Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

National and World

April 23, 2013

Woman injured in marathon blast faces challenges

(Continued)

BLUEFIELD —

During the ambulance ride, Abbott struggled to keep her eyes open.

"I felt like if I closed them," she said, "maybe I wouldn't be able to open them again."

When the ambulance arrived, workers rushed Abbott to surgery, where doctors stabilized her and cleaned her wound. She had a second surgery on Thursday to clean the wound and allow specialists to better assess the situation. The blast had broken her ankle and shattered several small bones in her foot.

That same day, first lady Michelle Obama visited Abbott's room. She told Abbott how brave she was, and gave her a presidential "challenge coin" — a token traditionally presented to wounded service members and their families. One side bears the presidential seal, the other an engraving of the White House.

Abbott's courage was about to be tested.

Specialists explained that if she kept the foot, it might never fully heal. She would be in chronic pain, and her left leg might be shorter than the other. But the decision was ultimately hers.

The hospital brought in people who had suffered similar injuries, and had chosen amputation and prosthetics. One was a runner; another played football; a third still goes snowboarding.

Abbott, who earned an accounting degree at Stonehill College and studied nights at Providence College for her master's in business administration, didn't really do sports in school. But she runs and does aerobics, and enjoys paddle-boarding off Newport in the summertime.

Encouraged by her visitors that she could lead a normal life, she agreed to the amputation. "It sounded to me like the best case scenario," she said.

Abbott never could muster the courage to look at her injured foot. She hates the sight of blood, and that was a memory she didn't want to have to live with.

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