It has taken 3 and a half years. That long ago, the WTC Health clinic diagnosed me with PTSD. Two and a half years ago, my understanding of PTSD, realization of my behaviors and trying to return them to “normal” left me at the bottom of a mental black-hole that left me unable to work. Today, I work full-time, plus – almost back to my amount of life occupation before 9/11. I no longer cry when I’m at the airport. Nor did I get anxious or cry the last time I flew on a plane. With a physical workout, I sleep deeply through the night, something that escaped me for years. I am mentally healed.
With mental healing, however, came the return of symptoms of another type. A cough. For years, I spent most of my time inside the air-purified space of home. And, in New York City, people were urged to be aware of smoking on the sidewalks as many people had become sensitive following dust exposure. There were few smokers on the streets. (The raised cigarette tax helped.) Nor were there strong perfumes in bathrooms and on subway cars. But the younger generation has since grown up and started working and servicing the rest of us. Perfumes are more noticeable and cigarette smoking has become a fad, no thanks to vaporizing becoming more popular. Why can’t people just vaporize, then, instead of smoke?
Now that I work full-time, I leave home more. And every time I leave home, I’m exposed to second-hand smoke. Sometimes I’m able to cover my nose and breathe through a tissue, which helps. But even then I still inhale some carcinogens and my lungs react. They get heavy and phlegm collects in my bronchioles in an act of automatic protection. Coughing up phlegm has become a daily routine. It’s almost always clear or white. It has become so common to me that I can now taste the color.
A “renowned” pulmonary specialist couldn’t give me a diagnosis, but could give me medication that did the exact opposite of what it was supposed to do. That’s what I got for leaving the national WTC health program. I’ve since rejoined. Let’s see how well it works out.
You’d think I’d write more about healing. Sorry.
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