Sometimes, Shana Lee Nye Sholly smiles, or she moves her eyes in a way that convinces her family and friends that she understands her situation and is trying to communicate.
“She’s doing as well as can be expected,” said Christine O’Riley Hartman, a close friend of the family. “She’s still not vocal. She’s on a feeding tube. There’s no real significant movement. … She’s bedridden.”
Sholly, who was critically injured after being hit by a vehicle in January 2020, remains largely unresponsive.
“We think she’s communicating,” Hartman said. “She’ll smile sometimes. We got her doing some eye blinks for yes or no, so we’re thinking she’s communicating with us.”
But, beyond that, Sholly’s prognosis isn’t good – although the people close to her refuse to give up hope for further improvement.
“I think what we have is what we have,” Hartman said. “We’re hoping and praying for more. … She is working with different therapies to try to regain some more movement.”
Sholly, a graduate of Lebanon High School, worked as an advocate for foster children in addition to raising two daughters of her own. She was struck between 3:30 and 4 p.m. on Jan. 10, 2020, during a home visit, while standing next to her parked car along Route 422 in Cleona.
She suffered a traumatic brain injury, a broken neck, a ruptured spleen and a lower lumbar fracture, Hartman told LebTown.
Initially transported to Hershey Medical Center, Sholly spent months in a coma. Hartman provided updates to Sholly’s condition on the GoFundMe page.
“We’ve had some ups and downs, fevers, blood clots, pneumonia, rapid heart rates, but those slight movements of her arms and mouth are so encouraging,” Hartman wrote on Jan. 24, 2020. A week later, Sholly had been moved to a new location for specialized care, and Hartman noted “she has a very long road ahead of her.”
By mid-February, she remained in a coma but had “opened her eyes a few times and continues to move her mouth, and sometimes hands, when she’s spoken to,” and by the end of the month, Hartman wrote, Sholly could squeeze her sister’s hand and was breathing entirely on her own.
Tragically, the spreading COVID-19 virus began limiting the number of people who could see Sholly, as well as the frequency of their visits. For several weeks, the only visits were via FaceTime.
Through it all, Hartman provided updates on Sholly’s care, including surgeries and other procedures, as well as milestones for her children – birthdays and other holidays, school, family interactions. She also begged people to pay attention on the road and not drive while distracted or impaired – the cause of Sholly’s injuries.
“Her voice! We heard her voice tonight, no words but sounds!” Hartman wrote on Feb. 12, 2021. “Loud sounds, it came with some coughing and heartbreaking crying but it was her. Oh how I’ve missed this. We can’t wait to have her home.”
And, finally, on July 30, Hartman wrote, “our girl has finally come home! Home to her loving family and 2 beautiful babies! This has been such a journey. We now start a new chapter to this senseless tragedy, but now she can actually physically feel the love we have for her. We are so hoping that this helps to further her recovery. She was all smiles knowing she was home to stay. Her girls, parents, sister, brother, and all her loved ones are so relieved.”
Sholly lives now in a special “bungalow” built for her at her parents’ home. Her parents, Hartman said, are the stricken young woman’s primary caregivers and share custody of her daughters with their biological father. Sholly also has round-the-clock care by nurses in the home.
“We are trying to help her daughters … to lead the most normal life they can without their mom,” Hartman said. The girls – Jordyn, 7, and Haidyn, 3 – “have adapted very well,” she said. “They’re young. There’s a great family and friend connection, they have a lot of resources. We’re doing everything we can to keep things as normal as we can.
“It’s important that they now can see her every day. Before, because of COVID, they couldn’t do that,” she added. “I think that’s helped Shana tremendously, and it’s also helped the girls.”
Hartman organized a GoFundMe campaign to help with Sholly’s medical costs. The campaign initially sought $10,000, then bumped the goal to $15,000. Currently, donations stand at $15,045, from 179 individual donors.
The campaign is still active, as Sholly’s expenses continue to mount.
The donations helped “tremendously,” Hartman said.
“It’s still helping,” she said, noting the money has been used to defray living expenses for Sholly, who is now 34, and her daughters, as well as medical and long-term care costs. Sholly’s house and car were sold to raise additional funds, she said.
Now, Hartman said, they would like to raise enough money to provide Sholly’s parents with a handicapped-accessible van.
A van, she explained, would give Sholly more mobility. Currently, she said, she’s confined to her parents’ house, leaving only for visits to a doctor or hospital, and usually traveling by ambulance.
“It would be awesome next summer to get her down to a softball game,” Hartman said. “She couldn’t talk to anybody, but at least she could be there, and outside.”
Years before, Hartman and Sholly had bonded playing together on the softball diamond, and she would love to share that memory with her friend.
“It’s hard,” Hartman admitted. “She’s young, and to know how vibrant she was – she was all about her children, and this is hard for someone who’s close to her. Her parents and her family have been phenomenal, but her parents have had to adjust their lifestyle a lot.
“We’re just glad she’s here. We can see and touch her now. She’ll smile and she’ll blink her eyes at us.”
Hartman said she hopes people will keep Sholly in their thoughts and prayers.
“She’s still hanging in there,” she said. “She’s fighting every single day.”
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