Virginia Endres can tell you the exact day her priorities changed — March 3, 2013. She and her fiancé bought a ring to mark their two-year anniversary. It was engraved, “God be with us, together or apart.” At church that morning, the minister blessed the ring.
A short while later, after picking up a friend, they had a car accident. Even though all three were wearing seatbelts, they were injured, and taken to Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital. Virginia, who sustained the most severe injuries, was transferred to Ben Taub Hospital’s trauma center.
She has only flashes of memories of what happened during the next couple of weeks. She had suffered a lacerated spleen, bleeding on her brain and a fractured jaw, and later developed an infection and pneumonia. She was put on a respirator and had surgery to temporarily stabilize her jaw. A month later, she would have another surgery at Ben Taub to insert permanent plates.
Virginia’s mother and fiancé took turns staying with her, even during the 11 days she was in ICU. “The nurses were excellent. They never asked me to leave,” her mom says. “They answered all my questions and wrote out the answers so I could remember. The night shift called me before they went off duty to tell me about her night.”
Recuperation was a slow process. Virginia was unaccustomed to being inactive. The mother of a busy 7-year-old daughter worked at a popular restaurant and attended college.
Virginia lost 40 pounds and most of her strength. “I had to build up my body before I could leave the hospital. My fiancé used a wheelchair because of his injuries. I walked behind him, hanging on to the chair, to build up my strength.”
Virginia knows she received good care, though she doesn’t remember most of it. “I don’t ask questions. I’d rather forget that period of my life.”
She believes it was her ring’s blessing that got her through the ordeal. “I don’t give up. I prayed and prayed. And I had really strong support from the doctors and my mom. Two nurses especially stand out. I’ll never forget their voices.”
And her priorities? “I cherish the little moments. I now know that life is really short. This was a reality check. I value every moment and want to teach my daughter to do the same.”