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Boston bombing survivor takes baby steps toward recovery

Courtesy Alyssa Loring

New England Patriots' running back Stevan Ridley and tight end Rob Gronkowski visited Brittany Loring on Monday in her hospital room and signed a jersey for her. Loring suffered multiple injuries in last week's bombing at the Boston Marathon.

BOSTON – Nine days after the Boston Marathon bombings killed three people and injured more than 260 others, at least one survivor is on the long road to recovery.

Brittany Loring, who was celebrating her 29th birthday last Monday when the bombs went off, suffered serious damage to her left leg in the twin explosions allegedly carried out by brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev – who lived less than a mile from Loring and her fiancé, John McLoughlin, in Cambridge, Mass.

Wounds reveal part of the damage: She was left with small pellet-sized wounds across her body, some red, others black. But she also suffered a cracked skull, a concussion, and had to endure three “cleaning” surgeries to help prevent infection from her shrapnel wounds, said McLoughlin.

In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, it wasn’t clear if she would be able to walk again. But that changed Tuesday.

There are growing questions as to whether or not U.S. intelligence officials have done more when investigating Tamerlan Tsarnaev prior to the Boston bombing.  Russia had asked the FBI to find information about him, then later asked the CIA. Both times, the U.S. said nothing had been found, but his name ended up in the master terrorism database. NBC's Pete Williams reports.

“She's starting to walk on her crutches, still in a lot of pain, and on heavy medication,” her dad, Dan Loring, a 53-year-old real estate agent, said late Tuesday. “She's looking good. She actually wore clothes today and did her hair.”

McLoughlin has been keeping a constant vigil at Brittany’s bedside, taking leave from his work as a loan officer to focus on her recovery and spend time in what he quips is their “little hotel room.”

“She's half the team, so I've got to be here,” he said Wednesday. The couple plan to wed in September. “Her spirits are good,” he said. “She's still up and down, but overall she's better.”

Boston Medical Center said Wednesday her condition was fair. It's not clear yet when Brittany will leave the hospital, but when she does, she will need physical and mental health therapies, he said.

“She wakes up in the middle of the night. She has nightmares,” McLoughlin said. He believes they are all related to the bombings, but he hasn’t asked for details. “We wake up a couple of times a night. She's startled, and I try to get her back to bed.”

Her family hasn’t been speaking to her about the bombings and what happened at the finish line of the marathon.

David Friedman / NBC News

John McCloughlin (left) and Dan Loring talk about the injuries sustained by Brittany Loring in the Boston Marathon bombings. McCloughlin is engaged to Brittany and Loring is her father.

“We're not bringing that in at this point,” said Loring, of Lancaster, Mass. “We're trying to build up her stamina – you know she had three surgeries in six days and ... the heavy medication. So trying to get her to eat, think positive thoughts.”

“We have told her she's safe but that's it,” McLoughlin said. “We don't think it's good for her recovery” to talk about it.

Besides getting back on her feet again, Brittany recently had other good news: Boston College has said she will graduate this spring with a joint degree in business and law, waiving her final exams and some last assignments. 

“She's very strong. She'll move on. This will be a blip in the past,” McLoughlin said. “I hope a year from now we're all good.”

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