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9/11 Pentagon

Discussion in 'General' started by mayertl, May 19, 2006.

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  1. mayertl

    mayertl New Member

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    OK, here we go...for those with a weak stomach or adverse to profanity, you probably should not go on...cuz it is gonna get ugly and probably profane. Anthony, you are cleared to edit at will.

    I was a senior officer in the US Air Force in a position that oversaw the largest morgue in the world at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware in the NW US. I was home on leave "vegging" when my wife called me to asked if I had seen the news...that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. I'm thinking another puddle jumper, right? Then I turn on the news just in time to see the second airliner strike...holy shit...as I'm sure the rest of you thought. I get a call from the Pentagon to begin to ready the morgue for the remains, when an airliner hits the Pentagon...double holy shit. The next morning, after conferring with the 4-star, I'm on my own special jet en route to Dover...the only frigging plane in the sky.

    We started to get people in, dentists, pathologists, explodance disposal, photographers, FBI, military intelligence, troops to move bodies...and many more. Complicating the situation was a NASCAR race in Dover that weekend...that actually took place. But we had no billets, so we had everyone, including the pathologists and FBI 4-bunked in hotels over an hour away. It was ugly.

    Then the next day, the helicopters started coming in. Body bags for torsos and FBI "evidence boxes" for parts.

    Let me back up and say I have no background in mortuary...and avoid any death if possible. Yesterday, I had to clean up an iguana our cat ate...hurt like hell.

    Anyway, as I was trying to get this enormous operation under control (I had lots of help from the professional morticians and pathologists), I felt like I had to be the strong guy...showing no emotion or problems. I insured everyone had work-rest cycles...except me. There was incredible support from the community. We had every meal brought in free (McDonalds, Pizza Hut, etc). That was good for a while, but the only seperation from the "back" and the break room was a swinging door.

    I would roam the entire morgue 8-10 times a day, showing support. I have vivid memories (and some memories I have repressed). Probably my most painful is the one time I ventured into the autopsy room...bad idea. Then comes the personal effects, with pictures of loved ones, wedding rings, etc...soaked with jet fuel. With the jet fuel, the smells became very complicated. And of course the remains...a few intact. No open caskets came out of there.

    The senior pathologists liked to bullshit...and who better to bullshit that with the guy in charge? So, I learned in great detail the pathology of heads and legs in an airplane crash. I also learned to origin of the many, many flies that were sharing our McDonald's Eggmcmuffuns!

    Our biggest challenge, besides the media...was identifying and reassociating the pieces. We used fingerprints, dental records, and DNA to identify every single victim...including the ****ing terrorists.

    And to my ongoing disgust, we treated the terrorists with the same compassion we did our own people. I reckon I could have done it differently, but in discussing it with the highest people in the Pentagon, we decided to keep the moral high ground. Lot of good that has done us, huh?

    Now, the flashbacks are less often, but the anxiety is tremendous, sometimes unbearable. One day, I took some pills (nothing dangerous) and went to bed (I call it quit...can anyone relate?) at 1 in the afternoon. Today I'm already up after 4, so it is a good day. My wife is a dear...worried sick, but holding stronger than I have ever seen her. I seldom eat...just can't choke it down. I eat lunch with a beer. Which, as I recall, I haven't finished today's...so maybe this is a good place to quit.

    Sorry if I have offended anyone...Terry
     
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  3. livelysue

    livelysue Member

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    Terry, I cannot even imagine what that must have been like for you. I was not offended by what you had to say in anyway. Venting is a good thing to do. It will help you to recover. I wish I could give you the answers to make everything better but I can't. What I am learning is that I cannot control everything like I used to before I had PTSD. I need to take it one day at a time and when I am having a trying day I have friends who are there to get me through to the next day. Let your wife know what you are feeling and let her help you get through it. Trust me you cannot do it on your own. Also, keep coming here for support. Anthony and Kerrie-Ann are great.
     
  4. YoungAndAngry

    YoungAndAngry Well-Known Member

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    I wasn't offended...
    it nice to have somewhere to be able to let it all out
     
  5. piglet

    piglet Well-Known Member

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    Terry - you can't offend anyone by telling it how it is. People choose to be offended, so it's up to them to deal with their own issues.

    Everybody here has experiences "outside normal experience", hence the ptsd. You have the added burden that everyone saw loads of media coverage of what you were dealing with. This allowed people to draw conclusions, but they were not there with you and your colleagues. Add to that all the complex political stuff and well....I don't think there are words to describe what you have to deal with.

    Just know that you can say what you like here - that's what makes this place such a great help to all of us. It's just a shame that society as a whole cannot yet seem to grasp the effects of these experiences and ongoing ptsd. Times are always changing though, so there is hope.

    Take care.
     
