Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Radio Interview with Theresa in July, 2013

Aloha, Friends of Hulaterri

Theresa's interview aired this week on Hawaii Public Radio, where she discusses her life after brain injury, the support of our friends and care workers that made it possible, and her faith that continues to carry her through this life-changing turn of events.  Please take a few minutes to share in Theresa's own words the amazing discoveries she has made on her healing journey.

The interview will also be posted online at www.bigislandnewscenter.com, down on the right, for online listening or downloading, from Sunday, July 14 for about 8 weeks.  A big Mahalo! to Sherry Bracken for taking the time to interview Theresa as part of this series on brain injury rehabilitation.


Monday, June 11, 2012

Update from David - June 2012

Aloha to our Ohana,

It's been over six months since we last wrote and much has happened in the interim.  We continue to give thanks to our Lord for all that He has done for us and all others.  For those that follow Theresa's Facebook postings, some of this may be old news but for our non-FB friends, it is a refreshing year-in-review of the miraculous healing journey that follows Theresa's return home from the mainland rehab facilities that took such good care of her for the previous seven months.

The first few weeks back in Hawai'i saw a whirlwind of activity.  Our lives were kept busy with 1) setting up a schedule of therapy for Theresa at Hawaiian Rehabilitation Services in Kailua-Kona; 2) flying over to Honolulu for initial consultations with various medical specialists; and 3) getting to know and work with the two caregivers (Nancy & Pam) who would share in Theresa's in-home rehab.  With these plans in place, Theresa was able to maintain her PT, OT, speech & cognitive therapies with little to no lost time and continue what was started on the mainland.

And sure enough, the first few months at home saw some amazing progress in Theresa's healing.  She has improved to the point where a cane is no longer needed for walking around the house however she still prefers its security when venturing outdoors or on uneven terrain, or when she is fatigued.  Still, I can see by the way she swings the cane that one day, it will be retired to sit alongside her other no-longer-needed mobility devices, ready to be donated to someone else in need.  The one other mobility support that still sees occasional use is the Quickie wheelchair.  This custom-sized aid comes in handy for longer distances such as at Costco or at the airport where Theresa's walking stamina can be challenged.

This is not to say Theresa's healing journey has been without setbacks.  Every time she gets up out of a bed, chair, car, etc., I can see the effort she is expending and the grimace from her aches and pains is evident on her face.  Bless her heart, Theresa still gives it her best effort and even made a point to stop taking the oxycodone painkillers shortly after arriving home.  As she says, pain is a sign that she's alive and the last thing she needs is to deal with an addiction issue down the road.  That Theresa has come so far along continues to amaze me and those that see her.  It truly is a miracle and for that, we give thanks and praise to our Lord.
As alluded to already, one major side effect of a brain injury is the feeling of constant fatigue.  This symptom can and often does hinder Theresa's ability to get the full benefit out of her rehab therapies so we have begun the search to find some relief.  Both Western and Eastern medicine may hold the answer but for now, we are relying on the Western methods as they have taken us so far along this healing journey.  With the dearth of medical specialists where we live, it means frequent flights to Honolulu and e-mail consultations with those at the forefront of brain injury research on the mainland and even internationally.  That doesn't mean we're ignoring traditional Chinese medicine either as Theresa is having some success with accupuncture treatments for pain relief, improved circulation and activating the body's own healing mechanisms.  One other non-traditional healing technique she has learned is tapping, which is known to improve memory and reduce stress.

In November, Theresa underwent a sleep study at the Kona clinic of Sleep Center Hawai'i.  I had suggested this not only for Theresa's benefit but also for my own.  Since returning home, she was waking up every hour or two to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, although she really didn't need to.  Of course, this also affected my quality of sleep so there had to be a solution short of our sleeping in separate rooms.  Sure enough, the results of the overnight study as interpreted by Dr. Barthlen proved that Theresa was suffering from severe sleep apnea -- so in spite of what seemed to be almost twelve hours of sleep every night, Theresa never reached the deep sleep that all of us need in order to truly rest our brains and she was waking up exhausted.  A CPAP (constant positive air pressure) machine was prescribed and ever since, Theresa sleeps for almost eight hours uninterrupted, does not need to get up for bathroom breaks, and wakes up with more energy, as do I.  As a point of interest, we learned from Dr. Barthlen that sleep apnea can affect all age groups but their clinic has very few newly diagnosed patients in their mid-50s or older.  The reason for this is because by then, many severe sleep apnea sufferers will have already died from some cardiovascular event most likely caused by lack of proper sleep.  If this comment saves even one life, it will be worth it being mentioned here.  Get yourself to a sleep clinic if you regularly wake up exhausted after a full night's sleep.

In addition to resolving the sleep-induced fatigue symptoms, the Center for Neuro Skills (where Theresa stayed for almost four months in Bakersfield, California) recommended a test to measure Theresa's HGH or human growth hormone level.  Their cutting edge research has identified some recovering brain injury patients have lower than normal HGH levels.  As its name implies, HGH is responsible for growth in our childhood and adolescent years however it continues to be produced by the pituitary gland throughout our lifetime.  It's believed that a severe brain injury can damage the pituitary gland and result in lower HGH production.  This can lead to fatigue, memory loss, cognitive difficulties, muscle deterioration, weight gain and other symptoms usually associated with aging, and all of which Theresa was experiencing.  Sure enough, the lab results confirmed she was severely deficient in her HGH production so a trial program to boost the levels with daily injections was started.  After just two months, the results are amazing with Theresa's fatigue, endurance, and thinking abilities all showing noticeable improvement.

Just before Christmas, Theresa's healing had improved to the point where we felt it would be a good challenge to take a trip to Alberta, Canada, to visit friends and family but also to get an alternative medical outlook on her current treatment and rehab program.  It would be our first long distance flight since returning from California four months prior and Theresa did me proud by walking into the jumbo jet without any assistance.  On one flight, she even had to go all the way back to row 42 and did so with a spring in her step.  We're so grateful to our Lord for Theresa's healing progress and the chance to see faraway friends that have prayed for and supported us along the way.  The most frequent comment we heard was their amazement at how well Theresa was doing -- much better than expected and not just physically and mentally, but also spiritually.  That she can keep her optimism and positive attitude through all that has taken place is yet another gift of Grace.

For those that may not be aware, the Canadian healthcare system may seem to be "free" but that's in name only.  Canadians pay for their healthcare with an income tax level that's almost 30% higher than in the U.S. but even then, whenever something is free, there is always a catch.  In this case, it means a shortage of providers and equipment so the waiting list for non life-threatening diagnosis and treatment can stretch into the weeks or even months.  Suffering from a suspected torn knee ligament can mean being out of work for days or weeks until your MRI appointment time arrives.  Of course, if you're in a car accident and have severe bleeding in the brain, you'll get your MRI that same day -- it just means the knee sufferer is pushed even farther back.

