Lilianne Tang Accident
On November 9th, our family received news that Lilianne was hit by someone who was driving under the influence early in the morning in San Luis Obispo (SLO). The man driving also had a suspended license. https://ksby.com/news/local-news/2018/11/09/driver-on-drugs-hits-injures-pedestrian-in-san-luis-obispo-police-say
After she was hit, she went to a hospital in SLO, but they were not able to treat her injuries there due to the severity of them. She was then airlifted to a hospital in Fresno and as of November 20th, has undergone a total of four surgeries. One surgery was for a broken tibia/fibula, two involved a bowel resection, and the last one was for her broken pelvis. Because of this and the hospital stay, the family is asking for donations. All donations will go straight to the family. Alexis Chang, Lilianne's sister, is the beneficiary and will be withdrawing the donations as Lilianne goes through this process. We have also been giving updates. If you would like to see these updates and her process of recovery, click the "updates" tab!
Thank you! We appreciate all donations! Any amount helps!
First, I am now walking on a cane!!! My goal was to return to work being able to use a cane and I’m so happy that my physical therapists helped me get to this point right on time. It has been so much easier to walk around and it’s also helped me take more steps on my own without any assistance. Sometimes, I even forget to take my cane with me! It makes me really hopeful about my ability to walk on my own again despite the difficulty of doing so. My back gets tired quickly still, especially if I have to carry or hold things on my own as I’m walking, but I have noticed that I’m getting stronger and that I’m standing and walking longer. Just like every other part of this process so far, this can’t be rushed and I just have to allow my body to do the best that it can.
Second, I have physically returned to work! I am finishing my third week back and it’s been quite the transition. I was a little nervous about coming back because I thought it might be really overwhelming for me. I was pretty tired my first few days of work as I am more physically active day-to-day than I was previously used to. I had to take a few breaks walking back to my car sometimes and I would get home feeling so exhausted. Luckily, the campus has been pretty calm and quiet and my team in the Cross Cultural Centers have been so incredibly patient and flexible with me. As such, it has allowed me to go at my own pace and served as a reminder to give myself grace. I appreciate having a routine again and getting back into the swing of things - it keeps me busy and gives me something other than my disability to focus on. It’s also been really grounding to connect and reconnect with so many different people across campus. I thought I would feel like a new employee all over again having only been at Cal Poly for 2 months prior to my accident, but it has felt more like returning to a community I’ve always been a part of. In other words, it feels really great to be back and to be doing the work that I am so passionate about. I’m so excited to spend the summer planning for the academic year and I look forward to executing the visions and goals I have.
This past week, I’ve been at a conference in Toronto, developing my assessment competency. It’s my first time traveling with my disability - I had no idea what to expect for it, but I did have so much fear about navigating the airport and navigating a conference with my disability. Thankfully and coincidentally, I got to travel with a fellow colleague who has been so incredibly kind and helpful!! Shout out to Elizabeth because if it weren’t for her, I would’ve been riding the struggle bus all the way to Canada! It’s also been helpful to learn the kinds of services that are offered for travelers with disabilities and I’m glad I got to use that service. Aside from that, I’ve been enjoying my time here, learning, networking, reflecting, exploring, and literally stepping outside of my comfort zone. I’m so grateful for the opportunity for professional development because it has been such a wonderful and eye-opening experience here.
Third, I’ve moved into an apartment! I was initially looking for a roommate, but things didn’t work out that way - I am now living on my own again and it’s been a challenging, but strengthening experience. I somehow scammed my way into becoming a property manager at the same time, so I am saving some money because ⅓ of my rent is discounted! The duties and responsibilities are pretty lowkey and takes up only about an hour each week, so it’s a pretty great deal! While I was recovering at home, my family was always there to help me out as needed - my mom cooked for me, I didn’t have any chores, etc. Now that I’m on my own, I’m learning to do things with my disability, like cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, etc. So far, it’s been going well! I feel very proud of myself after making all of my meals and I also feel very grateful to be able to make it through each day. There are still some things that I can’t do on my own, like buy big items at the store that I wouldn’t be able to bring into the apartment myself. Asking for help from people, that aren’t close to me in the same way that my family is, has been difficult for me because I feel like such a burden on others. I’m still working through this and I’m so appreciative of the people who are constantly ready and willing to help me in any way possible, whether it’s unlocking my office door, doing a Target run with me, holding my bag on the way to my car, moving me into my apartment, picking up furniture for me, etc. I have such an awesome support system up here in SLO, so it’s been really great to be back.
Lastly, I’m still processing what it feels for me to revisit the site of my accident. I’ve driven past it 2 times now and both times, I’ve cried from it. It’s hard for me to believe that I got hit there now that I see the whole picture and not just what I remembered from being underneath the car. Sometimes, I feel self-conscious walking around small-town SLO, thinking that random people would recognize me from all the news articles that covered my accident. Nothing like that has happened yet but it does feel very surreal to be back here sometimes because my last memory here was the accident itself. Part of me lives in this fear that I’m going to get into another accident because I think that I somehow cheated death and that it’s still coming after me. I’m hoping to talk to a therapist about some of these things soon though! I also won’t be starting physical therapy until next month because the earliest appointment for my primary care provider is at the end of the month… and I have to go through this process to get a request for PT authorization. Fuuunnnnnn stuff, huh?
