Trauma Survivor Motivated by Major Car Accident to Help Others
Madelyn Louis and her six‐year‐old nephew were T‐boned as they exited a store parking lot, but fortunately were wearing their seatbelts—her nephew was virtually unharmed, but Louis wasn’t so lucky.
First responders at the scene and emergency personnel at Harris Health System’s Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital speculate the duo’s injuries could have been much worse, if not, for the seatbelts.
Louis, 59, and her nephew were picking up something from a local store when a car struck them on the driver’s side. She remembers nothing of the accident, the ambulance ride or her time in the hospital’s emergency center. Her only memories are of pain and gratitude that her nephew was unharmed.
More than a year removed from her accident, on May 23, Louis and other trauma survivors— some suffering from motor vehicle accidents, work‐related injuries and incidents of violent crime—will attend Harris Health’s Trauma Survivors Celebration. The event reunites doctors, nurses, rehabilitation staff and first‐responders with survivors who were treated in the system’s Level 1 Trauma Center of Ben Taub Hospital or the Level 3 Trauma Center at Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital.
The annual event is a way to celebrate survivor stories of perseverance amid devastating medical obstacles.
Emergency staff removed glass from the side of her head and stitched the area. However, the more serious concern was all of the fractured ribs on her left side.
“Each breath and each movement were painful reminders that my recovery would be slow,” she recalls. “Trying to get out of bed hurt so much. I’ve never felt such excruciating pain. I wanted to cry, but that hurt, too. I didn’t want to move.”
Louis was in the hospital more than a week.
“I’m a home health caregiver and can tell the difference in someone doing a job and being compassionate,” she says. “The nurses at LBJ are models of care and concern.”
With their help, she made slow improvements. She received a lot of support from her boyfriend and her grown children.
“Craig was awesome. He was a trouper, an encourager,” she says. “He kept pushing me to get better, and I did.”
This wasn’t Louis’ first opportunity to evaluate her life. In 1992, she won a battle with thyroid cancer. With the help of her Harris Health medical team at Settegast Health Center and Smith Clinic, she stays on top of her healthcare.
“Now I’m very cautious about everything. I don’t take life lightly,” she says. “In the blink of an eye, your life can change.”
Today, she’s back at work and considering a return to school to pursue a career in occupational therapy.
“Like my hospital caregivers, I have a soft spot for helping others,” she says. “My heart goes out to people who hurt, so I’ll always work in healthcare. It’s my destiny.”