Drea Tirshman is doing everything she can to bring her spouse Richard “Chuckie” Smith home for the holidays.
On April 13 of this year Smith, a father of two young children, went over a cliff while snowmobiling in Brandywine Falls Provincial Park near Whistler. He suffered a brain injury which left him in a non-responsive and minimally conscious state. Since the accident, he has been in a treatment facility in Surrey.
“He is starting to focus his eyes on things and is more awake,” Tirshman said, “but there has been no communication yet.”
She said Smith goes to hyperbaric oxygen therapy – which is a treatment that pushes oxygen into the brain and blood and helps reduce swelling and inflammation of the brain – five times a week.
He has been going for about three months and it seems be helping a lot, Tirshman said, and even though it is not covered by Heath Canada, she is going to continue with treatments.
“It will end up costing about $30,000,” Tirshman said.
Even though therapy is costly and money is tight, Tirshman said she is focused on bringing Smith home for Christmas.
“It’s really important for me and the kids to have Smith home on Christmas morning,” she said.
Because Smith spends most of his time in a bed and about four to five hours in a wheelchair, Tirshman is currently working to make their house wheelchair accessible.
“It’s coming together all at once,” Tirshman said. “Specialized equipment for Chuckie has been donated from the BC Rehab foundation and was delivered last weekend. And friends of ours worked early Saturday morning to create a sidewalk for his wheelchair.”
Tirshman said Smith will initially be able to come home for only a few days at a time and since Christmas will be the first time he has been home, they have to see how it goes.
“Now that the bed has arrived, the kids come home every day all excited asking, ‘is dad home yet?’ ” Tirshman said.
The last thing needed to bring Smith home is a ramp built for the house, which she thinks will cost around $5,000.
“Chuckie’s accident changed my world in ways you could never imagine,” Tirshman said. “We were both working full-time before his accident and now I take care of him full-time. My kids just want their Daddy better again.”
Tirshman said she hopes to purchase the specialized bed for Smith in January so he will be able to come home for weekend visits.
A fundraiser will be held early in the new year to help raise money for the equipment.
For more information, visit www.facebook.com/supportforchuckie or donate at www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/support-for-richard-chuckie-smith-and-family/269898.