Story shared by Valerie Smith
In remembrance of Christopher ("Chris") John Smith
29 December, 1993 - 17 July, 2020
Chris suffered his first seizure at 19 years old. From that day forward, epilepsy was his new silent partner. Chris’ life was changed. He knew it, but he didn’t let it run his life. He was too strong, too tough and too smart to let his diagnosis interfere with life. He completed his post-secondary education, graduating in electrical engineering technology. He desperately wanted to be an electrician. His epilepsy, combined with night shifts, was not going to allow that to happen. Unfazed, he began to work in housekeeping at our local hospital. From there, Chris transferred to logistics and then into the Medical Device Reprocessing Department. Chis loved working at the hospital. His caring and compassionate personality was a great fit for working in the hospital. He enjoyed the interaction with colleagues and assisting patients in whatever way he could. Having been a patient himself on several occasions over 7 years, Chris sat on a number of patient advisor committees that offered advice to the hospital on patient care initiatives. It was important to Chris that he contribute towards making the experience better for others.
In November of 2018, Chris had surgery involving the implantation of deep probes to determine the location of his seizures. The surgery didn’t go as planned and left Chris with a number of additional complications. To the average person, these complications might have been insurmountable. To Chris, they were just another challenge and an opportunity to overcome and prevail.
In March of 2019, he bought his own home. A place where he could have his dogs, and have his friends come visit and stay as they pleased. It was a chance for him to be independent. The surgery had left him unable to work for the most part. In April of 2020, he decided that he would return to school in the Fall. Chris wanted to become a support worker so that he could help children with special needs. He was excited about the opportunity the school presented and could see himself in a rewarding and satisfying career helping young children.
We lost Chris on July 17, 2020. He was 26 years old. Chris was found by first responders on his bedroom floor with his two Labradors by his side. In October, we received a phone call from the coroner, advising that Chris’ cause of death was SUDEP. In the 7 years that Chris dealt with his epilepsy and in all the hospitalizations and doctor visits, nobody had ever mentioned SUDEP.
Chris was a bright, articulate, caring and compassionate individual. While his silent partner did all it could to make his life challenging, Chris met that challenge every day with strength, toughness and courage. He gave far more to this world than he took from it.
He will be forever missed by his family and friends.