With the shortage of publicly available medical technology in Canada, the art of medicine has taken a different practice style.  This means the patient is treated as a whole person rather than the sum of their symptoms and ailments.  Fortunately for us, Theresa has had about enough diagnostic imaging for two lifetimes so all we were looking for was a review and alternative opinion of her current rehab and treatment plan.  The basic diagnosis and review was that Theresa was receiving proper care for her ailments however the big picture revelation is that the injuries she sustained have aged her the equivalent of 30 to 40 years.  With this game-changing interpretation of her condition, the goal becomes a challenge of how to reverse the premature aging before it becomes a permanent condition.  As it turns out, we're already doing a lot of the right stuff including rehab therapy, HGH treatment, home exercise, etc.  What was recommended was the addition of some specific supplements to aid the brain healing process.  For each patient, the combination would be different but in Theresa's case, adding certain amino acids, cholines and other supplements to her diet would be beneficial.

One other noteworthy aspect of our visit (and I include this more as a reminder to myself) is that it's darn cold in Alberta in the winter!  When packing for the trip, Theresa's fleece shirts, pants, boots, gloves, etc. were all accounted for but what completely eluded me until we were at the gate at SFO awaiting the flight to Calgary was that I had forgotten to pack any clothes for myself other than socks and underwear.  So here we were, waiting for a flight to the great white north, and I was the only one at the gate wearing an aloha shirt and summer-weight silk dress pants.  Well thank goodness for modern conveniences as I was able to get off a text to my brother in Calgary to meet us at the airport with a coat & sweater.  With modern air travel, the ability to go from 80F to -20F in less than eight hours is an everyday occurrence.  But it wasn't until the plane descended through the cloud layer and made its approach that we realized we would be landing just minutes before the onset of a snowstorm.  Suffice to say that we made it through customs and immigration in record time, although the officer commented that most people fly SOUTH for the winter.  My brother Michael came through with some much needed warm clothing, and we arrived at the hotel before the snow made the roads impassable (at least to a transplanted islander that hasn't driven in winter much except for those three months in Colorado last year.)  With the storm upon us, the only prudent choices for dinner were pizza delivery or the in-hotel restaurant; so on our first night in Calgary, it was a Maritime meal of fish and poutine.  Thank you Dear Lord for getting us safely to visit family and friends.

The next morning, the storm had passed and left behind almost two feet of the white stuff.  As is usual in Alberta, the sun was again shining and lighting up the beautiful blue skies although there were now ice crystals in the air and a sheet of black ice under the snow.  The plan was to meet with Theresa's family for brunch but first we had to deal with the snow on the rental car.  This one had seen better days and even the ice scraper was missing three of its five teeth.  With the ground as slick as a skating rink, prudence suggested that Theresa stay in her wheelchair until the car was warmed up and the snow and ice were scraped off.  But rather than sit in the car and freeze her butt off, Theresa wanted to help so I put her to work brushing snow off the trunk.  From the looks of the photo, she had quite the job and she did it admirably!  All went well with the rest of our trip, including a few days in Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies.  Trust me, the mountains look so much prettier when you're curled up next to a roaring fireplace and not braving the sub-zero temps.

In February, we were contacted by one of the local TV stations asking to do an update story on Theresa's healing journey.  The reporter said that they had received several requests from viewers for a follow-up on Theresa so we were happy to share our wonderful story.  The timing worked out well with the TV crew filming Theresa at the rehab facility in Kona and then coming to our home in Waikoloa for an interview.  It also gave us the opportunity to mention the annual Brain Injury Conference that was scheduled for March in Honolulu.  Theresa has ongoing check-ups with various specialists so we planned them around the week of the conference.  There was especially good news from the visit with Dr. Mitsunaga, the orthopedic surgeon.  Diagnostic imaging showed Theresa's elbow has healed to the point where some of the hardware that held it together can be removed on a future visit, so she's looking forward to having better range of motion some day soon.

The other reason for being in Honolulu in March was that Theresa was invited to speak at the annual Brain Injury Conference.  In addition to all of the findings presented by the medical personnel, military, and others in the forefront of brain injury research, the organizers were looking for a speaker with a patient's point of view -- and who better to represent the patient than someone who has survived not one but two separate brain injury events these past three years.  Theresa was very excited to have this opportunity and spent some time at home preparing her talk.  We even did a trial run and timed it but she could only speak for about five minutes at most although the time alotted was half an hour.  What to do with the other 25 minutes?  We thought about it, then prayed on it, and an inspiration came to us.  Talk about the steps we took to arrive at this stage of Theresa's healing journey, and how the Lord has guided us along the way.  Once that seed of an idea was planted, the rest came naturally and sure enough, Theresa made a heart warming speech to a standing ovation.

If you're still reading at this stage, then we have a final story of inspiration to share.  In the past few months, Theresa along with her home caregiver Pam, have visited both the Kona Police and Fire Departments to thank them in person for their heroic efforts on that fateful day of November 19, 2010.  At the police department, Theresa saw for the first time the photos of just how badly damaged her car was.  We've heard it from the first responders before that they really did not expect to find anyone alive in that wreck.  Having seen the photos, Theresa and I know how truly blessed she was that day and ever since.  At the fire department, the rescuers replayed that day from their memories for Theresa and told her how her car had rolled so far off the road that their Jaws of Life could not reach it until they carried the generator into the lava field.  Even then, it took almost half an hour to cut the car apart and get her out.  Theresa's legs were so tightly wedged beneath the dash and they weren't sure how to extricate her, with time being of the essence due to her severe blood loss.  As it turned out, her legs were broken in just the right way so that they could get her out without spending more precious time ripping apart the dash.  But that wasn't the only miracle that day.  After Theresa was flown off to Waimea, the rescuers began to collect their gear but for some reason, the Jaws of Life would not retract.  It wasn't until the team returned to Kona that they discovered the generator had burned out its spark plug, but not before it had completed its job.  Theresa has no direct memory of that day however she does recall being in the presence of St. Michael, the Arch Angel, watching over her and lifting her up.  For this act of divine intervention among all of the other miracles that have taken place since, we give thanks to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.


