'I've come a long way': A year on, Danforth shooting survivor Danielle Kane hopeful through pain

Danielle Kane and her boyfriend, Jerry Pinksen, were out for a friend's birthday at a busy restaurant in Toronto's Greektown neighbourhood on a summer Sunday. It was the evening of July 22, 2018.Outside 7Numbers, commotion broke out on Danforth Avenue; a frantic woman burst in saying someone had been shot.Pinksen, a emergency room nurse, and Kane, a nursing student at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, immediately got up to help.They hardly made it out the door when they came face-to-face with Faisal Hussain, who fired at least eight bullets in their direction.One of them tore through Kane's stomach and diaphragm before shattering her T11 vertebra, near the base of her spine.In that moment, Kane became one of the 13 people injured in the mass shooting that also claimed the lives of 18-year-old Reese Fallon and 10-year-old Julianna Kozis.Hussain, 29, died of a self-inflicted shot to the head after a gunfight with police. Kane, 32, who spent 11 days in a medically induced coma and underwent multiple surgeries, survived. The National first spoke to Kane last summer, just a month after the shooting, at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, where she was immersed in intensive physical therapy.A year later, this time in the lobby of the downtown apartment building she and Pinksen share, Kane appears effervescent. She spoke to us on what she calls a "good pain day."Pain the new normal"It's been a really tough year. I'm really surprised about how long the rehabilitation process is taking, especially regarding the chronic pain that I'm experiencing," Kane told The National's Andrew Chang. "It's like an intense pins-and-needles feeling from my waist down. It's quite all encompassing. Like half your body is trapped in concrete."Kane's pain management regimen includes a variety of medications, including pregabalin (Lyrica) in addition to CBD oil and medical marijuana, which helps her from feeling overwhelmed by constant, nagging pain. Kane says the pain, more than the inability to walk, is the most debilitating aspect of her recovery."We knew that the disability, the paraplegia ― she will never walk again ― was an issue and we were preparing for that. But this new element of pain, it's been difficult," Pinksen said. "The pain management takes up all of her day and there's nothing I can do to take her pain away."Kane struggles with constant, daily pain. But with the support of her partner, she's building a new life. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)A year ago, the question of regaining some mobility in her legs remained open. Now she, and Pinksen, have moved beyond that hope."Honestly, it's hard for me to see all the other able-bodied young people and just seeing how freely they move through the world. And it just it reminds me of what was taken away from me.… It's hard," Kane said."When I have those thoughts, I kind of need to, like, go home and into a private space where I can kind of digest those thoughts, and, I guess, focus on the fact that I'm so lucky to be here still."Mental health and the shooterIn her first interview with The National in September 2018 , Kane expressed sympathy for Hussain. At the time, she avoided using his name. Now she doesn't hesitate."Faisal clearly had these issues for a long time and he fell through the cracks," she said. "The investigation showed just how long he had been dealing with mental health issues and clearly he needed help and he didn't get it." WATCH: Danforth shooting survivor Danielle Kane on why she feel ...Read more

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