When President Obama visited the intensive care unit at Massachusetts General Hospital today, he told survivors of the marathon bombings about the soldiers he has met at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center who lost their legs fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Addressing five marathon survivors, some of whom were connected to tubes and seated in wheelchairs in a conference room, the president said he had seen those veterans slowly regain their mobility, with the help of their doctors and families.
“He said, ‘I know it’s hard to imagine that right now,’ but he has seen with his own eyes and he knows he’s going to see it in them,” said Governor Deval Patrick, who accompanied the president and recalled the meeting in an interview afterward. “And they were all beaming.”
Obama met with eight patients in the ICU, posing for photographs and offering words of encouragement, Patrick said.
One of the patients handed the president a Red Sox cap and asked him to wear it in a photo with him. Obama, a loyal Chicago White Sox fan, balked, saying Bostonians often ask him to don a Sox cap, “but I never do.”
“‘But this time,’” the president said, according to Patrick, “‘I will.’”
And with that, Obama wore a Red Sox cap.
Another patient in a wheelchair whose leg was bandaged lifted himself up from his seat when Obama approached, to the slight consternation of his doctor who was standing nearby.
“The man was determined to stand for the president,” Patrick said. “There was a palpable lift in the place.”
Before that meeting, Obama visited with three patients who were not well enough to leave their rooms, including Karen Rand, a waitress at the Summer Shack restaurant, who was badly injured in the blast and whose friend, Krystle Campbell, was killed. Patrick was not present for those meetings but visited with those patients after the president left, telling them he was a “consolation prize.”
Patrick said Rand has been struggling emotionally since the attack on Monday and was initially reluctant to have visitors in her room. But Patrick said she and her family seemed genuinely moved by Obama’s words about Walter Reed.
“I think he lifted everybody,” Patrick said.
Rand also reminded the governor that she has served him and his family at Summer Shack.
In addition to spending time with patients, the president met with and thanked hospital staff, including Dr. David King, a trauma surgeon who ran the marathon and then went directly to MGH to operate on those who were injured in the attack.Michael Levenson can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @mlevenson.