Thursday, December 30, 2010

Update from David

Aloha to our Ohana,

The past few days have not been without challenge for both of us.  I contracted a mild case of food poisoning and while the blame could go to any number of meals, ironically broccoli was the likely culprit (my thanks to God for the quick recovery.)  Theresa continues to heal physically however this dark path that her mind and spirit are taking to regain consciousness is causing her extreme agitation resulting in aggression directed at anyone within arm or leg reach, which usually means me.  More than once, the nurses have called me in at odd hours to try and calm Theresa down.  Sometimes it works; I'll hold her hand or we'll kiss and she eventually settles down.  Other times, she'll scratch & pinch or try to bite my lip.  Yesterday was particularly trying because when I'm in the room with Theresa, I choose to release her restraints rather than leave her shackled to the bed, even if the nurses can justify it is for Theresa's safety as opposed to their convenience.  After struggling with her for the better part of an hour, I was at wit's end and ready to use the restraint too.  Instead, I said a silent prayer asking our Lord for help and within a minute, there was a knock at the door.  The Healing Touch volunteers had arrived and as they began practicing their art of healing without touching, Theresa's heart rate dropped by 20 beats and stayed that way for much of the afternoon.

Even in this semi-conscious and somewhat confused state, Theresa's resourcefulness is another of God's wonders to behold.  With her right arm restrained, she is quickly regaining partial movement in the left arm to the point where she is able to scratch her nose in spite of the wrist splint limiting the movement.  And when she becomes frustrated with the arm restraint, Theresa yanks at it so forcefully that the therapists are concerned she may be causing undue stress to the elbow fracture.  So their solution is to replace the wrist restraint with a type of velcro oven mitt to keep her fingers from yanking on the various lines, tubes, collars, etc.  The unintended consequence is it frees Theresa's arm to move and she has delivered more than one accidental backhand or uppercut  to the unlucky recipient.  But not to worry, the well-padded oven mitt solution lasted all of ten minutes once Theresa figured out how to escape from it.  For those who don't know, Theresa's hands are tiny, which is great for delivering babies without requiring forceps but not so good for restraint mitts.  So possessing the hand size of a 10-year old, it was no problem for Theresa to jam the mitt between the bedrails and pull her hand free, relegating a restraint device that cost a tidy sum to the obsolete bin.  Maybe Toys R Us has a better solution.

We are grateful for the get well cards, notes, e-mails, etc. from many friends old and new but for now, I ask that you not send them to The Queen's Medical Center.  Theresa's condition is improving to the point where a transfer to a rehab hospital will likely take place in the next week or two so once we're settled in, the new mailing address will be provided.  In the meantime, I'd also like to thank all those that sent us gifts here.  Some of the more interesting ones include handknit shawls, prayer angels, a miniature Christmas tree with ornaments, and a tower of snacks from friends of Colt Brennan -- far too many calories for me but the nurses and support staff of the unit certainly enjoyed dismantling it on Christmas Day.  These well wishes, gifts, and donations of time and money are all blessings for which I give thanks to our Lord, Jesus Christ.


Monday, December 27, 2010

Post Christmas Update from David

Aloha to our Ohana,

We hope a wondrous and spiritual Christmas was had by all.  For Theresa, the morning was music filled, starting out with a harmonious violinist playing festive tunes.  Theresa even gave him a thumbs-up salute when he stopped at her door.  Other than music, what Theresa loves about Christmas is the varied abundance of food and drink.  However, this Christmas it was not to be as the menu plan was not so different from the past five weeks, a bottle of the Jevity tube-fed nutrient solution.  When God has healed Theresa to the point where her level of consciousness improves and she is able to pass a swallowing evaluation, then I'm sure she will relish the pleasure of real food or even a hospital-bland diet would suffice.

Theresa's mom Rosa really wants to come out and make "jook," a traditional Chinese dish usually cooked for those recovering from pretty much any illness.  Jook is basically a mixture of white rice porridge with pieces of pork, fish, beef, chicken, 1000 year egg or whatever suits the palate.  It's been said that the difference between a Westerner and a Chinese is that at a zoo, the former will look at the animals and admire them while the latter will wonder how they taste.  Hopefully by the time Theresa is settled into the rehabilitation phase of her healing journey, Rosa will be able to join us and prepare some of Theresa's favorite dishes, and mine too.

I really wish Theresa could have savored the traditional English dinner of roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, Brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes and Christmas pudding (aka plum pudding) that our dear friends Benjamin and Laura served when they invited me over for Christmas dinner.  If Theresa had attended, there wouldn't be any leftovers to deal with.  She once even out ate my 240 lb best man at a Jasper Park Lodge brunch.  So let's make a promise: by God's will, for next Christmas we both plan to be here to share Theresa's secret slow-cooked rib roast recipe with friends and family, and everyone is invited; might need to make an early order to Hart & Vold, our favorite butcher shop back in Wisconsin.

In the last update, I pretty much said that our Lord, Jesus Christ had already granted the best Christmas present I could hope for, Theresa's miraculous healing thus far.  Well it turns out that was only the first of His gifts to us, and on His birthday too.  Upon arriving at Theresa's room bright and early, the report from the overnight nurse said Theresa had pulled off her left wrist splint again.  This puzzled me as Theresa's right arm was restrained, so how did she do it?  It turns out she has regained motion in the left elbow sufficient to pivot far enough for that mischievous right hand to grab ahold of the splint, undo the numerous straps and use it as her favorite noisemaker.  I can only pray that Theresa reaches the next level of consciousness before regaining full use of her left arm, otherwise it may need to be restrained too.

Part two of the Lord's gift arrived in the form of a brain injury rehab specialist from one of the top hospitals in the country.  For now I won't mention any names until my health insurance provider decides whether they will cover the cost of this intensive rehabilitation program or the medflight transfer.  This physiatrist (MD specializing in rehab medicine) just happened to be in Honolulu over the Christmas week and through mutual friends, an evaluation of Theresa was arranged for the morning of Christmas Day.  The physician spent over two hours examining and testing Theresa, and discussing with me her current status, how she was functioning both pre and post aneurysm, and what we could expect from their treatment program.  While the results are not in yet, all looks promising for Theresa to be a good candidate for that hospital's brain and spinal cord injury program.  That this prominent physician would take time off from Christmas vacation, along with the brain surgeon and neuroradiologist that were there for Theresa on Christmas Day two years ago on Maui, is yet another sign of the grace of God for which I am truly thankful.


Friday, December 24, 2010

Update from David

Mele Kalikimaka to our Ohana near and far,

Five long weeks have come and gone since the day of the car accident when Theresa was medflighted to The Queen's Medical Center in Honolulu.  Looking back over this time, it still amazes me and reaffirms my faith in God for all of the small and large miracles that have taken place.  From the coordinated efforts of the first responders to the North Hawaii ER staff to the helicopter and medflight crews right through to the talented professionals at Queen's, everyone involved did their part in saving Theresa.  And in the ICU for the first 3 to 4 weeks as Theresa gained strength for the 8 individual surgeries or to recover from them, whenever complications arose and the men and women of science had no answer except to wait and see, our Lord's healing power was clear as He helped Theresa to overcome each obstacle to her recovery.  Theresa would not be here with us without the efforts of everyone involved, including the support and prayers of you, our Ohana in Hawaii and around the world.

For the past few days, the OT/PT sessions were scheduled earlier in the morning as the therapists caught on that Theresa is more alert first thing in the day.  The result is that she has performed beyond their expectations and has steadily surpassed her record of sitting on the side of the bed from 5 to 10 and now to 17 minutes.  Theresa is also doing leg lifts on both sides and arm lifts on the right hand side without too much difficulty.  Even her left arm is beginning to come around as we're seeing a small amount of elbow action in addition to the finger and shoulder movement.  Theresa still prefers to keep her eyes closed most of the time even though I brought an older pair of glasses to aid her vision.  This has the therapists concerned but as I've mentioned before, Theresa is on God's healing schedule and she'll open her eyes when the rest of the healing is done; and when there's something worth looking at besides a clock and a whiteboard.  Oh, and in today's session, the therapists may have pushed Theresa a bit too far as she responded with a one finger salute to their question, and I don't mean the thumbs-up either.

With this altered state of consciousness and the improved dexterity in her right arm, Theresa appears to be going through a period of resistance and denial.  I've heard that some patients describe the critical care phase of the hospital stay as like being abducted by aliens, what with the various tubes sticking out of their body and the accompanying sights and sounds.  Sure enough, over the course of last night, Theresa was busy trying to escape the mothership by pulling out her cervical collar padding, loosening the foley catheter, adjusting the trachea breathing collar above her head, and removing her left wrist splint and using it as a noisemaker, the way a child would bang a spoon on a table.  At least she left the potentially injurious feeding tube and central IV lines alone for now so with some reluctance, I agreed to a wrist restraint for those times when no one is in her room.  I hope and pray that our Lord Jesus Christ, watches over Theresa during this dark path along her healing journey and that soon, she will return to the light.

