Ali Nowotny will get to spend Christmas in White Lake with her family after all.

The Rapid City 17-year-old is expected to be released today from St. Marys Hospital, at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Doctors were willing to release Ali Tuesday, but her family asked that she have one more night in the hospital to recover.

Ali, who underwent a six-hour brain surgery to have a tumor removed Friday, was up walking around by Monday, family friend Carol Cooper said.

"She's completely steady on her feet," Cooper said.

Ali has worked with Mayo physical therapists, occupational therapists and speech therapists, and none plan any further care for her, Cooper said. "She's met all the requirements, and no one else needs to see her."

As was expected, Ali's comprehension of some things is being affected by the healing process, Cooper said. For instance, she had difficulty giving a definition of an "island," and she gave a literal definition of the meaning of the phrase "Don't cry over spilled milk." But therapists said those issues could improve over time.

Doctors warned Ali to take it slow at first, both physically and mentally. Later on, she also may have to adapt studying habits to meet limitations. "Learning may not be as easy as it was before," Ali's dad, Craig Nowotny, said. "The biggest key is going to be patience, … but it will come."

Ali remembers most things that happened after the surgery, including the Saturday morning MRI and the nurses pressing on her chest to rouse her, Cooper said. Although Sunday was the worst day for pain, she now requires nothing more than Tylenol.

The only unusual thing about Ali's case is the mass that her doctor removed. Although Ali's neurosurgeon, Nicholas Wetjen, felt confident the mass was benign, he was surprised to discover that its cells are inconsistent with a tumor. In other words, doctors at Mayo aren't exactly sure what the mass is, Cooper said. Mayo will do further testing on it.

Ali and her dad plan to leave Rochester as soon as she is released today and drive to White Lake, where Ali's paternal grandmother lives. There, they will spend Christmas with the entire extended family.

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Cooper, originally from Worthington, Minn., will spend Christmas there with her family.

Ali plans to stay in White Lake after Christmas, while her dad returns to work at St. Thomas More High School.

Ali will return to Rapid City in time to resume classes, possibly part-time, Jan. 5 at St. Thomas More.

Contact Lynn Taylor Rick at 394-8414 or lynn.taylorrick@rapidcityjournal.com

Title: Ali's Journey

Date: December 16th, 2008

Follow Ali Nowotny's journey as she travels to Minnesota to undergo brain surgery to remove a brain tumor.

Lynn Taylor Rick can be reached at 394-8414 or lynn.taylorrick@rapidcityjournal.com

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