Looks Bright: Small steps show major growth

Published 12:15 am Saturday, April 9, 2016

ESJH junior proves doctors wrong as she readies for prom after being told she wouldn’t walk again 

Mia Matthews doesn’t remember the crash that changed her life forever.

It’s been a little over four years since Mia, then 13, was with a group of friends coming home from the movie theater. The group of children tried to run across Airline Highway in LaPlace when “it” happened. Mia was hit by one car, thrown and hit by a second vehicle.

Mia Matthews holds a picture of herself shortly after a violent wreck four years ago that left her with dim prospects for recovery.

Mia’s aunt, Donna Matthews, said by the time the ambulance reached Mia her head had swollen to the size of a watermelon.

“It was (March 31) that marked four years,” Donna said. “She was hit by the first car that was doing over 40. Then she was projectiled into an SUV. We didn’t care what condition she was in, if we had to wipe drool or change diapers, we didn’t care because God still saved her. It’s a miracle that she is still here.”

Donna said Mia’s injuries included a broken right arm, pelvic fracture, a broken leg that needed to be set with pins and severe brain trauma.

From being in a wheelchair to having to use a walker, Mia, now 17, said she is walking better. It has been almost two years since she left her wheelchair behind and for the past few months she has been relying less on her walker.

“She can maneuver herself around the house,” Donna said. “Her mother said she caught her trying to go outside, so we know she can get outside. Now, when we take her to the store, we let her push her own buggy and we are just trying to break her away from the walker.”

Donna said Mia can walk short distances without the walker and is improving so much that she is going to the East St. John High School prom April 23; hopefully, without assistance.

“I’m a little scared to go without a walker,” Mia said. “I might fall, but I know I’m not but I’m still scared.”

Even though Mia is nervous she is still excited to go to the dance. She plans to wear the red dress that she wore on her 16th birthday. The dress is shorter in the front, which Donna feels will be easier for her to walk around in.

Donna said she was unable to attend her high school prom so she feels blessed, at 44, to be able to escort Mia to hers.

The two have a bond that is easy to spot.

“Before the accident, I would help her with everything,” Mia said. “I love this woman.”

Doctors told Mia’s family that she would basically be a vegetable and not remember much, but she has proved them wrong.

“I know the area of LaPlace,” she said. “I remember who people are, like family members. I know where everything is in my room and in stores. I want to go back to the doctors, see them and say, ‘I’m here, and you guys were wrong.’”

Even though she may struggle, Mia said her East St. John classmates remain helpful.

“Sometimes I use the walker to get around to go to class,” Mia said. “It makes me feel happy that they are supportive. I thought everyone would treat me differently, but they don’t.”

Mia has a bit of advice for those who may be struggling with the type of rehabilitation she is experiencing.

“I want people to know that I’m doing better and that Mia is coming back,” she said. “I want people to know they should never give up on themselves. Always keep trying. If I can do it, I’m pretty sure other people can too.”