Tonight, a new found friend in Christ has invited me to attend the Christmas Eve midnight mass at their church.  While it will be a new experience, I already know what and who to give thanks for.  Spending our second Christmas in a hospital these past three years is not something I would wish upon anyone however given the miracles we've been blessed with, I would not have it any other way.  Please join me during this most miraculous time of the year in giving thanks to God for all He has done for us and everyone else.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Update from David

Aloha to our Ohana,

The sun finally shined through the clouds this afternoon following two days of record rain that caused flooding and power outages.  In line with the improved weather, Theresa showed an inclination for performing better during today's OT/PT session.  Not only was Theresa able to maintain her balance in a seated position with both feet on the floor and only minor adjustments by the therapists, but she also lifted her right arm and lower leg to the required level for five reps.  The left leg's movement is coming along slower and with less controlled motion from the knee on down however Theresa's left arm refuses to move although her fingers do flex on command.

This has become a source of frustration for Theresa these last two days as she uses her right arm to bat away anyone attempting to perform range of motion on her left arm.  It would seem the same sense of determination that got her into and through medical school, 36-hour resident shifts, and being slammed with dozens of extra patients when the other physician isn't available, is asserting itself into her healing journey.  Since Theresa can already move her fingers, it is only a matter of time, therapy and faith before she regains use of that arm.  Please join me in praying that our Lord will ease Theresa's mind and comfort her with the reassurance that all will be well.

Even with the rain yesterday, there were some moments of joy for Theresa and those in the room.  The pulmonologist came by to check if Theresa's trach tube could be downsized (to allow her to speak and swallow) but decided against it for now as Theresa is not showing any concerted efforts to speak.  Instead, the order was given to switch the trach collar to regular room air from 28% O2 mix to see if Theresa's blood oxygen dropped from its unsurpassed 100% level.  Well, after 36 hours on room air, her blood O2 is still at or near 100% as Theresa continues to receive God's healing breath.

The other excitement yesterday was a visit by Karen, a rehab nurse consultant from the Big Island that Theresa knew from her work at the clinic.  Most recently, we saw Karen at a Kona Brain Injury Support Group meeting where the guest speaker was Theresa's favorite neuropsychologist, Dr. McNamara.  For this visit, Karen brought a card and donations from the support group along with a beautiful teddy bear clothed in the hula kahiko style and named Hoku Li'ili'i, or little star of her halau (hula dance group.)  Theresa was so enamored by this gift and by Karen's upbeat attitude that she started to shake her legs and swing her arm like she was performing the hula in bed. That brought a tear of joy to about everyone in the room and Theresa repeated the performance when the OT/PT therapists returned that afternoon.  We are most thankful to our Heavenly Father for these signs that Theresa is doing so well under His care.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Update from David

Aloha to our growing Ohana,

Looks like I may have sent out that last update too soon.  More visitors and gifts arrived throughout the afternoon and by the end of Friday, there was a book of poems, a CD boombox and not one but two birthday cakes to enjoy, the latter of which was shared by the grateful nurses and aids of the unit as they sang Happy BIrthday to me.  And Theresa wasn't done with the gift giving either; the morning birthday kiss was an unexpected treat but she had something even more special to offer:  When the OT/PT therapists came by mid-afternoon, their plan was to get Theresa into a seated position, seeing that she now tolerates being upright in the cardiac chair for hours at a stretch.  They weren't expecting too much out of this first attempt, especially as up to now, Theresa is more alert and responsive in the morning and usually sleeps away the afternoon and evening.  So what transpired when the three therapists propped Theresa up, swung her legs to dangle off the side of the bed and slowly released their support was a small miracle.  At first, Theresa wavered back and forth into the therapists' arms but after a minute, she corrected her slouch, engaged her trunk muscles and was able to remain balanced in a seated position for over five minutes; all without even opening her eyes except to check out the grinning fool at her feet encouraging her on.  Yet another milestone on Theresa's healing journey for which I give thanks to our Heavenly Father.

Saturday was a day of rest for the both of us.  Theresa relaxed to the soothing cello music of Jami Sieber's "Hidden Sky" album and the healing rhythms and chants of Nawong Khechog, a Tibetan flutist.  After Friday's full agenda, Theresa seemed more than content to while away the day in bed, and with the rehab therapists off for the weekend, that was the plan.  Now that the leg splints are off, Theresa has the freedom to flex her lower extremities as much as she wants.  At one point (and I wish I could share the image but there's a strict no-photography policy here) when Theresa crossed her legs and raised her arm to rest on her forehead, the pose was so relaxed that she wouldn't look out of place lounging on a poolside chaise instead of a hospital bed.  Later in the day when Theresa was moved to the cardiac chair to exercise her body in an upright posture, I took the time to run some errands nearby.  Only Safeway, Longs Drugs, Zippy's and Papa John's are within a 10-minute walk so the shopping & dining selection is limited yet suffices for the basics.  For items not available nearby like those difficult-to-find 500ml bottles of Hawaiian Springs water used for Theresa's infusions, friends have generously answered these special requests.  I continue to be thankful to our Lord for my faith in Him, and for His sending us this aid from our friends, family and even total strangers.

Today is Sunday and it's been raining non-stop since 01:00, about the same time that the power went out.  Fortunately the hospital has a generator but the family apartment unit does not so it became increasingly stuffy in the bedroom.  Around 05:00 the power was restored so hopefully nothing spoiled in the fridge.  The chapel service this morning was interesting, to say the least.  Last Sunday, there was a combination Christian/Jewish sermon where the chaplain discussed the commercialization of Christmas and Hannukah.  This morning the service was more like gospel rock, a form of worship that's new to me but at this point, I am open to all of the varied ways that we celebrate God's faith.  Upon arriving at Theresa's room, the nurses had already moved her to the cardiac chair for upright therapy.  It was clear from Theresa's grimace that she was in pain since now that she is regaining partial consciousness, she must also be feeling the pain of the 20+ fractures from her neck to her heel.  In the first month of Theresa's healing journey, she was spared much of the pain due to her semi-comatose state.  Next on God's schedule is to awaken her so she can begin to participate in the rehab therapies to come.  For this we are grateful, not just for the healing power of God but also for Theresa's pain as it is a sign that she is coming back to us.


P.S.  One more followup article from the local Big Island newspaper appeared over the last few days.  My thanks to the Hawaii news media for continuing to follow Theresa's progress and keeping her in the thoughts & prayers of all concerned:

Friday, December 17, 2010

Update from David

Aloha to our Ohana,

Peace and quiet at last, relatively speaking.  Compared to the ICU with its multitude of beeps, blurts, chirps, horns, whistles and veritable symphony of electronic alerts, this respiratory step-down unit is almost like being in an isolation chamber.  Only the nebulizer heater that mixes oxygen with water vapor makes noise and its hiss and pump duet is quite soothing, kind of like being on a steam locomotive train ride.  As far as Theresa knows, maybe she is on a cross-country trip and when the train sounds finally fade away, it means she has arrived at her next stop -- a place where she can breathe in silence and on her own.  Like a Tokyo subway, I firmly believe Theresa is spot on with her schedule of healing.  How do I know?  Because from the very beginning of this journey, God has been and will continue to be the conductor.

The peaceful aspect here is that Theresa is only disturbed every two hours for repositioning and every 4-6 hours for vitals, meds, etc.  She is taking full advantage of this calm in the storm and catching up on much needed shut-eye.  Not even the occupational therapists who worked for over an hour fashioning a thermoplastic splint (to replace the heavy plaster cast that spanned her shoulder to her wrist) caused Theresa to open her eyes the prior morning.  Well, mostly not anyway; at one point she opened her left eye, squinted at their warming tray and probably thought:  why the heck are they cooking brats (bratwurst sausage, for those that haven't spent time in Wisconsin) in my room?  In spite of all the noise, light and test fittings, the end result was worthwhile even if it wasn't a delicious boiled in beer meaty treat.  This removable splint is much lighter and it wasn't long before Theresa figured it out and began lifting her arm all the way past her forehead, to the utter amazement and delight of everyone in the room.  After four weeks of immobilization, I'm sure she relished the freedom to flex that shoulder and wrist.  And her legs didn't want to be left out either; in addition to the uwehe hula move she's been practicing previously, Theresa is beginning to lift from her knees, a positive sign that her quads and torn ligaments are regaining their strength and yet another example of the healing power of prayer.

