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Wang’s first words since crash reveal specific pain

From David Chen, husband of Theresa Wang, who is recovering from injuries sustained in the Nov. 19 car crash that also injured Colt Brennan:

Aloha to our ohana,

It’s now just over eight weeks since the accident and other than mouthing a few silent phrases, I have sorely missed Theresa’s beautiful voice in all this time.

With the progress that Theresa has made with her respiratory therapy since arriving at Craig Hospital last week, her tracheostomy tube has been downsized to the point where the speech pathologist can now try putting a Passy-Muir valve over the opening to allow her to speak.

So at the recent speech therapy session, with Theresa having already swallowed water, applesauce, graham crackers and Cheerios (all dyed in blue) without evidence of aspiration in the past week, I looked forward with great anticipation to the first words out of Theresa’s mouth.

It seemed tortuously slow as the therapist made Theresa do yet another swallow test, then checked the placement of the valve and finally told Theresa to take a deep breath and make some aaaah, eeeee, ooooo sounds. She did this with a very hoarse voice and then after clearing her throat again, the therapist asked Theresa to say something.

And the very first words out of Theresa’s mouth in more than two months were “My ass hurts!”

While I am very grateful to our Lord for restoring Theresa’s voice, sometimes it does feel like a mixed blessing as Theresa can now vocalize whatever she is thinking at the moment.

She’s already told several nurses, aides and therapists that they remind her of her mother-in-law (I think it’s because my mom is prim and proper and so are some of these people) but to tell a 20-something that they remind her of a 70+ year old woman isn’t the best compliment.

And with the brain injury causing some confusion, amnesia and emotional lability, what comes out of Theresa’s mouth sometimes is unexpected. All the facts are there but the specifics are jumbled, such as her insisting that our cat is named Tiberius, or that we’re currently in a hospital in Madison, Wisconsin, or that we moved to Hawaii in 1989.

I am assured in my prayers that this will improve as her mind receives God’s healing love and sure enough, there are times when she is perfectly rational; like yesterday when she made a fine argument to the Ear, Nose, Throat specialist as to why she did not want him to use a certain decongestant because it’s known side effects include tachycardia, shortness of breath, and a few others I never even knew about.

Theresa’s sister Wanda and mom Rosa will be arriving tomorrow and staying for nine days. It will be a relief to have them here, not just to watch over Theresa and encourage her in the therapy sessions, but it will allow me some spare time to sort through requests for information from the various auto insurance, health insurance, legal, banking and other entities that seem to thrive on paperwork.

While these services are all necessary and contribute in their own way to Theresa’s healing process, sometimes it’s almost unbearable having to expend so much effort dealing with these matters.

So I pray to our Lord to provide that strength of will each night and the following morning, I am grateful for the restful sleep and ready to return to Theresa’s side for another day of healing and love.


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