ABC News(WHEATFIELD, N.Y.) — A New York woman says she hasn’t been herself since she survived being grazed by lightning while sitting on a couch in her living room.
“I’m feeling the same, but…like very nervous,” Theresa Szelest told ABC News’ 20/20. “That’s not my personality. [I'm] even to the point of almost having panic attacks.”
While at her home in Wheatfield, New York, last week, Szelest said her mom was rubbing her feet for her when it began raining outside.
“And it was thundering, lightning. And one struck in the backyard, and I went, ‘Oh my god, Mom, that is so close,’” Szelest recalled. “I don’t remember feeling anything. I don’t remember seeing it. But it’s the sound that I remember. All I remember is the sound.”
That’s when Szelest said her mom felt a jolt through Szelest’s foot.
“I smelled her hair to make sure she wasn’t burning,” Lottie Waldron, Szelest’s mom, told 20/20. “And then it was too quick. We all jumped up, and the next thing I knew I was outside.”
Szelest, 52, said she was unharmed, except for being in such shock that she was having trouble breathing.
“It was funny because I guess I was hyperventilating, so my toes were starting to turn purple,” she said.
A neighbor, who is a volunteer fireman, came across the street and had them leave the house in case it was on fire. Fortunately, there was no fire in the house, just small pieces of plaster that fell on Szelest and in the area where the bolt of lightning entered the home.
Szelest’s home has no visible outside damage, but she worries it may be susceptible to another lightning strike. “Just because of the direction and the way the house sits, it’s one of the highest peaks in the neighborhood. Is it going to happen again? I hope not,” said Szelest.
The overwhelming number of lightning strikes occur outside, but can also strike inside, said the National Weather Service’s lightning expert John Jensenius.
“Lightning can go through the plumbing. It could easily go through water and get to you,” Jenenius told ABC News. “If it strikes outside, it can travel through the metal doorknob.”
Because she has trouble remembering what happened, Szelest feels like a part of her is gone.
“I just want everybody else to be aware that it can happen and to be careful,” said Szelest. “Just be aware of your surroundings.”
Watch the full story on ABC News’ 20/20 on Friday, Aug. 8 at 10 p.m. ET.
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