home
RSS
September 7th, 2011
03:51 PM ET

Gupta: 9/11 then and now

Editor's note: Dr. Sanjay Gupta investigates 9/11's toxic dust - what it felt like to breathe it, be enveloped by it, and what the experience means for the next time disaster strikes, in "Terror in the Dust," Saturday, 9 p.m. ET.

I still remember the patient I was examining on the morning of September 11, 2001. She was in her 70s and had a relatively small, benign tumor known as a meningioma. It was located in the right frontal lobe of her brain and I had performed an operation the day before to remove it. I remember her face as I walked in the door. She was sitting up in bed, and had applied lipstick. “Positive lipstick sign,” I had whispered to my residents. I had learned over the years that if a patient was feeling and recovering well, she would be more likely to comb her hair and put on lipstick. This was a good sign for my patient.

A curtain separated two beds in the room and both had televisions in front, bolted to the lime green walls. For whatever reason, I still vividly remember the color of the walls. At different points in our lives, time moves more slowly and becomes unforgettable. Every detail seared into our memory. This was one of those moments.

I had asked my patient to flex her muscle as I tested the bicep strength in her left arm. I was now asking her to extend her arm, while I was feeling to see if all three heads of her triceps muscle were contracting. I remember the moment when there was a collective gasp in the room, and I looked up, wondering if something had happened. My patient’s eyes were fixed on the TV.

I started working for CNN just a few weeks before the attacks of 9/11. As a doctor who had worked as a White House fellow and written about health care policy, I believed I would occasionally be called on to comment about the health care bills circulating at that time, and big medical developments. That was all going to change, and as I turned to follow my patient’s gaze, I was about to learn just how much.

I could not have known I would be standing outside St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York City, looking at a sea of green - doctors and nurses in scrubs - waiting for patients who would never come. “The people here either lived or they died,” I remember saying on TV a few days later. “Very few were caught in between.” I could not have known that over the next few months, I would cover the anthrax scare, and be embedded with troops in Afghanistan.

And, how was I to know that over this last year, I would be investigating the impact of all that dust and acrid air on the health of first responders.

Firefighters responding to 9/11 at increased risk of cancer

“A firefighter is watching who was there at the World Trade Center and developed cancer over the last 10 years. .. They have the lingering question, why did I get this cancer and was it related to the dust, and you would say what?” I asked Dr. David Prezant, the lead author of a new study in Lancet. “For most instances it was World Trade Center related,” he replied without hesitation. Ten years later, people are still dying from those attacks.

My patient had full strength in her left arm, and an incision that was starting to heal on her scalp. I saw her periodically for a few years after the operation to make sure that she was doing well and that her tumor had not returned. Last time we visited, she said to me, “I will always remember 9/11. You were making rounds, and examining me when we watched it on television.” “Of course I remember,” I said, and reflected on how the world had changed over the last 10 years. “Remember those hideous lime green walls?” she suddenly added.

How could I forget?


soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. bailoutsos

    Every year America is going to relive this?

    September 7, 2011 at 18:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • gingerpeach

      America should NEVER forget this. If we need a reminder everyday we should never for get what happened on 9/11. The Towers were NOT brought down by "controlled demolition". They have voice recordings of people that were on the plans, before they died. They can trace the lives of those who caused this before it happened, and their training.

      September 7, 2011 at 18:23 | Report abuse |
    • nertawa

      presedent ni kutoka kenya

      September 8, 2011 at 20:38 | Report abuse |
    • Anon4242

      Yes.
      For roughly 50-60 years.
      Then it will be forgotten pretty much the same way they forgot Pearl Harbor.

      September 9, 2011 at 06:46 | Report abuse |
    • pleasehavehope

      It does feel somewhat strange when that specific date becomes something annual like the 4th of July. I love the USA very much. JUST as much as I love Israel, PALESTINE (who for some strange reason no longer have correspondents on CNN), Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the rest of the Middle East whose 'Holy Lands' superpowers had better learn to respect rather than use for greedy and unjust purposes. Hearing '9-11' over and over and over is just about as bad as hearing 'war on terrorism' 'war on terrorism' 'war on terrorism.'