Today's plan was pretty laid back for Theresa.  Other than a sponge bath and sitting in the cardiac chair for a few hours, it's mostly time to get some rest and healing.  The view from this floor's Habilitat is more panoramic but scenic in its own way.  Theresa's quiet time was just as well because it turned out to be a hectic day for me.  In between four visits by friends, there was a call to go to the housing office to sort out a few details.  While there, I heard that Queen's will be closing down the family accommodation units in early January.  In its place, arrangements have been made with a Waikiki hotel to provide housing at a reasonable cost to the off-island patient's family.  Hopefully by then, we'll already be at the next stop on Theresa's healing journey, a rehabilitation hospital.  Even if we're still at Queen's, old friends from Twilight at Kalahuipua'a (Mauna Lani's full moon cultural event affectionately known as Talk Story) have generously offered their spare bedroom near Ala Moana for me to stay.  While not as convenient as being on the hospital campus, the price is right and it's only a 10-15 minute bus ride away.  In any case, I am thankful to God that I was able to stay so near to Theresa during her critical care phase.

The other event that would have slipped my mind if not for a timely card & gift arriving in the hospital mail is my birthday.  My thanks to everyone who sent their best wishes, and while this is not how I envisioned spending the day, I would not have it any other way.  The best birthday gift I could ever receive arrived this morning when Theresa opened her eyes, gave me a smile and motioned for a kiss.  Thanks be to our Lord for making this day come true.


West Hawaii Today: Waikoloa Woman in Colt Brennan Crash Recovering

Wang, 47, transferred from ICU

by Chelsea Jensen
West Hawaii Today
Friday, December 17, 2010 9:14 AM HST

A 47-year-old Waikoloa woman is making strides toward recovering from life-threatening injuries suffered in a Nov. 19 two-car crash in North Kona.

While Theresa Wang remains hospitalized at The Queen's Medical Center on Oahu, she was transferred from the hospital's intensive care unit to a respiratory step-down unit on Wednesday, said David Chen, Wang's husband of 16 years.

"We've seen big improvements: She has regained consciousness (and) is now moving both legs and her right arm. She's opening her eyes a little bit and responding by nodding," he said Thursday. "She recognizes me, and when I kissed her, she kissed me back."

In the step-down unit, Wang will be weaned from her ventilator and begin physical, occupational, speech and cognitive therapy, he said.

Police are awaiting toxicology results and an accident reconstruction study before charges, if any, are to be filed in connection with the crash, Area II Maj. Randy Apele said. The department should have those results by the end of the month.

Wang was the driver of a southbound sedan that was apparently struck head-on by a northbound sports utility vehicle driven by Kailua-Kona resident Shakti Stream, 27. Stream's boyfriend, former University of Hawaii and NFL quarterback Colt Brennan, 27, was a front-seat passenger in the SUV, according to police.

Brennan and Wang were flown to Oahu for treatment while Stream was taken to Kona Community Hospital, where she was treated and within a week's time released. Brennan was released on Nov. 27.

Wang, a longtime family physician in the Midwest, moved to the Big Island with Chen in 2006. In April 2008, she accepted a full-time position with the West Hawaii Community Health Center.

However, on Christmas Day 2008 she suffered a brain aneurysm.

At the time of the crash, Wang was preparing for a trial run working at the health clinic, shadowing other doctors to see if she would be able to work again, Chen said.

While Wang's insurance will cover the medical expenses associated with the crash, Chen said travel and living costs are piling up. The couple will likely also have to cover a portion of the medical flight and rehabilitation, he said.

Donations may be made to the Friends of Theresa Wang at any First Hawaiian Bank branch, Chen said. A PayPal link has also available at, a website providing regular updates on Wang's condition.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Update from David

Aloha to our Ohana,

Yesterday was a day of transition.  With Theresa proving that she could breath successfully through the trach collar for 36 hours non-stop and not strain herself too much in the process, the ventilator became unnecessary.  So we bid farewell and thank you to this life-support system that played an important role in Theresa's healing for the past 3 1/2 weeks.  While the machine supplied the oxygen, heated water vapor and steady rhythm, I want to thank our Lord for providing His healing breath of life.  Some nurses in the ICU have referred to Theresa as their miracle gal and while that is a strong word to use, the evidence certainly points in that direction.  Every major complication that Theresa endured was cured by medical intervention or by itself (God's healing energy.)  And having spent more time in ICUs than I care to recall, what I've learned is that even with all of these marvels of medical technology, in the end it is still God's will that prevails.

Cousin Darien also returned for a visit yesterday and while performing the healing touch service, she noticed an improvement in Theresa's aura from the previous Thursday.  Other than the concern from one nurse that Theresa keeps her eyes closed throughout the day and night (she only opened them briefly for me, Darien, the OT/PT therapists and Chaplain Angela) all is going well.  As previously mentioned, I'm not concerned that Theresa isn't opening her eyes regularly and interacting with those in the room.  She's receiving God's healing power and directing her energies to those areas that need it the most.  So if putting some of her senses on hold aids in the healing, then I say this doctor knows best.

Following the morning rounds, Theresa's condition was upgraded to floor status, which means the critical care physicians believe Theresa's vitals have improved to the point that she no longer requires round-the-clock intensive care.  This also puts into motion the process to transfer Theresa out of the ICU when a bed becomes available in the respiratory care unit.  And as if by clockwork or divine will (no sense denying that God has a hand in these things,) a room opened up late last night and just like that, Theresa and I bid farewell and thank you to the staff of the 4C Surgical ICU.  But don't worry, we'll be back to visit when Theresa is well enough and this time there will be plenty of Coco Puffs for everyone.

A heartfelt thank you to all of our friends for your continued prayers.  I'd like to especially thank those that have shown their support through donations of time, meals, groceries, services, gift cards and contributions made through the blogsite at or the Friends of Dr. Theresa Wang fund at First Hawaiian Bank.  While it is impossible to pay all of you back properly, I believe that living our lives in praise of our Heavenly Father is the best way to show our gratitude.


P.S.  The new mailing address is: Queen's Medical Center, QET Unit 9D - Theresa Wang, 1301 Punchbowl St, Honolulu, HI 96813. As this is still a respiratory care unit, gifts of flowers or plants are not allowed.  Get well cards, e-mails and prayers take up the least space here.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Star Advertiser: Doctor Recovering From Brennan Accident

By Dan Nakaso
POSTED: 12:24 p.m. HST, Dec 14, 2010 


David Chen says he is especially grateful this Christmas, even as his wife remains in a hospital recovering from life-threatening injuries from a Big Island auto collision.

"We're very thankful that we'll be able to celebrate Christmas together," Chen said yesterday at a news conference at the Queen's Medical Center to express his gratitude to everyone from the emergency responders to strangers who continue to share their prayers and positive thoughts.

Chen's wife, Dr. Theresa Wang, a Big Island family care physician, continues to recover from the traumatic injuries she suffered on Nov. 19 when her car was hit head-on near Kona Airport by a 1997 Toyota SUV driven by Shakti Stream, the girlfriend of former University of Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan.

"When we mention the accident, she kind of looks puzzled because I don't think she remembers that part of it," Chen said yesterday.

Wang relies on a tube to breathe after suffering three spinal fractures, an injury to a blood vessel to her brain that caused paralysis, swelling of the brain and a coma, four or five broken ribs, a collapsed lung and broken bones in both arms and legs -- "and a few other things," said Dr. Caesar Ursic, Queen's medical director of trauma services.

A PayPal link for donations has been set up at Donations are also being accepted at any First Hawaiian Bank branch.

She has undergone at least a half-dozen operations since the crash, Ursic said.

Wang opened her eyes on Thanksgiving for the first time since the accident and can now nod yes and no in response to questions, Chen said. She cannot speak because of the breathing tube, Chen said.

"She is slowly regaining movement in her right arm and leg and can sense some feeling on the left side," Chen said. "The feeling is just one of gratitude that she's come so far in the last 3 1/2 weeks."

It could take months to determine how much movement and sensation Wang eventually regains, Ursic said.

"However her body heals is how it heals at this point," he said.

Wang's HMSA insurance will cover most of her medical bills but not other expenses, such as rehabilitation, medevac flights and Chen's mounting costs since he moved to Honolulu after Wang's crash, Chen said.

Chen anticipates the unreimbursed costs will rise to the tens of thousands, if not $100,000 or more.

HMSA, while saying it could not discuss individual cases, differs on the reimbursement issue. HMSA typically covers in-state medevac costs and both in-state and out-of-state rehabilitation expenses, spokeswoman Elisa Yadao said.

Chen and Wang moved from Wisconsin to Hawaii island in 2006 for Chen's job as director of finance at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel.

Since the accident, Chen continues to receive messages of encouragement from around the world and feels especially grateful to the people of Hawaii who "have been touched by these events and adopted us like their own."

Wang suffered an aneurysm in 2008 and still had not returned to work at the West Hawaii Community Health Center when the crash occurred on the morning of Nov. 19.

Hawaii County police continue to investigate why Stream's SUV crossed Queen Kaahumanu Highway's center line near Makalawena Beach in North Kona and hit Wang's 1996 Saab sedan head-on.

Brennan was a passenger in Stream's car and later became a patient four rooms down from Wang's, in the same intensive care unit at Queen's.

Investigators are waiting for the results of separate toxicology reports and mechanical inspection reports in the next few weeks to determine whether speed, alcohol or drugs were factors in the crash, county police Maj. Randy Apele said yesterday.

