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The boy was also allergic to the anesthesia, and Nadia worried he would die. But his strength pulled him through, and Nadia, with her nursing assistant training, tried to make her son comfortable. "I never thought I would be taking care of my own baby in a hospital bed," she says.
One day, Nadia recalls, a nurse came in and pinched his right thigh, looking for feeling. Joshua began to sob, and so did Nadia. "Just to hear him cry was such a good feeling, 'cause I know it's something good," she says. "That's when I started having some hope." Still, Joshua wasn't exactly his old self, even as his health improved.
For one thing, he ate less. Usually he craved Chicken McNuggets, but she had to coax him to eat his favorite meal. He was also less talkative, and Nadia noticed that when her baby slept, he had nightmares, occasionally saying, "Mommy, I'm hurt," while tossing and turning.
Finally, on May 29, almost a month and a half after the shooting, Joshua was released from the hospital. He was given a child-size wheelchair — which is still too large for the toddler — and a mountain of receipts, prescriptions, and paperwork, which Nadia keeps in a school folder that reads "Life Skills" on the front. She's still not sure how she's going to afford everything he needs, including some over-the-counter vitamins that Medicaid might not cover.
Joshua is still a big boy for his age, but Nadia says he's lost weight since the shooting. He has his mother's almond-shaped eyes and flashes strangers a small, shy smile. Only Nadia can get him to really laugh, especially when she tickles him. He is paralyzed from the waist down, though he has some feeling in his legs. Doctors say there's hope for him to walk with physical therapy, which he is getting weekly. But for now he's in a wheelchair.
The same day her son was released from the hospital, Nadia received some news from a neighbor: Campbell, the only person arrested in connection with the shooting, had posted bond and was released from jail pending trial. She wonders how that could happen. "If I could talk to the guy who shot my son, I would ask, Why? Why couldn't they come to an understanding with the guy they were arguing with? Why did they shoot over a petty issue? What if it was their child that was shot? My baby was in the hospital, suffering over nothing."