Monday, September 11, 2006

Five Years

Five years ago today, I was a harried and hurried OB/GYN intern, the only intern on the OB floor. Rounds ran long because of a long patient census, and we were late getting over to Labor and Delivery to "run the board" (aka, check on the laboring patients). I had four laboring patients, three patients to see in OB triage, and a 30 week pregnant woman just involved in an MVA on the way into the ER. I was just about to check on my first labor patient when the charge nurse came out of a patient's room. "A plane just crashed into the World Trade center!" The sarcastic comments followed, ranging from jokes about air traffic control to what substance the pilot was smoking. It mildly piqued my interest, but to tell the truth, I hadn't the time to sit and ponder the significance. I was halfway through my triage and labor checks when the second plane hit. Then, we knew, this was no accident, and I, like everyone else that day, was scared about what this meant. Ever in constant motion, I caught what updates I could from the patient's TV screens, as I went about the routine business of histories and physicals on a most unusual and frightening day. My chief resident and I went together to see the MVA patient, it was merely a fender-bender, no real trauma, and we hooked her up to the labor monitor to look for contractions. She gasped, suddenly, eyes wide in disbelief, locked on the television mounted on the wall in the corner of the room. My chief and I turned, to see the mighty towers collapsing into dust and rubble. I don't know how long we sat and stared, silent.

The rest of that day is a true blur. I delivered eight babies between 9 am and 5:30 pm that day, four inductions and four natural labors. I distinctly remember one young patient, just 17, crying after the delivery, not tears of joy or even pain from labor, but of sadness and terror. I couldn't help but think that the baby boom that day was simply a surge to replace the souls so tragically lost. I think the unit had a total of 11 deliveries that day. This year, they are already five years old, nearly ready for kindergarten. In the days that followed, I was morbidly fixed to the TV and the news. My husband couldn't tear me away. I couldn't stop watching. It lasted for about 3 months, and then the shock was not nearly so fresh, and I could watch non-news programming once again. Tonight, my husband is watching the commemorative movie on television. I have no desire to see any films about that day. I don't get why five years is the magical number for it to be permissible to start turning a profit on such a terrible day in our lives and the lives of the victims. I could barely sit through the previews of United 93 without bawling. I don't need a reminder of the tragedy, as it is indelibly burned into my memory. I was fortunate that I did not lose a loved one or a close friend, and for that I am grateful. But we as a nation suffered the loss of, not only the lives of the victims and the heroes of that day (in itself a staggering loss), but the loss of life as we had so complacently come to know it. We lost innocence and we lost feeling secure, and I'm not sure that we will ever feel the same way as we did five years and one day ago. Today, I, like so many of you, will ponder in silence and return to the day when we knew things would never be the same. Today I will remember to never forget.

13 comments:

Guinness_Girl said...

Dr. Whoo, this was a beautiful, wonderfully-written post. Amen, sister.

dr. whoo? said...

Thank you, GG! :)

Fat Doctor said...

I'll never forget. I think about the immense fear I have every time boarding a plane. Also, I never let my gas tank be less than half full now, a direct consequence of waiting in line at a gas station for two hours that night during part of the panic.

By the way, I linked to your blog. :)

Fat Doctor said...

I'll never forget. I think about the immense fear I have every time boarding a plane. Also, I never let my gas tank be less than half full now, a direct consequence of waiting in line at a gas station for two hours that night during part of the panic.

By the way, I linked to your blog. :)

dr. whoo? said...

Hi FD! Thank you :) (Is it weird to be honored? Because I am!)

Guinness_Girl said...

HEY! Did you read FD's blog today? Awesome. She has like a gazillion readers. And now they will all read you!

TBTAM said...

Hi, Just found you via Fat Doctor, and am enjoying reading your blog.

As to 9-11, my memories are of sitting for hours in the ER of our hospital here in NYC waiting for the injured to arrive, then the horrible feeling when we all began to realize that there were no injured because there were no survivors.

Anyway, welcome to the blogosphere! I'll give you a link on my blog (The Blog that Ate Manhattan)

Moof said...

Dr. Whoo ... that was absolutely beautiful. Thank you for spending yourself in helping life to begin on a day when so many lives were lost ...

... and thank you for sharing it with us.

medstudentitis said...

I especially loved the lines "I distinctly remember one young patient, just 17, crying after the delivery, not tears of joy or even pain from labor, but of sadness and terror." To think about bringing a baby into what seemed such a scary world at the time would probably have brought me to tears too.

My Own Woman said...

We lost lives, we lost our innocence....and we will never be the same.

dr. whoo? said...

tbtam~ Welcome! I'm not quite certain that I deserve the glowing endorsement that FD has given, but I'm happy that people are finding their way here.

moof~ Thank you for your kind words. I felt really blessed to be able to be doing *something* that day. I think I may have seriously lost it if I could have stopped moving.

medstudentitis~ It was heartbreaking. I think about the women that delivered on that day often; I'm sure that it felt as though it was the end of the world.

my own woman~ So, so true. There is a dividing line, before...and after.

frectis said...

I couldn't help but think that the baby boom that day was simply a surge to replace the souls so tragically lost.

Wow. That is beautiful and haunting all at the same time.

I enjoy your blog! I'm a home birth midwife and appreciate your practice as it reads on the blog :)

Anonymous said...

Hello! ;)
wow... what unbalanced news!
what do you think about it?