      September 10, 2011 at 09:41 | Report abuse |
    • teresa

      ADULT STEM CELLS CURE'S AIDS / HIV and A NUMBER OF OTHER THINGS BUT WHY????? IS AMERICA BEING HELD BACK FROM THE MAJOR LEAP IN MEDICINE DOES AMERICA WANT TOO KILL YOU ??????? OTHER COUNTRIES MAKING MAJOR LEAPS INTO MEDICINE BUT AMERICA IS STILL IN THE STONE AGE WHY????? WHO BENEFITS THE FDA BIG CORPORATIONS .......???

      October 17, 2011 at 22:01 | Report abuse |
  2. extinct eagle

    One simple question to Dr. Gupta, why were the dust in from the twin towers & wtc 7 toxin? have you investigated that? is it not because the towers were brought doen by controlled demolition? what happened to if you see something , say something? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AnLQxP0uJbQ

    September 7, 2011 at 18:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      To what end? Puhleeze, get a freakin' life. This was an act of terrorism by extremists.

      You probably think there was a second shooter on the grassy knoll and that the moon landing was faked, don't you?

      September 7, 2011 at 22:03 | Report abuse |
    • tony

      Hey was there super nano thermite in the dust doctor?????? that is an explosive used to demolish buildings......is super nano thermite in the dust dangerous to breath in? Are you familiar with this strange fact Doctor?

      Thanks

      September 9, 2011 at 13:30 | Report abuse |
    • tony

      super nano thermite was in the dust....let the good doctor know...he already knows the buildings were brought down in a controlled demo but if he says anything he will lose his million dollar a year job at CNN...gov controlled news

      False flag operation for sure.....but very people know that sadly.

      September 9, 2011 at 13:42 | Report abuse |
    • teresa

      THANK YOU YES AMERICA OPEN UR EYES IT WAS A FALSE FLAG WAR ................LOVE THY BROTHER <3

      October 17, 2011 at 22:02 | Report abuse |
  3. Darlene Buckingham

    The official 9/11 story has more holes than swiss cheese. Another investigation for the TRUTH is warranted by the many questions posed by reputable educated people like Engineers and Pilots for 9/11 truth. The War on Terror is not helping anybody. The truth is all that matters. PEace to ALL.

    September 7, 2011 at 18:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Alienxfb14

      For every 1 Engineer and Pilot that disagrees with the 9/11 reports, there are 20 that claim they have evidence in support of them. It's similar to the handful of "doctors" in the world that don't believe AIDS exists. Just because you get your news and information from a source that isn't considered mainstream doesn't mean it is correct.

      September 7, 2011 at 19:20 | Report abuse |
    • tony

      Obviously you have done your research DB. This was a government false flag operation. Had nothing to do with terrorists. Most of america has been dumbed down by the liberal mass media which is in the same bed as the government. Sad but true.

      It is hard to believe any body could believe the governments version of hwta happened....are you kidding...they must think we are All stupid...well no, no all but most. Just have to look at WTC #7.....fires dont cause steel structured building to fall down in free fall symetricly into there own foot print thru the course of MOST resistance....so bvious it was a controlled demolition.

      September 9, 2011 at 13:37 | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Gee, how OBVIOUS! Yes, I'll be sure to put my faith in a nut-job like tony who doesn't know "there" from "their" or "they're".

      Did you drop out of high school, tony, or were you expelled?

      September 10, 2011 at 11:40 | Report abuse |
  4. US MARINE VETERAN

    People please wake up and do some research of your own instead of reading/watching all of this crap on TV/Internet "news"... For years I belived the "official" story of 9/11 UNTIL I started doing my own research. It's completely obvious we have all been lied to, the official story CANNOT be true and if you spend just a little bit of your own time you researching you will most likely change your mind about 9/11. A good place to start is http://www.ae911truth.org, over 1500 architects and engineers who have over 25000 years of collective experience have some information you really need to see.

