People Exclusive

South Carolina Mom of 11 Loses Two Years of Her Memory – Including Birth of One of Her Kids – After Semi-Truck Crash

South Carolina Mom of 11 Lost Two Years of Her Memory After Truck Crash
Tammy and Bruce Smith with their children.

04/18/2016 AT 01:15 PM EDT

On October 15, 2015, a semi-truck slammed into 43-year-old Tammy Smith.

The nurse and mother of 11 from Johnson, South Carolina, suffered a traumatic brain injury, broken ribs, a collapsed lung and was in a vegetative state until Thanksgiving.

Doctors weren't sure she would survive, so when she finally opened her eyes and said her husband’s name, it was an incredibly emotional moment.

Now, after months of intense rehabilitation, Tammy is back home, and her devoted husband of 24 years, Bruce Smith, is not taking a single moment for granted.

South Carolina Mom of 11 Loses Two Years of Her Memory – Including Birth of One of Her Kids – After Semi-Truck Crash| Real People Stories

Tammy Smith's recovery process


"Every day is still a challenge, but somehow we’ve been given the opportunity for healing,” Bruce, 47, tells PEOPLE.

While Bruce helped care for Tammy, who was in the hospital until mid-January, their community rallied around all their kids. The oldest is 23. The youngest, Faith, is not even two yet.

South Carolina Mom of 11 Loses Two Years of Her Memory – Including Birth of One of Her Kids – After Semi-Truck Crash| Real People Stories

The Smith children


"It's taking 17 people to do what she was doing by herself – getting the kids to all of their activities. It's been amazing to watch," Bruce told PEOPLE in December.

Now, the family is focused on having Tammy back at home.

"The kids are doing awesome. They’ve had to adjust. We all have," Bruce says.

South Carolina Mom of 11 Loses Two Years of Her Memory – Including Birth of One of Her Kids – After Semi-Truck Crash| Real People Stories

Tammy

Courtesy The Smith Family


After suffering such a serious brain injury, Tammy lost the last two years of her memory, which means she has no recollection of her youngest child, Faith.

"She couldn’t remember having her, and Faith is a very independent baby,” Bruce says. "So that’s made it a little difficult, but we pulled out a photo album and assured her this is her baby."

Bruce says he’s finding joy in the small moments he and Tammy share together. They now take regular walks. She leans on him, literally, as they circle their neighborhood. It's something he couldn't imagine doing just a few short months ago.

South Carolina Mom of 11 Loses Two Years of Her Memory – Including Birth of One of Her Kids – After Semi-Truck Crash| Real People Stories

Bruce and Tammy

Courtesy The Smith Family


"She goes a few feet alone, but walking long distances she needs me. We do half mile walks down the street. She holds my arm and it’s kinda nice that we get to walk together alone," he says.

South Carolina Mom of 11 Loses Two Years of Her Memory – Including Birth of One of Her Kids – After Semi-Truck Crash| Real People Stories

Bruce and Tammy

Courtesy The Smith Family


Tammy is still recovering from her brain injury and doctors have told them they don’t know yet what brain functions will return.

"She has concerns about whether or not she’ll get better, but as far as I’m concerned, even as she is, it’s good enough," he says. "I’m just glad to have her still in our lives."
blog comments powered by Disqus

From Our Partners