Boston Marathon bombing survivor ready to leave hospital

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June 24, 2013, 10:23 pm
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(NECN: Ally Donnelly) - Laying face down on a bed in the open and sunny therapy room high above the city he loves, Marc Fucarile guts out occupational therapy at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.

The 32-year-old Stoneham man will likely be one of the last Boston Marathon survivors to leave the hospital. Fucarile was one of the most severely injured and spent 45 days at Mass General, logging another 24 days at Spaulding.

"It's tough," he said. "I mean, real tough. I don't want to be there, you know? Like anybody, but you have to be."

Wearing a tee shirt printed with the words, "My City is Wicked Strong," Fucarile told us this was the first time he'd ever been to the marathon. A delivery man for a sheet metal company, he was typically working, but took the day off to have drinks and fun with five of his buddies. When the first bomb went off, Fucarile's friend screamed for them all to jump the barricade and get into the street.

"I remember looking at him and I paused. I just froze," he said.

And then the second bomb went off -- just feet from where he stood. He was on his back, laying on Boylston Street -- praying he'd see his son and fiancee again as first responders descended.

"And then they said, 'Marc! Marc! We're gonna move you, we gotta move you. There's another bomb, it's gonna hurt, sorry, buddy,'" he said. "And they dragged me in the street and then I remember all of a sudden I was on fire and they were like, 'Oh my God! He's on fire. He's still on fire.'"

Fucarile has second and third degree burns over a third of his body. He lost his right leg and his left is seriously damaged. His right eardrum is shattered and he struggles to hear out of his left. He has had countless surgeries and skin grafts and shrapnel is still lodged throughout his body. He undoes his bandages on his right leg, pointing to his wounds.

"Here are the screw holes from all the surgery," he said, showing grafted skin red and raw. "And this has been numerous surgeries on this side, to this side."

What's kept him going is his intense support network. His fiancee Jen Regan is rarely away from his side. His buddies bring him chicken parm dinners and his family keeps a steady watch at night -- never letting him sleep alone.

"I feel like I've been on the longest, craziest roller coaster -- sometimes the most scariest roller coaster..." he trails off.

Fucarile is disarmingly upbeat, funny and charming. But his eyes lower when he talks about explaining the terrorist attack to his 5-year-old son Gavin.

"We told him some people put a bomb ... and Daddy got hit by it," he said. "He said we should have called him. He would have beat him up."

Regan -- a nurse herself -- wipes away tears as she echoes what therapists have told them -- that 5 year olds internalize tragedy -- often blaming themselves. She says for a time Gavin would keep his fist in a ball telling her that his hand hand had been blown off. And he often worries it was his fault Daddy got hurt because he had gone to the Marathon to get him a present.

Regan said, "People need to know that still. It like, ripped a little boy's, you know, heart out."

Fucarile was standing just behind the Richards family. Their 8-year-old son Martin was killed. He says, for himself, he's figured out a way to accept the bombings, but when he thinks about families affected, his anger boils to the surface.

"I hate people who hurt kids -- despise them," he said. "He's below scum, as far as I'm concerned. My boy's yet been able to sleep with me, meanwhile, the terrorist is able to call his mother once a month."

But Fucarile, doesn't stay dark for long. He's focused -- on getting better, getting out and figuring out how to live his life. How to work. How to find and afford a decent handicap-accessible apartment. Asked what he's most looking forward to once he's discharged in -- hopefully -- about three weeks, he's quick to answer. "My son, my son," he says. He plans to keep Gavin home from school to lay in bed and cuddle.

A very real concern for Fucarile is how he will pay for all for all of the care, prosthetics, medicine and specialized housing he will need for the rest of his life. If you'd like to help, you can log onto Fucarile's GoFundMe page here.

Tags: Ally Donnelly, Boston Marathon bombing, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Boston Marathon bombing survivor, Marc Fucarile, Jen Regan
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