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Woman Struck Twice by Lightning

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS 2/FOX 28) -- There's a bit of cruel irony when it comes to lightning - ironic that something so dazzling and beautiful can be so dangerous.

It can be argued no one knows that cruelty more than Beth Peterson.

"It's been quite a recovery road for me," Peterson says.

She was in the army, stationed in Fort Benning Georgia in 1991, when her life literally changed in a flash.

"I was struck by lightning there," Peterson recalls. "It entered my feet, exited my mouth, and threw me approximately 30 feet."

The strike caused traumatic damage to her brain.

"Not recognizing words, not recognizing what I was supposed to say," Peterson says.

It left Peterson hospitalized for the better part of a year. Now this is where irony turns into tragic coincidence, because 1 year to the day of her accident, a mere three miles away from that first strike, Peterson decided to step outside to get air.

"Not even realizing that I'm on metal, and lightning hit and I was thrown backwards," Peterson says.

Years of painful recovery followed. Nine of her toes had to be amputated. In addition, she was plagued by relentless headaches. Peterson says she had to learn how to walk, read, and write. She still feels the electricity surging through her body.

Even with all that, Peterson is keeping perspective.

"I'm breathing, I'm here. I'm present, I'm accounted for," Peterson says. "I find that every day I wake up, I throw my arms in the air because it's a fabulous day," Peterson says.

She turned that appreciation for life into a book, 'Life After Lightning,' Which chronicles her highs, her lows, and her journey to recovery.

"I have a purpose, I know why I'm here; every day is a blessing for me."

Her message resonates wherever she goes.

"There's nothing that you have to go through that you can't get through," says resident Angela Pettit.

For more info on 'Life after Lightning', visit
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