Eric Smith was treated in the TIRR Memorial Hermann Disorders of Consciousness Program. His family has shared the following about Eric.
Eric Smith is a 51-year-old husband to his wife Cheryl of 29 years, father to daughters Regan (27) and Cheyanne (24), and grandfather to granddaughter Hallie (1). He worked as a licensed journeyman plumber and HVAC technician for 27 years before his injury. Eric demonstrated an abundant skillset beyond his trade-based expertise, including automotive mechanics, metalwork, carpentry and electrical. Outside of work, Eric enjoyed snowmobiling, visiting local breweries and farmers markets, barbequing, and was an avid Seahawks fan, but, above all else, he enjoyed spending time with his family. Eric is intelligent, thoughtful, contentious, humble, and hard-working. Most know Eric as a perfectionist who values his privacy. Those lucky enough to truly know him, know a sensitive and caring man who is endlessly devoted to his family and loved ones.
Eric suffered an unexpected brain hemorrhage at home in November of 2017. This initial hemorrhage affected the right hemisphere of his brain. Subsequently, he suffered numerous ischemic strokes which affected his brain at large. Eric continues to experience hydrocephalous related to his brain injury. Eric’s current condition is difficult to describe. His state of consciousness is fluid. Most times he seems disconnected, while other times he is painfully aware. He has very limited voluntary control of his body, which makes communication nearly impossible. He reacts to pain, recognizes people and participates in therapy. He is in a wheelchair and requires full- time care for his functional and adaptive needs.
The Smith family is originally from the Pacific Northwest (Southwest Washington State). While in the hospital in Washington, Eric’s neurologist suggested that the family look into the Disorders of Consciousness (DoC) Program at TIRR Memorial Hermann in Houston. Two weeks post discharge in May of 2018, Eric and Cheryl boarded a plane and traveled to Houston. Eric was admitted to the DoC program and began therapy the next morning. This was a difficult transition for Eric, Cheryl and their two daughters. Eric and Cheryl were in an unfamiliar city, without a support system or home other than the hospital and its staff. Their daughters, who were 21 and 23 at the time, were left to take over the household in their parent’s absence. This arrangement was manageable at first but became a burden for the daughters; one was in graduate school the other was beginning to start a family. In addition, the 2,300 miles that separated the parents from their children was, and continues to be, exceedingly difficult for this close-knit family.
Back in Houston, Eric and Cheryl began the rehabilitation process. This process began with several evaluations and other unfamiliar experiences, such as new morning routines, altered medication and feeding plans and unpredictable therapy schedules. As the family and service providers spent more time together, they began to understand one another’s preferences and needs, which led to development of a productive and cohesive schedule. Cheryl quickly became aware of the importance of finding the right fit when it came to therapists. The right therapist brings more than just tangible progress; they also brings trust, empathy and support. Since the move to Houston, Eric has made progress and has also had significant setbacks. The family maintains realistic goals and expectations for their future.