David and Theresa

P.S.  We are back in Honolulu this week for the surgery to remove some hardware from Theresa's elbow.  Please join us in praying for a successful outcome on Tuesday morning.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Update from David - Home at Last

Aloha to our Ohana,
It's been just over two months since Theresa came home to Hawai'i and I must apologize for not providing an update to our Ohana sooner.  To say our time was occupied over the past 75 days is putting it lightly; Theresa's busy schedule so far has included the commencement of local rehab therapy, introductory and follow-up appointments with all forms of mainstream and alternative medicine practitioners in Kona, Waikoloa and Waimea, and multiple overnight or longer trips to Honolulu for visits with specialists, friends and others.  This is all in addition to becoming refamiliarized with home life after 8 1/2 months away.  This ongoing saga would certainly overwhelm most of us but not our dear Theresa, who continues to thrive from the healing powers of our Lord.
The day after our long journey home, Theresa was up bright and early (0500h to be exact) and raring to attend the early morning service at our Waikoloa Community Church.  Given the 3-hr difference from the West Coast, she was definitely ahead of her time so we leisurely enjoyed our first breakfast at home and then shared the West Hawaii Today Sunday Edition before heading out.  Arriving at church, Theresa made it clear that she wanted to walk rather than be wheeled in and so it was.  Holding her cane in one hand and my arm to steady herself in the other, she slowly made her way inside and down the aisle to the amazement and stunned silence of those who knew of our story.  Pastor Al and his wife Lynda were still in California however one of the church elders preparing the service stopped mid-sentence and came down to hug Theresa so tightly it was like she was the return of the prodigal son.  The reunion brought tears to many eyes that morning, not just because Theresa had come home alive and well, but because it was definitive proof that our merciful and loving God answers all prayers.
With the commencement of the work week, I prepared to return to my duties at Mauna Lani but not to worry, Theresa would be left in the capable hands of two home care aides (angels sent by our Lord), Nancy & Pam.  The plan was to split the week between them and take Theresa to rehab therapies and medical appointments locally.  They would provide for care, companionship and transportation needs while I was at the office, and it has worked out well these past two months.  Theresa's first week at Hawaiian Rehab Services was like a reunion of sorts, seeing that she had graduated from their therapies during her brain aneurysm recovery just two years before.  This time, it became quickly evident to the therapists that the level and duration of rehab therapy would need to be more intensive and prolonged, given Theresa's multiple fractures, spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries.  Still, the early reports are promising and reflect Theresa's strength of will to regain her independence one day.
On the path of this healing journey, we have been blessed to encounter many true healers that have made all of the difference in Theresa's remarkable progress thus far.  As life would have it, there have also been a few false ones along the way.  Perhaps it was only our experience with them that was tainted so I won't name any names, but hopefully those that make their money by taking advantage of the poor and sick know who they are.  We forgive their trespasses and will pray that they change their ways before it is too late.  For the true healers, we are truly thankful to our Lord for their skill and faith.  Some may wonder why I mention faith when it comes to the medical profession so here is my best example to date:
On our first trip to Honolulu for follow-up visits with some of the specialists, Theresa met with Dr. Mitsunaga, the orthopod that repaired her leg fractures on the day of the accident, and her arm and neck fractures ten days later.  To say he was elated to see Theresa standing in his office exam room is an understatement.  While I had met Dr. Mitsunaga briefly following six hours of emergency surgery that fateful Nov. 19, and again after the successful repairs to her neck and arms, I never learned the true extent of Theresa's condition until now.  When she arrived at Queen's Trauma Center, Theresa had already gone through 4 liters of blood transfusions on the flight over (our bodies only contain 5 liters) and it was deemed by the trauma team that she was unlikely to survive the night.  But rather than give up, Dr. Mitsunaga went ahead with the leg repairs as the trauma surgeons worked to stabilize Theresa's condition; because in his words "if she doesn't survive, all I've lost is six hours of my time, but if she does survive and I didn't do the surgery, she will still have multiple broken bones to deal with later."  Now nine months later, the smile and expression of happiness on his face only confirmed the rightness of his decision.  This act of faith not only saved Theresa's life but also serves as proof that even when the odds are against us, if we have faith, the Lord will provide.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Update from David

Aloha to our Ohana,

Continuing with Theresa's last week in California, the final few days turned out
to be more hectic than I expected.  On Wednesday, the original therapy schedule
called for more PT, OT, cognitive rehab, education and counseling however this
was replaced by a last-minute appointment with the neuro-optometrist in Santa
Clarita.  At the previous visit, not all of the visual assessments were finished
so this trip would complete the testing.  Theresa also needed to pick up and be
fitted for her new reading glasses with built-in prisms to keep her eyes
tracking on the same line.  Anticipating another two hour crossing of the Tejon
Pass to reach the Greater Los Angeles area, we started out early by fueling up
at Chick-Fil-A, taking advantage of their "chicken for breakfast" promotion.
Properly supplied, we dropped by the hotel to pick up Nancy, one of the home
care providers that was here to train with Theresa.  Traffic was steady but we
took advantage of some openings and the brave little Escape threaded its way
between the big rigs with surprising vigor.  About halfway there, a white Mini
with a black roof zoomed past on one of the downhills so that became our rabbit
for the chase, getting us to Valencia in record time (at least a new record for

Arriving at the clinic earlier than planned, Theresa sat down in the waiting
room to work on her favorite Sudoku puzzle in the Bakersfield Californian paper.
It's a good thing we did get there quickly because the doctor was just finishing
up with the current patient and could take Theresa in a few minutes.  This final
series of tests measured the eye to brain connection and there is definitely
some noticeable deficit.  For example, when instructed to draw circles on a
whiteboard using both hands at the same time, the left side always lags behind
the right.  Also, it was previously noted that Theresa's left eye does not
converge with the right eye when staring at a pen brought closer and closer to
the nose, so that was another reason for the specialized reading glasses.  Once
fitted properly, Theresa's eyes opened wide as she passed the reading test with
flying colors, able to track sentences without wavering.  An assortment of other
eye/brain coordination exercises were taught to us for home practice and then we
said our farewell to Dr. Garbus and his wife.  They are a dedicated pair and we
are truly thankful to our Lord for placing these healing angels along Theresa's
healing journey.

In addition to the specialist appointment and picking up her glasses, Theresa's
other agenda was to have lunch at Dink's, a Jewish deli with a reputation for
the best matzo ball soup and piled-high pastrami sandwiches in the valley.  Sure
enough, the food was delicious and even the half-soup/sandwich specials were
sufficient to feed most of the lunchtime crowd.  My mistake was to try the BLT
that in no fault of Dink's (with such a name, I had to use it more than once)
was just as it should be, a bacon-lettuce-tomato sandwich.  A take-out pastrami
on rye order quickly rectified the error and kept the Escape smelling of
Schwartz's deli in Montreal (another favorite of Theresa's) for the return run
to Bakersfield.  One more errand to complete before returning to the CNS
residence was pick up a new cane of her own.  The one that Theresa used in PT
has seen better days so we dropped by the home healthcare supply shop to select
one.  Who would believe that there are several styles of walking canes and
they come in a multitude of colors and patterns?  After trying out a few,
Theresa chose a plain black one with an ergonomic palm grip that fit her hand
well.  To think, just a short few months ago in Denver, we were flipping through
a wheelchair catalogue and now Theresa is graduating to a cane, it truly is
another sign of the incredible healing powers of God.

