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Wang takes steps with only cane for support

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,

The overnight flight to the mainland was almost full but thankfully the lack of turbulence made up for the other distractions keeping many of the passengers awake. I’m pretty sure the check-in agent took pity on me as he asked if I was traveling alone, and then changed my seat assignment from a middle to an exit row aisle.

At the gate, an announcement was made that those traveling with small children would not be offered priority boarding since with so many families returning from Spring Break, that would entail more than half the plane. This also foreshadowed the cacophony of crying to follow but at least my earplugs cancelled some of that.

What I didn’t expect was the extra legroom in the exit row also meant a front & center view of the TV; and the last thing I needed on this redeye was to have Jack Black’s face flashing in my eyes while I tried to get some shut-eye. The Lord giveth and He taketh away pretty much summed up this trade-off. Note to self — buy a nightshade before the next trip.

Arriving at the San Francisco airport while waiting for the connection to Bakersfield, a tour of the food court confirmed that I had no appetite for anything at 5 a.m. At least the layover allowed for a few hours of rest but having slept through more than one boarding announcement in the past, true sleep eludes me under these conditions.

The pond hopper to BFL was uneventful but in my semi-conscious stupor, I dreamed of flying in the Amazon, probably because of reading the safety folder of this Brazilian made Embraer 120 plane before nodding off.

Picking up the rental car, I headed straight to the CNS rehab clinic and promptly found my dear wife resting between therapy classes. To say we were happy to see each other doesn’t describe the feelings of joy and love in that instant.

All of the travails of the previous night were worth it to arrive at this moment and spend the day with my beautiful Theresa.

She met me with a big smile and a kiss and before we even had a chance to catch up, Theresa was wheeling towards the PT gym even though her next session wasn’t scheduled to begin for another half hour. Turns out she wanted me to meet Wade, a high school teacher and recent graduate of Craig Hospital just like Theresa, and a new transfer to CNS for intensive brain injury rehab too.

My memory of him was pretty vague so Theresa jogged it by recalling the incident at Beaujos Pizza where Wade and his wife were the other couple inadvertently left behind when the Craig shuttle took off without us. That she remembered the incident and the players from mid-February when I didn’t is a testimony to Theresa’s improved memory for which I continue to praise our Lord.

Catching up with Theresa and Wade took us right to the start of her PT session where Theresa surprised me yet again. I’d mentioned previously that Theresa had pretty much mastered the EVO-walker and was starting to practice sit & stands.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the PT telling Theresa to stand and then handing her a 4-pronged walking cane. The PT asked me to follow behind with the wheelchair and sure enough, Theresa took a tentative step and then another and pretty soon she was walking forward slowly with no support besides the cane.

It’s funny how we take walking for granted when it’s really quite a complicated series of motions. Watching the therapist coach Theresa to shift her weight from side to side and move the upper body in unison made me realize just how difficult it can be to relearn this skill from scratch.

Theresa proceeded to take about 15 steps before she tired out however she remained standing until I had the wheelchair in position and then she didn’t just fall into it, but reached back for the armrests and sat herself down with control.

This exercise was repeated twice more until Theresa began to complain of pain from her pelvic fracture. This wasn’t an issue when she was sitting or even using the EVO-walker but now that her pelvis has to bear the weight of her entire upper body, it will entail some pain. Pelvic fractures are like rib fractures in that they’re mostly left to heal by themselves and we just have to live with the suffering.

Still, Theresa did me proud as even when she stumbled and looked like she might collapse from sheer exhaustion, she still managed to catch herself without falling.

The remainder of the class was spent on the mat with the PT performing manual manipulation of Theresa’s slowly defrosting left shoulder. While watching this, a sense of warmth and gratitude came over me as Theresa’s range of motion looked to be much better than before. What a day!

It was Theresa’s birthday yet with these signs of steady progress she gave me the best present ever. Her strength and determination coupled with our Heavenly Father’s healing powers have brought us a long way since November.

Following PT, there was an OT class where Theresa demonstrated her improving dexterity and reach in her left arm by using both arms simultaneously to sort poker chips by color. Later on, Theresa told me she was sorry that there wasn’t any chocolate left.

Her poetry sister, Candy (no kidding) from Michigan, had sent her a box of handmade chocolates and as Theresa is want to do, she intended to share them with everyone. However, it’s against the rules here to give other patients anything to eat without the dietitian’s permission as some may be diabetic, hyperactive or have a compulsion to eat nonstop.

So Theresa left the box with the staff and by the time she remembered to save me one, they were all gone. Seems like a rule that’s definitely in the house’s favor. All the same, I didn’t miss or need it as we were looking forward to a romantic dinner that evening.


If you happen to be in Kona this Sunday, May 1, Theresa’s former clinic is holding a car wash fundraiser in conjunction with Village Burger of Waimea. It’s being held 10 a.m.-3 p.m. in the parking lot of the West Hawaii Community Health Center at 75-5751 Kuakini Hwy. That’s on the NE corner of Kuakini and Hualalai. Access is from Kalani Road behind McDonald’s but don’t stop there because the best burgers on the island will be cooked by Chef Edwin Goto and his team. Several of our friends from Mauna Lani will also be helping out so it will be a fun-filled day for all.

A big mahalo to everyone for their love and support.


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One Response to “Wang takes steps with only cane for support”

  1. Jim says:

    It’s great to hear of her progress. Good luck and keep the faith.


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