January 25, 2013, was a normal day for Raphael Juniel. He fixed breakfast for his kids and left for work. Corie, his wife, spent the day caring for their two-week-old daughter. When Raphael didn’t return from his job as a pharmacy tech at 6 p.m. she thought it odd. By 10 p.m., she was calling family members and hospitals. The next morning, police found his wrecked car.
Raphael was two miles from home when he was hit by an 18-wheeler. Corie learned from the police that he was taken to Ben Taub Hospital and admitted as John Doe.
She rushed to the hospital to find him with both lungs collapsed, a heart contusion, fractured pelvis, crushed left shoulder, several brain hematomas, fractured facial bones, cranial nerve damage and internal bleeding. She was the only person who was optimistic.
Raphael awoke from his coma after 18 days.
The classically trained pianist was a nationally ranked tennis player, youth minister and active father. Letting his body be still long enough to recover was a tough assignment. His paramedic training in the U.S. Army came in handy. He says, “I never doubted I was in the best hands. There’s a reason Ben Taub is called the best.”
Corie found a new family among the staff and other families in hospital waiting rooms. “At one care plan meeting, I counted 14 doctors and nurses in the room. My godmother asked to start the meeting with prayer. To my surprise, everyone stood and joined hands to pray with us.”
Raphael was in Ben Taub for almost a month, and then at Quentin Mease Hospital for three weeks of rehabilitation. He was a man with a mission, ready to get home to his children.
“There was no deterring me,” he says. “Quentin Mease is awesome. They figure out who you are and tailor your therapy to your interests. If there is a traumatic incident, Ben Taub and Quentin Mease are the places to go. They go the extra mile to meet your emotional, spiritual and physical needs.”
Raphael’s recovery continues — he has physical therapy to help with range of motion and cognitive therapy to improve short-term memory. He does home improvement projects and is back to playing the piano and working with the church youth.
“I learned never to take anything for granted,” he says. “When the simple things are taken away, they become very important. Tomorrow is not promised. They call me a miracle.”