For Nowlan, the images of July 20, 2012, are as vivid now as they were five years ago.
“It’s something that you want to forget, but it’s something that sticks with you forever regardless,” Nowlan told FOX31 on Tuesday.
The Navy veteran and single dad, who is now 36 years old, was with some good friends at the theater when gunfire erupted.
“We just hunkered down behind the seats … was our best chance,” Nowlan said. “Running to an exit … felt like it was too easy to get picked off.”
Bullets hit Joshua -- piercing his left leg and right arm. He struggles with neuropathy in his arm.
But he says what is even worse is the chronic pain in his leg. The pain has been constant over the past five years.
Traditional medication and cannabis were no match for the pain. Nowlan says the leg must now go. Doctors will amputate his leg just below the knee to improve Nowlan’s overall quality of life.
“I’ll have full functionality out of my knee, which is a huge plus,” he said.
Nowlan is hopeful as he prepares for his next journey -- mastering a prosthetic leg. He said he will face that challenge the same way he has faced others by keeping a good sense of humor and depending on the support of loved ones.
Medical insurance will not cover everything. A close friend has created an online fund to help pay for Nowlan’s out-of-pocket medical bills.
Nowlan’s surgery is scheduled for January 5, 2018.