Teen recovering after accident
Power of medicine and prayer credited for progress
For five weeks, Shadoe Barton's family had waited, hoping and praying. For five weeks, Shadoe had been in intensive care, undergoing nine surgeries. For five weeks, she hadn't spoken.
And then, on March 30, came her first word.
Five weeks earlier -- on Feb. 23, a Thursday -- Shadoe was on her way from Lawrence to Tonganoxie, planning to later judge a forensics tournament in Lansing. As she neared Reno, her car veered to the left on the highway and went into a watery ravine where it landed upside-down.
She was extricated from the car and flown by air ambulance to the University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, Kan.
Shadoe had suffered two skull fractures, dissected carotid arteries and strokes.
For weeks, Shadoe's family was at her side. Because of her head injuries, doctors had kept her in a drug-induced coma.
Then came March 30.
Doctors asked Shadoe whether she knew who was in the room with her.
Though her first word was spoken through a speaking valve inserted into her trachea, Shadoe
said "Momma," referring to her mother, Twen Barton.
Doctors also asked Shadoe what her name was, as well as that of her mother and her father, Harold Barton.
Shadoe's first word left Twen speechless.
"I cried," Twen said. "Big baby. It doesn't take much."
The words signaled a breakthrough in Shadoe's recovery. Before she spoke, her only communication came through nodding her head, usually to answer whether she was in pain.
On April 4, Shadoe was moved to a regular patient room at the hospital. That day, she also took her first sip of water since the accident.
"That was an exciting day for her," Twen said.
And April 10, she was transferred to the Mid-America Rehabilitation Center in Overland Park.
Last Wednesday, Shadoe's feeding tubes were removed, Twen said. On Thursday, Shadoe could "eat or drink anything she liked."
It turned out her appetite was making a comeback, as she had a hankering for pizza.
During an interview with The Mirror on Thursday in Tonganoxie, Twen received a call from Shadoe on her cell phone. She asked her mother to make a pizza stop before heading to the hospital.
More specifically, Shadoe, who couldn't eat food for six weeks, was hungry for cheese sticks.
Road to recovery
Shadoe fought an uphill battle in ICU.
In addition to the skull fractures and the dissected carotid arteries, Shadoe suffered a broken left arm, fractured nose and was bleeding internally.
In the first days after the accident, an infection spread through Shadoe's blood. She had fevers as high as 106 degrees for about three days. She suffered a stroke on the right side of her brain, which in turn affected the left side of her body.
"The doctors thought that Shadoe would be paralyzed on her left side," Twen said. "She does have limited movement in both her leg and her arm, but we're hopeful with rehab that she will walk again."
On Monday, with assistance, Shadoe took her first steps. Her father said she was determined to make substantial strides.
After walking about 75 feet, using a shopping cart for stabilization, Shadoe took a three-minute break and logged 60 more feet.
"She felt great, but she was tired," Harold said.
Two mini-strokes on the left side of Shadoe's brain have slowed her communication skills. Diagnosed with dysphasia, Shadoe has difficulty expressing herself verbally.
"That will get better as her brain continues to heal," Twen said.
The day of the accident, Shadoe, a Kansas University freshman, was traveling from Lawrence where she lives with her sister, Madea.
At THS, Shadoe was active in forensics and in the drama department. She held roles in several school plays. At KU, Shadoe is enrolled in women's studies.
At the scene
A familiar hand grasped Shadoe's shortly after the car landed in the ravine.
Jodi Bowersox called 911 on her cell phone and then walked down to the car to comfort Shadoe. Bowersox held her hand until paramedics arrived.
"I don't know that I did much," Bowersox said. "I sat there and held her hand. That's about it."
When Bowersox approach-ed the car, she didn't know who was in the car -- until a man who had arrived before her mentioned Shadoe's name.
"There's only one Shadoe in the area," Bowersox said.
Bowersox said she knew Shadoe well, as her son, Tristan, was in her class at THS and involved in forensics with her. Fellow Tonganoxie resident Bob Koontz also stopped to help. Koontz's son, Andy, was in Shadoe's class.
In addition to holding Shadoe's hand, Bowersox helped watch Shadoe's dog, Akira, which also was in the car. Later, Twen accepted Bowersox's offer to take Akira to a veterinarian.
"I guess the next day she was up running around," Bowersox said of Akira.
Bowersox said she had been traveling behind Shadoe, who was following a dump truck and started to pass it. But, Bowersox said, a car was in the oncoming lane. Kansas Highway Patrol reports showed the ravine in which Shadoe's car landed was about an 18-foot drop-off from the highway.
When Bowersox stood near the car, which was upside down, she realized how dangerous the accident had been.
"As flat as that car was," Bowersox said of the roof of the Dodge Neon, "it was amazing that she was alive."
Power of prayer
Throughout most of Shadoe's stay at the University of Kansas Hospital, she was in critical condition.
According to Twen, the power of prayer saw Shadoe through.
From Tonganoxie to Europe, people have kept Shadoe in their thoughts and prayers, Twen said.
Tonganoxie Christian and United Methodist churches have included Shadoe in their prayer chains. Through a friend of Shadoe's aunt, the 18-year-old is on a prayer chain in England. Those prayers have helped make the recovery special in Twen's eyes. And, she said the family is thankful for the community's support.
"It has been inspirational God's miracle's at work," Twen said. "The family wanted to share our story with the community to help others realize the power of prayer and that miracles do exist.
"In addition, we are hopeful that our tragedy may help inspire someone else in need."
On Easter Sunday, a religious holiday synonymous with families gathering for food and fellowship, the Barton family was no exception.
Shadoe's family ordered food from an Italian restaurant and had dinner together at the hospital.
"She requested fettucini alfredo," Twen said.