Thursday was Theresa's graduation day from the Center for Neuro Skills, after
being admitted almost four months ago on March 30.  In all of that day's therapy
sessions, Theresa received lots of homework, training tips, hugs and
congratulations.  In some cases, tears flowed freely from Theresa, her
therapists and the other patients -- one CNS staffer even described Theresa's
spirit as angel-like, saying her presence would be sorely missed.  In
place of the final PT session that afternoon, we were shown the results of
Theresa's recent brain MRI and the interpretation of those findings.  The images
clearly showed the damage to certain regions of the brain, including those
responsible for coordination & balance, short term memory, attention, problem
solving, and the sending of visual cues from the eyes to the brain.  In spite of
these tremendous deficits, Theresa's outward appearance is that of someone
perhaps suffering from a mild case of jetlag.  We know that the brain is elastic
and it is constantly repairing and rewiring itself.  In that way, Theresa is
improving daily and with her conscientious efforts to challenge herself, I know
that our prayers are being answered.  Not to miss out due to the MRI
presentation, Sara the PT found Theresa for the final 15 minutes and made her do
one more series of stair step and getting up off the floor maneuvers.  When the
end of the day finally came, we said our farewells to the CNS Clinic and Theresa
walked out to the cheers and applause of the staff and patients.  Our heartfelt
thanks go to Zenobia, Kathy, Sara, Marty, Paul, Katie, Alison, Stephanie, Megan,
Robin, Patricia, Darlene, Lynda, Candy, Maria, Violetta, Drs. Ashley, Helvie,
Newbrough, Edwards and a host of others for their caring efforts to make
Theresa's stay at CNS a success.

While the day was over as far as the CNS Clinic was concerned, we still had to
return to the residence and finish packing before the 3-hr drive to Riverside
County that evening.  Being away from home for over eight months, Theresa has
collected a huge amount of clothing and accessories, not surprising considering
this healing journey took her from Honolulu to -20F Denver in January to +108F
in Bakersfield.  And this doesn't even account for all of the get-well cards,
gifts, household items and other such things accumulated over this timespan.  In
all, it took us almost three hours to whittle it down to four pieces of checked
baggage but that included several breaks for farewell visits from rehab aides,
staff and other patients wishing Theresa their best.  Both Theresa and I found
it touching that these people working through their own challenges (a lifetime's
worth in some cases) could care for and bond with someone that was only here for
four months.  Theresa tells me that she has had dreams of St. Michael, the arch
angel, being there to rescue her at the accident scene, and to watch over her
during this healing journey.  Perhaps Theresa's positive attitude and spirit
have done the same for those whose lives she has touched at CNS.  For this, we
are again in awe and praise of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

With all of Theresa's worldly belongings safely tucked into the Escape, we left
behind a few shopping bags worth of Trader Joe's groceries and clothing that the
rehab aides will no doubt appreciate, although I'm not sure if anyone is brave
enough to try the pesto-encrusted halibut.  The mini ice-cream cones were no
doubt a hit and probably disappeared before we pulled out of the complex one
last time.  Venturing into unfamiliar territory, it was assuring to program the
GPS to prudently avoid the heart of central L.A. on the way to the Holiday Inn
Express in Temecula.  Truck traffic was surpringly heavy on Interstate 5 and
remained that way for the first hour as the GPS regularly updated the estimated
time of arrival, adding minutes to the clock.  Leaving behind the 97F heat of
the Central Valley at 2000h, we climbed once again through the mountain pass but
at this late hour, there were no rabbits to chase so it was a slow and steady
course the GPS charted.  Finally breaking from the I-5 and heading east on the
210, there was room to stretch the Escape's legs, which was rewarded with a
reduced time on arrival.  I don't know what the record is between Bakersfield
and Temecula but it took only 2h40m until we checked in that evening.  With the
late arrival, I asked for but didn't expect a handicap-accessible room and sure
enough, all were occupied.  The apologetic front desk agent tried to explain
that a firefighter convention was in town so they took all of the handicap
rooms -- if someone can see the connection between the two, please let us know?
In any case, our room was well equipped with grab bars in the tub/shower and
suited our needs just fine.  A raised toilet would have been nice but that just
gave Theresa the opportunity to further practice her squat & stands.

The day of the wedding, we awoke early and enjoyed the HIE complimentary
breakfast that included eggs, sausage, make-it-yourself waffles and the regular
continental assortment.  A phone call to Rylie Ai-Lin's family let us know that
Mom along with all six of the daughters were out for hair, make-up and whatever
else girls do to prepare for the wedding day.  So we dropped by their house with
the wedding gift plus a special little one for Rylie Ai-Lin, and spent a couple
of hours visiting with the "men of the household" that comprised of Dad and his
seven sons.  When we arrived, everyone was lounging around in casual clothes and
it was nice to visit and catch up with all of them.  Still I can't help thinking
it's somewhat unfair that guys can prepare for a wedding in under an hour while
it takes the gals much of the day; but then the guys probably pay that back over
the remainder of their lives  -- I plan to offer no further explanation for that

When we called the nearby Chinese restaurant for take-out, the pause on the
other end of the line was clearly evident.  Who orders dinner for 10 at 1100am?
It was no surprise that they made us pay in advance and true to their word, the
food was mostly ready and packed by the time we got there.  Theresa insisted on
coming into the restaurant to assist and sure enough, with cane in one hand, she
carried out some of the food in the other.  After lunch, Theresa and I returned
to the hotel for a much needed rest before the evening's festivities.  I'd
planned on our napping for a couple of hours but Theresa was so exhausted from
the previous day (if not the past two years) that she fell asleep without even
removing her shoes.  Gently awakening her in time for the ceremony, I watched as
Theresa dolled up and put on the lovely dress she'd picked up on a shopping
outing the previous week.  Her original plan called for me to bring her favorite
Taryn Rose ballet shoes to complement the outfit but her still-healing ankle
couldn't support even the 1" heel without wobbling so we went to the wedding
with her "dress Asics" runners instead, and I don't think anyone even noticed.

There are two Douglas streets near Temecula and the up-until-now trusty GPS
directed us to the wrong one, a new gated community with no way to enter and no
sign of a wedding anywhere.  After fruitlessly trying to figure out a solution
and with the ceremony scheduled to start shortly, Theresa and I said a prayer to
our Lord and within a few minutes, an answer arrived in the form of an online
search.  While the various mapping programs, Yahoo, Google, Mapquest, all
offered the same wrong directions as the GPS, I found an obscure reference to a
second Douglass street with two "s" and sure enough, this led us to the right
location.  Finding parking was another issue but suffice to say, we arrived in
time for the most important part of the ceremony and are thankful to our Lord
for guiding us there safely and on His schedule.

