Lim responsive in bid to recover
Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - April 4, 2017 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - PBA legend Samboy Lim was brought out for a wheelchair stroll for the first time since his heart seizure in 2014 and celebrated his 55th birthday with a visit to his home in Blue Ridge, Quezon City, last Saturday but while showing signs of progress, remains unable to speak or see.

Lim’s former wife Lelen Berberabe, who has supervised his treatment from the moment he was rushed to the hospital after collapsing in an exhibition basketball game, said the initial plan was to take him to UP where their 19-year-old daughter Jamie is enrolled as a second year Math major. 

“We wanted to take him to the UP Oblation, a promise we told Sam once he gets better,” said Berberabe. “Sam was at UP when we brought Jamie to the campus for her college entrance exam. He already had his heart attack when the good news came out that Jamie passed. I arranged for an ambulance to take him to UP and be on standby just to be sure. But instead of UP, we decided to bring him to our house in Blue Ridge. After a recon of the UP grounds, we realized there would be too many people especially around the Oblation.”

Berberabe said Lim is consistently more alert from when he was stricken. “Sam responds to conversations with signals like closing his eyes for a long time if the answer is yes,” she said. “He smiles and laughs. Last Saturday, when we were together, he had a very good laugh when I was telling stories of our times together, his times with his teammates in basketball, funny stories of the past. However, Sam still cannot see nor speak.”

Lim’s first stroll coincided with his birthday. “We’ve been thinking of bringing him out for a stroll for some time now,” said Berberabe. “We ordered a customized wheelchair for his outdoor activities but would not fit in the ambulance so we had to use his regular wheelchair. Jamie and I thought that the best time would be his birthday.”

The visit to Blue Ridge was sentimental as it was at the house that Lim built for his family. “Our dog Kitty was so excited to see him and was licking his hands,” she said. “We brought him to the (village) basketball court where there was a training class for kids. We described to him what was going on so he could imagine. He could hear the bouncing of the balls. We parked his wheelchair near the court to help him get a sense of what was going in.”

Berberabe said Lim is unable to move on his own. “Physical therapy is still passive and he has it thrice a week,” she said. “Occupational therapy is once a week. He is now able to swallow up to 30 times within an hour. He is able to taste sinigang, abobo, kare-kare, ice cream at supervised sessions by the occupational therapist. The splints on his feet and arms have been on break for a month because he developed pressure sores. We will again consult with his PT when we can resume splinting. His vitals remain strong and stable. Hospitalization is just due to checkups, not because of infection or other illnesses.”

Berberabe said well-wishers reached out to Lim on his birthday. “Tonichi Pujante and his family came,” she said. ”Carl and Anna Veneracion, his basketball camp partners, brought a whole bunch of parents and kids who were students of the camp. Allan Caidic greeted him by text as he was in Guam. His close friend Robert Evangelista visited the day before. Our family friend Marilyn and our family were with us.” Fr. Gigi Yabut offered Holy Mass for the intention of Lim’s continued healing on his birthday.

Lim’s niece Dani Wicklund, who lives in the US, monitored the celebration via FaceTime. “My mom (Corazon, Lim’s sister) and I shed tears of joy as we witnessed the events take place,” she said. “Thanks to Aunt Lelen, Ate Jamie, Yaya Ella, Aunt Marilyn and his medical team led by Chief Nurse Elaine Indong and Pauline. A lot of planning, preparation and logistics were needed to pull off his first stroll outside of the hospital and condo (where he resides). Aunt Lelen made sure an ambulance was on standby while Ate Jamie lovingly watched over her dad with so much love and concern.”

SAMBOY LIM
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