LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — It's all about mobility for Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Officer, Shay Mikalonis. His recovery from a near fatal gunshot wound two years ago is now shifting to what Shay and his family see as giant leaps in his progress. He remains determined not to give in to the hurdles he faces.
"The message has always been it gets better, but like anything else, you have to work for it."
Recovery is hard work. Just ask LVMPD Officer Shay Mikalonis. After being shot two years ago, his injuries have left him with limited mobility and needing a ventilator to breathe. His family has been at his side every step of the way.
"When he has good days, he's happy. When they're not so great days…he realizes they're not so great days, but he'll move forward,” said Patrick Neville, Shay’s stepfather.
Shay is now focused on getting off the ventilator for brief periods so he can breathe on his own. Neville says in May, Shay had a special pacer surgically placed to make that happen.
"Just like a heart pacer, it sends electrical charges to the phrenic nerve which contracts the diaphragm which gives him the ability to breath on his own,” he said.
Breathing on his own, if briefly, is a goal that will take time to achieve. Neville says Shay has to re-learn how to breathe with help from therapists at the Magee Rehabilitation Hospital in Philadelphia, a nationally recognized facility for spinal cord injuries. There, Neville says Shay has interacted with other patients and found solidarity.
"He has something in common with other people who have been through this situation and that motivated him to press through the bad times,” he said.
Neville says the best-case scenario would be for shay to be off the ventilator for several hours at a time, improving his quality of life. He says the community support Shay receives keeps his spirits high.
"The cards, the letters, just the positive feedback. The positive things we've gotten from people in Las Vegas has been outstanding,” Neville said.
As Shay's recovery continues, Neville has a message of optimism for families going through the same journey.
"There is potential hope for people in the same situation as Shay,” Neville said.
Shay will continue to be in Philadelphia for at least the next several weeks for his rehab. If the sessions go well, he and his family will eventually come back home to the valley.