Chris Sindt remembers the night well. He came downstairs and saw his son, Darien, crying, laughing and shaking at the same time. Chris didn’t know what to think, especially in light of Darien’s ordeal over the previous many months.
“It finally came to the point where I just picked him up out of the chair,” Chris said. “I grabbed him by the shirt and I looked at him and said, ‘Darien, if Jesus is here and He is going to take this, then let Him take it; let Him do His thing. That’s what we’ve been asking for, so let Him do His thing.’”
Darien Sindt had always been an active kid. He played hockey, baseball and golf. His parents described their house as having a rotating door: kids from the neighborhood would be in and out all day playing with Darien.
He was also a good student at his northeast metro area school.
But one day everything in Darien’s life—and the lives of his parents, Chris and Andrea—would dramatically change. And they wouldn’t know exactly what it was for months.
Darien was playing his second year of A Bantam hockey as a ninth-grader.
It was October 25, 2009. The next day Darien would turn 15.
During the scrimmage, Darien got cross-checked from behind.
“I don’t really remember what happened after that,” he said. “My dad was there, down at the end where I was hit. I actually got up and skated the wrong direction away from the puck. That can’t be good.”
Darien eventually skated to the bench and since it was the end of the first period, he began to walk back toward the locker rooms.
“I just remember going in to the hallway back to the locker rooms, and my dad came around the corner and was like, ‘Are you OK?’” Darien recalled.
Darien told his father he was fine and truly believed it.
“He took a couple of other hits during the game that were like … he usually doesn’t get blindsided,” Andrea recalled. “It was like, ‘That’s not him. That’s unusual. But he says he’s fine.’”
Darien even went on to score a goal after the big hit.
The next day was good. It was Darien’s 15th birthday, and his parents didn’t notice anything wrong with him. He left the house for a late practice that evening.
“When I came home from that, that’s when everything kind of took the turn for the worse,” Darien said. “I didn’t feel right. Just felt hazy, kind of foggy, really hungry. That was really when everything kind of took off, symptom-wise. Loaded up on more food, took a shower and went to bed.”
The next morning, however, would begin a long journey of uncertainty, missed school, misdiagnoses and a host of other difficulties.
Can’t wake him up
When Andrea went in the next morning to wake up Darien for school, she immediately noticed a problem.
“I couldn’t get him to wake up,” Andrea recalled. “I thought maybe he just didn’t want to get up. It was a late night. It went from irritation to ‘Come on, you got to wake up.’ Then his eyes would roll open. He’d kind of look at me. It was like he didn’t recognize me. He’d go right back to sleep. Pretty soon I started realizing it wasn’t a matter of ‘We’re going to be late.’ It was a matter of ‘What’s going on?’ Because his whole body was twitching.”
The next couple of weeks were filled with doctors’ visits to determine what was wrong with Darien. While his parents informed the doctors about the hit he received during the hockey game, he was never diagnosed with a concussion. Andrea said the doctors’ diagnoses included everything from dehydration to a peanut allergy.
But things were definitely wrong and not getting better.
“I was kind of confused,” Darien said. “I didn’t know what was going on. It almost felt like … it was like my body and my mind couldn’t keep up with what I felt should be normal. I just felt like I was kind of standing behind myself trying to keep up with what I was supposed to be doing.”
Andrea said Darien would zone out a lot. One minute he would be working on his homework, and the next minute he would be tracing the same thing over and over. Then he would break out of it and start working on his homework again.
School increasingly became a challenge for Darien. He tried to attend when he felt well, but often he would only be able to complete half days or not at all; if he was able to attend a full day of school, he would come home and crash for several days, thus missing school again.
“Finally, we went back to a doctor that we had seen before for a different sports injury and gave all the symptoms to him,” Andrea said. “He was like, ‘Oh, you have a concussion.’ He kind of gave us a timeline of [several weeks before things would turn around]. I’m not comprehending how serious this is, at all.”
Even with the correct diagnosis in hand, things did not improve for Darien.
He had constant headaches, felt hazy or foggy and like he couldn’t catch up to things going on around him.
“The school worked really well with us to finish him through that first semester,” Andrea said. “Because he had done well enough up to that point. Then we modified his schedule. Because we couldn’t wake him up … his headache would [get much worse]. He had to wake up himself.”
During this time, Darien’s parents were struggling.
“The most difficult thing as a parent was not having answers for the child…,” Chris said. “As a dad, I had no answer when he said, ‘Dad, when is this going to go away? When am I going to feel better?’ That was the hardest thing because I couldn’t provide, as a parent.”
The rest of ninth grade followed the same course—no improvements.
Darien’s world was shrinking.
“He can’t have people over,” Andrea said. “Here’s this kid who is incredibly active. And now he can’t stand to have more than, like, one person [around], because it’s just way too overwhelming. He can’t follow a conversation. Physically, his head hurts so bad he can’t do anything. It shrinks your world immediately.”
During tenth grade, Darien moved to an Individual Education Plan since he couldn’t attend school on a regular basis.