"We hope to get the results by Christmas, end of December at the latest," he said.

Monday, December 13, 2010

KHON2: Husband of Doctor Injured in Head-On Collision Shares Wife's Progress

Reported by: Ron Mizutani
Last Update: 12/13 7:04 pm 

The husband of a Big Island doctor who was critically injured in a head-on collision with an SUV that Colt Brennan was riding in says she remains in the intensive care unit at the Queen's Medical Center

David Chen says it's been a difficult three-and-a-half weeks since he answered that fateful phone call from North Hawaii Community Hospital.   
Chen calmly stood before reporters at the Queen's Medical Center where he's sat at his wife side for nearly a month as she fights for her life.
"The major surgeries to her legs, arms and neck are now complete and while she is still in serious condition, her vital signs are being controlled and she is improving in small steps," he said.

On November 19, Dr. Theresa Wang suffered life-threatening injuries when police say an SUV driven by Colt Brennan's girlfriend Shatki Stream, crossed the centerline and slammed head-on into her car.  The 47-year-old Wang suffered a fractured neck in three places, several broken ribs, a collapsed lung and broke all four extremities, each injury required an operation.

"Over the past week, Theresa regained consciousness from the most recent surgery and now can nod her head slightly to yes and no questions," said Chen.

"As far as her brain swelling that's much improved to the point she's no longer in a coma and is able to interact and communicate with us," said Dr. Caesar Ursic, Medical Director for Trauma Services at the Queen's Medical Center.

Chen says his wife of 16 years is regaining movement to her right arm and leg and can sense feeling on her left side.  He hopes she'll soon be weaned off a breathing ventilator. 

"The feeling is just one of gratitude that she's come so far in three and half weeks." said Chen.  He says he's received little information from Big Island police and met with Stream only once.  "I feel compassion for her and I feel compassion for Colt Brennan too.  Nobody wanted this to happen and it's just unfortunate circumstances for all involved."

“The couple will spend Christmas in the hospital but Chen has no anger.

"The best way to put is that we're very thankful that we'll be able to celebrate Christmas together."

Chen will post updates on his wife's progress at which was created by her friends.  He says you can also find information on how to help offset growing medical costs on the blog site.

Video of coverage is available here:

Hawaii News Now: Woman Still Recovering From Head-on Crash Involving Colt Brennan

Posted: Dec 13, 2010 11:49 AM Updated: Dec 13, 2010 6:49 PM
By Brooks Baehr

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The swelling in Theresa Wang's brain has gone down and she's begun to move her extremities.

But her recovery will take months, maybe even years and she may never be 100 percent.

"It has been a difficult three-and-a-half weeks since I answered that fateful phone call," Theresa's husband David Chen said.

That phone call told David Chen about this: the crash on Queen Kaahumanu Highway. The SUV driven by Colt Brennan's girlfriend, Shakti Stream, has crossed the center line and slammed head on into the sedan driven by Chen's wife Theresa Wang.

"Theresa's injuries were life threatening and the road to recovery will take months if not years to complete," Chen said.

Wang had broken her neck, both arms, both legs, some ribs and suffered a serious head injury.

"As far as her brain swelling, that's much improved to the point where she is no longer in a coma and is able to interact and communicate with us. She can't really speak yet because she has an artificial airway in her trachea, but that should come out, I would think within the next week or so and then she will be able to speak with us, so overall there's been remarkable improvement," The Queen's Medical Center's Dr. Caesar Ursic said.

Chen says he harbors no ill will and instead has compassion for Stream or Brennan.

"No body wanted this to happen and it's just unfortunate circumstances for all involved," Chen said.

Chen has a website to keep friends up-to-date on his wife's recovery. It's called

Expenses related to her care are mounting, so they are accepting donations through the website.

"We ask that all concerned people keep continue to remember Theresa during her healing process," Chen said.

Stream was released from the hospital just days after the crash.

Brennan, who broke his clavicle and banged his head, is recuperating as his parents home in Irvine, Calif.

His memory is at times still a bit foggy, but is expected to make a full recovery.

If you'd like to stay updated on Wang's progress, or are interested in making a donation toward her recovery, click HERE.

Video of coverage is available here:

12/13 Press Conference

December 13, 2010


Thank you for attending this press conference for a briefing on Theresa Wang's recovery. It has been a difficult 3 1/2 weeks since I answered that fateful phone call from North Hawaii Community Hospital's ER, and we would not be here today without the care and support of so many people. I want to take this opportunity to express our gratitude for all of the prayers, concern and support that have come our way, not just from family and friends but also from the greater Hawaii community that have been touched by these events and adopted us like their own. Thanks especially to the good Samaritans who stopped to help and call 911, to the first responders and rescuers, the EMT staff, the ground and air ambulance crews, the NHCH ER staff, and the talented surgeons, physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, and support staff at The Queen's Medical Center. Most of all, we give thanks to our Heavenly Father for all He has done to heal everyone affected by these events.

Theresa has come a long way in her healing journey that began on November 19. The major surgeries to her legs, arms and neck are now complete and while she is still in serious condition, her vital signs are being controlled and she is improving in small steps. Over the past week, Theresa regained consciousness from the most recent surgery and now can nod her head slightly to yes and no questions. She is slowly regaining movement in her right arm and leg and can sense some feeling on the left side. The next major goal is to wean Theresa off the ventilator so she can breathe naturally. Once Theresa's condition improves to the point where she can transfer from the ICU to a step-down unit, then her physical, occupational, speech and cognitive rehabilitation therapies can begin.

We ask that all concerned continue to remember Theresa during her healing process, and to give her love and strength by keeping Theresa in your thoughts and prayers. In order to keep our growing ohana informed of Theresa's progress, some friends of ours have created a website at where updates will be posted on a regular basis. HulaTerri is Theresa's self-chosen nickname because of her fondness and dedication to the practice of Hula. The updates are based on entries in an e-mail diary that I sent to close family and friends up to now, but because of the outpouring of concern and support shown by the Hawaii community at large, we feel it is time to share this story with anyone interested in Theresa's progress.

While our HMSA health insurance will cover much of Theresa's medical costs incurred while in the hospital, there are substantial out-of-pocket expenses including travel costs, my living expenses while in Honolulu, medflight transfers not covered by insurance, and anticipated rehabilitation needs. To aid with some of these costs, we are seeking monetary donations through a PayPal link at the blog site: Donations are also accepted at any First Hawaiian Bank for savings account number 68-076211.

Theresa's injuries were life threatening and the road to her recovery will take months if not years to complete. But we have faith in our Lord's healing powers, and with your ongoing prayers and support, I fully believe that one day soon Theresa will once again practice medicine by offering the same love, support and guidance that we have received in this difficult but inspiring journey.


David Chen

Update from David

Sent: December 13, 2010 4:46:23 PM HST

Aloha to our Friends & Family, old and new,

Now that these updates of Theresa's healing journey will also appear on the blog at I will be whittling down the mailing list.  So if the e-mail updates have stopped after today and you are still interested in following Theresa's progress, please join the blogsite to be notified of new posts.

As I type this, Theresa is resting in a cardiac chair in the ICU's Habilitat for the third consecutive day.  Yesterday, she spent almost five hours outside but didn't get much sunshine due to the overcast skies and showers.  I'm sure she still enjoyed the fresh air blending with her 40% oxygen & water mist but could tell she was a little disappointed by the inability to produce vitamin D.  Today, just after Theresa was wheeled outside, the sun came out to play.  About the same time, a get well card arrived from Theresa's former clinic in Reedsburg, WI, and call it coincidence or providence, the message on the card said "May the sun shine its healing on you, the wind wrap its strength around you, the moon bring quiet rest to you, and the stars fill your spirit with peace."  Even though Theresa kept her eyes closed for most of today's outdoor jaunt, it was plainly evident that around noon when the sun shined on her feet and lower legs, she was basking in the healing energies of God.

Once the sun warmed her up, Theresa's right leg began its left-right swinging motion -- there's a name for this hula move that kind of looks like a rendition of wobbly legs but it eludes me.  To top it off, following an additional half hour of sunbathing, her left foot joined in the dance too, albeit at a slower pace -- just one more sign that Theresa's body is coming back one piece at a time.  As for her spirit, it's a day of rest; no amount of cajoling today will produce any dog & pony tricks.  Other than grudgingly opening her eyes for the neuro evaluation every few hours, Theresa looks like she's in Lalaland.  Her right arm and leg are moving randomly, her eyes are very active but the lids stay closed, and the occasional tear seeps from her right eye.  Shakti's mom, Zora told me on Thanksgiving Day that when the body is producing tears in this manner, it is a sign that the body is vigorously healing itself.  I believe that Theresa is receiving God's healing powers in this way.



