Despite her husband's serious injuries, Sarah Gannaway says her husband's arrival at Walter Reed on December 25, 2007, was the best Christmas present she's ever received. "He looked better than I'd ever seen him—busted to pieces, all kinds of bruised, covered in bandages—but he looked fabulous," she says.
On December 21, 2007, Major Bruce Gannaway was serving his second tour in Iraq when he stepped on a roadside bomb. "I remember a flash of light at my feet and feeling a lot of heat and falling over. And then I felt a big wave of pain," he says. Bruce had lost his left foot and his left middle finger. His left forearm had to be plated, and shrapnel had nicked the femoral vein in his right thigh.
Since their Christmas Day reunion, Bruce and Sarah have lived at Walter Reed with their 2-year-old daughter, Helen Grace. "Helen Grace was 11 months old when Bruce was injured," Sarah says. "She's not going to have a memory of her dad having two legs."
Along with Bruce's physical challenges, the couple is also working to overcome new obstacles in their relationship. "If he wakes up in the middle of the night, he has a choice. He can get in his wheelchair to go to the bathroom, he can get on his crutches or he can crawl. Which is okay if you're going 5 feet to the bathroom," Sarah says. "But if you need to go upstairs and tend to a baby, it's more of a challenge. And so you know, consequently, it's me. Most of the time it's me."
Bruce acknowledges the new hardships—but says they aren't necessarily a bad thing. "I know this injury has affected our marriage, but in many ways, I think it's challenged us and given us a chance to improve it and get closer together," he says.
No matter what, Bruce's family is behind him with every step of his recovery. When he receives a new prosthetic, Helen Grace offers her own expertise. "She's gotten ahold of an Allen wrench at times, and she'll come up and basically want to adjust my foot," Bruce says.
Sarah and Bruce, however, have their own test for each new prosthetic. "One of the ways we test the foot out to make sure it's working right is we will dance," he says.
Watch Sarah and Bruce dance.
"It's just an opportunity for us to cuddle," Sarah says.