What Coma

Tucker Smith

Jen Kocher (jen@douglas-budget.com)
The only thing that really bothered Tucker Smith about his recent hospital stay was that he had to put down his cell phone for a few days. All those calls that could have been made took a backseat to the overnight medically induced coma that the doctors reverted to in mid-October after Tucker suffered back-to-back seizures. He was just happy to wake up and have some company smiling at him when he opened his eyes. Heck, the food was pretty good, too, and as a kid who has spent a lot of tim in hospitals growing up, he knows a thing or two about the food.
With his trademark smile and affable personality, Tucker says that being in the hospital wasn’t too bad, and really, he’s just happy to be here today. Happy, and lucky.
For sister-in-law McKenna Smith and other members of Tucker’s family, however, Tucker gave them one heck of a scare. It was Oct. 10, a Monday when she got the call. Tucker had been at his Independent Opportunities program in Casper when the seizures started. While seizures are a mainstay in his life, the frequency of seizures that day caused great alarm. After being rushed to Wyoming Medical Hospital, the doctors decided to intubate him and put him in a 24-hour medically induced coma to prevent any subsequent brain damage.
It took another 12 hours before Tucker was actually awake and responding and eating, but luckily, he was alive and there was no notable damage or change in his functioning.
In fact, the first thing he asked for in very Tucker-like fashion was a vanilla milkshake. He was also pleased to see that his mother Stacy, Dad Jared and step-mom Amanda, McKenna and his brother Austin and his granny who rarely left his side, were sitting there waiting for him to open his eyes, on top of a staff full of nurses and others. Tucker loves attention, according to McKenna.
“He loves to be spoiled and loves all the gifts and the visitors,” she said, ticking off some of his favorites. This round not only did he have dozens of visitors, but he also went home with a new night light, stuffed animals, flowers, and of course, candy, Skittles and Butter Fingers being his personal favorites.
Now, with a new vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) implant in his chest, he was ready to get back to work, helping his older brother Austin on the family ranch outside of Glenrock, where along with helping to feed the cows he also does plenty of manual labor.
Not bad for a guy, who is legally blind, not to mention, who at age 21, has long outlived the predicted lifespan of someone with his condition.
At birth, Tucker was diagnosed with Sturge-Weber Syndrome, a neurological disorder characterized by the distinctive port-wine permanent stain covering his face, which is caused by a mass of capillaries near the surface of his skin. In addition to the birthmark, people with Type-1 Sturge-Weber typically are prone to seizures, convulsions and developmental delays, and like Tucker, prone to develop glaucoma due to increased pressure in his eyes. Over the years, Tucker is now more or less legally blind, but like the other associated symptoms, doesn’t let that stop him from leading a very active, not to mention, social life.
In fact, Tucker might be the most social person McKenna knows and can count very few seconds in the day when he’s not on his cell phone, reaching out to one of his nearly 50 contacts.
“He calls everyone,” she laughs, “and just loves to talk.”
In fact, if Tucker sees you on the street, the first thing he’ll ask is whether or not he has that person’s number.
He likes to talk and he’s good at it.
In less than 30 minutes, Tucker can pretty much document the story of his life, including up-to-date reports about his mom Stacy, who is currently finishing her RN degree in Gillette, because it’s a good school, he adds, and really, “an awesome thing for his mom to be doing.”
His family is the center of his life, he says, and given his spirit and warm personality, he’s also a pretty well-known guy around town.
Having grown up and attended school in Glenrock until he transferred to Kelly Walsh at age 15, Tucker was active in Special Olympics and other activities in town.
Today Tucker lives with his mother in Casper but makes frequent to see his grandma Georgia in Glenrock and to go work with his brother and dad out on the family ranch, nearly 15 miles out of town.
He’s tough, says McKenna. “He’s probably the strongest person I’ve ever met,” she says fondly.
Strong, and of course, very ornery.
“He’s always joking,” she laughs, describing his affinity for ‘wet willy’s’ or fish hooks, which involves hooking your check and pulling. “I don’t know who taught him that one.”
One thing is for certain, though, Tucker can’t stand to be bored, and even this last month of recovery has been a bit hard. If Tucker can say one thing to the town of Glenrock it would be to thank everyone who visited him and sent their prayers. And if you give him your number, he’d love to give you a call.


Glenrock Independent

Physical Address:506 W. Birch, Glenrock, WY 82637 Mailing Address: PO Box 109, Douglas, WY 82633 Phone: (307) 436-2211

The Glenrock Independent is located in the Bronco Building

Office hours: Monday, Wednesday, Friday - 10:00 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday - 9:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.

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