P.S.  Today, The Queen's Medical Center held a press conference for the local TV and print media to provide an update on Theresa's condition.  I agreed to this in place of doing separate interviews with each station.  Dr. Caesar Ursic, head of the Trauma Dept., answered the medical questions and I read a prepared statement and took some questions.  A copy of my statement is attached (see next post here).

Star Advertiser: Doctor Slowly Recovering from Crash that Also Involved Colt Brennan

By Dan Nakaso
POSTED: 11:58 a.m. HST, Dec 13, 2010

Dr. Theresa Wang, a Big Island family care physician, is slowly recovering from serious injuries she suffered on Nov. 19 in a head-on collision that involved former University of Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan, Wang's husband said today at the Queen's Medical Center.

Wang is unable to speak because of a breathing device in her throat, but has regained consciousness and can nod her head slightly in response to "yes" and "no" questions, said her husband, David Chen.

She suffered four or five broken ribs, fractures to both arms and legs, multiple fractures to her neck, brain swelling and had been in a coma after the accident, said Dr. Caesar Ursic, Queen's medical director of trauma services.

Wang's HMSA insurance will not cover other expenses, such as rehabilitation, medevac flights and Chen's mounting costs since he moved to Honolulu following Wang's crash, Chen said. Chen anticipates the un-reimbursed costs will rise to the tens of thousands, if not $100,000 or more. A PayPal link has been set up at Donations are also being accepted at any First Hawaiian Bank branch to savings account number 68-076211.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Update from David

Sent: December 11, 2010 5:39:21 PM HST

Aloha to our growing Ohana,

The past two days could be summed up in the first line of A Tale of Two Cities.  The worst of times was on Friday morning when Theresa endured the trial removal of the ventilator to see if she could breathe naturally through her tracheotomy tube.  She did well for the first two hours but struggled to complete her own version of the upcoming Honolulu Marathon.  The afternoon session went slightly better and by the end of it, Theresa had worked up a good sweat.  It was my pleasure to be her corner worker and towel her off as needed however it was up to the nurse to administer the extra painkillers required of the effort.  Other than the breathing exercises, Theresa's movement on her right side has improved to the point where her "jimmy legs" have returned.  When awake, she almost continually shakes her leg from side to side the way some people tap their feet when impatient.  And watch out for that right arm -- although it's in a full cast from tricep to wrist, she moves it like an offensive lineman defending Colt Brennan.  Even her left side is beginning to show small signs of controlled motion.  She can flex a finger, toe or quadricep on command, but only if someone asks nicely because it obviously takes tremendous effort.

Saturday morning at first glance seemed to be a continuation of Friday but quickly morphed into the best of times.  Upon my arrival at Theresa's ICU room, her bed was freshly made but vacant.  Now if the bed itself was missing, I could assume she was out of the room for a procedure but up until now, a missing patient could only mean two things to me:  that she was transferred to another room or that she checked out without my being notified.  Seeing the distress all over my face, the nurse quickly directed me to the end of the hall that led to the "Habilitat," a netted-in atrium where patients can enjoy the fresh air and sunshine of outdoors while still moments away from ICU assistance (see attached photo.)  In there, Theresa was sitting in an upright cardiac chair as the nurses were just finishing the connections to her breath mask, IVs, etc.  Once comfortably settled in, I could see Theresa come alive with a beautiful smile as she enjoyed the open environment, taking in the greenery, blue skies and even the ants checking out this new arrival.  Hopefully the weather will hold out (it's been raining cats & dogs the past few days) so that we can share in God's glory more often.  The other unmentioned benefit derived from moving the breathing tube from Theresa's mouth to the trach is that she regains use of that orifice.  And sure enough, less than an hour into our back-to-nature excursion, Theresa made the familiar kissy sound with her lips.  Germ transmissions be damned, I took full advantage of the situation as we enjoyed our first kiss in over three weeks.  God is great!



P.S.  The Hawaii Police Department released recordings of the 911 calls made on November 19.  As expected, the situation was incredibly grim at the time and we are thankful to everyone involved in the safe rescue of all three victims.  Here is a link to the article:

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Update from David

Sent: December 9, 2010 8:36:40 PM HST

Aloha, Friends & Family

Yesterday's update did not materialize because I was travelling back to the Big Island in the afternoon to sort out some matters and bring over supplies for the weeks (or months) ahead.  Not much has changed back home these past three weeks however my perspective on what is important has.  The house feels empty without Theresa and Timmymao around, like a school during summer break.  I tried to do some tidying up in addition to gathering the clothing, toiletries, etc. that we'll need over on Oahu but could not bring myself to straighten out the seemingly random piles of books, papers, photos, recipes, or whatever that Theresa likes to create.  It's her way of organizing and I have never understood how it works, yet it does the job.  The only item she ever lost in our house was her bible, and that showed up after we replaced it.  Maybe it was God's way of telling us to have more than one around.

What made this trip possible is because my cousin Darien and her husband Darrin (honest, they didn't plan it this way) came over to Honolulu along with their good friend Mary, to look after Theresa for 2-3 days and to support me.  And Tuesday was a day that the Lord knew I really needed the moral support because there appeared a big setback in Theresa's healing.  On Monday, Theresa had successfully completed some 4-hour trials with the ventilator setting at natural breathing.  It's the equivalent of breathing through a snorkel, with the ventilator just providing the tiniest bit of assist to compensate for all of the tubing.  So bright and early the next morning, the decision was made to extubate and even Theresa herself agreed by purposefully blinking 3X in response to the surgical intensivist's question.  At first, Theresa seemed to breathe fine without assistance however as soon as she tried to cough and clear her lungs, she was the face of pain.  How could anyone blame her?  With 8 fractured ribs, a neck still healing from major surgery, and a very sore throat from 18 days of intubation, it was incredibly painful just watching her try to catch her breath.  Within 20 minutes, I was hushed out of the room so they could reintubate her.  The Lord must have heard my silent prayer in the ICU waiting area because my cousins and their friend arrived at that moment and did their best to reassure me that all would be fine.  Sure enough, we were allowed into Theresa's room within the hour where she was back on the ventilator and beginning to recover from the ordeal.  Following this excitement, the plan for the remainder of the day was to let her rest and build up her energies for the specialists to try Plan B, replacing the mouth tubes with a tracheotomy.  This would be more comfortable for Theresa by allowing her to open and close her mouth at will.

With the day of rest ahead for Theresa, I flew back to Kona accompanied by Mary, a brave soul whose husband was injured even more seriously in a car accident almost 18 years ago; and with her undying love, Phil continues his healing journey to this day.  The evening went by quickly as I pretended to be Theresa and tried to imagine what she would need.  Unlike me, she unpacks her toiletry kit following each trip so it should prove interesting to see her reaction when she's looking for moisturizer and finds panty liners and dental floss instead.  This morning, as I was finishing the packing for the return trip, our pastor came by to pick up some items that will serve well at the food bank instead of going stale in our pantry.  We had an illuminating discussion and when Pastor Al prayed with me, I could sense a powerful yet comfortable energy embracing me, almost like a bear hug but without the unpleasantness of being suffocated.  Because of this wonderful feeling, I just knew that it would be a good day for Theresa too.  And sure enough, upon returning to her bedside today, Darien informed me that Theresa's tracheotomy went smoothly and she was now mouthing silent words.  Even more heartwarming was to see Theresa arch her eyebrows.  Those who know Theresa well know that one arched brow can say more than a hundred words.  With small movements on her right side and feeling returning to her left side, we thank the Lord for all that He has done, not just for Theresa but for all of us too.



P.S.  Darien is starting a blog for Theresa's healing journey at  It's a work in progress and I will be adding to it as time permits.  Please take a look or pass the address along to friends or family that may be interested.  My internet provider is beginning to send me warnings about being a spammer so I'll have to limit the e-mail list.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

KHON2: Police Release 911 Tape of Crash That Injured Colt Brennan and Two Others

Reported by: Gina Mangieri
Last Update: 12/08 6:37 pm

The efforts of good samaritans who rushed to the aid of Colt Brennan and other victims of last month's Kona car crash are revealed in 911 recordings of emergency calls that day.

The morning of Friday, November 19th, a drive down Queen Kaahumanu Highway in Kona quickly turned for the worst.

Caller: "We have a car flipped over on the freeway over here on Queens Highway, 2 miles north of the airport. People are injured there's a guy down."

Operator: "Someone is pinned under the vehicle?”

Caller: “Pinned under the car, not moving, bleeding from his head."

That someone was Hawaii football star Colt Brennan.

The SUV driven by his girlfriend, Shakti Stream, had crossed the centerline and slammed head on into the sedan that had Kona Dr. Theresa Wang at the wheel.

Caller: "Oh my gosh we can't even see the people in there, it's completely crushed. They're not doing well. It was a head on collision."

Until official first responders could get to the scene, a group of good samaritans rushed to their aid, coached through by the woman on the other end of the 911 call.