It was a wonderful ceremony and reception and we made some new friends as well
as met old acquaintances.  Occasionally, we would get fleeting glimpses of
Ai-Lin and I sometimes caught her looking at us from a distance.  I knew she
would be initially shy and as the night wore on, might come over to visit.  We
were willing to wait and if it didn't happen, then it was not meant to be.  In
the meantime, one guest sharing our table listened to Theresa intently as she
described her healing journey from the aneurysm to the accident to now.  It
turns out this guest's sister very recently suffered a brain aneurysm and is
currently back home after checking herself out of the hospital.  Theresa
impressed upon this new friend how important it is for her sister to get proper
rehab therapy right now and we will pray that she does.  The friend thanked
Theresa profusely and said it was an act of providence that the Lord allowed
them to share the table and our experiences.

Following dinner, Ai-Lin came to our table accompanied by her Mom.  After
updating us on Ai-Lin's promising progress in the past year, Mom went off to
attend to "Mother of the Bride" duties and Ai-Lin moved onto Theresa's lap.
There was silence for a few moments and then Ai-Lin noticed the surgical scars
on Theresa's legs and commented "you have an ouwee?"  Theresa tried to explain
but it was probably beyond a 5-yr-old's understanding so Ai-Lin's next comment
was "do you want a bandage?"  That simple offer of compassion warmed my heart
and I'm sure it did the same for Theresa.  Thank you, Lord for giving us this
sign that we made the right decision to place Ai-Lin in the family that she was
meant for.  While we love her dearly, she is where she needs to be and for that
we will always be grateful for His guidance and wisdom.  Ai-Lin stayed with us
for the remainder of our time there, transferring over to my lap once Theresa's
legs became too sore to hold her weight.  Ai-Lin didn't say too much and just
held on tightly, wrapping her little legs around my calf to keep from sliding
off.  When Theresa became fatigued and needed to rest, we let Ai-Lin know that
we would be going soon.  She asked if we're returning to Hawai'i, and then if
she could come along too.  I explained that one day when she was older, maybe
she could come visit Hawai'i with her family.  Perhaps that was not the answer
she was looking for so when we finally stood up, she ran off to be held by
another guest.  Ai-Lin has her own healing journey and we continue to pray that
she is guided in the footsteps of our Heavenly Father.  We then offered our
congratulations to the bride & groom and bid farewell to Pastor Al and Lynda
before heading back to the HIE for a few hours rest before the early morning
drive to LAX.

The 0400h wake-up call jarred me to attention while Theresa continued her
blissful rest.  Consolidating our belongings into four checked bags while doing
my best circus weight guesser impression, I hoped none were over the dreaded 50
lb limit.  By the time I was back from loading the Escape, Theresa was up and
getting ready.  I continue to marvel at her improving planning skills and
flexibility, this morning demonstrated by the TED anti-embolism stockings she
was putting on in preparation for the 2-hr drive and 6-hr flight.  The Saturday
morning traffic to the airport was light by L.A. standards until arriving at LAX
itself.  Then it became an uncoordinated dance to cross five lanes of traffic
and get to the curbside check-in location.  Assistance arrived in the form of a
friendly & helpful porter who took our bags, weighed them (one was at 50.7 lbs,
whew!), got our boarding passes, and even offered to keep an eye on Theresa
while I returned the rental car.

Due to my unfamiliarity with the rental car return lot and delays on the
shuttle, it took almost 30 minutes to return to the airport.  Theresa did
amazingly well by herself, even phoning me from inside the terminal when it
became too hectic for her to continue waiting at the curbside.  Upon rejoining
my beautiful bride in her wheelchair, we were directed to the priority access
security line, another blessing compared to the 45-min wait otherwise.  As a
bonus, the TSA's cancer scanner (backscatter radiation imaging -- known to cause
cellular defects with prolonged exposure) was down, not that Theresa needed any
more nuking after the dozens of CT scans and x-rays in the recent past.
Arriving at the gate, I noticed that our seats were no longer together as
originally booked.  It turns out that seats 8D&E are considered exit row even
though that row ends in a window, so Theresa was moved back to 12D.  Because the
flight was almost full, the gate agent couldn't swap me to 12E without the
approval of the current passenger who wasn't in the gate area yet.  But after
preboarding, the nice flight attendant made it her mission to seat me beside
Theresa and she eventually was able to do so with a 4-way seat swap involving 8E
to 8A to 13C to 12E.  Being able to sit next to my wife on her flight home is
yet another miracle and a small prayer of thanks was offered.  The surprises did
not end there for when the food cart came around and Theresa chose the turkey
bagel sandwich, the flight attendant said "Welcome Home, your meal is being
covered by the agent in Kona"

The remainder of the flight went smoothly and Theresa slept through, only waking
when the lap baby in front peeked over his father and made noise.  It still
confounds me that all carry-on baggage needs to be stowed for take-off and
landing in case it becomes a projectile during an emergency, but a 15-30 lb lap
baby is somehow exempt from the laws of physics.  Fortunately, no such emergency
occurred and the landing was safe if rather bumpy.  After everyone else
deplaned, the service person and I strapped Theresa into the narrow aisle
wheelchair and took the lift down to the tarmac.  There, I set up our own
wheelchair and Theresa happily transferred over.  A quick restroom break later,
we went through the exit door to a greeting of cheers and applause from over a
dozen well wishers including family, friends, co-workers, hula sisters, church
members and several print & media reporters.  In spite of the long travel day
that began at 0100h Hawaii time, Theresa felt alive so close to the ocean and had the energy to interview with some of the reporters.
Cousin Darien,  her husband Darrin and their three keiki accompanied us home.  Theresa was lively and talkative on the drive to Waikoloa, taking in the broad vistas of sea to summits and talking up a storm with Darien.  Upon arriving home, my first thought was to get the wheelchair set up since Theresa must be exhausted after the combined twelve hours of traveling.  Instead, she got up out of the van holding her cane and proceeded to walk through the garage and into the house all by herself.  Once inside, I followed her all the way to our bedroom where she put her hand on the fresh sheets that Darien had arranged for.  Theresa then turned to me and said "I'm taking a nap!" following which she got into bed and slept for the next four hours.  After almost 8 1/2 months away, Theresa was finally home; thanks to the prayers and support of our Ohana near and far; to the skilled healers in Hawai'i, Colorado and California; and most of all to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

P.S.  Here is a sampling of the local news accounts of Theresa's triumphant return to Hawai'i:
Dr. Theresa Wang comes home
Greeted by friends, family and flower lei, Doctor Theresa Wang was given a ... Police say an SUV with Colt Brennan and his girlfriend Shatki Stream as the ... http://www.khon2.com/news/local/story/Dr-Theresa-Wang-comes-home/J8SMnnLF4EGsKvYu3_VbkA.cspx
Theresa Wang Speaks About Nearly Fatal Crash
Theresa Wang says she's still in pain, eight and a half months after the ... the car being driven by Colt Brennan's girlfriend Shakti Stream crossed the ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JXCCMF89OqM

