AUSTIN (KXAN) - After two months in medical facilities following injuries sustained during a hit-and-run in Downtown Austin, Kylie Doniak is waking up in her own bed at home Thursday morning.
"This really is a journey, and we never know where we're going next," read a post by her sister, Alyssa, on the CaringBridge website Wednesday.
Doniak moved back home to California in late February so she could continue her rehab but for the first time on Wednesday headed to the comfort of her home to sleep in her own bed.
She starts a day program Thursday where she is able to live at home and go to therapy during the day.
"As Kylie pulled into our neighborhood, she was greeted with the most amazing outpouring of love. All of our incredible neighbors had signs on their lawns saying 'Welcome Home Kylie' and they decorated our driveway with chalk welcoming her home and telling her they love her," posted Alyssa. "I definitely shed quite a few tears after seeing all of it and I know I speak for my mom, dad, and sisters when I say how appreciative and completely speechless we were to arrive home in such a way. We are all just so thankful and blessed."
Alyssa said that while her sister's homecoming is very exciting, it puts a little more pressure on them -- especially their mother -- to be the best nurse they can be. They will be on call at all times.
"Kylie is walking around without her cane and talking up a storm, and all of the doctors and therapists are extremely impressed with her progress," wrote Alyssa. "We are so thankful that she has done so well so far and we cannot wait to see the progress that she will continue to make at her new rehab center."
Doniak's boyfriend and family, from Texas, have made a couple of trips to California to visit the recovering athlete.
In the meantime, Doniak's family is asking for prayers on new things:
- family's patience to continue on without end
- that the family can learn to adjust to the change
- that Doniak do well in the new rehab center and that therapists work well with her
- her short-term memory
- her speech
- pain management and no swelling
- for her knee not to cause her so much pain
- ability sleep throughout the night
- for her confusion and understanding
"She gets very confused a lot, and that is part of her coming into more and more reality. But it is hard for her and for us because there are things she just doesn't understand sometimes," posted Alyssa.
She said that her sentences don't always make sense but that it has been getting a lot better. Doniak is also putting the correct words into her sentences more often.
Doniak got some brief time away from her rehabilitation center in California to spend some quality family time at her grandfather's house for Easter -- and even found the coveted "Golden Egg" during the egg hunt.
"Today was the best Easter that my family could ever have asked for," read a post by Alyssa on April 8. "Kylie was able to leave the hospital for a little field trip and come to my grandparent's house for the day."
Photos from the CaringBridge website show the Doniak sisters posing for an Easter photo, among others of her bowling and kicking around the soccer ball with her teammates.
Doniak is reportedly making huge strides every day. It's a process that has transpired throughout 10 weeks, something her family said is "such a short amount of time in the big picture."
In the days leading up to Easter, Doniak -- who is showing more of her personality -- spent some time making a birthday card for her father and prepping to bake some cupcakes for his Friday celebration.
Meanwhile, Doniak continues to work through her speech and physical therapy, while her family focuses on getting her to eat and take in enough calories to sustain her daily activities.
Much of the recovery focus is on Doniak's short-term memory and her right knee. According to CaringBridge posts by family, it is the knee she had ACL surgery on in December and is the leg that now has the rod in the tibia following the February wreck.
While it is likely the ACL is torn again, family members said doctors are not sure if it is.
"It hurts her a lot when she walks, which inhibits her mobility," read a Thursday post by Alyssa. "They can't do surgery on it for awhile, so the only thing we can do is pain management. Pray also for her to sleep well each night and heal that body and brain so she can keep engaging in therapy full force!"
In addition, her feeding tube has been removed. Family members said they hope the hole in her neck closes up soon, and without infection, because it is very bothersome to Doniak while it heals.
Special note on Thursday from Doniak's mother and father, posted by Alyssa
"Special note from my mom and dad: Thank you so much for all of the love and support that we continue to receive. There are no words really for the amount of support that
we have been given these past couple of months. We know this will be a long road and we know that we are not alone in this. Everything, from the delicious homemade dinners being delivered to our house every week, to the visits from friends and family at the hospital (with snacks!), to the cards and letters we receive at home, does not go unappreciated, trust me! Every little thing has made this difficult time in our lives a little bit easier. Keep praying and watching God work through our amazing girl. We love you all!"
The first images of Doniak since the hit-and-run wreck showed her hugging her dad during physical therapy and another of her kicking a soccer ball as she's seated in a wheelchair.
A post March 12 read:
"Kylie had another good weekend and day today. She said hello when the phone rang and she is starting to slowly string together some words and get some thoughts out to us. It does not happen every time we ask her a question but it is sooo great to hear her voice!!!"
In late February, Chili's locations throughout the Central Texas area hosted a fundraiser for Doniak and her family. One is happening Wednesday in Glendora, Calif.
A man chased down the driver charged with running down Doniak, and crime victims' rights group and nonprofit organization Crime Victims First awarded 47-year-old Sisto Perez with a medal and a certificate of appreciation for his single-hand apprehension of the man.
Perez, who was riding his motorcycle downtown when a car ran over Doniak and others, said he was just helping police when he sprang into action.
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