
“My legs feel funny.” Nick said outloud. Brian
saw the confused look on Nick’s face. “I can’t move them.
What the hell is going on now?” Nick yelled.
“Easy there, you just fell, give it a few
minutes.” Brian was worried but he tried to get Nick to
Kevin heard the yelling and came rushing in with
AJ and Howie. He was shocked to see Nick laying on the
floor in the middle of the reshearsal studio.
“Nick fell.” Brian stated simply.
“Okay, okay, I’m gonna try and get up.” Nick felt
embarrassed about falling. When he tried to sit up, he knew
instantly that something was not right. He was still laying
on the floor. He had told his body that he was going to sit
up, but nothing happened. He put his right hand down on the
floor to use as a lever, but when he was going to put his
left hand down, that was when he realized he was in deep
trouble. His left arm failed to obey the command that his
brain was telling it to do. Nick was shocked, he was slowly
losing the feeling in his right arm. Br>
“Nick, is there something you want me to do to
help you?” Brian asked his friend. He could see that Nick
was scared about something.
“Yeah, call an ambulance, I can’t feel anything
from my chest down.” Nick answered calmly, but he was
scared to death.
Nick was silently praying that the paralysis was
not spreading upwards, he was trying to keep himself calm
but was feeling like the walls were closing in on him. It
was getting harder for him to breathe.
Kevin jumped up and ran to the phone to call 911.
AJ paced the floor while Howie and Brian stayed beside Nick
and talked to him. They wanted to ask Nick how he was doing
but opted for the hang in there buddy speech.
Nick felt unusually calm as he laid there. When
he heard the ambulance pulling up outside of the studio, he
closed his eyes. Kevin had gone off to call Jess and tell
her to meet them at the hospital.
Brian met the paramedics at the door. He led them
to where Nick was laying. The paramedics wasted no time in
setting their equipment down beside Nick and knelt beside
“Hi, I’m Katie from Tampa Bay EMT’s, Nick, what
seems to be the problem?” The EMT knew of Nick Carter so
she didn’t have to ask anyone what his name was.
Nick opened his eyes and looked at Katie. “I
can’t feel anything from my chest down.” Nick replied
“Did you do this when you fell?” Katie asked
“No, I was walking and my left leg went numb.
After I fell, my right leg started going numb and then it
moved up.” Nick could feel tears welling up in his eyes.
He was scared.
“Okay, we’re going to have to put a collar on your
neck, just as a precaution, you might have hurt something
when you fell.” The technician said as she pulled a neck
stabelizer out of the kit. The other EMT was busy taking
Nick’s vital signs. Once the EMT snapped the collar in
place, she pulled out a mask and put it over Nick’s face.
“I just want you to have a little extra O2. Now,
Nick, we are going to roll you, just let us do the work,
Nick didn’t reply. It would be easy for them to
move him without his help, as he wasn’t able to provide any.
The EMT’s placed Nick on a three count onto the stretcher
and after they covered him up with blankets, they pulled the
stretcher up to push him out to the ambulance.
Brian watched the entire scene unfold in
disbelief. “How could this be happening to Nick. I can’t
believe that this is going on.” Brian thought to himself as
he watched Nick being loaded into the ambulance.
“Can I go with you?” Brian wanted to be with Nick
so he wouldn’t be alone and scared.
“Normally we don’t let people accompany patients,
but I guess it would be okay this time.” Katie replied.
Brian called back to Howie, “See you at the
“Yeah.” Howie yelled back.
Brian sat on the bench in the back of the
ambulance next to Nick. The female EMT was on the phone
making contact with the hospital. Brian’s eyes met Nick’s.
He could tell by looking into Nick’s eyes how frightened he
Nick tried to blink back the tears that were in
his eyes. He kept thinking over and over how the shouldn’t
be happening. It’s taken him so long to get where he is at
The ride to the hospital was fast. Brian helped
Nick out with giving the EMT the medical information she
would need to relay to the physician once they arrived at
the hospital. As they brought Nick into the room,
technicians and nurses were busily rushing around Nick doing
blood draws, setting up an IV, hooking him up to equipment.
All Nick could do was lay there and watch. He didn’t feel
anything that was going on when they touched him. It was
scaring him and it felt like the numbness had reached the
base of his neck. Each breath that he took in seemed to be
very little, if any.
