With Only a Duffle Bag
Patient Name : Vivian Chang
In the middle of the night, Vivian Chang woke feeling ill. She had made it to the bathroom when her husband woke and asked how she felt. “I just don’t feel right. My right side feels weak,” she said as her words began to slur. Vivian turned towards the toilet and was sick. Something was very wrong. John, her husband, could barely understand anything she said. He left their four-year-old twin boys in the care of family as he rode to the hospital with his wife. Vivian was then flown to Orlando Regional Medical Center.
Esther and Danny Chang received the call at eleven in the morning, February 2, 2005, that their thirty-nine-year-old daughter had suffered a hemorrhagic stroke, a ruptured blood vessel in her brain, in the middle of the night. Quickly packing a duffle bag, they left their home in Long Island, New York and in two hours boarded a plane with their youngest daughter, Danielle, to head for Orlando, Florida.
The following day, Vivian’s sister, Sheila, and her husband flew in from Michigan. For the first three days, members of the Chang family slept in the waiting room of the Intensive Care Unit. Vivian remained unconscious. “When I first arrived, I thought she would wake up,” explains Sheila, one of Vivian’s younger sisters. “It was just so hard emotionally. I was worried about my sister, and then I started worrying about my mom. We just couldn’t sleep in the hospital any longer.”
The ORMC concierge asked a simple question, “Do you need any help?” When they explained their situation, he saw to it that the Chang family had a place to stay. Esther stayed by her daughter’s side speaking gentle words and brushing her black hair off her face while the others toured the Hubbard House; a room at the Victorian-style hospitality house of Orland Regional Healthcare had opened. Sheila returned saying, “You have got to see it Mom. It will make you feel so much better.”
“I didn’t want to leave my daughter’s side, but I went to look. It was so comfortable. There were five of us and one room at the Hubbard House could accommodate our whole family,” Esther praises. “The Hubbard House was an answer to prayer.”
“Hubbard House staff and volunteers made us so comfortable. We had to come so quickly, we had nothing. We even needed a refrigerator for Danny’s insulin, and it was in our room,” Esther says with much relief. “Don’t worry, let us know and we will help you,” the Hubbard House staff told the Changs. The Hubbard House provided what the Chang family needed, so their thoughts could remain on Vivian.
“The Hubbard House even had computers we could use. We were constantly switching tickets. We were not ready to leave Vivian’s side. The Hubbard House enabled us to stay as long as we needed,” explains Sheila. But eventually Sheila needed to return to her family. Danny needed to return to work. Danielle had to return to her job and school. But Esther stayed. “When we had to leave, it was comforting to know that someone was watching over my mom,” shares Sheila.
Vivian lay unconscious in the ICU for ten days. When she finally opened her eyes, the vivacious woman could not speak. The energetic people-person could only move one arm and leg. Depression overwhelmed her. “Mom being here to encourage her is so important,” explains Sheila. “John is torn between her and the twins. They are afraid he won’t come home if he too goes to the hospital. It helps to have her mom close by.”
The Hubbard House has been a family to Esther during this difficult time. They have coffee for her in the morning and something to warm for dinner when she comes in late. “The Hubbard House is all the comfort of home and more.”
Esther continues to keep vigil at Vivian’s side urging her daughter not to give up.