In early January, our friend Dennis Suyeoka rushed to Queens Hospital thinking he had experienced a stroke as he was having difficulty speaking and controlling his muscles. Over a period of about a week the symptoms progressively worsened, and after several additional trips to the emergency room, he was finally admitted to the hospital where he was diagnosed with a case of botulism and placed in intensive care. This is a terrible illness that results in an individual losing most muscular control while remaining mentally lucid.
Dennis’ condition has improved since he was diagnosed, but he remains hospitalized without the ability to control his facial muscles and with limited ability to use his hands. He is currently being fed by a tube, and his only method of communication is the keyboard on his cell phone, which he uses to write text in note-taking and messaging apps.
Now that he is being properly treated, Dennis is expected to fully regain his physical ability; however, he likely faces several more weeks in the hospital, and a full recovery may take months.
Dennis is a fixture in the Honolulu community, and specifically the Manoa community, as he owns and single-handedly runs the Coffeeline coffee shop, located adjacent to the UH campus. Those of you who know Dennis know that Coffeeline is not just a coffee shop, but a place where community is formed. It has served as a unique retreat for anyone lucky enough to find it, including students, staff, and faculty of all ranks – generations of graduate students have written their dissertations there! This space became special because of Dennis’ commitment to enriching his environment with intellect and delicious food, and it could not exist without him.
Dennis now faces mounting bills from his medical treatment, compounded by his current inability to work. As his friends, we are asking for funds to support Dennis on two fronts:
1) Most urgently, the monthly rent check for Coffeeline needs to be maintained. This is not a high-profit business, and so there are limited funds in reserve for this purpose. Therefore, we aim to raise at least enough money to pay Coffeeline’s rent for the next three months ($1000 per month, $3000 total), ensuring that it will still be around when Dennis is ready to return.
2) As our secondary goal, any additional money that is donated to this cause will go directly to pay for Dennis’ medical bills and basic living expenses (e.g. cell phone bill, groceries, internet, other utilities, etc.) while he is incapacitated. He has limited insurance coverage, and this will be a very long and expensive recovery process.