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Rough Road: Boston Amputee Says Healing Isn't Over

Roseann Sdoia poses for a portrait in front of the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, Mass., Monday, April 14, 2014. Roseann lost her right leg above the knee when the second bomb went off at the Boston Marathon a year ago on April 15. Michael Rubenstien / For NBC News

A year after she lost most of her right leg in the Boston Marathon bombings, Roseann Sdoia refuses to sugar-coat the recovery.

It’s been hard, difficult on a daily basis, tougher than most people imagine it might be, said the 46-year-old Boston woman, who was waiting for two friends who were running the race when the backpack carrying the second explosive detonated at her feet.

“I think people do need to know it’s a process,” she said of healing from the attacks that killed three people and injured 264. “Are we good? For the most part, yes. But there are still a lot of underlying situations that are there.”

Before it happened to her, Sdoia said she couldn’t have imagined that it would take several prosthetists and four prosthetics companies before she found an artificial limb with the right fit and function. She couldn’t have understood the effort it takes to put on her new leg and wear it all day.

“I put it on first thing in the morning and I don’t take it off until 11 p.m. at night. Even if it’s rubbing in the wrong places, I just suck it up. It’s exhausting to use. By the end of the day, I’m beat. I’m tired.”

Roseann Sdoia
Roseann Sdoia was waiting for two friends who were running the Marathon when the backpack carrying the second explosive detonated at her feet. Michael Rubenstien / For NBC News

Sdoia said she has been overwhelmed with support from so many people — family, friends, complete strangers — who have donated time and money and energy to help her recover.

“I appreciate what you’re doing for me,” she said.

But for a woman who was always independent and who has always enjoyed a full life of work friends and fun, it has been a huge change to take a leave of absence from her real estate development and investment firm and be forced to focus on recovery.

“It’s overwhelming that you are in a position of such need,” Sdoia said.

And for someone who ran three to five miles a few times a week, partly because it felt so good and partly so she could have a snack and a cocktail and not worry about gaining weight, Sdoia acknowledged that the physical and emotional toll of her injuries add up.

“You feel ugly, you feel unnatural,” she said. “You feel like the freak in the room.”

There have been some positive changes, too. She’s dating Mike Materia, the firefighter who held her hand in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. She’s been using her new running prosthetic leg and getting stronger. She’s looking forward to the future.

But Sdoia still wants people to know there’s a long way to go.

“Even though our hair isn’t singed anymore and our burns have healed, there’s still a lot internally and physically that we need to get through,” she said.