The sole Dawson College shooting victim remaining in hospital is making what doctors call a "miraculous" recovery in Montreal, where he spoke for the first time in an exclusive interview with CBC.
"I think Iâll be able to have my life back in a short time," saidLeslie Markofsky, 23,who was shot in the head on Sept. 13 when a Montreal man opened fireat the school.
"Iâve been motivated to get to that point physically and cognitively. Iâm working with the professionals here and we're reaching progress faster than expected, which is all I can ask for."
Markofsky, who recently graduated from Dawson and was starting a business program at Concordia University, wasvisiting his alma mater and chatting with friendsoutside the main doors when mayhem broke out as the gunman started shooting randomly outside.
Markofsky was shot in the head and the bullet pierced his skull. He was still consciouswhen a physical education teacher rushed out of the school to help him. By the time an ambulance arrived a few minutes later, Markofsky had lost consciousness.
He was taken to the nearby General Hospital and underwent surgery to remove bullet fragments from his skull. Doctors medically induced a coma and he spent the next couple of weeks breathing with the help of a ventilator.
His mother, Ida Markofsky, says there was little to do but endure the painful wait.
"[Doctors] told me to take it day by day in the ICU, and nothing more. He was under a lot of sedation," she told CBC Thursday night.
After two weeks in limbo, doctors were able to give Markofsky some indication of her sonâs prognosis.
"[They] said hopefully he'll be able to make a recovery, but we expect him to make a full recovery. There could be some slight disabilities, but weâll deal with that later on."
When Markofsky regained consciousness, he had no idea what had unfolded at the Dawson entrance. He didn't remember getting shot and he didnât know why he was in the hospital.
'I knew where I was'
"When I finally woke up [from the coma], I didn't realize at that point what was happening. I knew where I was, but I didn't know why, obviously. But I saw my best friend here, I saw my parents here. So I knew it must be all right, on some level."
For the next few weeks, Markofsky was fuzzy about the details of Sept. 13.What he knew was that doctors weremaking him wear a plastic red helmet all the time to protecthis skull.
"I couldn't understand why I needed it. It was so uncomfortable. It caused headaches, and of course, I wanted to take it off. But my parents and the surgeons and the nurses kept on saying it was to protect you."
When he was told what happened, it felt like it had happened to someone else,Markofsky said. "It seemed surreal, like something that only happens on the newsâ¦ not to me."
Doctors said Markofsky's recovery has surprised the medical team in charge of his care.
Few signs of trauma
Many expected it would take him at least six months and up to two years to heal. But he can walk and talk with comfort and except for the plastic helmet, there are few outward signs of the trauma he survived six weeks ago.
His mother said she's grateful for the good wishes and prayers her family has received from people around the world.
"The world isn't such a bad place. There are a few bad people, we know that. But all in all, it's a great place."
Doctors expect his recovery to continue after reconstructive skull surgery performed Friday.
Markofsky will be transferred to a rehabilitation centre where he'll continue physiotherapy and cognitive therapy to help him regain focus and concentration.