When the bullet struck David Ortiz in the back, he felt a burning sensation, he said, then life turned into a nightmare.

Patrons seated around him, including his friends, at a trendy bar in Santo Domingo scattered at the sound of the gunshot. Ortiz tried to get up and run, too, but fell to the ground injured. He lay there alone bleeding on the floor.

“Then this angel comes out of nowhere,’’ he told the Boston Globe on Saturday, his first interview with an English language publication since he was shot June 9.

It was Eliezer Salvador, another patron. He helped Ortiz to his Rolls-Royce then drove him to a hospital. When doctors wheeled Ortiz into the operating room, Salvador was left holding Ortiz’s bloody clothes and his diamond-crusted jewelry.

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Since the shooting, Ortiz has dealt with three surgeries, a near-fatal bacterial infection and psychological wounds that the gregarious “Big Papi” says he still endures.

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“People need to understand, this isn’t a movie where you get shot in the street and you’re back two minutes later,” Ortiz told the Globe. “No, I got shot and almost died. I only have one life to live. I can’t just go to the pharmacy and buy another one.”

Ortiz was shot once at close range. The bullet ripped through his torso and damaged his intestines, gallbladder and liver. Doctors at a hospital operated for six hours to save Ortiz’s life. When he returned to the United States and Massachusetts General Hospital, he went almost immediately into a second surgery.

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But three weeks later, an acute bacterial infection ravaged his digestive system. He shook with fever and required yet another surgery.

“It was very dangerous,’’ Ortiz told the Globe. “I got to the point that I started losing hope.’’

For seven weeks, he couldn’t keep food down, and received nourishment through feeding tubes. He could swallow only ice chips. His mouth ached, it was so dry.

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“I had nightmares all the time about being in the desert, looking for water,” he said. “I would wake up with my mouth dry and feeling like I’m going to die.”

He awoke from a nightmare one day to see his sister seated at his bedside with her Bible open. Ortiz told the Globe she was “arguing with God, asking for help.” But several days later, his condition improved. He ate his first meal — a bowl of soup — and returned home a couple weeks later.

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Friends from around Major League Baseball — from the Yankees, Phillies and, of course, Red Sox — visited and called to check on him.

But the former slugger’s mind remains fixed on why he was shot.

The attack, according to Dominican officials, was a professional hit intended for Ortiz’s friend, Sixto David Fernendez. The two were seated near one another the night of the shooting. As Ortiz recovered, speculation spread about why someone would try to kill one of baseball’s living legends and one of the Dominican Republic’s favorite sons.

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“I don’t why I was involved in something like this because I’m not the type of person who looks for trouble or causes trouble. All I worry about is trying to help people, about trying to do the right thing,” Ortiz said.

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Several suspects have been arrested in connection with the attack, including the alleged mastermind, Ortiz said he doesn’t know of any of them.

He hired former Boston police commissioner Ed Davis last month to investigate the shooting. “I’m not going to sit around and chill if there’s somebody out there who wants to kill me,” Ortiz said.

Ortiz said he feels good now three months after the shooting. He is thinner after losing 40 pounds in the hospital, but regaining some weight. In a number of weeks, he plans to leave Boston for Los Angeles and resume his job as Fox Sports baseball analyst. He dropped his daughter off at college late in August and threw out the ceremonial first pitch at Fenway Park on Monday. He expects to make a full physical recovery by Thanksgiving.

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But psychologically, he said he can feel himself withdrawing from social situations.

“I like to embrace people, make them feel comfortable around me,” Ortiz said. “I was always very accessible, but I think I’m going to cut down on that a little now.

“One lesson I’ve learned is that you can’t be naive. There are a lot of things going on now that you have to be aware of. I need to pay attention and be more careful.”

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