Adjusting to all the attention and her newfound status as a local celebrity has been a slow process all its own, and Fortin said it was a little weird for her at first to be approached by people she didn’t know who were interested in hearing how she was doing.
“People would be like ‘Oh, can I hug you?’ And I’m like ‘sure?’” Fortin said. “I don’t want to be rude for not knowing who they are, but it was way too many people. I don’t even know 7,000 people.”
Fortin said one of her biggest worries after the accident was that once the headlines faded, people would forget about her and she’d be left alone. In some ways, that fear came to fruition in the sense that many people she considered to be her friends never wound up visiting her in the hospital.
“You definitely find out who your friends are,” she said.
Despite everything that has happened, both Fortin and her mother say that if given the chance to turn the clock back, they wouldn’t change anything. Fortin said her ordeal has given her a new appreciation for life, along with a sense of direction that she didn’t have before.
“I literally had no idea what I wanted to do and now it’s opened up my eyes to lots of different things,” she said. “There were a lot of signs just that week, it’s impossible that it wasn’t meant to be.”
Before the accident, Fortin graduated from Whittier Vocational Technical High School and had been accepted into Johnson and Wales’ culinary program, but she decided that wasn’t for her.
Now she is planning on attending class at Northern Essex Community College in the fall, and she said she’s considering entering the medical field, possibly to help others with prosthetics.