    September 7, 2011 at 18:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Alienxfb14

      Where you get your information is equally, if not more crooked than the news and media you hate so. Brainwashing comes in all forms, sir...you are by no means above it.

      September 7, 2011 at 19:16 | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I have found, after reading fora such as these, that any post containing the phrases "Wake up, people" or "Come on, people" usually precede nothing more than complete and utter tripe.

      Your post only serves to reinforce my theory.

      September 7, 2011 at 22:05 | Report abuse |
    • tony

      good comments...let the truth be told! Obviously a false flag op. It amazes me how dumb the people on this blog are to believe the gov story...so stupid.....all they have do do is look at wtc #7 and how it was a controlled demo...no brainer..go from there....did terrorist have access to the building for months to install the thermire...NO? Of course not...Then who did?

      Maybe Bush knows something...or mayby Rummy or Condi...ya think? ......hmmmm...what a crew!

      September 9, 2011 at 13:46 | Report abuse |
  5. ray

    "To each of you God has prescribed a Law and a Way. If God would have willed, He would have made you a single people. But God's purpose is to test you in what he has given each of you, so strive in the pursuit of virtue, and know that you will all return to God [in the Hereafter], and He will resolve all the matters in which you disagree."

    Qur'an 5:49.

    September 7, 2011 at 18:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    The fruitcakes are all here on this one. Time for your thorazine drips, conspiracy theorists.

    This ain't the Twilight Zone, honeys. Get over it. Bad people do bad things and 9/11 is an example. It wasn't some plot by the US government.

    Bunch of idiots.

    September 7, 2011 at 22:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • tony

      ToM Tom...you knucklehead! Do your research man! It is all so Obvious...government false flag attack to trick citizens like YOu into feeling we have been attacked so you think we need to ATTACK BACK......come on man...oldest trick in the book...look at the evidence and stop letting the liberal media be your guide. Go to http://www.ae911truth.org and sit there and soak in the true evidence...you will be a amazed at what you are going to learn...YOU BEEN LIED TO MAN!

      September 9, 2011 at 14:15 | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      What "evidence"? You don't have any "evidence" and neither do those running the goofy websites. You believe in something only if it's NOT the most plausible explanation.

      You're certifiable.

      September 10, 2011 at 11:38 | Report abuse |
  7. TnLady

    It all breaks my heart! Lives were lost, children have no parents.....so many of you that have blogged just don't get it. There are still sooo many firefighters, police persons...etc. that have life-long illnesses, because they are brave and care about us! I lived from Mt St Helens and when I saw the first Tower fall, I thought...."Oh my, they have no idea what's coming at them!" I knew this was going to be bad. To see people working without even covering their faces....was crushing to me! I knew these wonderful people would have respitory problems and worse....for the rest of their lives, yet these wonderful people continued to work. Now these people are having life-threatening problems....where are we to help them? Where is the Media for the last 10 years to watch them and take care of them? I care....I'm trying to do my part. Where are you?

    September 7, 2011 at 23:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. carljfriedman

    Wed.Sept.7th,2011

    Dear Dr.Sanjay\\

    A year ago I came diwn with Agressive Casanorma. A rare skin cancer. The dr cut half of lef nostril off. How did I get it. I will be 50. on 9-14. Mom died 4 years ago on 9-12. Mom was a psychriastrist in N.Y. and vegas. She died of severe empsemyer at age 85/ The skin doctor got everything out 2 days and 4 tries. I got a brain scam and ect and then a colonspier and no cancewr inside body 5,000 question how did I get it. I had basil cell cancer in 2009. The skin doctor did not cut roots off.

    Carl J.Friedman. I have no symptoms. How about interviewing me in Vegas. I wrote a book about cancer. 702 750-0636

    September 8, 2011 at 01:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. RANDALL PARR

    WELL I WILL NEVER FORGET THAT DAY AND THAT MORNING . I WAS CARRY GOCERIES OUT FOR PEOPLE AT SAM'S IGA FOODLINER IN VIENNA , ILL . I HEARD WHAT HAPPEN ON A LADYS RADIO. IT CHANGED ME AFTER , THAT EVENT WOW. OK GOD BLESS ALL OF US. BLESS THOSE WHO DIED AND THE LOVE ONES AND THEIR SONS AND DAUGTHERS WHO LOST A MOTHER OR A FATHER OR A FRIEND. I AM PRAYING TONIGHT THAT ON SEPTEMBER 11 , 2011 THAT THE U.S.A WATCHES OUT AGAIN. MAYBE IT WILL NOT EVER HAPPEN AGAIN RANDALL RAY PARR.

