Three weeks ago, Peter Schmitt was at home when he developed a slight headache. He thought nothing of it and was walking to his bedroom when he suddenly collapsed. Schmitt was rushed to hospital, then airlifted to Hamilton, where doctors told his family it was a ruptured brain aneurysm.
Doctors were amazed at Schmitt’s rapid recovery; aneurysms are often fatal or can leave people permanently brain damaged.
However, he can’t work for a year anAd the Ministry of Transportation automatically revoked his licence for that period. Schmitt is applying for disability income support, but it only supplies 60 per cent of what he was earning, so family and friends have rallied to help him, his wife Tina and their three-year-old twin girls.
“We’re trying to help them so they can keep their house at least,” said Schmitt’s cousin, Anna Wall.
Wall has set up a trust fund for donations for the family and is organizing a bake sale for the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival. The family is of Mexican Mennonite heritage, so they’ll be selling tamales and gorditas alongside the baking, as well as syrup made by the brother of one of Schmitt’s coworkers at VHF Construction.
“At first I was just going to do this [on my own] but I’m just one person,” Wall said. “Everybody’s just pitching in.”
The aneurysm has affected Schmitt’s speech and Tina emigrated from Mexico only four years ago and doesn’t speak English well, so Wall has been translating and helping them fill out paperwork.
It’s something she does on a regular basis; a stay-at-home mother of two, she volunteers with recent immigrants, translating when they have appointments at banks, dentists and government offices. When it was her cousin that needed help, she didn’t hesitate.
“I know he would help me if I was in that situation,” Wall said.
She’s also hoping to raise a little awareness of aneurysms at the same time.
An aneurysm is a blood-filled bulge in a blood vessel; most of the time they go undetected until they rupture or leak. The 41-year-old Schmitt was in good health, and had no prior symptoms or family history that he knew of.
People whose close relatives have had aneurysms should be screened, especially siblings over 30 years old. High blood pressure and smoking can increase the risk of an aneurysm rupturing, so people who know they have one can make lifestyle changes to reduce that risk.
To donate to the fund, quote Bank of Montreal branch 3055, account number 3617825.