For some of us, energy drinks are the only way we make it through the day. Most people, however, rarely consider how all of that caffeine and sugar is really affecting their body. Back in April, a teen in South Carolina died suddenly from a caffeine overdose aggravated by energy drinks. Now, a new father named Austin is lucky to have made it out with his life after overusing them for months to cope with a hectic work schedule, and has been physically changed forever.
His wife, Brianna, who was just weeks away from giving birth to their first child at the time, recently took to Facebook to share the harrowing story of how her world almost completely fell apart. Sara Endres, a photographer from Sacramento, CA, has also taken a series of moving portraits that document the young family’s daily struggles in the wake of Austin’s hospitalization.
Scroll down to read about what happened in Brianna’s own words, and share this with anyone who may doubt that energy drinks can be harmful.
A new mother has bravely come forward to tell the story of how energy drinks almost cost her husband his life, and changed hers forever
“Hello, my name is Brianna, and this is my story…
Love is not the little things. It is not the phone calls, the dates, or even the memories. Love is knowing you would sacrifice things that you didn’t even know you could sacrifice. Love is selfless.
Have you ever felt your life shake ? Have you ever been hit with so much emotional turmoil to the point where everything around you becomes fuzzy and shaken? Your lungs feel tight and for a brief second you can’t do anything. You are unable to move, unable to think, unable to even react. I have. I experienced something I never thought I would experience…all while nine months pregnant with my first child.
Being pregnant is supposed to be one of the most amazing journeys you will ever embark on. You’re creating a new life. You are experiencing unconditional love for someone you have not even met.
Austin and I were so excited to meet our little boy. To bring him home. To be a family.”
Austin had picked up the habit to cope with a hectic work schedule, never imagining they would land him in the hospital
“I never imagined as I went to sleep that night, that my whole world would be shattered within hours.
I still remember my mother in law waking me up that morning. ‘Austin had an accident’ she said.
All I knew was that my husband was in the hospital. The worst part? I didn’t know why.
After a two hour drive to the hospital, I learned that my husband, the father of my child, the person I am so deeply in love with, had had a brain hemorrhage. Why? The doctors concluded (after running his tox screen and ruling out drugs) that this horrible event was due to his recent excessive energy drink consumption (a habit he had built when he started working longer hours and commuting).
Surgery was already in motion… and after an agonizing 5 hour wait, we got to see him. But while everyone was focused on the almost unrecognizable face hooked up to all sorts of machines and tubes, all I could see was his parents. I saw the light leave his mother’s eyes as she saw her motionless son laying in that hospital bed. I saw his father break down crying as he held onto his wife.
They didn’t know if the life they created together would even wake up.
Watching this family — my new family, who I have grown to love and be a part of, be so shattered and broken…that is the worst feeling I have ever felt.”
One tragic brain hemorrhage and multiple surgeries later, Austin was left with an irreparable hole in the front of his skull, and a wife on the verge of giving birth to their first child
“The next day was round two of brain surgery. Following this were strokes, seizures, swelling, and more things we weren’t prepared for.
There was a moment, sitting by his hospital bed, just praying he would be okay, that I knew I would never give up on him. No matter how messy our life would become. I was going to be by his side through all of it.
After two weeks of living in a hospital, wondering if he would survive or be taken from us, we made our way back home.
The time had come for me to deliver our baby.”
Still under the stress of dealing with Austin’s recovery, Brianna faced the monumental task of bringing their son into the world
“I’m not going to lie to anyone, it was so hard. I had planned on Austin being a part of this huge moment. Being by my side. Holding my hand. Being there to cut the cord. Being there to welcome our son into the world. It didn’t feel right…
But a beautiful miracle happened as I delivered our son. Austin woke up. I went about a week without seeing him. I thought about him every day. I cried as I looked at my child who looked just like his daddy.
When the baby was only a week old, I left him with my in-laws.
I knew I needed to see Austin. I needed to tell him that our baby was here. To tell him how much we needed him.”
Miraculously, Austin awoke from his traumatic experience shortly after the birth, and finally met his baby boy 2 months later
“Weeks went by. We chased him all over the state as more operations and procedures were ordered. I saw him every chance I got.
At a little over 2 months old, our son finally met his dad. A day I wasn’t sure I would ever see. That was the day that my heart gained some of its happiness back.
Some time after that he could finally come home to me. Our life isn’t normal. There are doctors visits and hospital trips — so many that I loose count.
But we are here. Fighting.”
Brianna now spends each day caring not only for her new son, but for her permanently disabled husband, a role she accepts with strength
“I wake up every day to take care of our beautiful little boy and my husband. I prepare the meals, do physical therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy. I help him with personal hygiene. I help him walk. I help him with every aspect of his life.”
These poignant photos, taken by Sacramento-based photographer Sara Endres, capture the beauty and pain of this young family
“And in between these tasks I take care of our very busy eight month old. It is hard, and I am tired, but we make the most of it.”
Their story is harrowing, but also a testament to the existence of true love and self-sacrifice
“He isn’t the same man I fell in love with, but I still fall further everyday, We are fighting to help him recover. To make his life better. One day we will get there.
Until then, I will never give up on him. Because love is selfless, and I love him more than life itself.”