  6. mayertl

    mayertl New Member

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    Thanks for all the support, folks...it is comforting. It is also comforting to know there are people like you who actually experience the same symptoms...amazing, really. I'm a little calmer today. LaVonne, my dear wife, actually gave me some "honey do's" without me panicing, although I did get "jittery" when things didn't go right. I see in the postings that others have that issue as well.

    One thing I didn't mention...well I didn't mention a lot, but sensory overload is not a good thing...was the emotions I (and all of us, I'm sure) felt during this clean up mess. Anger is the prominent one, followed by helplessness, knowing the world had just changed dramatically. We didn't watch much news, so all that was going on post 9/11 was blank to us. We just focused on the mission. I recall staring at a couple of chared intact bodies (obviously from the Pentagon rather than the plane) and thinking "why?" Why were these innocent victims laying here? No good explanation.

    LaVonne tells me I cried when I got back...I don't remember. And I ain't a cryin' kind of guy.

    I am very interested in hearing other symptoms. I'm lucky, I don't have the anger so many of you express...Lucky for LaVonne :)

    I know many of you have difficulty focusing...that is a biggie for me. And the nausea. I think the meds are kicking in.

    What kind of counseling are you getting? I went to a guy who was actually at the morgue, although I don't remember him. He never went in the back, so was deprived of some of the sensories. His solution was to close my eyes and tell everything I remembered...anyone do that with success? I couldn't do it a second time.

    Again, thanks for all the support...I'll see you in the links...
    Terry
     
  7. YoungAndAngry

    YoungAndAngry Well-Known Member

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    Hey Terry

    that's pretty much the way I felt when I found this forum :)
    It's hard to believe that all that craziness you feel is part of a disorder...
    From reading what others have posted in this forum I've been able to ease some of my worries

    As far as each individuals symptoms go...
    they can be similar but yet so different...

    for example: I cannot be a passenger in a vehicle unless my partner or parents are driving...
    this is not something that I can get over...
    it is a major trigger for me
    whereas.. someone else with PTSD may be perfectly fine in the car,
    alot of it depends on why we have PTSD

    You are very lucky you don't have "the anger"...
    ..."the anger" is what really puts a strain on my relationship

    The jittery feeling you described is probally anxiety
    Anthony has put some great info up for alot of the symptoms you might be suffering from.


    As far as counselling goes...
    I talk to a therapist as well as a pychiatist (sp?) each once a week...
    but I am also on meds right now


    difficulty focusing? lol, focusing feels impossible sometimes...
    just try to take each hour at a time.
     
  8. mayertl

    mayertl New Member

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    Hey Y&A...
    yea, driving is a problem here, too...I simply have to drive. Driving alone relaxes me, driving with my wife relaxes me, driving with someone else is off the wall. Down here, the culture is to pick up people on the side of the road to give them a ride. I just can't do that.

    What kind of meds are you on? Or is that an inappropriate question here? I'm newly on Zoloft and something called Seroquel (which I haven't figured out yet, except that it helps with sleep)...and Ambien. The combination of Seroquel and Ambien makes for very peaceful sleep...a huge relief from times past.

    My wife keeps telling me to breath deeply...good advice,
    Terry
     
  9. piglet

    piglet Well-Known Member

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    I'm on prozac at the moment. Not working great, although I am better than I was. I have been on paroxetine before too (I think it's called seroxat or parvil too), but I didn't get on with that at all.

    I could really use something that will help me sleep, but don't want to do the sleeping pills thing. I can get to sleep (breathing exercises help there), but I keep waking up.

    The driving thing is weird. I hate being driven by other people and usually volunteer to drive if I'm going out with friends. I like driving myself, but I also get jittery when I'm driving other people (better with a carload than with a sinlge passenger though - hence the weirdness).

    Going to look up seroquel and ambien and see if it's around in the UK. The psychologist indicated that it might be worth changing meds, cos I've been on high prozac since March without huge improvements. Mind you, I've not exactly been taking it easy, so can't expect miracles!
     
  10. YoungAndAngry

    YoungAndAngry Well-Known Member

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    I've been on Effexor since January... plus sleeping pills, and muscle relaxants
    (I'd have to go grab the bottles for the actual drug name)

    Once I was seen by the pyschiatrist (beginning of May)
    Seroquel was added to the mix.

    I like Effexor because I don't have crazy side-effects, (different for everyone)
    and the Seroquel really helps calm me down in the evening,
    starting today or tomarrow I'm supposed try taking Seroquel during the day,
    see if it helps with the anxiety.

    The only downside I've really found with Effexor is my pupils get large...
    people that don't know me usually think I'm high or something...
     
  11. anthony

    anthony Renovation Aficionado Founder

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    Chaos is such, that we still require entertainment to take our minds off what is happening within the world around us, more often during times of heavy distress, ie. 9/11. Some people think its rude, and most likely you may off at the time, but from a human perception, understanding and emotional feelings side of things, the public most likely needed this to help relieve them from the harsh reality that had just occurred.

