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Boston Bombings Victim Heather Abbott: 'Things Will Get Better'

BOSTON (CBS/AP) — Boston Marathon bombing victim Heather Abbott said on Thursday that she was fortunate to survive the blast that mangled her left foot.

From her hospital bed at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Abbott told the media that despite having her left foot amputated, she's doing everything she can to stay positive.

"I really haven't had a moment yet of being devastated because I've gotten so much support," she said. "It's really not as bad as I thought it could have been."

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Lana Jones reports

Boston Bombing Victim Heather Abbott

Abbott runs and does aerobics, and enjoys paddle-boarding off Newport in the summertime. Her foot was mangled, and doctors told her without an amputation, she may never be able to engage in those activities again. She decided to go ahead with the amputation after doctors told her she should eventually be able to return to doing all of those activities once she has adjusted to a prosthetic foot.

"I'm not too worried I won't be able to maintain the same type of lifestyle," she said. "I know that it will only be difficult for a short period of time. Eventually things will get better."

The 38-year-old Rhode Island woman was at the scene of the second explosion after she a half-dozen friends took in the traditional Patriots' Day Red Sox game at Fenway Park. They left the game early and headed to Forum, where a friend tends bar and where former New England Patriots were gathered to raise money for offensive guard Joe Andruzzi's cancer foundation.

Abbott was at the back of the long line outside the restaurant is at 755 Boylston Street, waiting as bouncers checked ID's, when the first blast went off.

Right away, she says she knew it was a bomb.

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"I felt like I was watching the footage on 9/11," said Abbott, who works in human resources for Raytheon Company in Portsmouth, R.I.

Abbott was scrambling to get off the sidewalk when the force of a second blast blew her through the restaurant doorway.

"I felt like my foot was on fire. I knew I couldn't stand up," she said. "I was thinking, 'who's going to help me?'"

Unable to find her friends in the smoke and confusion, she called out to the panicked crowd, while doubting anyone would respond.

As people scrambled for the rear exits, not knowing whether there were more explosions to come, Abbott says two men and two women grabbed her and rushed her out the back door into an alley.

She would later learn the man who carried her was former Patriots linebacker Matt Chatham.

Abbott was eventually loaded into a packed ambulance and rushed to Brigham and Women's.

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.

heather abbott
Boston Marathon bombing survivor Heather Abbott (Photo Credit: Alfred Colonese)

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.

Floating on a cloud of pain medication and family/friend support in the days before the surgery, Abbott hadn't watched any television until Monday morning. To brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the alleged bombers, she has given hardly a thought.

"I haven't thought that much about them at all. I don't even know how to pronounce their names," she said.

If you're interested in donating, here's the link to Heather's personal recovery fund page and here's more information and a link for One Fund Boston.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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