Marathon Bombing Survivor Struggles With ‘Invisible Injury’
BOSTON (CBS) —- Ellen Sexton-Rogers was right there. Jeff Bauman was standing right next to her. She will never forget the noise.
“A whistle that started loud and then came down and that’s when it went boom. So we were very close” says Sexton-Rogers.
Ellen was able to walk away from the Boston Marathon bombings. Her husband and daughter did as well. She thought she was unharmed. She knows now she was wrong.
“I’m not the same person I was before. The headaches, the confusion, the attention problem, the ability to for me to function like before. I can’t.”
Seven months after the attacks, Ellen realized she needed help. She couldn’t cope with life. She decided to go to Spaulding Rehabilitation. Now she is being helped by Doctor John Lowry, who calls the crushing post-concussion symptoms that Ellen is suffering through the “Invisible Injury.”
“I want people to understand this is the most complex injury to the most complex organ” says Dr. Lowry.
Dr. Lowry compares Ellen’s brain injury to what soldiers go through with improvised explosive devices, IED’s, on the front lines. Ellen was the first marathon spectator to seek treatment from him for this “invisible injury” but others have since come forward as well.
Still, Ellen and her daughter say many friends and family members have doubted her injuries.
Her daughter, Vanessa, says “I want to say to them, ‘She has an injury, you just can see it’.”
Ellen is also dealing with debilitating guilt. “I walked away. How? When everyone else around me didn’t.”
Because Ellen, didn’t spend a night in the hospital, she was only eligible for $8,000 in One Fund assistance. Ellen did not want to focus on her finances, but did have to close her cleaning business because she said she couldn’t do the work. She has been getting some help from the Patient Advocate Foundation, an organization that helps to match up individuals with traumatic injuries with financial help.
For more information on the Patient Advocate Foundation: www.patientadvocate.org