Malala recalls that she regained consciousness on October 16, 2012. Upon waking up, she was shocked to discover that she couldn't write legibly or speak intelligibly. Additionally, painkillers failed to dull her painful headaches, her vision was blurry, and she had no muscle control on the left side of her face. One of the first things Malala worried about was how her family would afford the hospital bill. Meanwhile, the Major General of military operations in Swat confessed to Ziauddin that both Zahid Khan and Malala were targeted by the same group of Taliban members. The confession angered Ziauddin, who believed that the army's compromised objectives allowed terrorists to flourish in the valley.
For her part, Malala was thankful just to be alive; her main goals were to see her parents and to go home. Unfortunately, her parents' flight to Birmingham was delayed because the Interior Minister, Rehman Malik, wanted to be part of the contingent to the Birmingham hospital. Malala remembers that plans for her parents' flight were only finalized when President Zardari became involved in the matter. While waiting to see her parents, Malala watched DVDs and began physical therapy sessions to regain her ability to walk. During this time, her spirits were buoyed by the 8,000 cards and gifts she received from well-wishers around the world. Many cards were from celebrities, politicians, and heads of state.
Malala remembers the emotional reunion with her family after she was moved out of intensive care. She especially recalls Ziauddin's grief about the loss of her smile. The bullet had damaged a facial nerve on the left side of her face, leaving her with little control over her expressions. During her recuperation, Rehman Malik (Pakistan's interior minister) revealed that Ataullah Khan was Malala's likely shooter. Although Malik reassured her that Ataullah would be brought to justice, Malala was doubtful. After all, Ataullah Khan still walked free, while Usman Bhai Jan, the Khushal School bus driver who transported her to the hospital, was in police custody.
On November 11, 2012, Malala underwent surgery to repair her damaged facial nerve. She reports that, after 3 months, 86% of the left side of her face had recovered. A few months later, on February 2, 2013, Malala underwent a titanium cranioplasty to have the exposed portion of her skull refitted with a metal plate. At this time, a cochlear implant was also inserted behind her damaged left eardrum. A month later, a receiver was fitted behind her left ear, which allowed Malala to hear from that ear for the first time since the shooting. Meanwhile, the Pakistan High Commission rented two apartments for Malala's family in Birmingham. Ziauddin was also made a United Nations special adviser and an educational attaché to the Pakistani consulate in Birmingham.
A large portion of Chapter 23 describes the damage Malala sustained in the aftermath of the shooting. It has been documented that three main factors affect whether a victim survives a bullet to the head: the velocity of the bullet, whether the bullet strikes crucial parts of the brain, and whether the bullet exits the head. In this chapter, Dr. Fiona explains to Malala that the bullet missed both her left eye and brain altogether, a miracle. Malala was also shot with a Colt .45, a pistol. Lower velocity bullets fired from handguns do much less damage than higher velocity bullets from military-grade rifles and machine guns. Last, but not least, the bullet exited Malala's head and lodged itself in her left shoulder. All three factors contributed to Malala's survival and high level of...
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recuperative progress. In the aftermath of numerous surgeries, Malala's access to excellent speech, occupational, and physical therapies also aided her continued recovery. Despite the Taliban's efforts, Malala survived and became a global icon for social justice. Far from extinguishing her courage, the Taliban had strengthened her resolve to speak up for millions of children still trapped in the cycles of poverty and ignorance.
Malala documents the surgeries she endured on the road to recovery. Despite her suffering, she rejoiced in her survival and thanked God for positive developments during every phase of her recovery. Malala's attitude demonstrates her personal humility and her abiding reliance on her Muslim faith. To Malala, a life of service is a life lived in adherence to the true principles of Islam. Thus, her interpretation of the Quran follows the Enlightenment view of liberty, where people of all faiths can enjoy a peaceful coexistence and harmony; she refuses to recognize the Taliban's draconian and elitist interpretations of the Quran as valid. In these chapters, the themes of courage and women's rights take center stage once again. Malala theorizes that her life was spared for a reason: so that she can continue to serve and help others.