Written by Wen-chuang Chen, Hana You, Tzu-yu Chang, Wan-lin Wu Translated by Kelvin Chen
According to Taiwan's Interior Minister, there were 4,364 coma patients by the end of December 2005. However, by the end of the first season of 2007, this number increased to 4,805.
In addition to financial burdens of caring for coma patients, their families have to endure the psychological burden of not knowing whether their loved ones will ever recover. This sometimes is even more stressful than financial burdens.
Despite the odds, with the support of love, there are cases where coma patients actually recover.
One such person among the over 4,000 coma patients in 2005 is a young man in his 20s. He became comatose after a car accident. However, his nearblind mother never lost faith in his recovery, and proceeded to give him the best possible care. Two years after sinking into a coma, the young man finally came out of it, and was able to call "Mom" again.
This story demonstrates the tenacity of love; with persistence, miracles might just follow. This patient not only recovered from a coma, after two years of rehab, he is now walking --- walking the path of a new life.
Recovery from A Coma
In the rehab room, Rey-jen Cheng paces on the treadmill. Since miraculously coming out of a coma, he has started to re-experience his first toothache, his first walk; and today, he is able to move about like a normal person. Pacing on treadmills may seem easy to most; yet to him, this is no less than a miracle.
How so? A-Ren, as he is fondly called, was in a coma for nearly two years when he miraculously regained consciousness on the evening of July 3, 2005. His mother who had attended his every need throughout the coma was elated. Yet the two-year inactivity of his limbs had resulted in the loss of functioning. A-Ren had to enter rehab to be retrained. Although it was not easy, under the tender care and encouragement of family members, volunteers and home care assistants, in 2007, A-Ren finally was able to walk again.
Comatose Two Months after a Car Accident
On the evening of May 29, 2003, a vibrant, young A-Ren was heading home on his motorcycle. Before he could reach home, a traffic accident altered his life.
At the time, A-Ren was 24 years old, married with one son, and living with his parents in Taipei. He looked fine after the accident and left the hospital after five days.
Two months later, unexpectedly, he began to suffer from headaches. An injection of tranquilizer for the headache instead resulted in his muscles cramping and stiffening. In August, the family decided to move back to their hometown in Hualien to seek treatment from the Hualien Tzu Chi Hospital. After extensive testing, no causes were found. Meanwhile, A-Ren's muscle cramping worsened, although he was still able to talk. On the 29th of August, he went into coma.
A Mother's Undiminished Hope -- Hearing Him Call Mom Again
A-Ren's mother, Mrs. Cheng, remembers the time when A-Ren lost consciousness, "His body was cold, yet he had a fever. He then lost consciousness and never talked again, like a vegetable." In the beginning, A-Ren's wife would often come to visit him and try to talk to him. However, visits stopped after she was told, erroneously, that A-Ren's condition was contagious. She collected his insurance money and vanished, together with their son, never to be heard from again.
For two years, Mrs. Cheng cared for A-Ren attentively, never far from his bedside, and always hopeful of his recovery. Then, on July 3, 2005, at about 6:30 PM, A-Ren miraculously woke up and uttered "Mom" to her. They stared at each other— she was so moved and stunned, that she was unable to speak. Although she always had faith in his recovery, when it actually happened and he was calling her “Mom” again, she was speechless.
Daily Rehab; Feeling Pain Wasan Improvement
A-Ren checked out of the hospital after his miraculous recovery, and waited anxiously at home to start rehab. In October of 2005, the day finally arrived when he went back to the hospital to begin the rehab program.
Since then, he goes to the rehab center and the Chinese Medicine Department daily for rehab programs and acupuncture treatments. Eight months after coming out of coma, A-Ren had a tooth extraction. Although it was painful, the pain that A-Ren felt showed that he was regaining his body's normal functions. At this time, although he remained immobile, his muscle strength was gradually being restored. Such small improvement greatly cheered people around him. Little by little, day by day, progress continued to be made.
A Determined A-Ren Exclaiming "I shall succeed!"
