Cathy survived when her doctor didn’t know if she would
By WESLEY REMMER
Central Kitsap Reporter Sports writer
June 11, 2010 · 2:41 PM
When Cathy Dang visited the dentist last year to have three wisdom teeth removed, she planned to miss some school, perhaps a few classes.
What the Olympic High School graduating senior didn’t anticipate was missing a month — and nearly dying in the process.
Dang, 18, survived a severe brain abscess, caused by a staph infection stemming from the removal of her wisdom teeth.
“You think that being sick, to that degree, only happens in the movies,” said Dang, the student-body president of her graduating class.
In March 2009, a week after the dental procedure, the lifelong Bremerton resident started suffering from severe headaches and spells of dizziness. Doctors guessed Dang, a junior at the time, had the flu, telling her to rest and drink fluids.
But then her weight dropped to 85 pounds, the entire left side of her body went numb and she struggled to get out of bed in the morning.
Thirteen days after the dental procedure, she was transfered from Harrison Medical Center to Seattle Children’s Hospital after doctors discovered the potentially deadly abscess.
“Before I was transferred, I took one of the doctors by the hand and asked him if I would be OK,” Dang remembered. “He said, “I don’t know, Cathy. I don’t know.”
A successful operation saved Dang’s life. She was later told that if the abscess had been discovered one day later, her chance of survival would have been 33 percent.
Dang, a member of the National Honor Society who will attend Western Washington University to study business administration, spent six weeks in the hospital. She relearned how to walk, talk and type and underwent sensory, speech and physical therapy.
“If it was up to me she would be the student of the year,” said Dan Kontos, Dang’s counselor at Olympic. “She’s just an outstanding student, she’s a leader, she’s the entire package.”
The hair shaved off the back of her head grew back, and she managed to maintain a 3.5 grade-point average that semester despite missing so much class.
“Life will let you struggle, life will let you fall and sometimes it will let you hit the ground face first,” Dang said Wednesday. “You can only hope that you’re going to land in soft dirt. You have to keep moving forward.”Contact Central Kitsap Reporter Sports writer Wesley Remmer at firstname.lastname@example.org or (360) 308-9161.