LIBERTYVILLE, Ill. (WLS) -- A north suburban ICU nurse was saved by her own hospital unit when she was nearly killed in a car crash.
Four months ago, Christina Riek was going about her normal routine, on her way to drop off her son and dog at her parents' house before heading into work at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, when she was T-boned while taking a left hand turn. Her son and dog were OK, but she nearly lost her life.
"Looked both ways a couple of times and then all of a sudden I saw lights when we were pulling out, and there was the collision," she recalled.
The crash crushed her car, with the driver's side taking the majority of the damage.
"We spun or we skidded, I don't remember, for quite a ways, and then all of a sudden we stopped," she said.
Riek's pelvis was broken in seven places, she had a large cut to her liver, and one of her arteries was severed. She was bleeding severely internally, and it was her friends and colleagues who helped save her life.
"Day one, hour zero, she came up needing massive blood transfusions. Requiring not just my hands but multiple hands in order to keep things stable," said Gina Findlay, ICU nurse at Advocate Condell.
Findlay never expected to take care of her coworker.
"That element of the unknown was nerve wracking. So there was a little bit of fear there," she said.
But after a month in the hospital and seven surgeries, Riek persevered.
"I remember looking up and seeing all the blood and fluids being pumped into my body and it was overwhelming, but it was also amazing," she said. "I remember getting out of the bed for the first time and just sitting at the edge of the bed was the most difficult thing I've ever done."
"For me that was actually more of the emotional part being able to talk to her after. Only because initially I couldn't talk to her," said Findlay.
Reik said she now has an even deeper appreciation for her vocation, and for her patients.
"I have more empathy, more sympathy for my patients and their families, not that I didn't before, but I understand it, I know what they're going through," she said. "I love what I do. I'm just excited to go back to work, I don't know what else to say."
Both of Riek's parents are nurses who were able to support her as well during that trauma. Riek returns to work at Advocate Condell Friday.