Crystal Perez remembers driving onto the entrance ramp of I-45. Her next memory was waking up in Ben Taub Hospital’s ICU.
Crystal has been told that once she entered the freeway, her car was struck by a speeding vehicle, spun several times and stopped, facing the wrong direction. She got out of her car and was struck by another vehicle that carried her across all lanes of traffic. The only person hurt in the incident, her injuries were serious: both legs were partially amputated.
EMTs rushed her to Ben Taub where trauma surgeons amputated her legs below her knees. Days later, she was back in surgery to amputate her legs above her knees. She has few memories of her first month in the hospital.
Over her two-month stay, Crystal had eight surgeries and became disheartened. “There were so many surgeries,” she remembers. “I had been so independent, my family wondered how I would learn to rely on others.”
A one-month stay at Quentin Mease Hospital helped. She learned new skills for daily living and began the journey to reclaim her independence.
She’s grateful. “I had some of the very best doctors. Everyone at Ben Taub is so professional. They took excellent care of me. Quentin Mease gets 20 stars. At first, I didn’t want to be there. Then I was afraid to go home. How would I care for myself? They taught be how.
“Life is a reality check, but I have hope and so many plans,” she says. “I want prosthetic legs. I want to finish my education and find a new career. I want the independent life I had before.”
For the time being, she relies on family and METROLift for transportation. And her boys, ages 12 and 13, help a lot. She tries to keep life normal for them, and she believes they benefit from her good attitude. Still, “they remind me that sometimes they just want time to chill.”
“I have bad days, but I get my mind off the negative and think of ways to help myself. I can do anything other people can do, I just have to do it a different way.”