By Jennifer Hanke, Director of Marketing for Heritage Woods of Batavia
One of the things that is so remarkable about Julie Papievis is that when you meet her you would never know that she suffered a traumatic brain stem injury that was so severe doctors gave her virtually no chance of surviving the night.
As she tells her story and talks about the accident that caused her injury, her remarkable recovery and what she describes as being at the gates of heaven, she is so down-to-earth.
I made arrangements for Julie to speak here at Heritage Woods of Batavia after hearing her presentation at our Heritage Woods of South Elgin affordable assisted living community.
She shares a message of hope and emphasizes the importance of “purpose” in life.
The Strohschein Law Group of St. Charles was gracious and sponsored her Batavia appearance, with residents and their families of Heritage Woods, members of the Batavia Chamber of Commerce, older adults from area senior centers, and individuals who provide services to seniors in attendance.
Julie is “truly a miracle,” says Neurosurgeon John Shea of Loyola University Medical Center (LUHS). “Her recovery was not due to medicine.”
Dr. Shea was the doctor who treated Julie when she was transported to Loyola after a teenager ran a red light and crushed the White Mazda sports car Julie was driving. The accident occurred shortly before 7 p.m. the day after Mothers Day in 1993 as Julie was leaving a shopping center in Lombard.
She was 29 years old.
A doctor and his wife happened to witness the accident. An off-duty paramedic was just down the street getting the tires on his car changed when he heard the collision. They were among the first to respond.
Julie’s head was lying against her chest “as if it had been disconnected from her body.”
At the scene, paramedics administered a standardized test that indicates a person’s level of consciousness and the potential outcome of a coma. Julie had the lowest score that was possible.
At best, she was given a 4% chance of survival. If she did survive, she most likely would not have a functional life.
Much to the astonishment of the medical community, Julie woke up from the coma four weeks after the accident while she was at Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital in Wheaton. Just six years later, she ran a 5K and has since completed an indoor triathlon.
Julie says that while she was in a coma, she was in a place that was so vast that there was no real beginning or end. She just felt perfect peace, and says “she was happy to be there.”
She remembers her deceased grandmother telling her that she “had to go back” and that “your body would physically heal.”
Her next memory is waking up.
Julie tells her story in the book “Go Back and Be Happy: Reclaiming Life After a Devastating Loss.”
The producers of “The Blind Side” are in pre-production on a movie about her incredible story.
From a very practical standpoint, she also emphasizes the importance of making sure that you have Advanced Directives in place in case you should ever find yourself in a situation that so suddenly changes your life.
“BMA Management is the leading provider of affordable assisted living in Illinois
and one of the 20 largest providers of assisted living in the United States.”