Cape woman thoroughly recovered from 2008 gunshot wound to head

Friday, September 11, 2009
Kristina Bosco walks her dog, Karma, at Capaha Park. (Fred Lynch)

As she traced her fingers along the top of her head, Kristina Bosco felt where her skull fit back into place after surgery.

For Bosco, 31, the hardest part about recovering from a gunshot wound to the head was having patience. She wanted to continue her life as soon as possible, she said.

"It was three months before I was well enough to go back to work," said Bosco, a nurse. "It drove me crazy because I have worked every day since I was about 15 years old,"

She said she realizes her life will never be the same but considers herself lucky.

Last September, police found Bosco in her Cape Girardeau home bleeding from two gunshot wounds. Her stepfather, Donnie Newell, shot her before killing himself. She had three initial surgeries to relieve pressure on her brain and remove bullet fragments.

"I remember when I woke up I thought, 'Wow, I am here,'" she said. "It takes a little while for you to collect your thoughts and to get things together."

Since her recovery she has fallen in love and is pregnant with her second child, a son due in December. She is also ready to start classes at Southeast Missouri State University next year to study social work.

Some bone and bullet fragments are still in the left side of her brain, but there have been few repercussions from her injuries. Sometimes she slurs certain words but has learned to move her mouth differently, she said.

Neurosurgeon Dr. Joel Ray said her survival and thorough recovery were a rare occurrence.

"I guess if you believe in miracles, you'd have to say it's miraculous," he said.

Many neurological functions, like coordination, thought and her senses, could have been damaged.

"To expect that quality of outcome is statistically -- I wouldn't say impossible, just stunning," he said.

Having determination was a big part of her recovery, Ray said.

"She wanted to come back from that experience and have a life," he said.

The circumstances surrounding the shooting are still a mystery. Bosco said the family has come up with an explanation though they will never know for sure.

She said she prefers not to dwell on it.

"It still kind of cuts me sometimes, but I can't let it rule what I do every day," she said.

She said she sympathizes with her mother, who lost her husband.

"I think she had a bit of a harder time dealing with things than me or anybody else because she had it two ways," she said.

Bosco was a teenager when Newell married her mother. She said he was a big part of her life and loved her mother.

"He was so good to her, and that was a big thing for me," she said.

The past year has given her more appreciation for the small joys in life -- being greeted at home by the dog, having the cat curled up in her lap or helping her daughter, Emalee.

"That makes me happy because that's love," she said.

During recovery, Bosco also found love unexpectedly. She met Eddie Gibson in January, and the couple started dating and developing a serious relationship.

"It scared me for sure, especially because everything was pretty fresh and new," she said. "It was very surprising and very much needed."

She said he understood what she was going through and was supportive.

Looking back on the whole experience, she said, her most vivid memory was returning home from the hospital. Friends and family redecorated her bedroom with new floors, a bed and the blue walls she always wanted. Above all, she said, they did not treat her differently.

"All in all, she's the same Kristina," said her mother, Kathy Newell.