Heather Abbott, survivor of Boston marathon bombing, focuses on the present


Heather Abbott, of Newport, R.I., underwent a below the knee amputation during surgery on her left leg following injuries she sustained at the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15, 2013. (Steven Senne/AP)

There is more than one way to cope with the trauma of the Boston Marathon bombing injuries. Heather Abbott of Newport, R.I., hasn’t watched a moment of the news coverage since she lost her left foot in the second of the two blasts April 15.

“I’m doing great,” she said in an interview Wednesday at Boston’s Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. “I’ve been focusing on getting my life back to normal. I don’t want to focus on [the coverage] and hinder my recovery.”

Abbott, 38, a human resources worker for Raytheon in Portsmouth, R.I., had three surgeries to determine whether her foot could be saved before she finally agreed to have it amputated. A prosthesis, her doctors agreed, provides a greater chance of a normal life than a damaged foot that is likely to need continued surgical care.

“It was a hard thing to say ‘yes’ to, but I haven’t regretted it,” she said. “And I haven’t had any doctor tell me I made the wrong decision.”

Abbott said she was in line to get into Forum, a bar near the finish line, when the second of two bombs went off. “I heard it go off, and the next thing I knew I was on the ground inside of Forum,” she said. “It blew me in. And my foot was on fire. And I was afraid to look at it.”

She added: “The last time I saw my foot was when I put it in my boot that morning. I didn’t look at it [after the bombing]. I didn’t look at it in the hospital.”

Everyone inside rushed to an alley outside the rear of the bar, and someone tied a tourniquet around Abbott’s lower leg to stem her bleeding. But ambulances couldn’t reach her in the narrow alley, so friends and bar patrons brought her back out the front on a makeshift cardboard stretcher, she said.

Abbott is nearly ready to leave rehab and is scheduled to be honored at a Boston Red Sox game Saturday at Fenway Park. She is worried about the cost of her ongoing care, but like most of the injured, she doesn’t dwell on the future.

“I’m just trying to focus on the fact that it’s just what I have right now,” she said. “I can’t change it.”

Lenny Bernstein writes the To Your Health blog. He started as an editor on the Post’s National Desk in 2000 and has worked in Metro and Sports.

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