"I can do it, I shall succeed!" are words A-Ren occasionally utters during rehab. After reciting this, he would double his effort. When asked if he's tired, he would say: "No, no, I am not tired," despite sweating profusely. If asked to take a rest, he would say, "No!" One cannot but admire his determination.
His mother says that the "I shall succeed" cheer was taught by Tzu Chi volunteers who wished for his recovery. She added that volunteers taught A-Ren many things, and would also occasionally wheel him to the entrance hall to practice walking so that he could interact with passersby.
A-Ren liked watching passing cars from windows of the rehab room. Home care assistant Mr. Huang told us that A-Ren was a car mechanic, so he has an indelible memory of cars. On his doctor's instructions, his mother often talks to A-Ren about tires and trucks, and shows him old photos to stimulate his brain, in order to recover past memories.
A-Ren has a brother and a sister working and studying in big cities. Right now his younger brother is the sole bread winner for the family. In addition to home expenses, his younger brother's income also has to support the younger sister who is away at school. So the financial burden is huge. Mrs. Cheng said that when the pressure is unbearable, his younger brother would call A-Ren, or come home to stay for a while, then head back to work with no complaints.
To meet the expectations of his family, A-Ren works very hard at his rehabilitation, and makes "I shall succeed" his regular cheer to encourage himself. He checks in on time, dutifully goes through all treatment programs, and never slacks off or complains.
Gradually, A-Ren is beginning to recall things, such as the name and age of his twoyear-old son. He also reacts when hearing his son call him "Dad". He can even remember his home address and home phone number now. All the photos his mother has shown him and conversations with him are finally paying off.
Sweating after a good workout at the rehab center, A-Ren moves on to Dr. Lin's office for acupuncture treatment. Although he bravely says that acupuncture does not hurt, when he first entered treatment, A-Ren was terrified, trembling all over. Now he can lay still and let Dr. Lin do his work. Dr. Yuning Lin is very happy with the improvement.
Both Receiving Acupuncture and Progressing Together
Actually, Mrs. Cheng is also one of Dr. Lin's patients for her failing eyesight. Despite her blurred vision, she takes good care of A-Ren and takes him to the hospital every day.
She says that when A-Ren first came home debilitated after coming out of the coma, she had to maneuver his large body in and out of the wheel chair. With poor eyesight, this was a daunting task. Often, both of them ended up on the floor. Recalling these episodes, Mrs. Cheng says: "I was mad at myself being so weak and useless."
Now, they can often be seen together at Dr. Lin's clinic receiving acupuncture treatments. Seeing her beloved son improving daily, Mrs. Cheng proudly tells us progresses A-Ren has made and bits of their daily life.
After over a year's rehab, another miracle occurred for A-Ren. Soon after the Chinese New Year of 2007, he began to walk! Mrs. Cheng was moved to tears when A-Ren took his first step. This was a giant step. Although A-Ren could only walk forward at that time, she believed firmly that things could only get better henceforth.
The Best Mother's Day Present
By May 2007, A-Ren was able to walk at will. On Mother's Day, he decided that he wanted to buy a Mother's Day cake and walk home to enjoy the day with his mother. On suggestions from Dr. Lin and volunteers, they bought a cake from the hospital cafeteria on the third floor and walked to the Chinese Medicine Department on the first Floor. There, they celebrated A-Ren's walking with all medical personnel and volunteers. "A-Ren regaining his walking ability is the best Mother's Day present I could ever have hoped for." Mrs. Cheng declares.
A-Ren is lucky. For four years, his family members were always on his side, and his medical team continually gave him attentive treatments. These made his coming out of the coma and the eventual walking possible.
Hand in hand, A-Ren and his mother determinedly went to the hospital for rehab and acupuncture treatments throughout the summer of 2007. He can now walk unassisted in the hospital, and chat with others. His speaking skill is so advanced now that he can even argue successfully with doctors. Despite such achievements, his road ahead remains long and hard.
After climbing out of the trough of coma, with courage and persistence, A-Ren conquered physical disabilities as well. We have every reason to believe that with the same courage and persistence, he will be able to conquer all obstacles in life.