Independence is a good personality trait, one that made Mariela Luna proud. Unfortunately, a car accident in June 2018 changed her. She was driving to work when a car stopped in front of her. Mariela swerved to miss the car, hit a wall and was thrown from the car. Her most serious injury was a broken back.
While surgeons at Ben Taub Hospital fused her spine, it was the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) nurses who helped her cope with the sudden lack of independence. With equal parts cheer and drive, they encouraged her not to give up.
Mariela was in Ben Taub for almost a month, three weeks in the ICU. “I was a big mess,” she says. “I couldn’t see my daughter. I didn’t know if I’d be able to walk again.” She depended on her boyfriend, Fernando, and her family to care for Jazlynn, who was 6 months old at the time, while they also rallied around Mariela.
“I’m a very private and independent person, but now I was completely dependent and wanted to give up. The nurses really cared, and they pushed me hard. They also cheered me up. My daughter was my motivation.”
With physical therapy, Mariela learned to stand, then walk. She left the hospital on a walker, still in pain and still largely dependent. Fernando, who became a very good nurse, cared for her, while Mariela’s mother cared for Jazlynn. After two weeks, Mariela ditched the walker, and Jazlynn moved back home. In September, “I returned to work and started putting my life back to normal.”
There are differences. “I appreciate my life more now because I know that in a blink of an eye, it can change. I’m more careful about everything I do. I understand depression and the need to keep pushing through. I know there’s life at the end of the tunnel. I thought I wouldn’t be able to walk, but now I have my life back.”
Mariela is glad to do things on her own again. And she’s grateful to the people who made that possible: the physicians, nurses and physical therapists at Ben Taub; Jazlynn, who motivated her; Fernando, who cared for her; and her mom, whose love and support got her through recovery.