A new strength and determination born on New Year's Day

It was New Year’s Day, 1995, and Juanita Arreola was on her way to visit friends when she saw a pickup truck hurtling toward her car. That’s all she remembers about the day. She has no memory of the truck flipping her sedan, sending it toward one concrete pillar, then another. And she doesn’t remember being slammed and crushed against the pillar.

Juanita’s husband administered CPR until paramedics arrived and rushed her to the Trauma Center at Harris Health Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital. She later learned that her face, chest and the right side of her body had been crushed, and she had serious internal injuries.

Doctors stabilized Juanita, but the next day she went into cardiac arrest. She awoke 16 days later and says that a doctor called her his “miracle patient.”

Juanita left LBJ about a month later, but returned several times each week for two years to re-learn how to walk and talk. Today, she walks three miles each day.

She is still under several doctors’ care following the accident. “Trauma can affect the rest of your life,” she says. “You have to find inner strength. I’m very thankful for the people at LBJ. I’ll always be grateful.”

“The doctors and nurses saw to my physical recovery, but it took my inner strength and determination to get back on my feet and to beat the depression I often felt after the accident,” Juanita says. “Many of us have suffered shattering times. We live with uncertainty and fear, but somehow, we have to find the strength and determination to go on.”

Juanita goes at full speed. She is a member of the Patient Advisory Council for Harris Health Strawberry Health Center in Pasadena. She volunteers for the Houston Police Department’s Parking Division ticketing handicap parking violators. And she volunteers, when needed, for the American Red Cross.

“When I saw the humanity in those doctors and nurses, I remembered how good it feels to give back to the community.”

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