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Boston bombing survivor opens up about struggle with PTSD years later

Boston Marathon bombing survivor Rebekah Gregory talked about the effects of PTSD and enduring the premature birth of her daughter.
/ Source: TODAY

It has been nearly four years since the Boston Marathon bombing that resulted in Rebekah Gregory losing her left leg, but there are some invisible scars from post-traumatic stress disorder that are still healing.

"I think a lot of people think that because it was four years ago that we've all kind of moved on with our lives, but what people don't understand is the emotional impact of everything is so much greater than the physical,'' Gregory told Savannah Guthrie on TODAY Monday.

Gregory, 29, details her journey and struggles during the aftermath of the bombing in her new book, "Taking My Life Back," which will be released on Tuesday. The images seared into her mind on that day are ones that continue to impact her and other survivors years later.

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"What we saw that day, people's body parts were on the ground next to us, bones were laying on the sidewalk, blood, nails, BBs, ball bearings, and so that sticks with you,'' she said. "There's nightmares, and you're afraid to go to the airport and leaving a bag unattended and things like that. It creeps up in everyday life."

Gregory also writes in her book about her experience with survivor's guilt.

"It's very hard because I was standing right there where some others were that close and they didn't survive,'' she told Kathie Lee Gifford and Jenna Bush Hager Monday. "People lost both of their legs and are still struggling. My dear friends are still sometimes in the hospital or having various recovery issues even four years later. It's still very much a part of every day."

Since the bombing, Gregory has gone through a divorce, married her college sweetheart and had a baby girl, Ryleigh, who was born several months premature. The Houston resident also returned to run the Boston Marathon in 2015 with her prosthetic leg.

Gregory was initially told by doctors that due to internal damage from shrapnel, she would not be able to have any more children. She said Rhyleigh is "truly a miracle."

"Doctors told me in Boston that I would never be able have another baby again, and that was something that really was sad for me and sad for (my son) Noah, but Ryleigh did come into our lives,'' Gregory said. "We did spend quite a few days in the NICU, it was very scary, but she's a happy, healthy 11-month-old now."

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Gregory's 8-year-old son, Noah, whom she shielded during the blast to prevent any major injuries, is now a happy big brother.

"Noah is running around like nothing ever happened to him, except he likes to tell people, 'I got blown up by a bomb and here's my scars,''' Gregory said.

Gregory also has had a sense of humor during her recovery, naming her prosthetic leg "Felicia," and decorating it with bracelets.

"If I have to have a fake leg, I've got to rock it, right?" she said. "(Felicia) has her pedicure every two weeks. The best thing in the house is 'Babe, where's your leg? I can't believe you lost it again today.' That's our normal life."

She also continues to be an inspiration to others after facing so many challenges in the last four years.

"I feel like everyone's life blows up in their face both literally and figuratively sometimes,'' she said. "I've been through many different aspects of that and I've had so much heartache, but at the end of the day I'm still here to tell my story, and with each chapter I learn so much about myself, and I have a greater appreciation for the world around me, and I'm just so thankful for that."

Follow writer Scott Stump on Twitter.