Wang has a happy homecoming
Hawaii 24/7
Theresa Wang greets the friends she hasn't seen in nearly nine months. ... The couple said they don't have bad feelings toward Stream or Brennan. ... http://www.hawaii247.com/2011/07/31/wang-has-a-happy-homecoming/

Kona Dr. Returns Home 8 Months After Auto Crash
KITV Honolulu
HONOLULU -- Dr. Theresa Wang arrived home in Kona Saturday after spending the ... University of Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan's girlfriend, Shakti Stream. ...  http://www.kitv.com/news/28719251/detail.html 
VIDEO: Dr. Theresa Wang returns to Hawaii after car crash
Big Island Video News
Dr. Theresa Wang made her return to Kona on Saturday, 8 months after a ... Brennan was also in the car. Wang – who today seems to be in high spirits ... http://www.bigislandvideonews.com/2011/08/01/video-dr-theresa-wang-returns-to-hawaii-after-car-crash/
Crash victim, husband ready to rest after a long recovery
Honolulu Star-Advertiser
... Dr. Theresa Wang and husband David Chen are embarking on a personal odyssey of ... girlfriend of former University of Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan, ...  http://www.staradvertiser.com/news/hawaiinews/20110801_Crash_victim_husband_ready_to_rest_after_a_long_recovery.html

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A letter from Darien

Dear friends and neighbors of David and Theresa,

My name is Darien Gee and I am David's second cousin. As many of you know, Theresa came home on Saturday and we're so grateful that she is back on island and at home with David.

Since Theresa's accident last November, many of you have asked how you can help. Because David is working and Theresa is still on the road to recovery, I know the gift of a meal would be a huge help to the Chens. A home-cooked meal or one that is given by a friend is a huge comfort and always much appreciated.

Beginning Monday, August 8, we are asking anyone who is able to leave a meal or contribute towards a meal to please look at the dates below and send me an email. If you prefer not to cook and would like to make a donation, that would also be appreciated. The link for that is here:   http://tinyurl.com/3fe2nuu
In order to assist with the meal coordination, we are using mealTrain which will let you schedule your own drop-offs (and change them if necessary), provide directions, send you an email reminder the day before, and so on. Here is the information you need to get started:
- Schedule a meal drop off by clicking here:

- The schedule is open from now until the end of the year

- The meal just needs to be enough for two adults and should be able to be frozen

- You don't need to make anything special; simple is sometimes best and David and Theresa are grateful for however you can help!

- If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at geeohana@yahoo.com or call (808) 938-4466

with thanks,

Monday, August 1, 2011

Update from David

Aloha to our Ohana,
This past week at the Center for Neuro Skills in Bakersfield, CA was devoted to last-minute testing and preparing for Theresa's planned discharge date near the end of the month.  Since our plan was to fly home from Los Angeles rather than Bakersfield, the red-eye from Kona only took me as far as LAX where a rental car was booked for the drive to CNS.  Landing at the uncivilized time of 0450h, I waited for the Avis shuttle in the surprisingly chilly predawn hours and noted how wheelchair unfriendly the LAX airport is for moving between the various bus stop islands.  The support columns at the islands are so wide there isn't enough room for a wheelchair (or even a large suitcase) to pass without one wheel falling off the curb.  To get from the hotel shuttle stop to the rental car stop involves crossing traffic to return to the terminal curbside, wheeling ahead 100 ft (30M) and then crossing traffic again.  Fortunately, Theresa will only be with me for the return trip so this did not pose an issue.  Arriving at the rental desk, the agent perfunctorily offered the full coverage insurance, followed by the damage waiver, followed by the fueling option, and finally an upsell to a larger vehicle, all of which I declined.  Coincidentally, the assigned vehicle was a Ford Escape which is entirely fitting for Theresa's return home.
Leaving the rental car lot and merging on the near empty six lane 405 freeway at 0500h on a Saturday was a surreal experience, similar to those end-of-days scenes in future apocalypse films.  As the sun rose, traffic started to pick up and by the time I passed the Magic Mountain parkway, there was sufficient vehicle volume to make the drive through the Tejon Pass at least semi-challenging.  Descending into the Central Valley, the temperature was already in the mid-90s at 0700h, well on the way to the forecasted 103F (39C) for that weekend.  For this final visit, I foregoed staying at the usual Ramada Limited Suites and drove straight to the CNS residence.  There, Theresa greeted me with a kiss and some perfectly seasoned scrambled eggs that I devoured in less time than it likely took to make them.  While this would be our final week here, Theresa still needed to attend to grocery shopping so off we went to the now familiar Trader Joe's.  The big difference compared to last week was that the physical therapist had assigned a no-wheelchair trip as homework so for the first time in over six months, Theresa left behind her wheels.
Using the shopping cart as support, Theresa walked through the store picking up old favorites and from the higher vantage point, noticed a few new items that she'd missed before.  Those extra steps and standing meant Theresa was on her feet for over 40 minutes so by the time we reached the checkout counter, her legs were about ready to give out.  Quickly, I found a chair so she could take a break while the cashier rang up the total.  With the near collapse averted, it only took a few minutes for Theresa to recover before standing again and helping to push the full cart to the far end of the lot where we'd parked.  For whatever reason, the handicap parking spots always seem to be taken up in Bakersfield, as if everyone and their dog have a pass.  We've even seen Porsche and Corvette drivers pull into these stalls, hang up their placard and walk or in one case, even run into the shop without difficulty.  Maybe their handicap is invisible or they're having a good day so perhaps I shouldn't judge.  Our Lord tells us to forgive others so we do so giving Him full praise for allowing Theresa to walk so far in so short a time.
After dropping off the groceries at the residence, Theresa told me that she needed to pick up a few more supplies for a potluck BBQ she and another patient, Cory, were planning for Sunday.  This being our last weekend at CNS, Theresa's original idea was to buy a Target gift card using a cash gift she'd received from a fellow church member back in Waikoloa.  This gift card would be placed in a drawing for all of the rehab aides, Theresa's way of thanking them for their kindness and support these past four months.  The aides were excited but word got around to CNS management and they let Theresa know it was against their rules to give gifts to the staff so instead, the idea for a potluck BBQ was born.  Theresa intended to use the cash gift to buy food to treat the aides so off we went to Costco.  Rather than doing the predictable and just buying some pizzas, we decided on a tube steakfest and returned with Costco's famous hotdogs & Polish sausages, buns, salad ingredients and pies aplenty.  The BBQ became a sensation and not only did the aides come by on their breaks but some patients had heard about Theresa's potluck (Cory had dropped out due to the heat) and brought their own food to cook.  Unfortunately, most of them weren't cleared to use the grill so yours truly was drafted to the position of grillmaster this day.  Too bad I didn't have my chef uniform handy as it would have saved my shirt from all of the grease splatter and some of the heat.  On the positive side (and there's always a silver lining if you look hard enough) I learned that when it's 108F (42C) in the shade, BBQ meat cooks really fast even when the burners are on low.  After three hours of hotline duty, everyone's food was cooked and there was lots of leftovers to take away.  One of the aides thanked me profusely and said this was the first time she could ever recall a patient hosting an event for the staff.  As Theresa's colleagues from her clinic in Wisconsin will attest, she plans wonderful parties (including her own farewell lu'au) and I am truly thankful to our Heavenly Father that Theresa has not lost this gift.
What would be Theresa's last week at the CNS clinic started with the usual therapies of PT where she was challenged with speed-walking, sidestepping, stairs, and getting up off the floor; CR where Theresa read passages from Ivanhoe and then answered questions; and OT where Theresa made a salad and minestrone soup for 30 using a knock-off Olive Garden recipe downloaded from the net.  That she was able to plan and execute that meal in the alotted time, and make it delicious to boot, means she has a bright future on Master Chef if her career in medicine doesn't work out.  The next day, Nancy, one of the homecare providers that our Lord has graced us with, arrived at the clinic for three days of intensive training to learn Theresa's therapy routine at CNS and to support her back home.  The therapists were excited to meet Nancy and devoted a good deal of time showing her how they train and encourage Theresa to succeed.  The PT also noticed that Theresa is rolling her right ankle (the one that was operated on twice) on uneven terrain so a last-minute visit to an orthotics specialist led to a wedge under the heel and a removable ankle splint for improved stability.  With much of these fine tunings and followup appointments out of the way, we could look forward to a relaxing couple of days before heading out.  It continues to amaze and endear us that all has gone so well with Theresa's healing journey and for that we offer praise to our Lord.
To be continued next week....

