WBUR

With A Dream On Hold, Bombing Victim Remains Optimistic

Mery Daniel, pictured above at the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital with occupational therapist Becky Buttiglieri, had part of her left leg amputated after the bombing. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Mery Daniel, pictured above at the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital with occupational therapist Becky Buttiglieri, had part of her left leg amputated after the bombing. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

BOSTON — Mery Daniel’s dream of becoming a doctor in the U.S. is on hold. The young mother from Haiti was one of the last Boston Marathon bombing victims to be released from the hospital. Her life now is all about mastering the basics, such as learning to walk again.

Daniel isn’t a runner, but she had such a fun time watching last year’s marathon that she decided to see it from the finish line this year.

“It was a beautiful day, everybody was just so happy and I wanted to be part of that energy,” Daniel said. “Enjoying the day with everybody else.”

The 31-year-old had moved closer to the music and other celebrations when she heard a loud noise.

“And I was on the floor and I still didn’t understand what was happening,” she recalled. “When I looked next to me there was a woman, with the arms were gone. And that’s when I understood something very tragic had just happened.”

Mery lost her left leg and much of the back of her right leg was blown away. Unconscious, she was rushed to Massachusetts General Hospital. It was two days before she woke and discovered the extent of her injuries.

Daniel works with occupational therapist Becky Buttiglieri and Teresa  Ashmead outside of Spaulding. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Daniel works with occupational therapist Becky Buttiglieri and Teresa Ashmead outside of Spaulding. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

“I had a lot of operations done in my stomach and below my breast because I had lost so much blood,” Daniel said. “They had to find out whether or not I had some internal bleeding. And also apparently my heart stopped about two times so they had to do interventions just to keep the blood flowing.”

Almost a month later, Daniel is out of MGH. She has been at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Charlestown just over a week.

“I’m surviving,” she said. “I can say I’m OK. Slowly but surely I think I’m getting better every day.”

And she can measure that progress in a very real way.

“I’m learning how to walk right now. I was so excited because I just started walking a couple of days ago. I’m like a little child, just with the first step and I’m looking forward to every single session of therapy.”

As part of her recovery, Daniel works with occupational therapist Becky Buttiglieri.

“Occupation therapy means the little occupations that make up your day — getting to the toilet safely, getting in the bathtub safely, adaptive strategies to get dressed when you can’t quite reach your feet because of pain or other limitations,” Buttiglieri explained. “We teach people how to do their daily living tasks. Get back to their daily routine.

“How we all came together that day .. that’s what was important to me. Not the evil part of it, but the best of us.”
– Mery Daniel

“She’s wonderful, she’s extremely motivated,” Buttiglieri added. “She always has this huge smile on her face.”

There’s no bitterness in Mery Daniel, but there is a reluctance to talk about her future. Before the bombings she’d been studying for the boards to become certified as a doctor here.

“I’m still in the state of whether or not I want to pursue medicine. I think it’s a time for me to do some soul searching and realize what is it I really want to do, because there’s so much happening right now,” she said. “I’m like in a state of confusion as far as moving forward, career wise. So, right now I would say I don’t know.”

Daniel emigrated from Haiti to Massachusetts when she was 17. She studied pre-med at UMass Amherst, spent some time back in Haiti and in Europe before returning to Boston where, six years ago, she got married. Her daughter is 5 years old and very much affected by what has happened. Daniel says she doesn’t want to talk about that.

Daniel says she is most looking forward to getting back to her life.

“When the doctors came in they were explaining all the damages and everything else that had happened. The only thing I could think of was I’m glad I’m still alive and that’s what I’m looking forward to — life, living life to the fullest.”

Daniel’s optimistic outlook is clear as she talks about whether she wants answers from the surviving bombing suspect.

Mery Daniel outside the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Charlestown (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Mery Daniel outside the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Charlestown (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

“This was an act of evil and I don’t think I really want to dwell trying to understand why this was happening. All I can hope for is what’s the best way we can eliminate this sort of thing from happening, if we can prevent them from happening,” Daniel said. “And how we all came together that day and that what was important to me. Not the evil part of it, but the best of us.”

“Boston Strong” is her motto. She wouldn’t allow us to take a picture of her unless she was wearing that T-shirt.

