The holidays are a time for people to reflect and appreciate what they have.
For Alana Castaneda, that’s more true than ever this year.
Castaneda shared her story of survival after being shot in the face during a brutal carjacking at the Alamo Quarry Market in early November.
Almost two months later, she’s sharing her recovery story and her changed outlook on life.
“You’re the very first one to actually see me right after I got out of the hospital, Castaneda said.
We sat down back at her apartment complex like last time, but this time we were outside.
“The sun shining on me,” Castaneda said.
There are some obvious differences this time.
“I’m doing a lot better. Slowly but surely, but much, much better,” Castaneda said.
Castaneda’s face has changed, the brown is coming out in her eyes and her stitches are finally out.
Even her doctors are impressed with her fast recovery.
“My doctor said ‘If you want to start working out and doing light workouts and you can go ahead,’” Castaneda said.
Right now, her focus is on physical therapy, working to loosen the scar tissue on her jaw from the gunshot. Then she can open it fully.
“I have to like, sit there and it’s very painful, but I have to like, push through it because I want to be able to, like, bite into a burger or a sandwich someday,” Castaneda said with a chuckle.
When she’s healed further, she’ll have another surgery to fix problems her doctor couldn’t get to initially.
“A little piece of bone that’s sitting in my sinuses, and when I like moved my jaw, my eyeball moves,” Castaneda said. It’s not just the physical side. Her mental health journey is another mountain she’s climbing.
Thursday was the first time Alana has been back to Whole Foods since Nov. 2. She wanted to see the woman she says saved her life that fateful night.
“Just to see her again. That would be my Christmas present,” Castaneda said.
Now that she’s getting her life back, she says she’s approaching it differently by slowing down.
”I’m readjusting and my life has completely changed. So I kind of want to see what this one’s all about,” Castaneda said. “The most meaningful thing is spending time with your friends and family. I mean, that’s life.”
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