Monday, July 25, 2011

Update from David

Aloha to our Ohana,

A few weeks have gone by since the last update and we're truly thankful to our
Lord for all of the good news He has blessed us with since then.  Theresa has
called almost daily to chat and provide updates on her progress.  She's started
to walk/jog in the pool recently and finds that to be less tiring than walking
on the treadmill.  Theresa says she would much rather be swimming in the warm
waters off the Kohala Coast, however that will follow in due time.  I do sense a
note of frustration in Theresa's voice on occasion but who among us wouldn't
feel the same after spending over eight months in hospitals and rehab facilities
far away from home.  That she is able to maintain her positive outlook and
encourage others since before she could even remember doing so (because of her
post traumatic amnesia) is a testimony to the healing powers of our Lord.

Bakersfield was in a prolonged heatwave for the last few weeks with temperatures
soaring as high as 109F (43C) so it greatly limited Theresa's outdoor activity
time.  Her therapies at the rehab clinic continue to improve her strength,
endurance, dexterity and cognition, and when she is back at the residence,
Theresa tries to stay cool by reading, writing to friends, and even coming up
with new cooking ideas.  A few days ago, she called to say the recipe for a
Moroccan-style chicken dish turned out so well, she froze some for me to enjoy.
Over the Independence Day weekend, the CNS residence held an afternoon potluck
dinner and one of Theresa's contributions was a tray of cupcakes with
alternating red/white/blue frosting.  For whatever reason, only the blue
cupcakes were taken so Theresa in her own inimitable way, rearranged the red &
white ones to form a stylized flag of Canada.  Since there's no celebrating
Canada Day down here, I think that was Theresa's way to do so; always creative
and a little mischevous at the same time, that's what I love about her.

In early July, my return trip to see Theresa took a different tack as this was
the first time using the Priceline.com service to bid for a ticket.  With the
next treatment conference scheduled for the upcoming week and quoted airfares
stubbornly staying in the $1200 range, I figured what harm could there be since
Priceline guarantees a 1-stop connection and layovers of 3 hours or less.  Well,
after bidding and winning a $580 ticket, the itinerary turned out fine with one
caveat -- the puddle jumper to Bakersfield wasn't scheduled to arrive until
2359h, but the car rental desk closed at 2330h.  While waiting for the late
connection at LAX, I phoned the car rental agency and explained the situation.
The nice lady said not to worry as they're familiar with that late arriving
flight and would wait until 0015h.  Praise the Lord, the flight came in on time
and I made it to the rental counter by 10 after midnight.  In my luggage was a
bag of chocolate macadamia nuts intended for the rehab clinic staff that I
gratefully offered to the rental agent.  With both of us happy, it was off
to the hotel for a few hours rest before the busy day ahead.

Fighting off the jet lag, I arrived at the CNS clinic early the next morning to
find Theresa in the dark, literally.  She was attending occupational therapy in
the darkened Dynavision room, being retested for her peripheral vision and
ability to read numbers flashed for less than 1/4th of a second.  These
results showed some improvement in Theresa's recognition and reaction times
compared to two months ago.  At PT, Theresa walked on the treadmill up to 30
minutes at 1.5mph, almost twice the speed and endurance from a month ago.
However when free walking with a cane, Theresa seems somewhat tentative and takes steps more deliberately and thus slower.  Following the group counseling session (that I
didn't attend), we wheeled over to the nearby shopping center and enjoyed lunch
at El Pollo Loco, a Mexican fast food chain known for their chicken.  Aside from
a street vendor in Tulum, this is the tastiest citrus grilled chicken we've ever
had.  While foodies may deem it the Mexican equivalent of KFC, our motto is if
it tastes good and is semi-healthy, what's not to like?

The afternoon rehab sessions went quickly, which was good because it was plain
to see Theresa was tiring out and about ready to call it a week.  Plus, CNS
planned for Theresa to spend the upcoming weekend with me at the hotel so I
could assess her abilities and let them know which areas to concentrate on over
her remaining time here.  But before our romantic rendezvous could start,
Theresa had previously booked the Friday evening dinner outing to Red Lobster.
Now those of our friends that know us well are aware that I'm seriously allergic
to certain shellfish (and beer & wine) so dining at RL is akin to someone with a
nut allergy taking a tour of Planters.  I judiciously chose tilapia, the safest
seafood item on the menu while Theresa went all out and ordered a dozen raw
oysters for the more daring among us.  Some of the rehab aides have never tried this
delicacy so it was a surprise when several of them indulged, leaving just a
couple to whet Theresa's appetite as she waited for her main course.  When the
whole Maine lobster platter arrived, it was a sight to behold as Theresa dove
in methodically, doing her occupational therapist proud with her improved hand
dexterity.  It brought back the memory of our first road trip together in 1992,
when at the Sooke Harbour House on Vancouver Island, I learned that when it
comes to eating whole lobster, Theresa has few equals.

