Nightly News   |  May 31, 2013

Exclusive: Boston amputees on regaining independence

Six women amputees injured in the Boston Marathon bombing spoke with Brian Williams about their healing process, their hopes for the future, and the progress they’ve made so far in returning to some semblance of normalcy.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> we have for you tonight part of an extraordinary conversation with six of the most extraordinary women you will ever see gathered in one room. we went up to bottom thston this week where six women, amputees, victims of the boston marathon bombings agreed to sit down with us and talk. we have come to know some of them -- the preschool teacher, the haitian, the dancer. they are a picture in character, courage, grit, and sheer strength. what if there was one compliant among all of you -- is it phantom pain ? pain in general?

>> definitely phantom pain . it's like your leg is still there. feels like my leg is bent and the leg is hanging.

>> that's a function of the nerves --

>> your brain is used to sending blood down there and the nerves feeling it, it thinks it's there. i have tried looking in the mirror and it helps. you look at yourself and your brain registers you don't have that. i try to start my day that way, just to tell it, it's not there.

>> what's the best distraction? is it a movie on an ipad when you're feeling good? is it music? is it just having a room full of people?

>> i think for me personally it's the kids that i teach. they send me e videos. they send me all kinds of things. it really just kind of lifts me up. the support i get from them and even though they're 2 their parents send me e-mails and they say, they miss you so much. they can't wait for you to come home.

>> they're going to smother you.

>> i was told by my boss they will be fighting overrides in the wheelchair.

>> what have you learned from family and friends with this?

>> very important to have everyone around you if you can. they have been my unbelievable support and my saviors.

>> they are our rocks.

>> definitely.

>> has it been good for you to see the veterans who have visited here hop out of their cars in the parking lot and come on up to say hello to you?

>> that was huge for me. they all said that this is the worst time -- waiting to heal, waiting to be fitted. but that, you know, we will gain our independence, and be able to pretty much resume our lives which, to me, that was like a ray of sunshine.

>> to you, that means dancing. of all the people here.

>> yes, it does.

>> like if you had to pick an occupation to go back to, you're the dancer.

>> yes.

>> at least that gives you a huge target to shoot for.

>> it really does. it gives a huge target. i just got my leg today which is a huge step. i shared a dance with my father .

>> aw!

>> it was amazing and incredibly emotional to talk about. it was a little high school sway. obviously i want more than that. that was great, but the occupation to go back to, it's going to be a long road.

>> do you all have target dates or target events in your life? is that part of the therapy to aim for something?

>> a company donated a paddleboard to me. like the paddleboard in the summer. it arrived last week. i'd just like to think about it and look at it every once in a while and know next summer i will be back out there.

>> what has the city of boston done? it meant a lot to many of you, especially from baltimore.

>> they have been so welcoming and so helpful. the staff at my hospital is amazing. friday will be 47 days that i have been in the hospital. it's like leaving really close friends .

>> i love this city. it's like a big family. especially all the hospitals and not one person that was brought to the hospital died. everyone survived. if we put our heads together we can do great things.

>> we want to thank our first responders, too. i had a stranger help me. you did as well. amazing the people that came out that day and just jumped into it. a woman from california named joan crawled over to me. i know that i definitely wouldn't be here without her. she was screaming for people to come help me. you know, i had this moment where i thought i was going to die. i was just laying there. in my head i said, i'm not going to die. this is not how i'm going to go. i'm not done yet. it was almost immediate that she was right there. it was like she heard mying thoug thoughts and knew i needed help. if i could find her, hug her, thank her that would mean the world to me.

>> they are all still on pain medication . they wanted me to speak up because all of them lost their hearing in the bombing. that's just a part of the conversation with the six extraordinary women. for those who would still like to help we have posted information on that on our website tonight. it's important you know the entire conversation airs tonight on our all new "rock center" at 10:00 /9:00 central on this very station.