A Boston Marathon bombing survivor says proper PTSD treatment can help ‘reboot the brain.’
Photo: Douglas Tyler
Mount Dora resident Rebekah Gregory and her then-5-year-old son, Noah, were less than three feet away from the first bomb that detonated on April 15, 2013, at the Boston Marathon.
Rebekah endured 70 surgeries, including amputation of her left leg, while her son walked away nearly unscathed. “My body acted as a human shield for him,” she says.
However, the post-traumatic stress was “a different kind of animal,” she says. It eventually led her to start Rebekah’s Angels Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to providing resources and financial assistance to children suffering post-traumatic stress disorder due to trauma.
What do you remember from the bombing? “I remember my body being pinned to the ground. I was only able to move my head. My bones were lying next to me on the sidewalk. I was in a pool of my own blood. My left leg was on fire. I thought I was going to die. I could feel the blood draining from my body, I could feel the life draining from me ….
“Out of my peripheral vision I saw Noah, so out of all the people, out of all the screaming and chaos, I could barely even hear because both of my eardrums had been blown out, but I could hear my little boy screaming, “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy,” and he was in the arms of a police officer. I knew at that moment that my son was going to be OK and that was all that mattered.”
When did you know Noah needed help? “About 39 days into my hospital stay, I was transferred from Boston to Houston by a jet to be closer to (parents’) home and receive medical care. When they were wheeling me into the house, Noah whispered, ‘Don’t worry, Mom. We are never leaving this house again.’ To hear my little boy say that after everything was just heartbreaking. It led me to the most important Google search in my life of trying to find help for my son.”
What is the specialized therapy that worked for you? “Accelerated resolution therapy, which has worked well with veterans and now for families and children. There are ways to reprocess your most traumatic memories in a matter of a couple of sessions so that you no longer feel the emotional trauma from it. Our brains are kind of like computers. They need to be rebooted every now and then.”
*To learn more, visit rebekahsangels.org.