APOLLO BEACH — Just two months ago, Mikayla Wiles needed only to flutter her eyelashes or raise an arm to give her family hope.
Mikayla, a 12-year-old student at Eisenhower Middle School, lay in a coma at Tampa General Hospital after getting hit by a car while on a Saturday morning run with her mother.
Thrown 70 feet by the impact, she had an injured brain and a collapsed lung. Doctors couldn't offer much good news about the girl with so much energy she had the nickname "Grasshopper."
But one recent morning, Mikayla was out with her mother, delivering pillows to the intensive care unit where she had been comatose for nine days. She's back at home near Apollo Beach, getting ready to return to school. She even hopped on the treadmill a few times until her doctor told her to slow down.
"You'd never know that just . . . weeks ago she got hit by car," said her mother, Leslee Wiles. "It truly is a miracle."
Mikayla, a cheerleader, was training for an upcoming half-marathon when she was hit Nov. 12. She suffered a traumatic brain injury as a result.
Her voice is still a whisper and she tires easily, which makes neurological tasks, such as concentrating on school work, much more difficult. She also gets overwhelmed: Her mother said Mikayla had to leave a shopping mall and a dinner party early because she got too anxious over the noise and people.
But her physical recovery has been remarkable, her doctors say, and she's also coming along on her cognitive recovery. She's taking therapy to help with her speech and ability to process information.
"I was blown away really to see how she's doing," said Dr. Paul Kornberg, medical director of pediatric rehabilitation at Tampa General Hospital. "She really has progressed very, very quickly."
Mikayla remembers little about the day she was hit, or even the week of it. Her last memory, she said, is running near her grandparents' church a week before she was hit.
Her mother remembers everything. She was running behind Mikayla, and watched her cross Big Bend Road near Heritage Greens Parkway, where the grassy shoulder narrows. She saw Mikayla look both ways. Then she saw the car coming around a corner, just as Mikayla was more than halfway across the road.
"I still can't close my eyes at night without hearing it or seeing it," she said.
The woman who hit her, Nicole R. Troupe, 36, of Riverview, has not been charged. Troupe stopped by the hospital to see Mikayla and speak with her mother. Troupe told her she'd been taking her children to a birthday party. One of the kids remarked on her shirt. Troupe turned around to look at them for a moment.
Mikayla's family has been overwhelmed by the people who wrote, called and brought food to the hospital. A restaurant, Mimi's Cafe in Carrollwood, even donated a percentage of its sales one night to Mikayla's care.
"We could never thank everyone individually," Wiles said. "You never have any idea of how many lives your kid's life touches."
Her doctor, Kornberg, said Mikayla will be under close watch for the next year. He said her recovery will require accommodations; she will need more time at school to complete tests, for instance.
Mikayla is used to making straight A's, her mother said.
"She was always a very good student," she said, looking over at her daughter.
"Thank you," she whispered.
Jodie Tillman can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3374.