My name is Jessica Walberg, and I turned 20 years old on Oct. 16, 2012. Three months before my birthday, there was an event that changed my life.
On July 14, 2012, I was in a serious motor vehicle accident and was broadsided at 65 miles per hour. I don’t remember anything that day, which is a gift from God.
I was taken straight to the Trauma Center at St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center. I immediately went into surgery where my spleen was taken out, and my pancreas and uterus were repaired. I also had a shattered ankle and had to have major neck surgery. My doctor said I was internally decapitated and that only 1 percent of patients in my condition lives to see surgery.
I was admitted to the intensive care unit for three weeks, but I do not recall any of it. After I was released from the hospital, I moved to a rehabilitation center where I underwent intensive physical therapy for three and a half months with the support of family and friends.My husband and I worked on my right arm strength by playing Yahtzee and Trouble. Both games required me to use different muscles. It was painful sometimes, but I was determined. For about a month, I worked my left arm and leg from my bed. Soon, my physical therapist noticed slight movement in my left leg, signifying the start of my major improvements. After that, I refused to take “no” for an answer.
I slowly learned how to use my legs again. I started off in an oversized wheelchair and gradually progressed to a custom wheelchair. I was hooked up to a harness machine, followed by a regular walker and then a hemi walker. My physical therapist saw how good of a rhythm I was keeping when I used the hemi walker, and she said I could try the side rails of the hallway. Determined, I did it, and it went well. I used the side rail for three days, and then my nurse allowed me to use a single point cane.
In addition to physical therapy, I also underwent occupational therapy and speech therapy, which are the slowest to improve. Today, I can walk with a cane, but not very far. I am still in my wheelchair 95 percent of the time, but I see progress everyday with my left side.
I work hard for what I want, which is to be independent again. I was released from rehab on Nov. 16, more than three months after being admitted. Now, I am home with my husband still doing three days of therapy for three hours, working towards my goal of independence. I still wear a brace on my left foot due to lack of ankle movement, and I can’t move my toes on my left foot, but I see progress everyday. That is encouraging and it keeps me going.
As one can imagine, this whole incident was very traumatic for me and my husband, but we are doing it. I can’t say how much I appreciate every single person who has helped me through this devastating event. All I can do is work as hard as I can and show that it’s not that “I can’t” — it’s “I can, and I will.”
Suffered a traumatic brain injury, multiple rib fractures and other injuries after a high-speed, head-on collision in a motor vehicle
Ella Reynolds celebrated her 19th birthday in the hospital after being severely injured in a car accident a few months earlier.
Looking back on that day, Reynolds recalls that it was raining and she was speeding, but she remembers little else. Much of what she is now able to relay is based on what emergency officials told her and what she has read in her medical files.
The mixture of speed and rain resulted in Reynolds crossing a double yellow line. She was hit head-on by a truck traveling in the opposite direction. While her passenger side absorbed most of the impact, the speed still crushed the entire car and severely injured Reynolds. According to her medical files, she wasn’t breathing, but thanks to a couple of good Samaritans who stopped to render aid, including a nurse, she was able to breathe before emergency personnel arrived on the scene.
Reynolds suffered a traumatic brain injury, multiple fractured ribs and a displaced jaw. She was placed in a medically induced coma for two weeks due to her brain injury.
After the life-saving efforts of the trauma team at St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center and the stabilization of her injuries, Reynolds was transferred to the rehabilitation unit at NeuroTexas Institute.
While in rehab, she had to learn how to walk again after spending the first six months following the accident in a wheelchair. She didn’t regain her speech until two months after the accident when she started speaking on April Fool’s Day (April 1), which Reynolds considered a sign that she still had the same sense of humor she did before the accident.
“Once I got home from rehabilitation, I decided to volunteer for the ICU at St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center because they were the ones who saved my life, and I loved helping other patients and families in similar situations,” Reynolds said.
While volunteering, Reynolds saw the room in the intensive care unit (ICU) where she was taken after the accident. She was also able to meet a few of the people who cared for her, but still feels that just saying thank you isn’t enough.
“It’s bigger than that,” Reynolds said. “Some days I’m bitter towards myself that I was driving like that in the rain, but it happened, and it happened for a reason. There’s also a reason those doctors and nurses were able to save my life.”
As a result of the accident and the care Reynolds received at St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center and at the rehab facility, she decided to pursue a career in nursing.
Reynolds has found “her calling” in the healthcare field as a certified nursing assistant, and she plans to become a nurse in the emergency room or ICU in the near future.
Two and a half years later, and the accident still has lasting effects on her life. Reynolds has been inspired to share her story to encourage and inspire others.
“The doctors considered me on the brink of death, but I’m so very thankful that those same doctors and nurses believed in my survival and had patience with my recovery,” Reynolds said. “I would not be here today without them.”
After being involved in a motorcycle crash in March 2011, I suffered a head injury as well as clavicle and scapula fractures. I was taken to St. David's Round Rock Medical Center, where they gave me a new lease on life and I will be eternally grateful. My family was enormously impressed with their professionalism and dedication during my greatest time of need.