Operator: "You reassure him or have someone who is closest to that male under that car -- go tell him people are on the way right now. Go reassure him -- and I need somebody, don't touch him -- don't touch him, what you need to do is stay next to him if it's safe to do so, and reassure him and keep an eye on his level of consciousness and his breathing okay.”

Stream was able to get out herself

Caller: "The driver climbed out of it and is laying down with a blanket over her on the street. She looks okay but just shaken up really bad you know."

Caller: "She's injured, the female passengers left shoulder, somebody is saying is pretty bad.”

Brennan's and Wang's injuries -- each still stuck in their vehicles -- were more extensive.

Operator: "About how far down the embankment did the second vehicle go?”

Caller: “30, about 30 feet."

Caller: "She's strapped in her seat but she's barely hanging on. Don’t move her!"

Caller: "The guy is moaning, the guy in the car, is he alive? The guy’s alive, but he's pinned. He’s trying to get out of the car but he can't."

Before the 911 call ends, another call for encouragement.

Operator: "Just reassure them that help is coming.”

Each was hospitalized after that crash.

Stream released first is recovering in Kona, Brennan on the mainland.

Dr. Wang remains in intensive care at the Queen's Medical Center, and just this week, nodded her head in response to a question and moved her fingers and toes for the first time since the accident.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Update from David

Sent: December 6, 2010 7:20:53 PM HST

Aloha to our Ohana around the world,

Sunday is celebrated as a day of rest in much of the world however this did not apply to Theresa's ICU room.  Her continued non-responsiveness to stimulus had the specialists concerned, so as people of science normally do, they ordered more diagnostic imaging tests.  Although the head CT scan did not reveal any new physical findings, I believe the procedure perturbed Theresa to the point where she made a show of moving her right-side fingers and toes for the evening neurological evaluation.  And to top it off, the overnight nurse reported that Theresa nodded her head YES when asked if she was comfortable.  That's the first confirmed sign of Theresa responding directly since the neck surgery last Tuesday, and another obstacle she has overcome to being weaned off the ventilator.  Thank you to the Lord for yet another miracle on our healing journey.

Sunday also turned out to be a hectic day for me as well.  The plan to attend the morning chapel service was siderailed as I waited for the ICU physicians to finish their rounds.  Since Queen's is a teaching hospital, the attending surgery critical care physician leads the fellows, residents and interns as they round on the patients.  For those who haven't witnessed their movement, the "Herd" is a sight to behold and it is a fitting description as they move from patient room to room, leaning on their wheeled computer workstations, affectionately called "Cows."  Two weeks ago, as one of the most critical cases, Theresa was first on the Herd's grazing path but as her condition has improved, she now falls mid-pack.  Another sign of the major progress she has made, thanks in part to your continued prayers and healing thoughts.  And since my plan to give thanks to the major contributor to Theresa's wellbeing was missed that morning, I spent part of the afternoon at the nearby St. Andrews Catholic Church in silent prayers of gratitude.  Perhaps it is coincidence or divine will but the church was built in 1867 which happens to be the year of Canada's founding.  How miraculous is it that the country that took us in, raised and educated us has the same birthday as this church in faraway Hawaii that is nourishing my faith now.  God is truly in the details.



Saturday, December 4, 2010

Update from David

Sent: Saturday, December 04, 2010 2:34 PM

Aloha, Friends & Family,

A big Mahalo to everyone for your continued prayers and support.  In the past week, we have received dozens of cards and e-mails offering blessings and wishes for Theresa's speedy recovery.  In addition to our friends, a fair number of these greetings have come from total strangers who were touched by the articles in the media, or are fans of Colt Brennan but also want to wish us the best.  This outpouring of support really makes a difference for both Theresa and me.  The prayers and positive energy aid in Theresa's healing while it lets me know that we are not alone in spirit or being.  And to the friends nearby that are keeping me healthy with meals, snacks, fruit, bread and water, words are not enough to express my gratitude.  I thank God for sending all of these angels in our time of need.

In the past few days, Theresa's healing continues to follow the small steps plan.  With the major surgeries completed, Theresa's condition is still serious as her flesh and bones begin to heal.  Her respiration has improved to the point where she sometimes breathes spontaneously and possibly could be extubated (off the respirator) in a few days.  Her other vitals are under control, the white count is going down, and her bodily fluid levels are on their way back down to normal.  Last week, Theresa was bloated like Mrs. Pillsbury but this week, she looks more like Oprah on a fat day (no offense intended to either party.)

Theresa's level of consciousness is still like she is in a dream state, opening her eyes to her name or loud sounds, or a touch on her body, but not responding to questions or commands.  I know in my heart that she is with us because sometimes when I hold her hand, she will squeeze my finger when she wants to.  I've also seen her strain to move her entire right arm and leg, like she's trying to turn in her sleep.  To me, this is God's schedule for healing Theresa.  Let her mind and spirit rest while her body receives the healing love of our Heavenly Father.  When the body has healed sufficiently, Theresa will awaken with a renewed spirit and be fully ready for the rehabilitation phase to come.  Please join me in praying for Theresa's continued healing.



Thursday, December 2, 2010

Update from David

Sent: Thursday, December 02, 2010 4:41 PM

Aloha to our Ohana,

For those of you joining this update for the first time, it will be easier to read from the bottom up.  I am thankful to The Queen's Medical Center for the free internet access however their filters are overly aggressive to the point that Outlook Express cannot access external mail servers.  For this reason, it was necessary to switch to a web-based mail program and after migrating the contacts, there are new members to this list.  But enough about the technical details, let's get on with the update.

It's been almost 42 hours post-surgery and Theresa is finally starting to come around.  She opens her eyes to sound, nods her head a little, and seems to blink in reply to simple questions, but so far has not moved her limbs on command.  Anesth├ęsia has always had a strong lingering effect for Theresa so I asked the physicians and surgeons to give her more time to shake it off before concluding their evaluations.  Apart from the surgery, Theresa's overall vitals are being controlled as she is slowly weaned off the ventilator and the sedation.  With God's healing love and our prayers, Theresa's stay in the ICU should not be long term.

The astute among you may notice that the name of this e-mail update has changed.  Now that the major surgeries are complete, I feel it is no longer appropriate to describe the update as "Theresa's car accident," but "Theresa's recovery" does not properly tell the path we will follow.  So Theresa's Healing Journey it is -- the path does not necessarily lead to recovering what was lost on November 19, 2010, or even on December 25, 2008, as I have learned that trying to revive past memories or goals is usually disappointing and fraught with frustration.

With Theresa's renewed mind and body, her spirit has a new vehicle to begin its next journey.  In addition to the platinum and titanium in her bones, Theresa's bodily fluids now consist of at least 80% Hawaiian blood (our thanks to the local donors) and 4 liters of Hawaiian Springs water (coincidentally, Theresa's favorite) used for infusions.  It was Zora who recommended the use of Hawaiian mineral water after noticing that Theresa was becoming dehydrated with the regular sterile water.  Thank you to our Lord for sending Zora with her healing advice, and to our old friend Geoff for supplying the water.

Mahalo for your continued support and prayers,


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Update from David

Sent: Tuesday, November 30, 2010 9:08 PM


Theresa just returned from surgery and the initial update is that all went well.  Her neck and arm fractures were repaired and she even opened her eyes briefly for the nurse but was too groggy to follow other commands.  The immediate goal is for her to rest and heal over the next few days before further procedures are scheduled.

Please join me in giving thanks to God for Theresa's miraculous improvement these past ten days, let alone the past two years since her subarachnoid aneurysm.  There is a long journey ahead but we know that by following in His path, all will be well.

Mahalo and good night,


Update from David

Sent: Tuesday, November 30, 2010 8:07 PM

Aloha to our Ohana,

Sorry to wait until the last minute but it's now approaching seven hours into the surgery and still no word.  In the past, my ego would be to think the worst but no more.  I have faith that the surgeons hands are being guided by God and they are taking extra time to ensure everything is being done right.  Wanda waited as long as she could and left half an hour ago to catch her flight.  By the time she arrives home in about 13 hours, I know in my heart there will be good news to tell her.

In the meantime, here is a link to the article about Theresa in yesterday's Honolulu Star-Advertiser.  The reporting is a little outdated because the phone interviews were done over the past week, otherwise it's accurate and I appreciate the writer for taking the time to tell our side of this story.  A PDF of the article is attached, or click on the link to view the reader comments too:



Update from David

Sent: Tuesday, November 30, 2010 1:07 PM

Aloha to our friends & family,

As I type this, Theresa is traveling to the O.R. in preparation for the surgery to repair her multiple neck and arm fractures.  The procedure is scheduled to take five hours so I will provide an update at around 2000h Hawaii time, or 0600h GMT.  With friends & family up to 18 time zones away, saying Tuesday evening doesn't mean much when it's already Wednesday afternoon in Tokyo.

