KidThree stayed in the Nursing Trauma Unit (NTU) until a day or two before her sixteenth birthday. She couldn't be transferred to Shriners until she'd recovered enough from her internal injuries and the surgical repairs, so it took a while. The food at the hospital was as bad as could be expected, so most of what she ate I brought from home or brought from restaurants. My parents had loaned me money to help with a move, but I ended up using most of it for food, clothing, supplies, and gas back and forth. KidThree had had very few clothes at that point, then was unable to wear those she did have because they weren't suited for bedrest or for someone who was paralyzed. For example, loose clothes (at the time, anyway) were difficult as she couldn't move around in them easily and could get pressure sores from creases and such if the cloth under her wasn't smooth. So, shopping, and most of that by guess and by gosh, as I didn't really know what to look for.
The staff at the NTU was mostly wonderful. So kind and patient and understanding of the ups and downs of KidThree's adjustment to her new situation. This hospitalization was when I met FriendJ, a local physician who mentored the African American students at that high school that would rather not have had them in attendance. It took us a time or two to figure each other out, as I think she didn't know what to think of me and I didn't know what to think of her. We each figured out very quickly though that the other loved and cared for KidThree, so all was well there and that is a friendship I still treasure.
KidThree was her usual recalcitrant self, arguing back, protesting anything she didn't understand or like, but she still made pretty steady forward progress and more often than not cooperated with the medical personnel. She learned how to get from the bed to her wheelchair (borrowed from the hospital) and back again, and how to do some simple hygiene tasks. Eventually she was ready to be transferred, then an infection delayed things, then she was ready again, and that time, the transfer actually happened.
Shriners was right next door, but transport was still done in an ambulance for safety. I followed along in the car.
*A word about Shriners: SUPPORT THEM. You'll notice I'm naming them by name, not something I usually do. Shriners' Hospitals for children are amazing places. They care for children affected by birth defects, severe burns, and spinal cord injuries, ALL AT NO COST TO THE PATIENT OR FAMILY. They're supported entirely by charity. The care is worldclass, the staff is amazing, the ongoing support for patients and families is neverending, and they're happy to be giving it all with no remuneration requested. Because recovery from severe burns can take so very long, they have apartments inside the hospital where parents can live while their children are undergoing treatment. Local sports stars and celebrities come by to visit the children, volunteers come into entertain, and the Shriners themselves help staff different information desks and provide other support. They take in children from other countries, too: there were children there from that daycare center fire in Mexico, and a little Iraqi girl injured in a bombing in her home country. I can't say enough good things about Shriners, so will just say this, "if you ever have a spare dollar lying around, send it to them. If you're lucky in the lottery, make them one of your charities. You won't find a better place to give your donations than the Shriners Hospital system."
If I remember right, KidThree got to Shriners the day before her birthday, but it might have been two days before. I'll have to ask her; she'll remember. There were several other paralyzed teens there, but half of them didn't speak English. Her roommate, after a day or two, was a teen injured in an auto accident that killed her brother (another teen had been driving them and lost his legs in the accident).
Early the morning on her birthday, I called KidThree to wish her a Happy Birthday, but was surprised to hear a very sad voice on the other end of the phone. I asked what was wrong and KidThree wailed, "my friend got killed last night!" That girl was an honor student with a part-time job; she had saved up and bought her own car; and was on the right track to make a success of her life; but someone at the party she had attended got mad at something someone else said and went home for a gun, then came back and shot wildly in the direction of the party. This girl, who had not a blasted thing to do with whatever that argument was, was sitting in the front seat of her car when she was hit in the head by a stray bullet and killed. A tragedy all the way around, and a reminder of just how lucky we were that KidThree survived her shooting, something that was not a given.
That was not a Happy Birthday.