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After a life-changing punch, a long, winding road to recovery

Violent incident leaves a lasting physical and financial impact on Squamish victim.
Jayme Schmetterling.

On the day Jayme Schmetterling woke up to visit The Squamish Chief's office, she had to make a series of painstaking preparations to make the relatively short trip from Wilson Crescent to Second Avenue.

Things that many people take for granted take Schmetterling more time.

"I did have to have all my clothes and stuff laid out last night, so I can manage today," Schmetterling said once she was at The Squamish Chief's office on the morning of Nov. 25.

"I've got to be really careful. Like, when I came to town today. I had to like sit down and go,

'OK. What am I doing today? Yeah, I have to do this, this and this and then be here by 10 a.m.' I had to remember that — I almost had to write it down. I had to plan my route just so I can make it on time."

These are tasks that many people don't give a second thought, but since Schmetterling was left with lasting brain damage from a punch in October of 2018, things have been different for her.

"There are ADHD-like symptoms, right?" she said.

After years of court proceedings, in September, Cody Jamie Eric Nelson was sentenced to 28 months in jail for the assault on Schmetterling.

Previously, the court heard that Nelson and Schmetterling had an exchange outside the Dollar Tree in downtown Squamish. Nelson then punched Schmetterling.

During the trial, Judge Patricia Bond concluded that based on comments Nelson made after the attack, he displayed disgust and disrespect towards Schmetterling as a transgender woman.

In the wake of the sentencing, Schmetterling says that she wants to move on with life. But that's proving to be more complicated than she'd like. Aside from free therapy hours, Schmetterling did not receive any compensation as a result of the proceedings.

While Bond sentenced Nelson to jail, she rejected Schmetterling's request for a victim fine surcharge on the grounds that Nelson would have too great a difficulty in paying Schmetterling the money. At the time, Bond noted that Nelson was on disability income.

Schmetterling said the impact of her injury on her income has been significant.

She said she had to take significant amounts of time off work, and when she did return, her schedule had to be drastically reduced in order to accommodate her condition. This has cost her thousands of dollars.

She said she’d like to start driving her car again. At the moment, her vehicle is in the garage, as she said can't afford the insurance for it.

Tasks that were once routine and easy for her have since become, in some cases, prohibitively difficult, Schmetterling said.

At the moment, she said she's found an understanding and flexible employer, but she said she's working only half the amount of hours she was before the injury.

Still, she's doing her best to find silver linings where she can.

"I'm not over it, but I am dealing with it," Schmetterling said.

"I'm doing alright. Yeah, I wish I could say I'm doing fantastic. But I'm doing alright."

One message she said she'd like to get out is that it would be helpful if people stopped asking her about how the incident has affected her.

Having to relive the attack and its effects repeatedly is making it hard to put it behind her, she said.

"I wish I could just tell everybody, 'Just don't bring it up anymore, please,'" Schmetterling said. She did say afterwards that perhaps occasionally bringing it up isn't so bad, but just not so much. However, right now, it's being brought to her attention at least once a day.

"I'm gonna get over this. I'm a survivor ... It's just been really, really hard."


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