My next update might not be for a while - probably the next big milestone in my recovery journey and I don’t know how long that’s going to be. Thank you for keeping up with me through all of this and more importantly, thank you all for your wishes, generosity, and love for my family and me throughout this experience. From time to time, I revisit this GoFundMe as a reminder of how blessed I am to have this amount and this kind of care and support in my life.
I hope you all enjoy your summers!
I remember when I was in the hospital, I often dreamt about myself doing very regular things, like walking, running, driving... and it would feel so real even though I knew that it was all a lie. Although I’ve made significant progress in my ability to walk again, I still have dreams where my injuries are no longer a limitation. These days, I’ve been losing a lot of motivation to continue on with physical therapy because I feel like I work so hard but I’m not where I want to be. Some days, I get really sad because I fear that I will never be 100% again. But most days, I find joy in the smallest things - feeling the warmth of the sun, sleeping through the night, lighting a candle, crying from watching so much good TV, painting... - and I’m reminded of my own healing again.
Life’s been rough and my body has gone through soooo much. I can easily become impatient in my recovery process because I so badly want to walk without any assistive devices again. I want to be able to stand tall and not feel like my back is going to break out on me. I want to be able to sit on the floor and cross my legs again. I want to be able to go out without having to plan whether my body has enough stamina for an outing. But my physical therapists do a great job of reminding me just how much trauma my body went through and how amazing it is that I am where I am. Although I am still learning to find peace with this truth, I am so very grateful for all the blessings that revealed themselves to me these last 6 months.
On May 20th, I’ll finally and enthusiastically be able to return to work! I won’t be moving back to SLO just yet. l’ll be telecommuting for one month before I do so. Shout out to my incredible, supportive, and loving supervisor & boss, who have been very thoughtful and intentional about my transition back to work, for making this happen for me. I’m so excited because I’ve been super eager to work again, but also because this experience has given me so much new perspective that I want to bring into my work. Cheers to reimagining new possibilities for me! Thank you all for being on this journey with me
Despite communicating these feelings to the PTs I worked with, there was no change in my therapy. It became increasingly difficult for me emotionally and mentally as well. I felt so lonely and bored at home, frustrated that I wasn't making the same kind of progress I was making at Rancho Los Amigos. There was a point where I believed that I would never be able to fully recover because I had lost so much hope.
Thankfully, my orthopedic doctor also submitted a request for physical therapy to my insurance and I got to check out a different facility. During my evaluation alone, I already knew that it would be a much better place for me to continue with physical therapy because of the question they were asking me. They were really focused on understanding my body's current capability - what activities are difficult for me to do and what my goals are so they can help take me there. During my evaluation, I learned that my body needs A LOT of stretching because my muscles are very tight - it's affecting my body's ability to stand straight and to effectively do exercises that will strengthen my muscles. After my evaluation, the PT was able to tell me what their game plan for me was and I just felt like they had so much more experience than the previous place I was at. I've had one official session with them so far and in that one hour alone, I've done more different exercises than I've done in the total 4 hours I've done at the previous place. I feel a new sense of hope and I have so much motivation to work hard at my recovery, especially when I have a PT who is so invested in my case. It is wild to think about how much I've had to advocate for myself throughout this process in order to get the care that I need.
My lower back has been hurting a lot recently - it's been about 3 weeks now. I'm not sure if it's because I'm sleeping on the couch and it's too soft (my mattress is too hard on my body) or if there is something else going on, given that my hip was screwed into my lumbar spine during a surgery. I did an x-ray last week and the orthopedic doctor said it LOOKS like one of the screws might be hitting a nerve, but he's not too sure. So I did a CT scan last week just to be safe and I have a visit this Friday to follow up on this. Hopefully it's nothing serious because I am not sure I can handle another setback at this point in time :(
Aside from all the PT and medical stuff, I have spent a lot of time at home reflecting on my life, binge-watching show after show (One Day at a Time, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Good Girls, Workin' Moms, Russian Doll, Always a Witch, Manifest, Pen15, Game of Thrones, etc.), reading, and organizing my life (like my personal finances for example). I am hoping to start vlogging again, so we will see how that goes. Thankfully, I have a lot of great friends near (and far) who come over to visit and to spend time with me. I always love the company because it's soooo nice to (re)connect with people and focus on something other than my disability. I've been trying to challenge myself more by going outside of my comfort zone, so I do things like: standing longer and as straight as possible to fix my posture and stretch out my body, leaving the house with only my walker and not the wheelchair to get used to walking more and sitting in actual chairs, going out in the rain, riding in a car longer (I went to San Diego this past week to visit the Flower Fields for the super bloom and had a cute little photoshoot there even though the dirt and gravel made it soo inaccessible), etc. Also, it's been quite an eye-opening experience navigating public spaces as a person with a disability - endless stares, straight up disrespect, inaccessibility, and so much more.
This might be a little ambitious but I really hope to return to work by May 20th, because that'll conclude the 6-month disability leave that I'm on. Also, I just really, really miss work and I am so eager to be back to serve our students and the campus community. I feel like I've missed out on so much these last 4 months, especially at a time when I was just starting my career. I am trying not to compare myself to others and to not internalize capitalist notions of productivity and self-worth, but it can be really hard when I don't know many other narratives of what this is supposed to look or feel like.
All in all though, I am in good spirits. I feel such a huge range of emotions on a day to day basis, but I am processing through them all with myself and with those I love and trust. If you've made it this far, thank you so much for sticking with me through this journey and for your continued support. Sorry for the long update! It's just been so long and I wanted to give you all some juice :)
Happy spring! Hope you all are blooming~~~ <3