Nineteen-year-old college student Kylie Ossege says her horse Blaze is her best friend.
"He's just awesome. He takes care of me. He's so safe. He's just a big puppy dog — as we like to describe him," said Ossege.
But while Ossege can groom Blaze and walk with him, riding the 13-year-old quarter horse is out of the question.
"The injuries I received that day was a broken right clavicle, two broken ribs and a spinal cord injury," she said.
Ossege was one of seven people injured in a mass shooting at Oxford High School in suburban Detroit. Nearly two years ago, a teenage shooter armed with a 9 mm semi-automatic handgun opened fire, killing four.
"I was the longest victim that was hospitalized. A lot of the other victims were released after a couple of days or maybe a week. But I was in the hospital for almost two months," she said.
The day of the shooting, doctors removed a portion of her vertebral bone. But she told The Associated Press the pain continued.
"It's a constant, every-single-day, 24/7 pain. It never goes away. The only thing that makes it feel better is taking medications and laying down or sitting down," she said.
"Yeah, Kylie unfortunately suffered a gunshot wound to her spine, which thankfully did not paralyze her, but left her with a significant injury such that her spine began to curve forward — something called kyphosis, or sometimes we call it a spinal deformity," said Dr. Daniel Sciubba, who was one of a team of surgeons who operated on her.
Sciubba performed a five-hour follow-up procedure at New York's Lennox Hospital using screws and rods to stabilize Ossege's spine.
"In terms of getting back to her activities, now it's a matter of recovery. She has hobbies like tennis and horseback riding. We expect her to get back to those," he said.
The long hours recovering have given her time to think about the shooting, the long string of people hurt and killed in firearm attacks in America and how much her horse Blaze has helped her get through it all.
"He definitely provides a lot of hippotherapy for me. Just being around him definitely improves my mood," she said. "They know what you're feeling in that moment, and they can truly provide as much comfort to you as they can. Even if it's just small things like just allowing you to groom them or nuzzling up against you or nickering at you when they see you for the first time. It's seriously such a big mental health boost."
Ossege said she plans to be in court for her shooter's sentencing in December, and added that she still believes "there is light in this world."
Trending stories at Scrippsnews.com