In patient room 406 at Swedish Medical Center in Englewood, Colorado, Miracle Manzeneres is getting her hair done.
She is sitting in a chair in the bathroom, as a professional hairstylist teases her ends and puts small flowers in her bun.
It’s a big day, as Manzeneres has not had this sort of pampering in months.
“I’m excited. It makes me happy because they surprised me. I didn’t expect any of this,” she said in between spurts of hairspray.
This day is Manzeneres' senior prom. Last year, her junior year's prom was canceled because of the pandemic. Manzeneres had to miss this year's prom, too, because she has been in the hospital since January.
“The first surgery I had I got scared because I’ve never had anesthesia or anything, and so, I was getting scared and I was crying,” she recalled.
At the beginning of January, Manzeneres was at a party with some friends, when she was hit by a truck and pinned in a bonfire. She was airlifted to Swedish Medical Center, nearly 400 miles away from her hometown of Lander, Wyoming, with third-degree burns on more than 30 percent of her body.
“It’s so hard to see that end sometimes because it’s just this roller coaster of emotions and pain,” said Abbey Prives, the nurse who tended to Manzeneres during her time at Swedish Medical Center.
Over the course of the next two months, Prives would be by Manzeneres' side after every one of her 15 surgeries. Most of the procedures were to cover her burns with skin graphs that were cultured in a lab, and one was to fix a broken hand.
“You have your surgery then you feel better for a week and then we have to take you back in. Then, you go back to surgery, and it's just [this cycle],” explained Prives.
The two connected one day after one of Manzeneres' surgeries toward the end of January, when Prives asked what Manzeneres wanted to eat and she responded with, 'Flaming Hot Cheetos'.
“We kind of bonded over that,” said Prives, laughing.
The conversation kicked off a friendship, one where recovery and pain were not the only talking points.
“At 18 years old, I always remembered that you’re growing into your body, things are awkward, you’re getting used to your new look as a woman, and it can be very stressful without an injury,” said Prives. “And so, when [Miracle] told us she missed her senior prom, it kind of got me thinking of how can we make her a confident woman? How can we dress her up and show that yes, she does have scars, but she’s gorgeous.”
Prives started talking with the other nurses and things quickly came together. It was not long before a hairstylist was arranged, balloons were donated, and several of Manzeneres' friends from Wyoming made a surprise journey down I-25 to Denver to surprise the teen at her very own prom.
“I’m nervous.. excited,” said Manzeneres, laughing as she was escorted down the hospital hallway with her arm draped around her date, a nurse who had also helped tend to Manzeneres during her recovery.
“I’m just so happy for her,” said Prives. “She also requested some throwbacks [music]. I saw Usher [on the playlist] so I’m just excited to dance.”
And dance they did.
Doctors and nurses from other wings at the hospital stopped by to eat some food, drink some soda, and dance with Manzeneres as the affair wore on.
There was a photo booth, live DJ, everything to remind Manzeneres of her triumph and worth to those important in her life.
“Like this whole thing just melts my heart,” she said while she danced with some friends. “It makes me want to cry, but I’m not going to cry.”
They say there is beauty in the struggle. Experience this miracle and try to say otherwise.