For one Valley woman, pain from Vegas massacre lingers

PHOENIX (KSAZ) -- Those that were wounded in the deadly 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas are continuing on their road to recovery, and for one Valley woman, her injuries remain as a haunting reminder of the horror on that fateful day.

Michelle Leonard now lives a life of fear. She has tried to go into a movie theater, but had a panic attack. That anxiety only worsened when she tried to watch a fireworks display at Disneyland.

Leonard wakes up 94 times an hour, a combination of nightmares and sleep apnea, and while she struggles to turn the page, others who lost family and friends in Las Vegas one year ago are trying to look forward as well.

Leonard was a vendor working at the Route 91 Harvest Festival, on the night 58 people were shot and killed.

"As soon as the shots, the first 3 shots that went off, the girl that was working with me and myself, we knew exactly what that was," said Leonard. She was among the hundreds wounded, but the physical injuries from that horrifying night is only part of the trauma.

"Your family and friends not knowing how to do deal with you. You not being able to," said Leonard. "I can't listen to helicopters, I can't drive at night with the lights, because it reminds me of that night at Vegas."

Leonard suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Monday, October 1, 2018, won't close the book, but for her, it's the beginning of a new chapter.

She knows this is her new normal.

"The PTSD is real, it's something that doesn't go away," said Leonard. "I wake up every day and remember because of the injuries that I have. I lost my job because I can't do the work anymore, physically and mentally. It's changed my life and turned it upside down."

Leonard says through counseling, she's learned what can help her cope with PTSD: meditation, exercise, and sleep. The last two, however, she can't do right now.

Leonard says she'll need a pacemaker installed, and she has surgery coming for a shattered ankle. All of it a constant reminder of a horrible day that won't be forgotten.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Information
Mayo Clinic -
National Institute of Mental Health -
National Center for PTSD -