When you’re a part of the Army, it goes unsaid that you must be physically, emotionally, and mentality tough. Nothing could be more true for Mariela Meylan, an Army specialist, who is still recovering 10 years after waking up from an eight-month coma.
On December 19, 2004, Meylan and three other soldiers were struck by a car in Kuwait while changing a flat tire on their truck. After being transferred to Germany for initial treatment, she was eventually taken to Maryland due to the severity of her injuries. She had suffered a dislocated hip, collapsed lung, severe traumatic brain injury, severed liver, and a stroke brought on by an emergency medical procedure. As a result, Meylan was left partially paralyzed and slipped into a coma. Her mother, Lisette Meylan, told MSN News, “The doctors wanted to take her off life support.” The family believed that Meylan would wake up some day and she did, eight months later.
Once she woke up, Meylan was unable to walk, talk, or eat on her own. She was taken to several veterans’ hospitals from Washington, D.C., to California to recover. A member of Alameda County’s Veterans Affairs Commission, Doug Miller, met Meylan through a mentorship assisting severely injured soldiers. When speaking of Meylan, he told MSN News, “Her determination has never wavered. She considers it her job to improve her physical condition… She’s someone to be admired.”
It took Meylan a year to regain her speech, and she had to use a wheelchair for five years. Her father, Emile Meylan, wrote to The Wheelchair Foundation after she was able to walk, to thank them for their support during her recovery process, a recovery that doctors had once assured his family was not possible. Meylan has made great strides in her recovery, but continues to suffer from short-term memory loss, although her cognitive abilities in general have improved. She is currently working with a psychologist to improve her recall, and practicing yoga to retrain her brain to communicate with her limbs more effectively.
Happy about her progress, Meylan told MSN News, “My body is not in so much pain as it was before. Everything is moving in the right direction.” She plans to become learn to cook, and be able to care for her 10-year-old daughter who is currently living with her father in another state. One of her doctors, a craniosacral therapist, is also proud of the progress she’s made, even devoted part of her book, From My Hands and Heart, to Meylan.