Crash survivor nurses a broken bird that will fly again

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HEALING: Car crash victim Tina Jennen is recovering at home after being discharged from hospital. PHOTO / GEORGE NOVAK
HEALING: Car crash victim Tina Jennen is recovering at home after being discharged from hospital. PHOTO / GEORGE NOVAK

Tina Jennen is propped up in a wheelchair as she feeds cat food to an injured starling with a pair of tweezers.

It seems appropriate for her to do this, given the help she has herself received since having all her limbs broken in a head-on car crash on State Highway 2 on January 10.

This starling is also recovering from injury
This starling is also recovering from injury

During the month that Ms Jennen spent in a hospital bed, one of her four children found the bird lying outside with a broken leg and damaged wing. The children, aged 11 to 17, also adopted two young chickens that now live in the lounge in a wire and wooden box.

In her own way, Ms Jennen is also a box of birds.

"It's very nice to be home and connected to nature," the Welcome Bay woman says. "I had a fricken amazing surgeon. He saved my life, no question."

Ms Jennen's crash occurred while driving from the Katikati office of the Eurofins lab-testing company, where she works as a business unit manager, to a meeting with Priority One staff in Tauranga.

She was knocked unconscious, woke up in a Tauranga Hospital bed and had surgery to fix some of her broken bones with metal plates.

During this time the Bay of Plenty Times reported her story, prompting an outpouring of support on social media.

Ms Jennen has become a lot more mobile since being released from hospital on February 7. She cannot walk, but she has showered eight times by herself with the aid of a bench.

Tina Jennen, in hospital
Tina Jennen, in hospital

Three of her limbs are out of their casts, and she looks fine from the waist up. However, only her left arm can bear weight, and she faces a year of surgery and therapy on her crushed right ankle.

"I still need a brace for my right arm sometimes, and I've got this scar on my right elbow," she says. "But when I woke up after the accident I couldn't even move my fingers."

A nurse comes five days a week to help with care and housework, but Ms Jennen is keeping herself busy "learning self-care" and coaching her children in various things.

She hopes to get medical permission to ease herself into business development work after her condition is assessed in early March. She also plans to deliver a speech at a conference on April 1.

She is deeply grateful to the medical staff who helped her recover, and to the people who continue to offer her support. A friend is just about to drop in with a sushi lunch, for example.

"I have a really long road ahead," Ms Jennen says. "But I'm actually so positive."

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