Twenty-two-year-old Jackie Pickett, the victim of a brutal baseball bat attack in early January, returned to her Lodi home Saturday afternoon. Her recovery is coming along much quicker than her doctors expected.
There are a lot of ways to describe Pickett, but spend a few minutes with her, and you'll realize quickly that victim isn't one of them.
"This entire experience has brought me a more positive outlook, and I'm like, I've got things to do, I’ve got places to go, so much to do. And I'm just excited for life," she said.
This from a girl who just came home from a 19-day stint in the hospital, still suffering from the effects of a traumatic brain injury.
"When you're in a hospital for such a long time and you hear about all these people, you just want to see them,” Pickett said.
And she did Saturday morning — a full homecoming which is remarkable in itself. Doctors told her mother Amber Smith that Jackie's head and brain injuries from a vicious baseball bat attack could've been fatal.
If she did survive, walking and talking could be complicated. But her progress, not even three weeks later, is nothing short of miraculous.
"It was wonderful and it felt so good, like the energy just changed instantly. It was like, we're home,” Smith said. "I wanted to dance. I had this urge to hug strangers, and I was like you can't do that. It's not socially acceptable."
From the time Pickett was a baby, her mother said she'd love her even if she were a purple elephant. The theme stuck. So when Pickett came home to see elephant paintings, candles, and figurines adorn every corner of the room, she was surprised.
Elephants, known for good memory, are now a good omen as she works to regain hers, the family says. as she walked into her newly painted, refurbished bedroom, prepared for her by loved ones.
She's not out of the woods yet. Three different types of therapy, along with neuropsychology, have become her new routine. But her prognosis now is as positive as her spirit.
"Anything to get me better, faster, stronger — let's do it,” Pickett said. “I like to say this is my second chance at life."
A second chance she doesn’t plan on wasting.