Juan Falcon Palacios, who works in a recycling facility, was changing a forklift tire when the tire exploded. The rim hit him in the torso, knocking him backward about four feet. He was luckier than most who have suffered similar accidents. As a matter of fact, he had no visible injuries.
When he arrived at Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital, the trauma team quickly ordered a CT scan, which revealed no abnormalities. Fortunately, the trauma physician was a good listener. Juan knew he was in trouble and described the pain when anyone touched his stomach. Doctors inserted cameras through small incisions and found Juan’s intestines were torn. He was rushed to surgery.
The medical team and Imelda, Juan’s wife, all had jobs to do. “They told me they would repair the ruptures and that I should be calm,” she says. “Everything would be okay.” The surgery lasted five hours. Due to complications, surgeons removed 20 centimeters of his intestines. The staff kept Imelda informed every step of the way.
Juan recovered in the hospital for eight days. Once released, he returned twice to the emergency center to deal with blockages. One visit required another two-day stay.
There have been adjustments. He has returned to work on light duty because he can’t lift heavy objects. And he’s accepting that he must eat a softer diet. He’s learned to enjoy vegetables and egg whites. “I even look younger!”Juan and Imelda rave about the care they received at LBJ. She says, “Everyone was attentive. They took care of me too.”
Juan agrees, “My care was excellent. It was the best of what we have seen in other hospitals we visit.”
And they visit a lot. As a co-chaplain at Iglesia Christiana Comunidad Cristo Viene, he supports the congregation mind, body and soul. Committed to the community’s homeless population, the congregation serves them home-cooked meals and fellowship. Church members were just as attentive to Juan during his recovery.
“All we do for the love of God,” he says, “comes back to us.”