“I love Boston. And even the marathon itself, it’s like the fabric of this town and to have something like that happen during the marathon it’s like it’s trying to break all the mesh work of the people of this town,” she said. “And ‘Boston Strong’ just reminds you this is not going to happen. We are strong, we are here and we are going to fight this. We’re going to stand together, we’re going to help each other as much as we can.”

Daniel has a couple more weeks at Spaulding. After that, outpatient therapy. Then, a lifetime of adjustments.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on wbur.org.
  • Balls Manohey

    Married, child, now 31 and not on a path to becoming a doctor… I think her dream of becoming a doctor has been on hold for quite a while now.

    • mia

      “Before the bombings she’d been studying for the boards to become certified as a doctor here.”

      Sounds like her path to becoming a doctor was just fine.

    • http://twitter.com/lchops96 Lauren Hopkins

      Do you know anything about becoming a doctor? I know people who don’t have it happen until they’re 40 or older. Life gets in the way. Not everyone has the means or time to go straight through from high school to undergrad to med school to residency in a straight path. And if she’s getting ready to take her boards, she’s basically done.

    • http://www.facebook.com/sarah.casey.9619 Sarah Casey

      Mery has been studying for her boards; she’s almost there. But she needs to get well first. Having the family to help her get through is a blessing.

  • paulagoldman20

    Mery,
    Do not give up your dream of becoming a doctor. Even though the loss of a limb is physically restricting, and no doubt painful, when you heal completely, and become accustomed to an artificial limb, you WILL be able to pursue your medical career. No holds down. Study, study, study!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Pam-Lindsey-Carlsen/1298821973 Pam Lindsey Carlsen

      I would have you as my doctor Mery. Nothing but good thoughts and well wishes for you and your family as you recover!

  • sunlcomeout

    Three years ago, I was at Spaulding Hospital, meeting a young Haitian woman and her mother for the first time. Both were injured in the Haiti earthquake (2010) and through the kindness of Partners in Health and others in the Boston community she was brought to a Boston hospital. The daughter’s leg needed amputation and her recovery was at Spaulding. We met there because this young woman and her mother needed a place to stay for a month before moving on to another temporary home. I remember the difficult recovery here at our home. The language barriers, the difficult rehab, leaving the wheelchair and moving to a walker, hiding the walker so she would be forced to use the crutches, the prothesis appointments at the wonderful practice in Dorchester… but I also remember the love, the gratitude, and the mother’s Haitian meals! They are still here… I wish I could introduce Mery to them! It’s a long journey ahead for Mery, but I am hopeful for her that she will recover quickly and her dream of becoming a doctor will be a reality.

  • http://www.facebook.com/connie.lambert01 Connie Lambert

    Strength to you Mery!!!

  • heatherfranklin

    I am so glad to read this story~ this woman has been in my thoughts and prayers since the attack. I saw her picture but never saw any follow up on her, as there was with so many of the other victims. What an amazing attitude! I will be donating to your fund and keeping you in my prayers!

  • http://www.facebook.com/heidi.jordan.52 Heidi Jordan

    This story brings tears to my eyes. A woman pursuing the dream of becoming a doctor only to have her ambition swept out from under her. I wish all the best for Mery and commend her on her positive attitude to Boston after all she has been through.

  • Beverly Mire

    With all due respect to Delores Handy, whom I admire, and WBUR, why did this story take so long to cover, and why did a Black reporter have to be the one to cover it. Story segregation is alive and well, it seems, and its death is nowhere in sight.

  • Billiamo

    I remember seeing photos of Mery being carried from the bomb scene and wondered how she was doing. Now I know. God bless you, Mery. You’re an inspiration!

  • HulaHoops

    I’m sorry to hear this happened to you Mery, but so very happy & inspired by your ability to face the future with an unwavering smile and such fortitude! What a long way from the Cance Basement this is, eh? <3 Adrienne

  • Helen

    I know mery and her positive attitude have always been an inspiration. only God holds the key. we know not why things happen but I believe mery can do anything she wishes to. becoming a doctor or not. she’s taking her time to heal and she deserves that. not many ofus could go through her ordeal and remain optimistic. hats off to her. I admire her. keep going mery. the sky is your limit! You told me once that some of us fear just how powerful we are. I believe you are powerful and with God’s grace you are doing it.

Most Popular