A woman who lost her arm in a boating accident while on holiday says her own experience as a nurse ‘saved her life’.
Kristina Dejesus, 32, was swimming in Lake Travis, in Austin, Texas, when her right arm was sliced off by the boat’s propeller during a weekend away with her friends in October 2017.
But the critical care nurse didn’t realise she had lost her limb until she was hauled out of the water and onto a speed boat.
Kristina said she immediately told her friends to apply pressure to her wound and elevate her legs as they raced her to the lake’s dock to an awaiting ambulance.
She was then transferred by helicopter to Dell Seton Medical Center where she underwent emergency surgery to treat her wound.
Kristina flew back to her home in New Jersey seven days later where she spent three weeks undergoing occupational and physical rehabilitation in Morristown Medical Center.
She now lives with a myoelectric-controlled prosthetic arm, which is controlled in part by her body’s muscles.
Kristina, from New Jersey, said: ‘I was involved in a boating accident when my body came into contact with the propeller while I was on vacation with my friends.
‘My arm was amputated immediately, but I couldn’t feel anything. I’m an ICU nurse and I knew I had to lie flat with my legs up and put pressure on my wound.
‘It was at this point I realized I didn’t have an arm. I couldn’t believe it. I was lucky because my wound was not bleeding heavily.
‘My artery had been kinked and it was a clean cut. I wasn’t bleeding out, but there was obviously a huge risk it could at any moment.
‘They brought me to the dock where an ambulance met us. I was then brought to a local playground where there was a helicopter.
‘I tried my best to stay calm because I knew if I got stressed, it would be problematic.
‘I went into surgery and when I woke up I was intubated, sedated and on life support.’
The nurse, who returned to work in the CCU of Overlook Hospital in May, said the support of her husband Blas Barquin, 35, has helped her accept her new life as an amputee.
Kristina said: ‘I made a choice and that was to be optimistic. The support I had made this easier.
‘Your body image is something you have to adapt to. I don’t have a problem with my body right now. I wear bikinis on the beach and it doesn’t bother me.
‘But I am lucky to have a husband like mine. He’s been my cheerleader every step of the way.’
Kristina said it was difficult to come to terms with her new life as an amputee, but her experience with critical medical situations has made it easier to accept.
‘Being an ICU nurse definitely saved my life and has given me a perspective on life.
‘Things could have been much worse and I could have lost my life in that lake.
Kristina and her friend Rita Santora, 32, returned to Lake Travis on the anniversary of the accident, which gave the childhood friends closure after a traumatic year.
Kristina said: ‘We returned to Texas a year after my accident and I felt that helped me a lot. We had a barbecue on the lake and we were able to help some of the people who saved my life.