Condell ICU Nurse Treated By Colleagues After Surviving Crash

March 15, 2023 0 By JohnValbyNation

LIBERTYVILLE, IL — It started out as a typical day for Christina Riek, an intensive care unit nurse at Condell Medical Center in Libertyville.

Riek had just gotten her 11-year-old son and dog into her vehicle, and was headed from her Lake Bluff home to her parents house. It was about 6:40 a.m. on Nov. 4 when she was stopped at the intersection of Hampton Boulevard and Waukegan Road, waiting to turn left onto Waukegan Road.

She looked both ways several times before she made her turn. All she remembers next is seeing lights and attempting to get out of the way of an oncoming vehicle.

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But the two vehicles collided and when Riek came to she immediately checked on her son, Benjamin, who was conscious and did not appear to be injured. Her dog was covered in her pumpkin spiced latte but also appeared in good health, she said.

She called her parents, who said they’d be there in five minutes.

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“I don’t remember the paramedics getting me out of the car,” she said. But she remembers joking with them in the ambulance about not wanting her favorite scrubs cut off her. She doesn’t remember much after that.

When she came to again, she was surrounded by familiar faces in the Condell Medical Center emergency room.

“At that point, I had no idea how bad I was. I got to my room and I remember looking at some of the nurses, a couple of them were tearful, and were like, ‘Oh my gosh I’m so sorry, Christina,'” she recalled in an interview with last week.

She said her colleagues informed her on what they were doing as they started to treat her. When Riek began to look at the blood products they were administering and fluids going into her, she first started to realized she “wasn’t in good shape.”

She met with a trauma surgeon who let her know Ben had not been injured, and that she needed to go for a CAT scan, which reveled she was bleeding internally. The trauma surgeon informed her they couldn’t tell where the bleed was coming from so they needed to get her the operation room.

During the surgery, she “coded” for about 30 seconds. A stent was put into the artery where she was bleeding from, and then she was sent to the ICU where the nurses she worked closest with every day took care of her.

That day she was “touch and go” but made it through.

“It was absolutely surreal, everything my patients go through I went through from needing fluids, blood products, medications to help with my blood pressure, medications to help sedate me in order to keep me breathing with the ventilator,” she said.

She spent two weeks in the ICU at Condell before being transferred to Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge to undergo surgery to fix her broken pelvis. She then returned to Condell for another week before she was released.

The crash caused seven pelvic fractures, a stage 4 liver laceration, acute kidney injury and hyperkalemia. Her journey to recovery meant five surgeries, according to Advocate officials.

Her son, Benjamin, and her have been living with Christina’s parents ever since the crash as Christine underwent months of grueling physical therapy.

At the end of February, Christine returned to work.

She said the experience has changed her perspective and reiterated the importance of empathetic care when treating her patients.

“It wasn’t that I didn’t communicate with families before but now I just really realize that it is so vital to communicate everything with your patient, and everything you can with your patient and their family,” she said. “It’s a very scary time.”

The experience, she said, has completely changed her outlook.

“It put things into perspective. And now I can say, ‘I’ve been there.’ I completely understand what my patients are going through,'” she said.

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