TBI and Amnesia

The newly reunited Daniel Chu family rented an apartment on the mainland side of Hong Kong, called Kowloon.  Many of the foreign missionaries, i.e. US, European, left for home after the Communist takeover of China, but some remained in Hong Kong while others migrated to Taiwan to continue the mission outreach work.  Dad worked with the Lutheran agencies in Hong Kong such as True Light Lutheran Church in downtown Kowloon, another newly formed Lutheran church at Diamond Hills, the Lutheran mission project at the HK Leper colony, the ministry at the prison as well as some responsibilities at the Tao Fong Shan Lutheran Seminary.  His American supervisor was the Rev. Rembrandt.  Engaging in this fragmented work was designed to wait for the political situation in China to settle so that he could return to mainland China.  Of course, history showed that Communist China persisted and maintained control even to present time.

Meanwhile, we were now considered or classified as Communist affected refugees.  But we tried to live life as normal as we could.  Winston and I attended school and learned to speak Cantonese.  We moved to a newer place in the Diamond Hills District, closer to the new church where Dad worked.

When I was 9 years old, on a clear and warm Spring day, I suggested to Winston that after school we should go fly our kite on top of the hill where they were clearing some land for new construction.  We both agreed that was a great idea.  We were having great fun, working hard to float the kite due to lack of much wind.  Out of nowhere some guys suddenly yelled at us to get off the property.  So not wanting the kite to lose its altitude, I started running down the hill with my eyes totally fixed on the kite.  I tripped over an obstacle and fell, hitting my R temple as I made contact with the ground.  I was knocked out, instantly and completely!

Apparently Winston came to my rescue and corralled a school mate to help carry me home.  Mom said I was ashen colored and breathless on arrival.  She hit my chest and rubbed me vigorously and begged a neighbor to carry me to the nearby thoroughfare.  She happened to stop a police car in the middle of the busy street and we headed to the hospital.  I remained in a coma and was unconscious for at least three days.  When I finally regained awareness, I could not remember much.  I recognized Mom and Dad, my Uncle David, and Winston.  I did not know Daniel, my younger brother nor my other two Uncles, Paul and John.  I also forgot even how to speak Cantonese and had to revert back to my earlier Sichuan dialect.  Words I had mastered before I no longer recognized.  The diagnosis was traumatic brain contusion with amnesia.  Otherwise, physically I was intact.  After the hospitalization, I was ‘home schooled’ for six months.  With the dictionary constantly by my side, I read the Chinese fable, “Monkey King.”  Dear classmates came to the house to visit but I did not remember any of them.  In the fall, I returned to my old school to test for 4th grade, but I did not recognize the school and could not even find the right classroom!  At first I felt scared but over time I just accepted my lack of old memory as my new normal and proceeded as best I could.  To be sure, learning required more intention now whereas it seemed much simpler, automatic and effortless before.  Fortunately I was able to retain new learning and process new problems.  My amnesia abated slowly as I tried to reconstruct some old recollections.  To this day, however, there are still many events in my past that my parents relate for which I have no inkling.  By God’s ‘Grace,’ I am just deeply  thankful knowing that things could have been much worse.