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Boston Marathon Victim on Her Road to Recovery

May 10, 2013 at 12:00 AM EDT
Roseann Sdoia was waiting for her friend to cross the finish line at the Boston Marathon when the second bomb exploded only a few feet away. Sdoia's right leg was badly damaged and had to be amputated above the knee. She talks about her road to rehabilitation with Emily Rooney of WGBH in Boston.

JEFFREY BROWN: And finally tonight, one victim’s road to recovery after the Boston attacks. Roseann Sdoia was waiting for a friend to cross the finish line when the second bomb exploded just a few feet away. Her right leg was so badly damaged it had to be amputated above the knee. She will soon be fitted for a prosthetic leg and is currently being treated at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Charlestown.

Emily Rooney of WGBH Boston sat down with her this week for an interview about her experience and road to recovery. Here’s an excerpt.

EMILY ROONEY, WGBH Boston: Roseann, first, tell me what physical therapy is like.

ROSEANN SDOIA, Boston Bombing Victim: It all is very physical, even the occupational therapy, making sure I could do the typical things that you would normally do every day, brush your teeth, shower, get around in the bathroom.

This new facility here is phenomenal. They have a mock apartment that you go to and you can see how to move stuff along the counters in the kitchen, if you’re on crutches, getting in and out of the shower, out of like an actual tub, get up and off the bed if you need to.

WOMAN: How bad is the pain?



ROSEANN SDOIA: It’s like a three to four.

They take you through doing weights and building your core muscles. And then physical therapy does that. There’s some stretching that we usually start with, making sure that the muscles are limber, and then go through doing different arm exercises and balancing to make sure that I can balance on my left leg. It’s a lot. It’s a lot.

EMILY ROONEY: Is some of it directed at your right leg, too?


EMILY ROONEY: And what do they do for that?

ROSEANN SDOIA: Yes. A lot of lifting. They’ll put weights on it and we’ll do side lifts, make sure that this stays in shape as well.

EMILY ROONEY: So take me back to marathon day. What had you been doing earlier in the morning?

ROSEANN SDOIA: Same thing I’ve done for, like, the last 15 years. It has been one of my favorite days in Boston. And I get a little emotional about it because I don’t know if it will be my favorite day next year, but same thing I’ve done every year, go to the Red Sox game with friends and it was a beautiful, sunny day.

We walked over to Boylston Street, and went to one of the local bars there that we’ve gone to, again, for years, and knowing that different friends were going to meet up there later.

And got notification that one of our friends was close to coming down Boylston Street, so we ended up going out to watch the race, and were standing along the road, and just cheering on the runners and waiting.

And it was just really weird. Within a matter of a couple of minutes, the first bomb went off. And it was just really strange because, again, I’ve done this for so long, we’ve never had guns or cannons or, you know, something to salute the runners, and there was just the pop, pop, and it was literally at my feet.

I just — I thought they were more like grenades being kind of thrown in but — just because it was — I thought it was, like, hitting the ground or it came from the ground. And then I just remember kind of not knowing what was going on.

EMILY ROONEY: So the second one was what hit you.

ROSEANN SDOIA: Exactly, yes, I was in the second one. And it was …

EMILY ROONEY: Did you realize right away you were hurt?

ROSEANN SDOIA: I want to say yes and no. Because I think it was just so surreal that I think my brain said, you’re hurt, but then I wanted to run. But I was on the ground and couldn’t run. And I knew I couldn’t run. I guess I must have yelled for help but it was kind of like a dream where you think you’re yelling for help but you don’t hear it come out.

And I probably didn’t hear it because of the explosion and the bomb because I have hearing loss in one of my ears. So kind of like looking around, it was people — people were running. People were like zombies. People — it was like you were immediately in a bad movie and starring in it.

EMILY ROONEY: Are you planning to go back to work?

ROSEANN SDOIA: Yes. I just don’t know when. I — my work has been fantastic. I work for a phenomenal company. I’ve been there 10 years. And they’ve all come to visit me. They took a great group photo out in front of building, hung a banner for me. And I’ll go back. I just don’t — I haven’t decided yet.

I need to get to my apartment. I need to get home and really see where I am with that and then get back into my routine and work will be a routine. But I need to do it in baby steps.

EMILY ROONEY: So I’m sitting here looking thinking what would terrify me most, learning to drive again or not being able to play tennis? Do you have something?

ROSEANN SDOIA: The driving is a little scary, but I’ve had numerous people tell me that I can use my left foot. And then I’ve heard of different things that you can put in your car to adjust the driving or have it altered. So I’ll drive at some point, but I think to me that’s the scariest thing.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And is there something you’re just going to say, well, I won’t be able to do that again?

ROSEANN SDOIA: No. I haven’t really thought of anything that I won’t be able to do. I think — I think there will be and I think that will be a down time when I hit it.

But everything has been — I’ve been so positive just because I have to move forward. I can’t — there’s no way to look back and say anything negative about it, or “I can’t do that” or “I can’t do this.” I’m going to try to do whatever I can do.

JEFFREY BROWN: And you can watch the full interview from WGBH. That’s on our homepage.