A WEEK after a Boston Marathon bomb put Heather Abbott in a local hospital, the Rhode Island woman faced a difficult decision: try to keep her badly wounded foot, or have her leg amputated below the knee.
She picked the second option, viewing life with a prosthesis as the most assured path back to the active lifestyle she lived before the April 15 bombings. The 38-year-old said she likes to run and take aerobic and Zumba classes. She wanted to try "yoga paddle boarding" this summer.
She now has her sights set on next year.
"I really think I'm going to be able to live my life in a normal way, eventually, when I get that permanent prosthesis," Ms Abbott said, speaking at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.
Addressing media from a bed wheeled into a hospital conference centre, Ms Abbott was also clear-eyed about the challenges of rehabilitation and the pain she may endure along the way. Additionally, she said has been focused on her recovery and not news about the bombing suspects—Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his brother, Tamerlan, who died following a shootout with the police last week.
"I haven't thought much about them at all," Ms Abbott said. "I don't even know how to pronounce their names."
The two bombs on Monday injured 264 people, according to the Boston Public Health Commission, and led more than a dozen, including Ms Abbott, to endure amputations. She is one of the most recent people to join that list, highlighting the tenuous situation some patients have faced following efforts to save damaged limbs.
A patient at Massachusetts General Hospital also underwent an amputation within the last week, a spokesman said.
In Ms Abbott's case, she needed vascular repair to try to restore blood flow to her foot, and follow-up evaluations indicated she still had to consider the option to amputate. Doctors always try to leave this up to patients, said Eric Bluman, Ms Abbott's orthopedic surgeon, but they also explained the potential limitations of a foot that may never heal.
Meantime, the hospital also introduced the patient to other amputees, including war veterans, to give Ms Abbott a view into her possible future.
With a "very badly mangled" foot, she said, she wouldn't be able to live the lifestyle she did before the injury.
She was injured by the second bomb, which went off in front of the Forum restaurant on Boylston Street. She was waiting in line with friends to get into the bar after taking in a Red Sox game, which is a Patriot's Day tradition for the Newport, Rhode Island, resident. She and friends had come up by train from Providence.
After hearing the first, nearby explosion, Ms Abbott immediately thought it was a terrorist attack—something she said leaves her leery of returning to the marathon or other crowded venues again. The next bomb went off quickly. Ms Abbott, last in line among her friends, was on the floor as people scrambled to the back of the bar.
"I felt like my foot was on fire," she said. "I knew I couldn't stand up."
She wondered who could answer her cries for help in the chaos, but she was rescued quickly by several people. One, Matt Chatham, a former linebacker with the New England Patriots, helped carry her outside. They have talked since, and Ms Abbott plans to meet him in the future.
She also has talked to dignitaries, including First Lady Michelle Obama, who visited her bedside, and cited constant attention from friends and family, plus support from the hospital, for keeping her upbeat. Her friends have been raising money for her recovery.
"My room is never empty," Ms Abbott said. "I couldn't have imagined this type of response."