Hoping to get out of Boston ahead of Marathon and Red Sox traffic to coach lacrosse in Wayland, John, General Counsel for The Life is good Company, left the company’s Boylston Street office just after 2:30 p.m. on April 15, 2013. He was strolling down Boylston Street to get his car from a parking garage when the first bomb went off. He was in front of the Forum restaurant when the second bomb exploded next to him seconds later. First responders put him on a backboard, into an ambulance and rushed him to Massachusetts General Hospital.
He had shrapnel wounds all over his body—legs, head, face, arms, and torso. He had burns up and down his body, including a third-degree burn on his right ankle. Both eardrums were ruptured. In the hospital, he had several surgeries to remove shrapnel, repair his Achilles tendon and perform a skin graft to repair damage from the burn on his right ankle. He went from Mass General to Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, and finally, home.
His wounds and burns began to heal, though his eardrums remained damaged.
“The hearing loss has been the most difficult part,” John reflects.
John turned to Dr. Alicia Quesnel, an ENT at the Kenmore practice of Harvard Vanguard, to perform surgery to repair his right eardrum. While his left eardrum gradually healed on its own, Dr. Quesnel told him that the repairs to the right ear drum were hampered because the ear canal was so burned that there wasn’t enough blood circulation. Today, his hearing is slightly improved, but still not what it used to be. John continues to see Dr. Quesnel, and he may have another procedure to further repair his right ear.
While his injuries were severe, he didn’t let them stop him from taking on a new challenge.
When the Boston Athletic Association announced that they were going to give people who were hurt in the bombings free bibs to run the 2014 race, John weighed the pros and cons.
“My office looked right down on Boylston Street so I would watch the runners charge down Boylston Street toward the finish line every year. I thought to myself I can probably do that. It was just a question of committing to the training. I didn’t know if I had the time to do it or not.”
When the actual invitations for 2014 arrived in the mail, he made his decision.
“It occurred to me that this was a once-in-a lifetime opportunity,” John says. “I realized I might never have another chance to do it.”
Once he decided to run, he turned to his primary care physician, Dr. Eric Diamond of Harvard Vanguard’s Post Office Square practice—who coordinated John’s care throughout his recovery—for his medical advice, and also consulted the hospital-based specialist who had repaired his Achilles. Both physicians gave John the green light, and he began training.
At first, John tried not to make a big deal about running.
“I didn’t tell anyone about it because I wanted to be able to listen to my body first. If I thought that I was going to hurt myself doing it, I wouldn’t do it.”
Once he started training, John’s knees began to ache. Dr. Diamond referred him to Dr. Lou Bley, a Harvard Vanguard orthopedist, who gave him cortisone shots to reduce the inflammation; that helped ease the pain and enabled John to keep training.
Throughout his recovery and marathon training, John found the care coordination among all of his clinicians to be very beneficial.
“It was certainly helpful that everybody worked together so well. I would always run everything past Dr. Diamond first. He quarterbacked the whole thing.”
John successfully completed his training program and ran the marathon with his brother and niece beside him.
“When something bad happens you can always find good in it. Running the marathon, particularly with my brother and my niece and with all of my family there, was a great day. We took something awful that happened and turned it into a cool memory.”