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Monday, April 22, 2013

Dancer Who Lost Leg In Bombing: ‘I’m A Fighter’

Adrianne Haslet-Davis, left, is pictured with emergency physician Dr. Ron Medzon at Boston Medical Center. (Courtesy: Haslet-Davis family)

Adrianne Haslet-Davis, left, is pictured with emergency physician Dr. Ron Medzon at Boston Medical Center. (Courtesy: Haslet-Davis family)

Adrianne Haslet-Davis is a 32-year-old competitive dancer who teaches at the Arthur Murray Studio in Boston. Her husband, Air Force Capt. Adam Davis, just returned to the U.S. from Afghanistan.

On Marathon Monday, they were a block or so away from the finish line at the Boston Marathon — the site of the second explosion — and they were both seriously injured.

We first heard about Haslet-Davis the day after the bombings, when Boston Medical Center emergency physician Ron Medzon told us the story of an unnamed ballroom dancer who pleaded with doctors to save her foot.

Here & Now’s Robin Young spoke to the couple about their injuries, their recovery and their resolve.

Note: A number of groups are raising money for the victims of the marathon bombings. There’s one fund specifically for Adrianne. There’s also The One Fund set up by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Tom Menino. For a list of other crowdsourcing funds, click here.

Interview Highlights

Excerpts of Robin’s interview with Adrianne Haslet-Davis:

Dancer Adrianne Haslet-Davis and her husband, Air Force Capt. Adam Davis, hold hands at Boston Medical Center on Sunday. (Robin Young/Here & Now)

Dancer Adrianne Haslet-Davis and her husband, Air Force Capt. Adam Davis, hold hands at Boston Medical Center on Sunday. (Robin Young/Here & Now)

Memories Of The Explosions

“I remember everything. I remember every detail. I remember the first bomb going off and screaming and holding on to Adam and saying, ‘Oh no, oh no, please no.’ And I remember smelling smoke, and everyone around us just seemed very still and very quiet.”

“The first one went off, I grabbed a hold of Adam. It was: ‘We need to go inside. Wait, should we be outside? Maybe we should be.’ And then, the second bomb went off, and it went off directly in front of us. And I remember the pressure from the air hitting my chest and my stomach, and sailing me backwards onto my left side, and landing, sort of in a pretzel with Adam. We sort of landed as we sleep, you know, just sort of curled up. I was big spoon around him.

“And he said, ‘Are you OK?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I think I’m OK. I think we’re OK. I can’t believe it, I think we’re OK.’ And then a couple seconds went by, or minutes, or who knows. And then I said, ‘I think my foot hurts.’

“And I said, ‘Oh, my foot hurts bad. It really hurts.’ And I sat up, and then, I looked at my foot the same time (was it the same time?) that Adam looked at my foot. And he picked up my foot, and it was dangling. Most of my heel was gone, and I could see my toes were still attached, but most of the bones and everything were gone.

“And he just started screaming, and I started screaming.”

At The Hospital

“I remember telling a lot of doctors that I was a ballroom dancer, and that it was extremely important that I kept my foot, that I could still feel every toe and move every toe. I rolled my foot around, what was left of it, to know that the nerves and the brain were still attached … I woke up and I didn’t have a foot anymore. I didn’t have a left foot anymore.”

Separation From Adam

“I just kept thinking, he’s only been home now from Afghanistan maybe two weeks, two and a half weeks. And so all of a sudden, we get separated again. And I thought, I just want to be near him, come on, it’s like Christmas. I just want to be near him.”

How She’s Coping

“Overall, I feel like I’m a fighter and I’m ready. I’m ready for the challenge. Someone tried to stop me from reaching my dreams, and I want to be able to just say, well, ‘Nice try, I’m still going to go for it and stay positive through it.’

“And then I have moments, like this morning, where I just get extremely frustrated and I’m just angry. And I feel very dependent on everyone around me – just to get out of bed to go to the bathroom, or just to put on a pant leg or anything like that. And it makes me want to scream and punch pillows and throw water bottles and just get extremely angry.

“So I think I’m still in the coping stages. It goes up and down.”


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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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