    And now for the bad news... this is the action that played the most significant role in your obtaining PTSD Terry. The bodies automatic intention is to express emotions when it suffers pain and trauma, but we can stop that from occurring, thus we do, and increase the risk significantly of having what we now have.

    I did the same in my role within the military, always being the strong one, ensuring my subordinates knew the hierachy was sane, and in control of the situation, thus eliminating many of their fears through strong leadership. Unfortunately, it is just one of those roles someone must adopt, and generally to save many of those who are our subordinates. We sacrifice ourselves foresay, to save those who is our responsibility to care for and ensure their needs are taken care off to the best of our ability.

    What this says, is that you did your job very well Terry, and you should be congratulated, because whilst you now suffer, you have likely saved many within your control the burden off every sufferering PTSD. A hard road to take mate, but one some of us must take upon ourselves and run that risk of making ourselves ill. Generally though, we don't actually realize what we are doing, because we are non the wiser to such things as PTSD during the circumstances.

    This just shows humanity is still alive and well, even though society do so much to hide it under normal daily circumstances. This I never do I understand myself.

    Mate, let me just say, I know what you are talking about, as I have seen, dealt with, and been part off at times why bodies are dismembered. I have seen it, been involved with it, picked up the pieces afterwards, and then dealt with the conversations after such incidents. As you have mentioned, when you are picking up the "enemy" as such. I had soldiers ask me why we just don't leave the bodies where they are, as they where the reason for what we were doing their to begin with. The fact is, is that every human, regardless what actions they have taken, or been ordered to do, deserves some compassion in death, whether respected or not is another thing. It was very hard for me to even comprehend what I had to tell soldiers at times, even when I wanted to leave those who caused the conflict in the hole they lay, or worse even, set fire to them, or put more bullets into them, and worse even.

    These are thoughts, all of which can be manipulated. Sometimes humans need these thoughts to be manipulated by people in charge, for the overall aim or mission, and more often than not, the remorse that resolves later on. Once a soldier has committed such acts, they tend to regret them later, and its the leaders job to ensure they don't commit them, and treat the "enemy" (terrorists) bodies with the same compassion that others are treated. You did really well Terry, really well. A job very well done mate, and you need to tell yourself that, because its only the truth. Often people with PTSD will tend to put themselves down for their actions, and not feel as though they did the right thing at the time. The fact is, is that you made decisions based upon the time of the incident, and dealt with those decisions and incidents on a case by case basis. Just doing what you have done deserves much credit to the person you are.

    Mate, these are all very much normal [DLMURL="http://www.ptsdforum.org/thread6.html"]symptoms of PTSD[/DLMURL]. One day at a time, and that is all you need to deal with. The good thing is, is that your not expressing everything as anger. The [DLMURL="http://www.ptsdforum.org/thread12.html"]iceberg of emotions[/DLMURL] outlines how we express things as anger, as anger is not an emotion, it is a consequence of emotions, which means if your expressing the actual emotions that make up anger, then you won't express anger itself.

    What is really important Terry, is that where you mentioned that you had held back for fear of emotional overload, is where some of the problems are occuring. Don't worry, a few here suffer pretty bad from this at present, in that they are not getting the core of the issues out of them. The most important thing with PTSD is you write a list of every single little thing that is inside you, bothering you, causing your the anxiety and issues. You take one aspect at a time from that list, and you work on it. You chat with your counsellor about it, doctor, or here with others who suffer the same. Dealing with each individual issue creates resolve one step at a time for your body, in that once you understand and control each aspect at a time, you then move onto the next one.

    I have done this already, and it is definately the core success to my currently being off medications and capable to manage PTSD without suppresants as such. Write a list here, or in your notebook, then we start working through one at a time. You mentioned that you felt a little better already just getting some of this off your chest. That is what made you have that little relief, through getting it out of you. This is why the private section is here, if you can't discuss in public, you do so in private.

    Hang in there mate, things get better from this point on. I won't lie to you, you will still have bad times, especially when you start bringing all this back to the top to deal with it once and for all. Things often get worse before they get better, but they do get better when you deal with the problems head on.
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2015
  12. livelysue

    livelysue Member

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    Here here Anthony. It does get worse before it gets better. I am currently at a group called EA. We do a 12 step program. You work on one thing a week. Sometimes you can end up doing a step many time before you can get past that area. I have been off my meds since about Nov and I have had some times where I really feel I should be back on them but a good friend said to me, you are doing really well without the medication do not let one bad day make you think you are not coping.

    I try to take one day at at time. Funny thing is that is step one of the 12 step program. Take it one day at time and know that you cannot control everything even though you may want to. Dealing with emotions is not easy but running from them makes things worse.

    Take care,

    Sue
     
  13. YoungAndAngry

    YoungAndAngry Well-Known Member

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    Good Job Sue!

    */gives Sue thumbs up :)
     
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