Wanda is flying home to Calgary, Alberta tonight but hopefully not before Theresa returns from surgery.  Theresa's baby sister has made a world of difference this past week, not just for Theresa's care but also for my support.  Wanda fit right in with the Queen's Medical Center ICU nurses and they had a wonderful exchange of dialogue and ideas.  Additionally, the attending Trauma and Surgery Critical Care physicians and residents treated Wanda like one of their own, asking her opinion and listening to her ideas about Theresa's care.  Everyone here will miss Wanda and we wish her a safe flight home.  By the next time Wanda returns, Theresa will be up and about and giving the rehabilitation therapists fits, if last time was any indicator.  Thank you to God for bringing Wanda to us this past week, one of many angels that came in answer to our prayers.



Monday, November 29, 2010

Star Advertiser: Brennan Crash Victim's Husband Keeps Vigil

David Chen says he is not mad at the driver who injured his wife

By Dan Nakaso

POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Nov 29, 2010

Terry Brennan, father of former University of Hawaii star quarterback Colt Brennan, took a break from his son's bedside at the Queen's Medical Center last week to go to the bathroom when he was approached by a soft-spoken stranger.

Within moments, Brennan recognized David Chen as a man of remarkable strength born from a deep and relentless faith.

"He's a special guy -- I could tell that right off," Brennan said. "He goes through life with a lot of self-assurance, and I'm sure that comes from his faith."

Colt Brennan was released from the hospital Saturday, and as his fans wait for updates on his recovery from the Nov. 19 head-on crash on the Big Island's Queen Kaahumanu Highway, Chen has taken up quiet residence in the Queen's intensive care unit, praying no fewer than 15 times a day.

Chen's wife, Dr. Theresa Wang, 47, was driving a 1996 Saab sedan when she was hit by a 1997 Toyota SUV driven by Brennan's girlfriend, Shakti Stream, 27.

Stream declined a request by the Star-Advertiser to be interviewed. But she and her mother, Dora Furtado, a Big Island Hawaiian healer, visited Wang Thanksgiving night and held hands in a circle with Chen, his sister-in-law and friends for 10 to 15 minutes, Chen said yesterday.

Wang has not regained consciousness since she was flown by medevac from Kona to Oahu after the crash.

But moments after Thursday night's Thanksgiving prayer circle, Wang suddenly opened her eyes.

She did not blink in response to questions, but the moment was one of the few bright spots since the crash.

"For us it was like a prayer answered," Chen said. "Even though she is still not responsive, it is a small step on the road to recovery. We have a lot to be thankful for."

Chen is anxious to learn why Stream crossed Queen Kaahumanu Highway's center line. But he did not ask Stream for details. She does not have health insurance and continues to suffer from a broken clavicle, Chen said.

"The moment wasn't right," he said. "It was a moment more about forgiveness than about fact-finding. If we're intended to know, it will come out."

After suffering from an aneurysm in 2008, Wang had not returned to work as a family care physician at the West Hawaii Community Health Center. As a result of the Nov. 19 car crash, Wang suffered a broken neck that led to a blood clot, which triggered a stroke that left her unconscious, Chen said.

Wang underwent surgery to repair broken femurs in both legs and other leg fractures. But her brain remains swollen, and neurological tests will determine whether she is strong enough to be operated on to repair multiple fractures in both arms, broken ribs and her broken neck, Chen said.

"They're waiting for the swelling to subside in the brain," he said.

When he speaks to God throughout the day, Chen does not pray for his wife's wounds to heal.

"We don't need to ask of God. He knows what we need," Chen, 47, said by telephone as monitors beeped by his wife's side.

Instead, when Chen closes his eyes in prayer throughout the course of each day, he gives thanks.

"We certainly do have a lot to be thankful for this year," he said. "We're thankful because she survived, and we're thankful that the first responders got there when they did and got her helicoptered to North Hawaii Community Hospital. We're thankful for the air ambulance and, of course, for all of the nurses and doctors and support staff here at Queen's who have done wonders for her. We are thankful for God for allowing all of this to take place and for keeping Theresa with us."

THE CRASH OCCURRED in North Kona -- near Makalawena Beach, at about the 90-mile marker -- and was reported at 9:36 a.m.

Big Island police are investigating the collision as "two negligent injury investigations," according to a statement. "The exact cause of the crash is still under investigation and it is undetermined at this time if speed, alcohol or drugs were a factor in the crash."

Hawaii County police Maj. Randy Apele said it could take a couple more weeks for toxicology and mechanical inspection reports to come back.

At least one witness gave statements at the scene of the crash, Apele said, but "there was nothing significant that may have contributed to the crash in terms of traffic congestion or other vehicles that were on the roadway."

Once the toxicology and mechanical results come back, Apele said, "the case will be routed to the Prosecutor's Office for review."

Stream was released from a Kona hospital last week, Terry Brennan said.

WANG WAS BORN in Taiwan; Chen, in Hong Kong.

Both of their families immigrated to Alberta, Canada, where Wang and Chen were introduced by mutual friends 20 years ago.

She was outgoing and finishing up medical school. He was more reserved, and interested in finance.

"The first time we met, she told her girlfriend, 'He's not my type,'" Chen said. "I was persistent, and she came to know that maybe, deep down, I was her type. She seemed like a nice, caring person. I thought the relationship was worth pursuing."

They married four years later and settled in Wisconsin for the next nine years for Wang's career, after she was heavily recruited around the United States, Chen said.

They became U.S. citizens and -- when they discovered they could not have children -- began the process to adopt a baby from Taiwan.

In 2006 they moved to the Big Island for Chen's job as director of finance at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel. The plan was for Wang to retire from her medical career and raise the child they hoped to adopt.

But Wang was moved by the need for neighbor island doctors.

"The main thing her patients say is she takes the time to listen to them and understands their needs," Chen said. "She's patient and makes them feel comfortable. A lot of times, she tells me that they may come in for a cough or a cold, but she quickly realizes there are other problems at home or problems at work. She's particularly good at getting them to reveal that second, hidden agenda."

Six months after her 2008 aneurysm, the adoption they dreamed of came through.

But the 3-year-old girl suffered from developmental issues because her mother had been addicted to alcohol and drugs, Chen said.

So Wang and Chen made the painful decision to have their daughter adopted by a family on the mainland that had experience caring for special-needs children.

"It wasn't just Theresa's aneurysm," Chen said. "It would be a challenging situation for even fully healthy parents."

Asked about the pain of letting the toddler go, Chen said quietly, "That was a difficult time for us. It wasn't God's plan at the time."

Every day since Chen got a call from North Hawaii Community Hospital saying his wife of 16 years had been in an accident, he has been at her bedside.

He sleeps in special accommodations at the Queen's Medical Center at night and stays in touch with work during the day.

Friends from Greece and Egypt to Tokyo and Taiwan regularly send e-mails offering to pray for Wang and include her in their church services and prayer groups.

While Chen waits by his wife's side, he believes that the answers to all of his questions will come in their own time.

He just has to be patient. In the meantime, Chen insists he has no animus toward the woman who crashed into his wife's car. He just wants to know why.

"I don't harbor any ill feelings toward her," Chen said. "It would be good to know the reason that the vehicle crossed the center line. If it was inadvertent or even if it was intentional, we still have to forgive. I'm just doing what God intended for us to do."

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Update from David

Sent: Sunday, November 28, 2010 11:29 PM

Aloha, Everyone,

Small steps:  that is a good way to describe Theresa's recovery.  As reported previously, Theresa opened her eyes and flexed her fingers two days ago.  Yesterday, she only opened her eyes and didn't move anything else, which led to a downgrade in the prognosis and an order for another MRI.  Overnight, Theresa's ICU nurse pampered her with a shampoo, hair braid (to prevent knotting) and lively conversation which culminated in Theresa nodding her head in agreement, another milestone on this journey.  This morning, Theresa wiggled her toes for the neurologist and thus cleared that hurdle to consent for the neck surgery.  The MRI results came back with more good news.  The brain swelling has subsided (thank you, Lord) and no further damage appears to have occurred, other than a bruise to the spinal cord which may have been there previously but missed on the less precise CT scan.  So neck surgery is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday and once again, I request your prayers for a successful outcome.  God has a plan and timetable for Theresa's recovery and I don't believe He consulted with the surgeons about it.  Let time take its course and all will be well as long as we believe.



