By John Sexton and Susan Tart
China.org.cn reporters from Sichuan
Li Yunxia is not sure exactly what happened to her when the Wenchuan earthquake struck last May. She remembers falling a long way before she lost consciousness due to the pain and loss of blood. The fall fractured two of her lower vertebrae and shattered her pelvis.
The twenty-something from Chongzhou, a small town near Chengdu, was moved to the number 2 People's Hospital in the city center where she underwent a major operation and then spent six months in the hospital's rehabilitation center where she received both physical and psychological therapy.
"The progress has been great. There is a huge difference. I thought I was paralyzed. When I got here I was lying on the bed and could not move at all. But now, to look at, I am just like a normal healthy person. From the outside you can't tell the difference," she told us.
Li Yunxia was discharged from the hospital in December but returned last week for more tests. Li Pan, a junior doctor who has been helping treat Li Yunxia, explained "She has inner fixation of the lumbar vertebrae and she may need another operation."
Li Pan was still a medical student training on a hospital ward at the time of the earthquake. She recalls how, as dozens of earthquake victims arrived in the initial period following the quake, frequent aftershocks disrupted treatment and terrified the staff and the already traumatized patients.
Luo Lun, director of the hospital's rehabilitation unit, said the unit had treated 327 earthquake victims in total and four had not yet been discharged. The average stay for the 80 percent of patients with fractures was three months, but the twenty percent with more serious problems, such as spinal and neuro-cranial injuries would be in hospital for six months or more.