Saturday, May 14, 2011

Update from David

Aloha to our Ohana,
The early morning drive to the airport went by quickly as I reminisced over the wonderful birthday and Easter weekend spent with the lovely Theresa, and how I am so thankful to our Lord for that precious time together.  My return trip to Kona started on schedule now that I am aware the Bakersfield airport is not located off the Airport Rd exit but rather, Merle Haggard Drive.  Turns out this hall-of-fame country singer known for his most famous song  "Okie from Muskogee" was actually born in Oildale, a hardscrabble suburb of Bakersfield, and the home to thousands of economic refugees from Oklahoma and surrounding states during the Great Depression.  Having resolved that link, I boarded the 0600h puddle jumper flight to San Francisco -- because pond hopper is too grand a descriptor for this propeller plane with chrome engines from the de Havilland era.
All went smoothly until the delayed landing due to low cloud cover in the Bay Area.  Recall that on the last trip, it was all I could do to sprint like O.J. to make the 37 minute connection.  This time, United Airlines in their infinite wisdom had adjusted the schedule and shortened it to 30 min, meaning there's only 20 min to deplane, rush between terminals, and board the Kona flight before the door closes 10 min before departure.  So even with the flight attendant asking all other passengers to remain seated until the three of us with tight connections to Baltimore, Seattle and Kona could get out first, it was not to be.  Maybe if I had O.J.'s ability to fly through the terminal as he did in the later Hertz commercials, I could have made it.  But then that begs the question, why does one even need to be at the airport if they can fly?
Showing up at the outbound gate five min. after the last call, the agent offered me two options: reroute through LAX and HNL to arrive in Kona at 1700h (compared to the missed flight that would arrive at 1100h) or wait 8 hours and take the next direct flight to Kona, arriving at 1900h.  Choosing the more sensible option, I found a spot to settle in and break out the laptop and phone to stay connected with the office 2500 miles away.  Besides having to occasionally share the power plug with other travelers, the time went remarkably fast and I got a fair bit of catch-up work done.  There were even humorous moments like when I called the Dept. of Water Supply in Hilo and our conversation was interrupted by the overhead warning to report any suspicious person or unattended baggage to the SFO airport authority.
The later flight was uneventful and sadly for Hawai'i tourism, there were 65 empty seats.  But even with the reduced numbers on board, I still could not manage to win the Halfway to Hawai'i game -- maybe it's God's way of telling me to stop overcalculating and just take a wild guess!  Upon landing, there was a stored message from Theresa describing her day and that she was going out for sushi, sashimi and/or teppanyaki in the evening.  That girl is getting out much more with the rehab facility than she ever did back home, not that I'm jealous (or maybe just feeling a little left out.)  And text messages later that week confirmed her busy social calendar, with planned outings for meals, movies and even a local theatrical performance.
On the rehab front, Theresa provided updates through the week on her own progress, notably that she's doing leg lifts using the EVO walker to build up strength and relearn stairclimbing, and that she is walking longer distances using only the 4-prong cane to steady herself.  All of this exercise is resulting in sore quads, knees, ankles, etc. yet Theresa only takes Tylenol instead of the hard stuff (as she likes to call Oxycodone.)  She even keeps a secret stash of Tylenol around because sometimes it takes too long for the rehab aides to order it through the proper channels.  Cognitively, Theresa is also progressing as she improves her math, problem solving and reading comprehension skills, all while dealing with outside distractions from the therapist and other patients.  The educational testing scale ranges from grade 1-18 and with her prior education, she should have scored near the top pre-injury.  Post-injury, Theresa is making good progress and well on her way back.  And for those questions she doesn't answer correctly immediately, she's able to talk (maybe BS?) her way to the right answer.  For these signs of constant healing, I am in awe and offer praise to our Lord.
Last Sunday, the car wash fundraiser was held by Theresa's clinic associates in conjunction with our friend, Chef Edwin, who supplied and grilled the delicious local ingredients that go into his famous Village Burger recipes.  It was a huge success and with everyone's combined efforts, I estimate over 100 vehicles were washed that day.  That a couple of "cut" guys wearing board shorts were out front holding signs certainly didn't hurt as there seemed a steady stream of lady and some gentlemen drivers getting their not-so-dirty cars washed.  Mauna Lani's own Chef Al supplied the tunes to keep the energy high while a dozen others from work also showed up for our cause.  Theresa had intended to phone in and thank everyone during the event however the timing just didn't mesh and she ended up calling while Richard, the clinic director, and I were in his office reviewing some healing music chants.  At least Theresa and Richard spoke at length and he was able to pass that message along to the hard working, fun loving group outside.  The weather cooperated, everybody had fun, and we are most grateful for having so many friends that have truly adopted us into their ohana.
Earlier this week, Theresa relayed the exciting news that she met a new patient from Hawai'i by the name of Jason, and that upon being introduced, he already knew of Theresa's story from the news updates back home.  The only thing that surprised him was Theresa's haircut, as she recently went back to an easy-to-maintain bob, as compared to the update photos that show her with longer hair.  Theresa also mentioned that with the guidance of the PT, she's tucking in her butt, straightening her back and the result is she's walking faster and with more confidence.  This culminated in yesterday's announcement that she spent the whole day at the clinic using only the 4-prong cane to move around between classes.  That is a huge achievement and one which we know is a direct result of our Lord's gift of grace and healing.  For this above all others, we give thanks for all He has done.

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