Lee Woodruff: Love, Anger, Hope in Caring for Husband

On Jan. 29, 2006, Bob Woodruff and cameraman Doug Vogt were hit by a giant roadside bomb. The explosion shattered the left side of Woodruff's skull, and the same thing happens all the time to many American servicemen and women in Iraq.

In "In an Instant," a book by Bob and his wife, Lee, Lee writes that she and Bob became that couple in the news.

Imagine that your life, like Lee Woodruff's, was perfect. You have a beautiful family, the golden horizon. For 27 days, Bob was living his dream -- co-anchor of "World News Tonight." Then in just an instant, David Westin, president of ABC News, wakes her with a phone call to tell her that Bob has been seriously injured by a roadside bomb in Iraq and that there is shrapnel in his brain.

Lee reeled in terror, she writes in the book, and tried to keep it from her children.

"Kathryn was awake, my eldest daughter, and she said, 'Is something wrong with Daddy?'," Lee told "Good Morning America." "And I said, 'Your Dad's been hurt, but I think it's going to be okay.' And the 'think it's going to be okay' part -- I just kept that at the end of anything I would ever tell them."

Her daughter Kathryn said her mother was always optimistic.

"Really she was always the one that would say, it's going to be okay," she said. "No matter what the doctor said, she was always really supportive."

After this talk with her children, she went into the shower and cried.

When Lee entered Bob's room at the hospital in Germany, the nurse told her to look at his body slowly in stages because the nurse was afraid Lee would faint.

"I started with his feet and then I moved up to his head and on the left side it was like the surface of the moon," Lee said. "There were hundreds of rocks that had been blasted into his face. Coming out of his head was his brain, swelling out through his, the opening in his skull, and that was terrifying."

The brain scans were irrefutable. The left section of his skull was gone. Cameraman Doug Vogt was also gravely injured. But soon, Vogt was talking and walking, while Bob stayed in a coma, day after day after day.

Lee was there, by his side through his risky surgeries to remove rocks near his arteries, through the infections and the sepsis. In the book she writes how hard it was to keep her little flame of hope alive.

"I would walk in there everyday with a little bundle of hope into the hospital elevator and on the ride up to the third floor, which is where the ICU was, I would kind of nurse it like a little pile of embers," Lee said. "And by the time I would get in the room, there he was again."

For Lee, among the scariest parts of the ordeal was Bob's battle with pneumonia.

"That was in God's hands," she said. "There was nothing we could do but pray and pray that Bob was strong enough to get through that."

During that period, Lee said she saw Bob receding away from her.

Bob was "shrinking almost physically," she said. "My sister Nan, who has the best nose in the family, told me later that she knew the smell of death and that smell of death hung in his room."

Still, Lee talked to him the whole time.

"I would just tell him these stories or I would be telling him something about our life and it would flash me back to an earlier period and it would bridge us to where we'd been and I realized how interconnected a marriage is," she said. "Where you are in the future is all about where you've been in the past."

Page
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
  • |
  • 4
null
Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...