Friday, November 26, 2010

Update from David

Sent: Friday, November 26, 2010 9:37 PM

Aloha, Friends & Family,

"pretty damn good!" -- Those were the words of the attending Trauma & Surgical Critical Care physician during today's rounds when reviewing Theresa's progress.  The main reason for the exclamation was because Theresa opened her eyes during a neurological evaluation and according to the resident who performed it, Theresa even flexed the fingers on her right hand.  For whatever reason, Theresa did not give the finger to the Neurologist later that morning so she is not cleared for neck surgery yet.  Until then, further diagnosis and imaging will be performed over the weekend to get a good baseline and ensure the ortho and neuro surgeons know what they're dealing with.  E-mails from two more friends in Wisconsin confirm that Theresa visited them over the last few days, even spooking one of their cats (Theresa never could let a sleeping cat lie.)  To me, this means she is still traveling but checking in with the home office now and then.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving Day and it had its high and low points for Wanda and me.  It started on a high when the Neurologist thought she saw Theresa react by moving her eyes to the flashlight.  That showed promise which was fulfilled during this morning's rounds.  The next high was that Theresa's ICU nurse gave us her free turkey meal pass to use.  Then the lows started -- the cashier wouldn't accept the pass without ID so we ended up paying for the meal.  Not that we're budding restaurant critics but the best thing to say about that dinner is the gravy was lukewarm.  The turkey was colder than the salad and blander too, and the pumpkin pie would have been rejected by Sara Lee.  Looking around,  there was a display that proudly proclaimed Sodexo as the provider of meal services.  It turns out Sodexo also prepares meals for schools and prisons and in a travesty of justice, prisoners receive the most nutritional food.  Then the highs started again.  Since turkey meal #1 was a bust, I used my phone-a-friend option and took up his offer of dinner with his family.  My apologies to the other four friends that had also invited us but Ward's house was closest to the hospital in case we had to rush back.  Turkey meal #2 more than made up for the institutional disaster and best of all, the dress code was not powder blue and white.

To top off the evening, just before the end of visiting hours, another friend and colleague called to say he was coming over with turkey meal #3.  After meeting up with Danny Akaka (Mauna Lani's Director of Culture) and his wife Anna, Danny stopped to greet a distinguished-looking woman and her striking daughter in the ICU hallway.  It turns out the older woman is Zora Furtado, a well-known Hawaiian teacher and spiritual healer, and her daughter is Shakti Stream, the girlfriend of Colt Brennan and driver of the vehicle that collided with Theresa's.  Initially, I had misgivings about meeting them but this melted away with the introductions and Zora's heartfelt hug that lasted over a minute.  Both she and Shakti apologized for the accident and Zora let us know that she has prayed steadily over the past week for Theresa's wellbeing.  As with Colt's father, it was all I could do to forgive them, especially seeing that Shakti's arm was still in a sling and she was in visible pain.  Recently, Shakti lost her job and health insurance along with it so she is waiting for the new coverage to begin before treatment can proceed on her broken clavicle.  The six of us then proceeded to Theresa's bedside where a prayer circle was formed, hands joined, and we directed love, prayers and healing energies to Theresa.

I've said this before and it bears repeating.  The prayers, love and healing energy from our family and friends and their families and friends all over the world is what makes the difference in Theresa's recovery.  I did not mention it in prior updates but four days ago, the same physician quoted at the beginning of this update was telling us to prepare for the worst.  That moment has passed as we look forward and continue to pray for Theresa, Colt and Shakti's recoveries.



Thursday, November 25, 2010

Update from David

Sent: Thursday, November 25, 2010 12:51 AM

Aloha, Friends & Family,

This is getting downright spooky.  Over the course of yesterday evening and this morning, three e-mail replies arrived from friends in Wisconsin and each mentions a strong feeling of Theresa being near them or that she was on their mind for much of the day.  The only explanation I have is that Theresa is visiting Wisconsin in spirit.  Now this isn't as far-fetched as it may seem.  Before the accident, we were planning a trip in the new year to see friends in Wisconsin and to return the ashes of our recently departed cat, Timmymao.  As Theresa is sedated and resting comfortably, her spirit may be jumping the gun and taking a trip first.  So if any of you feels Theresa nearby, then maybe she touched you on her spiritual journey.  Anybody with a better explanation, feel free to speak up.

Theresa's sister, Wanda, arrived from Calgary last night.  She will be here for the next week to share watch duties and to assist in my understanding of the medical procedures as Wanda is a critical care nurse at the Foothills Hospital.  She really is a Godsend and the ICU staff already loves her (notwithstanding that she brought them cookies and chocolates.)

In the past 24 hours, Theresa's vital signs have improved to near-normal levels, a positive indicator to be sure.  Other diagnostic tests performed today also agree with the assessment that her brain activity and body responses are in the normal range for someone under heavy sedation.  That she remains unconscious and is unresponsive could be partly due to the sedation or to the swelling of the cerebellum causing pressure against the brain stem.  A series of imaging procedures may be ordered tomorrow to determine if the swelling is subsiding.  I believe our prayers for the last two days were answered as Theresa looks more relaxed today, almost like she is enjoying a deep sleep as the body heals itself in preparation for her spirit's return from its worldly travels.

Thank you for the get-well-soon cards and e-mails that arrived in Theresa's ICU room this week.  The preferable way to send a greeting is by this link:
Theresa Wang is in the Queen Emma Tower, Unit 4C.  Cards may also be sent to:

The Queen's Medical Center
QET - Unit 4C - Theresa Wang
1301 Punchbowl Street
Honolulu, Hawaii  96813

In the interest of fairness to the media, that first interview with the West Hawaii Today newspaper led to three TV interviews, and soon to follow is a write-up in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, the largest circulation newspaper in Hawaii.  In addition, will be updating Theresa's condition on a regular basis.  Here is a link to the TV interview for the local FOX affiliate (let's just keep it a secret that I ever appeared on a Fox News telecast:)

Today, I received a message from the hospital communications director that Colt Brennan's father requested to contact me by phone.  Instead, I saw him in the ICU waiting area and introduced myself to Mr. & Mrs. Terry Brennan.  We exchanged greetings and sympathies and it was agreed that what happened was terrible for all involved.  They let me know that they are keeping Theresa and me in their prayers and I mentioned that our prayer group is doing the same for everyone hurt by this incident.  Mr. Brennan appeared especially tired by the events of the past week and I let him know that all is forgiven; that almost brought tears to his eyes.  As a parent who almost lost their child, that is a grief I can partly understand.

Please continue to keep Theresa and everyone hurt by this incident in your prayers.  For those of you in the U.S.A., have a Happy Thanksgiving Day.  I know what I am thankful for this year.



Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Update from David

Sent: Tuesday, November 23, 2010 7:51 PM

Aloha, Friends,

Theresa's condition has not changed since yesterday.  She is still unresponsive to stimulus and the doctors tell us the only thing to do is wait and hope.  But we can do more than that, we can join in prayer for Theresa's wellbeing and return to consciousness.  Theresa is young and strong and has so much to live for.  When I hold her hand, I know she is still with us.

With God's power working in us, God can do much, much more than anything we can ask or think of.  Ephesians 3:20



Monday, November 22, 2010

Update from David

Sent: Monday, November 22, 2010 6:33 PM

Aloha, Everyone

The prayers for the improved blood oxygen worked!  They are back to an acceptable level after a very astute respiratory tech began the use of APRV.  Thank you, Lord, for giving him the inspiration.

Another serious complication arose today.  There is swelling in the back of the brain caused by residual effects from the vertebral artery that was sealed on Saturday.  This swelling may be creating pressure on Theresa's brain stem and preventing her from responding to stimulus.  Until this complication is resolved, the neck surgery is on hold.

Please join me in praying for Theresa's brain swelling to subside.  Sometimes it feels like a game of whack-a-mole but these prayers are making all the difference.



Sunday, November 21, 2010

KHON2: Husband of Woman Injured in Crash Involving Colt Brennan Speaks to KHON2

Reported by: Marisa Yamane
Last Update: 11/21 11:22 pm

The Waikoloa woman who was driving the car that was hit head-on by the SUV Colt Brennan was riding in, remains in serious condition at the Queen's Medical Center.

She's identified as 47-year old Theresa Wang, a Big Island doctor.

Theresa Wang and her husband of 16 years David Chen moved to the Big Island in 2006.

Friday morning, Wang was driving on Queen Kaahumanu Highway, on her way to Kona to meet a friend, when an S-U-V heading in the opposite direction crossed the center line and slammed into Wang's car.

"She has multiple broken bones from her legs to her arms to her neck and her hip and so far the surgeons have only repaired the broken bones in her legs, her condition not stable enough for them to continue further surgery," said Chen.

Wang was born in Taiwan, immigrated with her family to Calgary, Canada when she was young, got her Medical Degree, and practiced as a family physician in Alberta where she met Chen, and together they moved to Wisconsin, then eventually to Hawaii.

In April 2008, Wang was hired by the West Hawaii Community Health Center, fulfilling her dream to work in a public health clinic.

Eight months later, on Christmas Day 2008, the doctor became a patient.

Wang had an aneurysm, but Chen said she was making amazing progress and was in the end stages of her recovery. In fact, Wang was scheduled to return to work in January.

"She's been sedated ever since her arrival at Queen's and the first surgery and she is not really aware of her surroundings now," said Chen.

Chen, who works for the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel as the Director of Finance, has been by his wife's side at the Queen's Medical Center.

The couple does not have any children. Chen said, "Its difficult being here theres every hour so or a new situation crops up that requires immediate intervention and so its really just very unpredictable and stress filled." He added, "All of our friends are praying not just for Theresa but for everyone involved in the accident."