Brian stood out in the lobby to wait for Jess and
the guys. Where he was standing, he could see the people
going in and out of Nick’s room.
“Hi Nick.” Dr. Gaynor came into the room and
walked over to Nick. Nick looked at the doctor when he
heard his voice. Finally, he let the fear overtake him and
started to cry.
“Nick, we’ll take care of you, don’t worry.” Dr.
Gaynor tried to reassure him.
He picked up the chart and
read the information that Brian had provided. Dr. Gaynor
bent over close to Nick. “When did this come on?”
Nick tried to answer, but couldn’t. He was
growing weaker by the minute. Dr. Gaynor glanced over at
the oxygen saturation levels, they were at 92%.
“Are you finding it hard to breathe?” Dr. Gaynor
Again, Nick tried to answer, but couldn’t.
Dr. Gaynor watched Nick’s oxygen levels dip below
90%. Suddenly the warning bell went off on the machine, his
level had fallen to 85%. Dr. Gaynor barked out a medication
to be injected into the IV line stat.
Nick felt himself struggle to breathe. He was
aware of what was going on around him but couldn’t
communicate. The numbness had started to climb again into
The nurse injected the medication into the IV
line. As soon as Nick was sedated, Dr. Gaynor took a
scalpel and made an incision into Nick’s throat. He prayed
while he was working on Nick, fearing that he would nick a
vocal cord and ruin his voice. Dr. Gaynor didn’t want to go
through the throat but in Nick’s condition at the moment, he
had no other alternative. The paralysis had overtaken the
central nervous system and was paralyzing the muscles that
helped Nick to breathe. Putting tubing down his throat
would not help him this time.
Dr. Gaynor watched the oxygen monitor levels raise
to 97 percent. Satisfied with the results, he took the
gloves off and grabbing Nick’s chart he asked if anyone had
accompanied Nick to the hospital. He wanted to find out
details of how Nick had gotten to this point.
A nurse approached Brian out in the lobby. “Dr.
Gaynor wants to speak with you. Follow me please.” The
nurse took Brian by the arm and led him towards the room
where Nick lay.
As Brian entered the room, his eyes swept the
surroundings. Dr. Gaynor stepped in front of Brian’s view
“Hi, I need to talk to you about Nick. I need to
know what happened up to this point. Nick wasn’t able to
talk to me and I need to fill in the gaps before I order
tests.” Dr. Gaynor said.
Brian was getting confused when the doctor said
that Nick wasn’t able to talk to the doctor. He glanced
over at the gurney that Nick was on. He couldn’t see
anything but people surrounding the bed.
“Well, we had been rehearsing this morning, and
Nick started to complain that he was tired and so we decided
to take a ten minute break. Nick said that he wanted to
stand up saying something about his foot feeling like it had
fallen asleep or something. I asked if he wanted to take a
walk and he said that sounded good to him. We only walked
about twenty feet or so and I noticed that he was having a
harder time walking, his left leg was dragging more than
usual. Before I said anything to Nick, his leg gave out
from under him and he fell. He didn’t say he was hurt, he
just laid on the floor. After a few minutes, he said that
he was going to try to get up, but then he realized he
couldn’t and asked one of us to call an ambulance because he
couldn’t feel anything. That is all I really know about
what went on.” Brian talked fast, he was scared for Nick
and nervous also.
Dr. Gaynor listened intently to Brian trying to
think of what would have caused something like this to come
on so suddenly.
“Had Nick complained about anything prior to
today?” Dr. Gaynor asked.
“No, other than it was hard for him to walk very
far and we noticed that his left leg was dragging more when
he got tired.” Brian tried to read into the doctor’s
expression on his face. He couldn’t tell what the doctor
was thinking of.
“Thanks.” Dr. Gaynor scribbled notes down in
Nick’s chart and left the room.
For the first time, Brian was able to see his
friend laying on the bed. As Brian walked closer to Nick’s
side, his heart fell when he saw the trache tube in Nick’s
throat. This was not a good sign, he remembered what Jess
had told him the first time Nick was in the hospital and how
dangerous it was to cut into his throat.
Silently, Brian prayed for his best friend. This
did not seem fair that Nick had to go through something like
this. As Brian looked at Nick, memories of the things that
they did together flooded his mind. Nick loved to do
practical jokes, he hated to see anyone sad, was a typical
comedian, always trying to make people laugh. Brian was
having a hard time understanding why this was going on now
during the best time of Nick’s life. This was surely going
to set Nick back physically not to mention emotionally.
