By David F. Rooney
January 17 dawned as a normal winter day for Chris Miller and his wife, Joanne Lachance. The temperature was just -1.4° Celsius and it wasn’t going to get a whole lot warmer but at 7 am their lives changed dramatically when Chris felt a piercing pain in his head.
“It started with a sharp headache and within seconds it happened — Chris collapsed,” Joanne recalled in an afternoon interview on Thursday, April 24. “It was a stroke.”
Frantic, she called BC Ambulance paramedics who alerted doctor-on-call, Dr. Chris MacDonald, who rushed to their home. Chris was transferred by ambulance Salmon Arm where he was assessed and then sent on to Kelowna General Hospital where he has been ever since.
The stroke occurred in Chris’ brain stem and has left him with physical deficits. He needs a wheelchair, or sometimes a walker, to get around and has a problem with one eye. His fine motor skills are degraded and, while he is lucky the stroke that felled him wasn’t worse, he faces at least another year — maybe even longer — of therapy and rehabilitation, some of it to spent at the Connect Lake Country brain injury facility in Winfield.
The months since Chris’ collapse have been long and difficult for the young family. Their two-and-a-half-year-old daughter Regan doesn’t understand why her daddy can’t come home and Joanne misses the husband she can only see on weekends when he gets a weekend pass from the hospital and can visit with her at Chris’ sister’s home in Vernon.
“The important thing is that Chris is alive and is getting better,” Joanne said. “He’s showing improvements every day. Chris is very determined and his spirits are good. I’m confident he’ll make a full recovery and come home to be a husband and father again.”
Everyone who knows them hopes for that outcome, too, but friends like Shane Volpatti and Peter Bernacki recognize that things are going to get tough financially before they get better. An electrician with Canyon Electric,Chris’ stroke happened at home — not at work — so Workman’s Compensation doesn’t kick in. And Employment Insurance won’t kick in until the conclusion of a tiny short-term disability policy he receives as a result of part-time work with Transalta Utilities. A proud woman Joanne doesn’t like to complain but she admits that money is likely to be tight in the near future.
“We want to be able to help the family financially while Chris is trying to get back to normal,” Peter told The Current.
Shane said he and Peter have met with a lawyer who helped them create a trust account at the Revelstoke Credit Union where sympathetic townsfolk can deposit funds to help this young family.
If you’d like to help Chris, Joanne and their daughter please drop by the Credit Union. The Chris Miller trust account is No. 334459. Any amount you choose to deposit will help this young family through a very difficult time.
You can also help by dropping by Cooper’s on Saturday, May 10, to attend a fund-raising barbeque organized by Emo’s and Coopers. Have a hot dog or a burger and buy a ticket for the raffle being staged to help Chris and Joanne. If you’d like to help out or contribute something for the raffle please contact Anne Murphy at 250-814-7527.