Marathon bombing survivor has familiar seat for Game 1 of the World Series
Jen Regan sits by Marc Fucarile's bedside at Massachusetts General Hospital three weeks after he was injured in the Boston Marathon bombings. Fucarile was back at MGH Wednesday for another surgery and planned to watch Game 1 of the World Series from his hospital bed. [Bill Greene/Boston Globe photo]
[Update: Wednesday at game time, Furcarile told the OBF Blog his surgery went well and he was awake for the first pitch.]
Forgive Marc Fucarile if he's lost count of the number of surgeries and surgical procedures he's endured since losing his right leg below the knee, in addition to part of his hearing, in the Boston Marathon bombings.
Surgery "number 20, I think" and surgical procedure "either 50, 51 or 52" went as scheduled on Wednesday morning.
Fucarile had hoped to be awake and alert enough watch the start of Game 1 of the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals at Fenway Park [Fox, 8:07 p.m.] from his hospital bed at Mass General. The stump of his right leg has become infected. The plan on Wednesday was for doctors to remove the infected bone at the base of what's left of his right leg and create a flap to allow him to properly set his prostheses.
"I'm hoping to be up by game time," he told the OBF Blog Tuesday night. "The last time they did this it was so painful I needed an epidural for the pain. Hopefully, it won't hurt so much this time."
Wednesday night won't be the first time Fucarile shared his hospital room at MGH with the Red Sox. In April, in the weeks following the attacks, he was visited by Jacoby Ellsbury, Shane Victorino, Mike Carp and Daniel Nava.
Watching the Red Sox in the World Series presents the ultimate in emotional turmoil for millions of fans. The joy of Sox in late October is muted by the anxiety often produced by nail-biters that drag until to midnight. When they win, it's worth it the bladder-crushing angst. When they lose, well, it pretty much sucks, at least until the next game.
Furcarile knows all about overnights in the hospital. He was the final bombing survivor released from the hospital, leaving after 100 days on July 24. He spent 45 at Mass General and 55 at Spaulding Rehabilitation Center. The biggest challenges to overcome during any overnight or extended hospital stay are pain, discomfort, boredom and more boredom - and not necessarily in that order.
When you're spending the night in the hospital, the Red Sox in the World Series can be the mother of all diversions. And the longer the games go, the better.
Good luck sleeping once the anesthetics and heavy painkillers wear off, never mind when Mike Napoli is up with runners on first and third and two outs in the eighth.
"When I'm laying there and don't have anything to watch, having a game on, especially the Red Sox in the World Series, that's huge. It's definitely a nice diversion," he said. "It's always good to have something to keep the focus off the pain."
And for Fucarile, as with millions of others across New England and beyond, watching the Red Sox has been a wonderful diversion for the past six months. Fucarile said he sensed something was different this season watching spring training games on TV and from reading the breathless dispatches from Fort Myers. "I just like their vibe. Back then, nobody thought this team was going to win, but I remember telling my brother, that once they got Victorino, something changed. I didn't know much about him, but I saw his highlights on TV and said this guy was different. I said early, early, early on this team was going to win it all."
The visit by the four members of the Red Sox in the early, very difficult days of his recovery "made the room brighten up," Fucarile said. "Then, we didn't care how good they were on the field, you could just tell they were good guys. My family and I weren't in a very good place then."
Fucarile has met several Boston athletes, past and present. Former Bruin Andrew Ference [now with the Oilers] gave Fucarile a special Bruins' coin that had only been given to 12 people outside the organization at the time. He was also a guest of honor at the NASCAR race in New Hampshire last month [photo at right via NASCAR/Getty Images] and received some major Carl Edwards-themed loot from Roush Fenway Racing after his trip to the Sylvania 300.
"I'm not star struck by anybody," he said. "The Red Sox were regular dudes. They wore plain clothes. We just talked about the team. They were concerned about me and my family. We joked with either other. They were just another group of people in my room."
Fucarile stopped in mid-interview and asked that we specifically point out how grateful he has been for the support he's received from people ranging from players on the Red Sox to strangers he's met at the supermarket. They have offered him, his fiancee Jen Regan and their son, Gavin, prayers, good wishes, monetary donations and, when it comes to the athletes, some autographs and major-league swag.
Furcarile said he also has a keen appreciation for the talent of these pros, an appreciation that some of us forget when we get swept up in Stephen Drew's playoff batting average or Clay Buchholz's post-season ERA.
"They're the best of the best. They're all at the top of their profession since they're in the major leagues. If you're in the NBA - you're the best basketball player - same with these guys. It was my honor to have them visit and so humbling."
When it comes to the whole #BostonStrong mantra, Fucarile carries more cred than the Federal Reserve.
"I don't like when people getting rich off it. It's an unfortunate thing that people exploit it. They benefit from it. Companies who make t-shirts and all that gimmick stuff, they're making a mint off it and donate nothing to the victims," he said.
Hearing Victorino's first words on to the Fenway crowd after the Red Sox won the pennant Saturday night being "Boston. Boston Strong" had a completely different impact, however.
"The players, the Red Sox players, along with the Bruins and some of the Patriots, are being real when they say it. They feel it. They are concerned about us," Fucarile said. "Take [David] Ortiz, he's been vocal about it since the beginning, same with Victorino. You can tell they care about where they play and who they play for, especially Big Papi, he's from the Dominican, but he's a Bostonian now."
"They fight for the City, as well as themselves. I get that from this team, that's what I love about them. It's not like the other selfish guys we had in the past. They're humble but aggressive. They never quit and fight for the city."
Fucarile said the Red Sox have "left the door open" for him if he wants to throw out a ceremonial first pitch. He hasn't been asked to do it, but he said he doesn't want to jinx this team, which he believes will win the World Series.
He carried the Bruins' "Boston Strong" flag before Game 4 against the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Final, along with Jen and Gavin, onto the TD Garden ice. The Bruins lost that contest 6-5 in overtime as Tuukka Rask gave up a half-dozen goals as Zdeno Chara was a ignominious -3.
"I waved the flag for the Bruins and they lost, and they went downhill after that game," he said. "I don't want to be the one to throw that pitch because if they lose that game, God forbid, I don't want to be part of it."
Wednesday's surgery isn't the end of his recovery. Not even close. He also suffered shrapnel wounds throughout his body and second- and third-degree burns. He's got at least eight more surgeries and surgical procedures planned in the next few months, including operations on both ears. "While I was getting ready for surgery on my right leg today, I was scheduling surgery on my left leg for January 3rd," he said with a laugh.
Sometimes you just have to laugh when it hurts too much to cry.
"What else am I going to do?" he asked.
He said he doesn't want to be a part of anything to do with the Boston Marathon next year. He normally doesn't watch the race but only happened to be Boylston Street at 2:50 p.m. on April 15 because he was with a group of friends from Stoneham, cheering on a pal in the race. Fucarile was among several in the group who were injured, including brothers Paul and J.P. Norden, who each lost a leg.
"The first bomb went off and we all looked at each other and said, 'That's not good,'" Fucarile recalled last May. As they attempted to flee, the second bomb exploded about six feet away from where Fucarile stood.
Fucarile has a couple family members who will be running next year in his honor. But that's unlikely to motivate him to be there at the finish line. "I don't care for that three-ring circus," he said. "But I'll go the Red Sox game if it's a beautiful day."
If he does, he'll should have no problem getting tickets.
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