    September 10, 2011 at 01:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. thespunkyone

    Some of you sound line the green VW bus on the movie Cars or the stoners on Dazed and Confused. The sixties weren't good to you were they? Conspiracy Theorists are all idiots. Why does it matter whose fault it was? The point is 3000 people died that day and the soldiers and policemen and emts that protect YOUR worthless lives and the freedoms you take for granted are STILL dying! And you're arguing over whether one of the fumes is found in tnt? Get this: Construction workers protect themselves when they build houses for a reason. If its bad going up, it will be worse when planes hit it and it comes down! Stop being idiots, get off the web, get off your behinds, and HELP SOMEBODY instead of spewing worthless crap! For Petes sake!

    September 10, 2011 at 09:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    It is hilarious when you see the tin-foil hat brigade, led by nuts like tony, tell those who disbelieve their elaborate alternate scenarios to go look at a website. Because of course, dufuses like them think that THOSE websites are "truthful", whereas mainstream media is nothing but a 'lie'.

    Really, tony, thanks for the laugh.

    September 10, 2011 at 11:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. LOVE HEALS TIME

    PEOPLE ARE STILL IN DISBELIEF AND ARE SO OUT OF IT EMOTIONALLY THEY DIDNT SEE THE EFFECTS THAT THE DESTRUCTION OF THE WORLD WOULD HAVE ON THEM FOR YEARS TO COME/WE NEED TO SHOW THESE INNOCENT CIVILLIANS THAT THEY LIVE IN A COUNTRY WHERE WE TAKE CARE OF OUR OWN NOT JUST OTHER NATIONS

    September 11, 2011 at 01:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. alecia

    Be it our government or a foreign plan does not matter it was still a horrific act of terrorism.

    September 11, 2011 at 19:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. blathering

    I learned about 9/11 when I was sleeping. My husband and I were sleeping when we received a phone call from my father-in-law. He told us not to worry about him, he was safe, no terrorists had harmed him. My first thought was that he was crazy – he was an older gentleman and perhaps he had become confused with something he saw on tv. We got up and checked - and sure enough, he was as sane as sane could be. We called our relatives in NJ to make sure everyone was safe. My sister in-law had been in NY and saw some of the horror. She's Irish.

    September 19, 2011 at 05:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. teresa

    ADULT STEM CELLS CURE'S AIDS / HIV and A NUMBER OF OTHER THINGS BUT WHY????? IS AMERICA BEING HELD BACK FROM THE MAJOR LEAP IN MEDICINE DOES AMERICA WANT TOO KILL YOU ??????? OTHER COUNTRIES MAKING MAJOR LEAPS INTO MEDICINE BUT AMERICA IS STILL IN THE STONE AGE WHY????? WHO BENEFITS THE FDA BIG CORPORATIONS .......?

    October 17, 2011 at 22:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Sean Wiggins

    Hi my name is Sean Wiggins and I am a PIG student at Spencerport High school. I am doing a project on suicide and I was hoping I could get an interview with you to here about your views and stories about people you have met that have dealt with depression and suicide. So can you please email me back at nexusfan123@hotmail.com and we can set up an over the phone interview thank you have a great day

    November 14, 2011 at 08:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Samuel Getaneh Bogale

    It seems as though the inital tragedy was only a small part of the picture – it seems the real tragedy is ongoing!

    January 13, 2012 at 15:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. seo

    right here are some hyperlinks to web-sites that we link to simply simply because we consider they're worth visiting seo http://fiverr.com/twnseobacklink

    April 24, 2013 at 11:07 | Report abuse | Reply

Post a comment


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Advertisement
About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.