Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten Years Later-Tread Lightly On Our Memories, The Pain Is Still Great

I knew this weekend would be difficult and it is. I am physically sick today, and do not believe that my (minor) case of PTSD is not to blame for this otherwise unexplainable pain.

View my photo scrapbook: 9/11, Then and Now here

Please go to my other blog for my thoughts on the tenth anniversary of the 9/11/01 attacks

Here is a retrospective on The Twin Towers and The Lowly Parking Meter that I wrote last year.

And here is part of the 9/11/01 chapter of Someday I'm Going to Write a Book:

It was pleasantly busy. A few women in labor, triage was quiet. I got coffee
from the food cart, Starbucks, with a shot of French vanilla. I made sure to get skim milk because I treated myself to a scone.  They have almost my whole day’s allotment of calories. That Starbucks has enough caffeine to jazz me up for 12 hours.
“Wow, you have to see this,” said Janine the unit clerk. “A plane just hit the World Trade Center.”
A few of us went into an empty patient room and saw live footage of the gaping hole and the smoke.
“Someone must have lost control of a small plane, there have been a few helicopter crashes recently,” I said. “I hope not too many people got hurt.”
No sooner were the words out of my mouth when we saw, live and in living color, the second plane crash into the south tower. Flames exploded, debris and what we now know were people were flying out. Even the news commentators were stunned, stumbling over their words like drunkards.
“What the hell just happened?”
“Someone just flew a second plane into the other tower!”
“It’s terrorists!”
I don’t remember who said what. One hand over my mouth to hold back the vomit, I held onto the wall as I walked, my knees like rubber. External disaster codes were activated. Bells clanged and the operator called out instructions.
“Blue team to basement.”
“Red team to lobby.”
“Green team to ER.”
Automatic fire doors slammed shut. Strobe lights flashed.  Footsteps pounded in the hallways. Panic bars clicked on the doors as they smashed open against the walls then slammed shut. People ran around like an uncovered nest of roaches.
 “The phones are down!”
“The pagers aren’t working!”
“Make sure all emergency equipment is plugged into red outlets in case we lose power!”
“My husband is in that building!” screamed someone, falling to her knees.
“My father is down there,” said Janine through tears, trying in vain to get a cell phone, any phone to work.
“Joann, let’s get you into the lounge. Turn the TV’s off in the patient’s rooms!” I tried to help her to her feet and ease her out of the hallway.
“A plane just went down near Philly. It was supposedly headed for the White House. There are 8 planes missing from the flight controllers, they are going to shoot them down, the US is under attack.” Josie read the CNN headlines to us but she spoke like she was the President.
Of course, when planning an attack the enemy knocks out communications first. The World Trade Center is very close to here. We have no phones
The fear, not for myself, but for my country was so profound I was beginning to panic myself. Outbursts and screams from staff that had relatives in lower Manhattan  reminded me that my job was to help others, not to dissolve under pressure.
Our Father, who art in heaven hallowed be thy name…
“Joann, just because he’s not answering his phone doesn’t mean anything, they aren’t working.”
 Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…
“Here have a drink of water.”
“Lisa, your husband works blocks away, I’m sure he’s fine.”
Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…
 “I know Denise’s husband is a fireman, they know what they’re doing, in 1993 very few people got hurt.”
 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours now and forever, Amen.
 “She wants to push? OK, I’m coming Josie.”
“Carole, the south tower just collapsed. It’s gone.” Josie whispered in my ear as she tied my surgical gown for me. The splash guard on her mask fogged up with her warm tears.
“Push mommy, the baby’s coming, don’t be afraid. Everything is alright, nothing bad is happening to you.”
Hail Mary, Full of Grace, the Lord is with thee, Blessed are you amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus…
“You’re doing great, see the baby’s head? I know it feels terrible but really, nothing bad is happening. Just push.”
“One more push, you can do it, you’re strong. The baby’s almost here, soon you’ll be done. Great, here comes the baby! It’s a girl!”
I dried the baby and gave her to her mother. I helped her father cut the umbilical cord. They took pictures. I
delivered the placenta, did some suturing. Josie whispered to me as we cleaned up and got the baby to nurse.
“Carole, both towers are down.”
Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death, Amen.

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