Adrianne Haslet-Davis said that it was a moment she had while lying in her hospital bed one night that made her realize she wanted to tell the story of her recovery from the Boston Marathon bombings to a television audience.
"I wanted to give an honest representation of what the bad days look like," she told the Huffington Post in a recent phone call. "I'm not always Boston Strong."
Haslet-Davis, a 33-year-old professional dancer and survivor of the bombings last April, lost part of her left leg in the explosion. She also lost her ability to dance. Haslet-Davis met Anderson Cooper in her hospital room shortly after the attack, and eventually agreed to let Cooper and CNN film her journey to recovery over the last year.
The result of those efforts is Cooper's documentary, “The Survivor Diaries,” which airs on Tuesday night at 10 PM.
In the year since the attacks, Haslet-Davis has regained her ability to dance, with the help of a bionic limb specifically designed for her by MIT's Hugh Herr. Haslet-Davis publicly returned to the dance floor for the first time at a TED Conference talk in March.
"It was bittersweet," she said. "It was the closest I'd gotten to feeling like I had my leg back but it wasn't close at all-- and I knew that was the best there was out there."
Prior to the explosion, Haslet-Davis was dancing 5 days a week for 8 to 10 hours a day. When Cooper first met her in the hospital, he told HuffPost, her "incredible optimism and determination" really "struck a chord" with him. As part of the agreement to record Haslet-Davis's private life, Cooper promised to dance with her when she finally achieved her goal-- perhaps not realizing how quickly that would actually happen.
"Once I realized we were going to do this documentary, I thought, 'Oh no, [dancing] is going to be a part of it,'" Cooper said. "And it's going to be on camera, which adds to my shame of being a terrible ballroom dancer."
Cooper said that Haslet-Davis could not have been nicer about his "clumsiness," but the moment they stepped onto the dance floor together still embarrasses him.
"It's a painful moment for me to watch," he laughed. "I'm so awkward!"
Dancing aside, Cooper said that he hopes the documentary will show viewers a part of the aftermath of the bombings that most people don't see.
"We all have memories of the bombing, and many people move on from them," Cooper explained. "It was something that the whole country went through, and then regular lives resumed. But for a lot of people who survived the bombing itself, this has been a completely different year...life has not been the same."
Haslet-Davis added that the documentary will give real insight into what post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) looks like.
For Cooper, connecting with a victim of such a tragedy is something he says he has gotten used to doing.
"I am very comfortable speaking to people who are experiencing very real traumas in their own life," he said. "I don't ask people how they feel. I know what it's like to be on the other side of the camera in grief."
He said the documentary would tell "a powerful story of a very powerful woman and her determination to resume the life that she loves."