A nurse touched Brian on the shoulder. “We need
you to go back out into the lobby and wait. The patient is
going to be taken for some tests that Dr. Gaynor ordered.
We will keep you informed.”
Reluctantly, Brian left Nick’s room. The last
image of Nick in his mind was the trache tube. Brian found
a chair in the corner of the lobby where he could quietly
reflect and pray and wait.
Jess and the guys rushed into the hospital. They
had gotten ahold of her on her cell phone and went and
picked her up. The only thing Kevin had told her was that
Nick had fallen. He did not want to go into details that
would upset Jess. He was hoping that the paralysis was a
flukey temporary thing and that once Nick got to the
hospital, he would be okay.
Howie saw Brian sitting in the corner and
instantly started walking towards him. Brian stood up when
he saw the group coming into the crowded lobby. A few
people that were sitting there stared in disbelief when they
saw the guys standing before them.
Brian hugged Jessica. “Brian, how is Nick?”
Brian just held Jessica tighter. He did not want
to have to tell her about the trache tube or that Nick was
“I’m not sure.” Brian avoided looking into her
eyes. He wasn’t a very good liar and he knew Jess would
figure out he was hiding something if she saw his eyes.
Someone was either pacing the floor or sitting
flipping through magazines not reading while they waited for
some type of word on Nick. Finally, after a few hours had
passed, a nurse approached Brian and told him that Dr.
Gaynor wanted to speak with him. Jess stood up and followed
Brian towards a conference room.
Dr. Gaynor walked into the room from another door
at the same time they entered.
“We did an MRI and CT scans of Nick’s spine. He
didn’t break anything when he fell down, however, the tests
brought up something that I don’t see too often. I will
have to order more tests to be certain and have a
neurologist consult with me, but it appears that Nick has
either blood clots on the spine or bleeding on the spine.
I’m not sure why and that’s why I would have to have a neuro
surgeon take a look at these results.”
Jess grabbed Brian’s arm as Dr. Gaynor spoke.
Brian and Jess sat there listening to Dr. Gaynor, both in
“Is this what is causing the paralysis?” Brian
finally asked the question that both he and Jess didn’t want
“Yes, it is. There is alot of clotting and blood
and it is causing havoc with the central nervous system and
could start to cause things to shut down on him. The sooner
the neuro doc sees Nick, the better.”
“How could you fix or can you fix something like
this?” Brian asked.
“Let’s just wait until I have a chance to talk
with the neurosurgeon, okay? I’ll make sure you know when I
know.” Dr. Gaynor stood up and shook Brian’s hand and then
left the room.
“Why, Brian?” Jess looked at Brian. The tears
slipped down her face as she was trying to understand what
was wrong with Nick. All Brian could do was look back at
Jess and wipe the tears from his eyes.
“Did you want to go see him?” Brian asked.
“Oh, yes, do you think it will be okay?” Jess
started to stand up.
“Let’s just go.” Brian replied.
Brian led Jess down the hallway to Nick’s room in
the emergency department. He happened to be in the same
trauma room that he was in the first time he was at the
hospital. Jess grabbed Brian’s arm as they walked into the
room. She quickly focused on Nick and saw that he had a
trache tube in his neck. Jessica’s knees buckled.
“Oh my god, no!” Jess cried out.
Brian put him arm around Jess and tried to calm
“No, Brian, this isn’t supposed to be this way,
you remember what the doctor said, they wouldn’t do that to
Nick.” Jess cried.
“Jess, he didn’t have a choice, they were losing
him and they needed to do something fast. He was
suffocating.” Brian whispered into her ear.
“Oh, but Brian, if Nick can never sing again, if
it changes his voice, oh, god, I can’t even think about it.”
Jess put her hand to her mouth and choked back sobs.
“Then we won’t think about it. This won’t happen,
Nick will be one of the lucky ones, he’s been okay so far,
hasn’t he?” Brian tried to reassure Jessica.
Jess walked up to Nick. She hated the sound of
the respirator, she hated everything that was hooked up to
him. He looked peaceful. She smoothed the blond hair away
from his forehead. “Oh, Nicky, I’m so sorry.” Jessica
whispered as she touched his cheek.