Maggie McQuillen: 100 days of healing

CORALVILLE — When Maggie McQuillen got here residence June 6, she walked into an environment with out expectations.

“It’s each day right here,” stated her father, Matt McQuillen. “If we speak about expectations, there’s a possibility for failure, and that’s not acceptable.”

Each step ahead is a victory. Every single day is a bonus.

“There isn’t any sufferer mentality in our home,” Matt stated.

Saturday marks 100 days since Maggie — a current graduate of Anamosa Excessive College, the place she was a four-sport athlete — was concerned in a near-fatal accident. She was southbound on Freeway 151, en path to a exercise at Downing Area in Anamosa. It’s believed {that a} semi pulled into the trail of McQuillen, who was driving her Nissan Altima.

“I don’t keep in mind something about it,” the 18-year-old McQuillen stated throughout an interview Tuesday, after ending a two-hour rehabilitation session at On With Life, an outpatient neurological clinic which she attends 3 times per week for occupational remedy, speech remedy and bodily remedy.

“I want I did.”

McQuillen’s first post-accident recollection comes from a Could dialog together with her mom, Beth McQuillen, at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago.

The dialog, Maggie stated, went like this:

Maggie: “The place are we? What time is it? What day?”

Beth: “We’re in Chicago. You have been in an accident, about 2 half months in the past.”

Maggie: “Did I trigger the accident? Is it my fault?”

Beth: “No. It wasn’t your fault.”

Maggie: “Good.”

McQuillen practically died on the scene, struggling large trauma to her cranium, mind, face and jaw. Her left ear was severed. She was rushed to College of Iowa Hospital and Clinics.

Every week later, she underwent a 16-hour mind surgical procedure.

“The primary eight or 9 days, it was contact and go,” Matt stated. “We didn’t know if she was going to make it.”


McQuillen had some key elements on her aspect, although. Her youth. Her degree of exercise. Her dedication.

“Undoubtedly, her prior degree of exercise has made a giant distinction,” stated Paula Duve, her major bodily therapist at On With Life. “And we need to get again to that degree.

“Maggie is performing some nice issues when she comes right here. She’s actually enjoyable to work with. She’s open to attempting something. She desires to make it tougher.

“It’s a enjoyable problem for each of us.”

Throughout Tuesday’s occupational-therapy session, McQuillen baked and served cookies (scrumptious, by the way in which). Throughout a 15-minute physical-therapy window by which The Gazette was allowed indoors, Duve labored McQuillen via an train by which she stood on one foot and maneuvered a stand with wheels together with her different leg. Then it was an agility ladder exercise, form of a hopscotch routine.

McQuillen aced each of them.

“I really feel regular,” she stated. “I can’t leap as excessive as I might, however aside from that, I really feel regular.”

McQuillen, arguably, was the highest feminine athlete within the Anamosa Excessive College Class of 2020. She was a River Valley Convention all-division choice in volleyball and basketball. In softball, she was the beginning third baseman final season because the Raiders went 31-5 and reached the Class 3A regional finals.

In observe and subject, she was a member of Anamosa’s 3A state runner-up distance medley relay final yr, and ran on a fifth-place 3,200-meter relay.

McQuillen is a widely known highschool athlete. And as she started restoration, first at UIHC (March 19-April 18), then at Shirley Ryan (April 18-June 6), support came from Anamosa and beyond.


Instantly, ribbons and photos confirmed up at Downing Area. A marketing campaign, known as Shifting four Maggie, started with T-shirts (“Beast Mode” was a typical theme). B&W Racing Services conducted an online virtual race, by which 386 rivals from Japanese Iowa, out of state and abroad filed occasions, in 1 mile, 5K and 10Ok.

When league rival Northeast got here to Anamosa for a softball sport Thursday, the visiting staff wore shirts in McQuillen’s honor.

Again residence now, McQuillen attends softball video games together with her mother and father. She catches up together with her pals. She loves playing cards, particularly euchre. She has resumed her Sunday ritual of Dungeons and Dragons. She was within the household’s swimming pool this week.

She sleeps nicely at evening, “however she desires to remain up late,” Beth stated.

McQuillen was requested if she considers her survival, and her therapeutic, a miracle.

Her eyes widened.

“Type of,” she stated. “I believe I’m getting higher due to my sports activities, my wholesome consuming … I’ve all the time cooked fairly wholesome, for myself and my mother and father.

“I nonetheless need to go to school, and I nonetheless need to be (an emergency-room) physician.”

Her father was proper. There’s no sufferer mentality on this household.

A neuropsych take a look at is scheduled July 13. That, Beth stated, will “determine any deficiencies within the mind, and the place they’re.

“We’re nonetheless going to have hurdles, nevertheless it’s nothing we are able to’t deal with.”

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