He also visited other doctors and institutions, including the Mayo Clinic, in order to find answers and help—but nothing was working.
A unique visit
In May of his tenth grade year, Darien was asked to play golf for his school in the sections tournament.
“The night before I was supposed to go, I had a really, really bad night,” Darien said. “It was strange. Worse than usual. The headache was worse. Everything was kind of worse. Shaking, anxiety, all that. I ended up calling the captain. I was like, ‘Hey man, I’m not going to make it. I just can’t do it.’”
That night he felt really low. Golf was the one thing he was able to hold on to from his life before the concussion.
“My computer was downstairs at the time,” he said. “I was just sitting there. I was listening to some songs that I had on my iTunes from KTIS that I had heard over time. Throughout that whole thing, that was a huge help for me … the music from KTIS.”
One particular song had been a healing balm for Darien throughout his struggle: “What Faith Can Do” by Kutless.
“I was sitting in my basement, and the song just came on,” he said. “Before I even touched anything, I was just sitting down there. The song just kind of popped on the computer. I know that sounds crazy and everything. I was taken back by it. It just played and played. Combined with the emotion and where I was with everything, it just hit me like a ton of bricks. I just started melting down. I was crying, I was shaking, everything.”
But that wasn’t all.
“That’s kind of when the Big Man Upstairs decided to come and pay me a visit and just kind of give me a pat on the shoulder and say, ‘Hey, you did what I wanted you to do,’” Darien said. “‘I think you’re where I wanted you to be. You’ve learned patience. You’ve learned these things. You finally hit the bottom. You’ve been through the storm and now I want you to see the silver lining.’”
The experience shocked Darien, and he couldn’t move from his chair. So he called the house phone.
It was 11:22 p.m. on May 28.
“I grabbed the phone and I’m like, ‘It’s Darien’s phone,’” Andrea said. “At this point, we’re both so wired to whenever he needed something, it was like he needed it immediately. I threw the phone down on the bed and started to try and find him. I come downstairs, and the lights are on, the music is just so loud. I’m thinking, ‘Oh my goodness. This is not going to help his headache at all.’”
What happened next changed their lives.
Darien was sitting in his chair looking hysterical. He was crying and laughing at the same time and also shaking. Andrea immediately thought that Darien had hit rock bottom and was now cracking.
“I said, ‘What’s going on?’” Andrea recalled. “He looked at me, and he said, ‘He’s here.’ I’m like, ‘Now he’s hallucinating.’ I said, ‘Who is here, honey?’ He said, ‘Jesus. He’s here and He is taking it away, and I don’t hurt. Go get Dad! Go get Dad!’”
Chris arrived and saw his son shaking and crying, so he picked him up out of his chair and gave him a big bear hug. When Chris told Darien to let Jesus take it, Darien went completely calm in his father’s arms.
Is this for real?
Before bed, Andrea looked at Darien’s eyes to see if they were dilated. That was a constant ailment throughout this entire ordeal: dilated pupils.
“When I looked at him, his eyes—his pupils—were exactly where they needed to be,” Andrea said.
“When we got up the next morning, I had to go to work early, so I said to Andrea, ‘Honey, I’ve got to know,’” Chris said. “‘I have to know what happened. I have to know what I saw was something that was real in front of our eyes.’ Because none of it was clicking in our heads as far as it was the real thing happening. God was in my house.”
When they woke Darien, “his eyes opened up, and they were crystal clear,” Chris said. “There was no dilation. He smiled as big as he’s ever smiled. His shoulders were back. His head went straight up. He sat up, and he said, ‘I told you, Dad. It’s gone. He came, and He took it.’ We just [fell] on the ground and [said], ‘Thank you.’ You don’t know how to react.”
Yet the family still wondered why God would visit them and grant them this huge relief.
“We had been told from the beginning that he may wake up one day and be fine,” Andrea said. “That’s not necessarily an uncommon thing. Thinking about what happened here, he had not gone to sleep. There was no question that God came and did this. If he had gone to sleep and woke up in the morning, we would have said, ‘God healed him.’”
When Darien woke up that morning, he wasn’t going to sit around and wonder if he had been healed. He was going to test it.
“I felt like a million bucks,” he said. “I was ready to run. I want to go run around. I want to go get moving, something. I woke up. I was completely fine. Felt great.”
He spent the entire day outside.
In fact, he went back to his old life. He got back into school and eventually graduated in the top 10 percent of his class. He had to work his way back, but Darien and his parents credit District 622 and his case manager with being extremely helpful and patient with him during his trial.
Today, Darien is preparing for his second year of college.
Throughout this ordeal, Darien said he has learned one important lesson.
“You’ve got to face the storm before you see the silver lining,” he said. “You’ve got to go through it. You’ve got to really give yourself to it. You’ve got to be fully into believing and your faith and everything for that kind of thing to happen. You’ve got to get into the valley of the shadow of death, as they say. He’s always with you, no matter where you are, no matter how bad it gets, no matter how low you get on yourself or anybody, He’s always with you.”
— by Scott Noble