The next morning, Theresa met me for her weekly grocery outing at Trader Joe's where the improvement from our first outing in April was entirely evident.  This Saturday, Theresa was focused and determined and knew the store intimately well, wheeling herself directly to the aisles and shelves to get what she needed, plus a coffee and food sample as a reward for a shopping experience well-handled.  It's too bad there isn't a TJ's back home but I'm sure the vendors at the Waimea Farmers' Market will welcome Theresa back with their own special Aloha.  Dropping off the groceries at her apartment, Theresa organized and packed a weekend bag by herself before we headed off to my hotel room.  On the way, she wanted to stop at Target for a few toiletries and while there, we checked the registry for an upcoming wedding to which we're invited.  This is the wedding of the oldest child of the family that readopted our daughter Rylie Ai-Lin and because it is being held only three hours from here, we fully intend to be there to celebrate their happiness.  That our Lord has blessed us with this wondrous opportunity on our healing journey is yet another miracle for which we offer our praise and gratitude.
After arriving at the hotel room, I helped Theresa to unpack as she checked out the bathroom.  Women (at least ones I've known) seem to do that often, never really concerned about the bed, the TV or even the view as long as the bathroom suits their needs.  Apparently, it met with her approval because following a light dinner, Theresa announced that she wanted to take a bath.  I didn't think much of it until I fully appreciated what she was asking.  Instead of sitting on a bath chair and using a handheld showerhead, she wanted to soak in the tub up to her neck.  After considering the logistics for a bit, I helped Theresa sit down in the tub and then added foaming soap as the water level rose.  She luxuriated in the warm bubbly bathwater and the look of satisfaction on her face brought tears to my eyes.  It was only then I realized the importance of this day, the first time Theresa has enjoyed a soaking bath in over eight months.  Getting out of the tub took a little more ingenuity on both our parts but in the end, it was worth all we've been through to get to this point.

The remainder of the weekend was also a revelation as Theresa pretty much cared for herself, bathing, dressing, taking her meds on time, getting breakfast in the lobby, and making it through the night uninterrupted.  We also took in the movie Super 8 and Theresa stayed alert and engaged throughout, thoroughly enjoying the show.  This is a big improvement compared to when we viewed X-Men a couple of months ago where she felt the need to leave halfway through due to fatigue & overstimulation.  Returning to the CNS residence on Sunday evening on the heel of this successful trial, we kissed good night and looked ahead to the update conference the next day.
At the treatment conference, Theresa's various rehab therapists presented updates on her progress with no real surprises.  There is marked improvement in some areas with deficits still noted in others and although Theresa has benefited much from the specialized treatment at CNS these past four months, it's time for her rehab to take the next step.  That will mean progressing back home to a truly independent living environment so with this goal in mind, a tentative discharge date was set for the end of July (is that cheering I hear from our Ohana?)  In preparation for her long anticipated return home (where there are far fewer brain injury rehab services), the discharge planning will involve contacting resources in Hawaii as well as seeing a number of neuro specialists in the Los Angeles area over the next two weeks.  CNS highly recommended that I accompany Theresa to these appointments in case there were questions she or her aide couldn't answer, so what was originally a short 4-day kiss & fly trip grew into an extended 2-week whirlwind of further testing & specialist consultations.
Over the next 10 days, we drove to Valencia, Northridge and other points on the compass to see a neuro-optometrist, a neuro-psychiatrist, an orthopedic surgeon, a neurologist, a neuro-psychologist, a neuro-neurologist (just kidding) and even a few imaging facilities for CT angiography, MRI and plain old x-rays.  In cases such as with the neuro-optometrist, the diagnosis was very pertinent to Theresa's complaints.  It was mentioned previously that Theresa walks well on the treadmill but not so freestyle.  After testing her eyes and adding prisms to her glasses, Theresa was able to better converge the views from both eyes, improving her vision and balance.  It really is amazing how the interaction between our eyes and brain are so important to walking and we are truly thankful to our Lord for guiding us towards these healers.

The next day, another two hour slog on the Los Angeles freeway system led to 
a visit with a neuro-psychiatrist who prescribed a change in medication,
schedule, and dosage to combat Theresa's mid-morning fatigue.  Later on at the orthopod,
it was discovered that the ongoing pain in the left knee is due to a previously
undiagnosed meniscal tear, which will require a followup consult and
arthroscopic surgery back home.  This was also Theresa's first opportunity to
see detailed images of the wide assortment of rods, pins, plates and screws in
her neck and other extremities.  Her off-the-cuff comment was "no wonder I ache
all over after PT!"  On a positive note, the orthopod noted that the majority of
the fractures are healing well and perhaps in 6-12 months, we should consider
having some of the supporting hardware removed.  With additional appointments
scheduled following my return to Kona, I pray a solution will be found for
Theresa's continued inability to flex the toes on her right foot along with the
sensation there of constant tingling.  Up until the day I had to leave, Theresa was
still undergoing intensive neuropsychological testing, which will provide a good
baseline measurement when she is reassessed in a year or so.
With all of this going on, I still needed to return home to make arrangements for Theresa's eventual care in Hawaii.  My return ticket was pretty much useless as the change fees and fare differential would have amounted to over $800.  Then inspiration struck and I found a $238 one-way flight from San Jose to Kona on Alaska Airlines.  Bidding Theresa farewell and promising to return during the week of her expected discharge, I began the four hour drive leaving Bakersfield at roughly 0200h.  At that time of night, the roads are mostly quiet except for the occasional convoy of trucks, possibly driven by vampires according to my wandering thoughts (have to stop watching True Blood in the hotel room.)  Being the middle of the night, the temperature had dropped sufficiently that I could drive with the windows open.  This not only kept me more alert but it also let in the varied smell of the counties.  Moving from the petroleum odor of Bakersfield, to the lush greenery of the Central Valley's agriculture and onto the cow manure of the California dairy industry, it was an olfactory delight that kept me going until the harrowing mountain pass between I-5 and Hwy 101.  Descents through fog-shrouded winding roads can be full of dangers but not to fear, even in the wee hours this day my guardian angel kept up and I made it safely and on time to the San Jose airport.  Having never flown Alaska Airlines before, it was a pleasant surprise when they served a Kona coffee cookie upon departure and a mac nut sampler nearing arrival.  I was greeted by our dear friend Betty who Theresa first met over Konaweb.com even before moving here.  She, along with a few others have generously provided me with rides to/from the airport since this began and I am truly grateful to them and to our Lord for sending these angels in our time of need.
Back home for the past week, I was able to confirm the services of not one but two homecare providers to support Theresa.   A month ago, I had no leads and with the help of friends and associates at work, everything is quickly coming together in preparation for Theresa's homecoming.  For this among all of the other miracles and blessings our Lord has graced us with, please join me in giving thanks.

P.S.  With a tentative discharge date now in place, my plan is to bring Theresa home on the United flight from LAX arriving in Kona at noon on Saturday July 30.  It would be a wonderful show of support if some of our Ohana could be there to welcome Theresa home following our 8-month journey of healing grace.