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Joyful recovery inspires Health Science Center couple (12-22-99)

This holiday season is a celebration of life and love for Mariana Gonzales and Rodrigo Lozano. Itís a celebration of love because they were married in June. Itís a celebration of life because no one ever expected the groom to live long enough to see his wedding day.

In mid-February, Lozano, a veteran custodial services employee at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, suffered a cerebral aneurysm. He was rushed to the hospital and underwent a 6 1/2-hour operation. "We couldnít believe he was alive; it took a lot of prayer," said Gonzales, an administrative assistant in the Department of Dental Diagnostic Science at the Health Science Center.

After the surgery, Lozano was distressed to learn he could no longer speak or remember much of anything. He knew Marianaís face but couldnít remember her name. Recovery was slow and painful. Speech remained difficult, although he could function well enough to be transferred to a transitional living facility. "I was ready for whatever needed to be done," Lozano said. "I told my doctors, ĎIíve got to come back and take care of this beautiful woman.í "

But his troubles werenít over. In April he had a second operation, this time to remove a subdural hematoma. It was a much easier operation, said the Lozanos, and this time, he regained his memory and speech much faster. They affectionately recall the moment when Lozano was able to call his wife by name.

Their wedding took place June 19, four days after Rodrigo was released from outpatient therapy at HEALTHSOUTH Rehabilitation Institute of San Antonio (RIOSA). He still has occasional trouble dealing with noise and crowds, but he can once again play his two accordions and has been asked to perform at holiday parties.

One of his proudest moments came Oct. 1, when he passed his driving test and qualified for a "good driver" discount on his auto insurance.

Lozano, who is listed as retired disabled, attended his retirement party at the Health Science Center on Nov. 16, his 28th anniversary of employment. Now he is enjoying life with newfound appreciation for its gifts, including his new wife and the holiday season.

Contact: Will Sansom or Jennifer Lorenzo