Sugar Land mother has a change of life priorities after car accident

Virginia Endres

Virginia Endres

Virginia Endres of Sugar Land can tell you the exact day her priorities changed — March 3, 2013. She and her fiancé bought a ring to mark their two-year anniversary.

It was engraved, “God be with us, together or apart.” At church that morning, the minister blessed the ring. Later that day after picking up a friend, Endres and the passengers had a major car accident.

But that was then; today Endres prepares to join nine other trauma survivors invited by Harris Health System in Houston to its annual Trauma Survivors Celebration on April 30. The event reunites medical staff with patients who were treated at Ben Taub and Lyndon B. Johnson hospitals for severe injuries sustained from violent crime, automobile crashes or industrial accidents.

Among those reuniting with patients will be their physicians, nurses and rehabilitation team, as well as, first-responders like paramedics in a festive gathering. The event kicks off the start of Harris Health’s Circle of Survivor Trauma Conference on May 2, an educational all-day workshop designed to provide healthcare professionals with the latest trends and advances in the management and treatment of trauma.

Endres and her driving companions were wearing seatbelts, but still suffered injuries. All were taken to LBJ Hospital. Endres sustained the most severe injuries and was eventually transferred to the nationally-renowned trauma and emergency center at Ben Taub Hospital.

She has only flash memories of what happened weeks after her accident. She suffered a lacerated spleen, bleeding on her brain and a fractured jaw, and later developed an infection and pneumonia. She was put on a respirator and had surgery to temporarily stabilize her jaw. A month later, she would have more surgery insert permanent metal plates.

Endres’ mother and fiancé took turns staying with her, even during the 11 days she was in the hospital’s intensive care unit.

“The nurses were excellent and never asked me to leave,” recalls Endres’ mother. “They answered all my questions and wrote out the answers so I could remember. The night shift would even call me before they went off duty to tell me about her night.”

Recuperation was a slow process. Endres was unaccustomed to being inactive. The mother of a busy 7-year-old daughter, she took care of her daughter, while working a full-time restaurant job and attending college. During her hospitalization, she lost 40 pounds and most of her strength.

“I had to build up my body before I could leave the hospital,” she says. “My fiancé used a wheelchair because of his injuries. I walked behind him, hanging on to the chair, to build up my strength.”

She can’t help believe her ring’s blessing the day of the accident got her through the ordeal. And her priorities today?

“I cherish the little moments, I now know that life is really short,” she says. “This was a reality check. I value every moment and want to teach my daughter to do the same.”

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