A Colorado woman is speaking out about her devastating new reality after she was shot in the face last month.
Karen Escamilla is struggling to accept her current condition following the Oct. 11 shooting in Thorton, which left her with severe facial and jaw injuries, KDVR reports.
“This is not who I am,” she told the outlet during a recent interview. “I’ll be normal again, and that’s what I’m hoping for is that I can put this behind me and move on from something so tragic.”
Escamilla, 20, was driving through the Colorado city when she was shot in the face allegedly ya 16-year-old boy, who has not been identified, during a road rage attack, according to KDVR.
The bullet went through Escamilla’s cheek and lodged into her sinuses, leaving her jaw shattered in seven places. She was immediately admitted to the Intensive Care Unit, according to a GoFundMe page, where doctors repaired her cheek wound and temporarily wired her mouth shut for two months.
Additional surgeries are currently on hold as some of the wires, which have made it incredibly difficult for Escamilla to talk, must stay in her mouth for quite some time, KDVR reports.
“I have to let that heal before I can take on any surgeries,” she explained. “Everything is different: how I wake up, how I talk, how I eat.”
In an Oct. 25 post on Facebook, shortly after her first check-up, Escamilla revealed that the incident caused her to lose all bone and pallet inside her mouth, as well as the bone underneath her nose, and suffer a fracture to the right side of her face.
“The bone [in my mouth] needs to survive in order for me to be able to have teeth again,” she explained. “I am missing the whole bone underneath my nose meaning what I eat comes out my nose. Since the swelling went down I can no longer speak, I have to write everything down now.”
Weeks later, Escamilla gave another update, telling her followers that she’ll be out of wires sometime in December but unable to chew until mid-2020.
She also revealed her doctor’s plan for the coming months, which will include taking a chunk of bone from her leg and implanting it into her jaw to repair the injury.
Escamilla added that the surgery, which her doctor predicted would be sometime in March, would cause her to be on a feeding tube for two weeks, have a cast on her leg, and spend at least one week in the ICU.
“The unbelievable part is that my bottom jaw is untouched and no damage was done,” she wrote. “After this surgery, God willing if it goes good the next surgeries will be them cleaning up and starting to talk about teeth.”
As Escamilla focuses on her upcoming surgeries and recovery, the 20-year-old is also struggling with the financial costs of her procedures.
Her boyfriend Isaiah Wright told KDVR that her insurance isn’t covering the expenses for being airlifted to a different hospital and for surgeries deemed “cosmetic.”
“It’s really hard to focus on the medical bills when you’re focusing so much on her recovery because that’s really the ultimate goal is that she recovers every day,” he told the outlet.
To ease the financial burden, Wright helped create a GoFundMe for his girlfriend, which has since raised over $10,000.
As for the male suspect, KDVR reports that he was arrested and facing multiple charges, including attempted murder.
Though her life changed in an instant, Escamilla has nothing but an optimistic attitude moving forward.
“I’m grateful that I’m alive,” she told the outlet.
Elaborating in her Facebook post, Escamilla wrote, “I’m only twenty, 2 weeks ago I was buying furniture for my home, now I’m fighting to keep my bone inside my head alive.”
“I share my story because I’m not a victim I’m a survivor and this won’t define me,” she added. “This only makes me that much stronger, a bullet will never stop me, or my family.”
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