How the Oklahoma City bombing changed 4 women’s lives

April 19, 2019 marked the 24th anniversary of the terrorist bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Oklahoma City is the capital of my home state and was my home for 7 years while I attended medical school and completed my residency in Family Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

From the bombing, 168 people died, hundreds were injured, and our state and our nation were changed forever. Never had there been such an act of horror and carnage on U.S. soil.

I’ve written here about the bombing and showed you pictures from the site which is now a memorial and museum. I’m doing that again but this time with news about 4 women who have turned the event into something positive.


a past survivor, now a future doctor

Twenty three year old Madison Naylor was among the infants being cared for at the YMCA daycare located next door to the federal building at the time the bomb exploded. The building was heavily damaged but she and the other children survived.

“I remember when I was very young, I had a feeling that I had been really close to death, …I hope I can be something good that came from something so horrific.”

Madison Naylor, bombing survivor
some of the memorials hung on the the fence that surrounded the bombing site have been left intact.

Madison grew up learning about the bombing and about medicine. Her father and aunt are both physicians, and now she is a first-year medical student at my alma mater, the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine.

“I know the bombing is still a part of people’s lives here. It’s humbling to be associated with such a tragic event. I hope that I can be a positive face going forward.”

Madison Naylor, medical student

I learned Madison’s story from OU Medicine magazine . You can read her story at this link.

Oklahoma City Bombing Survivor Begins Journey to Become Physician

The SURVIVOR TREE remained standing when everything around it was destroyed by the bomb. It survives to this day.

“I just want to be the kind of person who leaves the world a better place than I found it.”

Madison Naylor, MS1

Another story in the Fall/Winter issue of OU Magazine discusses

OKC Bombing Research Advances Disaster Mental Health Worldwide

The bombing changed not only Oklahoma City, but also our state, and our entire country. It was the worst terrorist event on U.S. soil until 9/11. All of us were touched in some way, but especially 3 women who worked in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

“None of us was thinking about studying disasters…But we kept studying …the Oklahoma City survivors over the years..Then started helping with disasters elsewhere.”

Betty Pfefferbaum, M.D., J.D. department chairman
This window in the museum overlooks the memorial.

Dr. Pfefferbaum, along with colleagues Phebe Tucker, M.D., and Sandra Allen, Ph.D. treated and studied trauma victims from the bombing and shared their findings with other doctors who use it to treat survivors around the world.

Lessons learned from the OKC disaster trauma

  • Disasters affect many different groups of people beyond those at the site-family, first responders, the community
  • Terrorism victims have higher than average rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression than people who never experienced it.
  • Some people develop a biological response to disaster causing a higher resting heart rate than those not affected.

Dr. Allen developed an intervention to help children of trauma process their thoughts and feelings. Sometimes children think they have to hide their feelings or act out when they hare hurting. This program helps them process those feelings and learn how to cope. You can read the details of this program at this link-

Listen to the Children

At a church across the street from the memorial

The work has rippled out into the world in ways that none of them could have imagined…

OU Medicine magazine
Words written on the wall of the former Journal Record Building which sat across from the federal building. These words, painted by a rescue team who searched for survivors that day,remain as a silent witness of the horrible event.

photos in this post taken by Dr. Aletha in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

sharing the HEART of health

Thanks to OU Magazine and KFOR for sharing these stories. Please follow the links above and read the entire articles. And share this post wherever you spend time online.

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn, links are on the left side bar here and the Home page. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

lemons into lemonade

I am delighted that Janice Wald, author and blogger at Mostly Bloggging, called this her “favorite post ” when I submitted it at her Inspire Me Monday Linky Party. Please visit Janice’s blog where you can learn about writing, blogging, productivity, marketing, and more.

It isn’t often that I see news-related posts left here and even rarer that, when I do, they are so inspirational. The post really exemplifies the expression, “Turn lemons into lemonade.”

Janice Wald, Mostly Blogging

Doctor bloggers you need to know

This post has several affiliate links, for your convenience and to support this blog. thank you!

In a previous series I recommended several physician written health blogs. In this post, I revisit some of those sites, and introduce you to a few more I have discovered.

These blogs are all written exclusively or mostly by physicians, or other healthcare professionals. While personal health blogs can be interesting and helpful, blogs that offer information from people who study and practice health and health care professionally offer extra benefits.

White Coat Pink Apron– good food for busy people

White Coat, Pink Apron web site

Dr. Diana, a Boston allergy specialist, blogs about food and shares recipes that are

“quick, easy, generally toddler-friendly, and sometimes Armenian, that anyone can make.”

In this post she shares two recipes for fish, salmon and cod, that adhere to the Paleo concept- no grains ,no beans, no dairy, and no sugar.


dinner plate with fish, green beans and rice

illustration only, not actual recipe

Alert and

Dr. Michel Accad continues to blog about health care policies and economics, the doctor-patient relationship, and medical history, philosophy, and ethics.


According to Dr. Accad, human health is uninsurable; our bodies are not machines so cannot be evaluated objectively. He argues that health insurance is an income subsidy that helps sick people pay for medical care. In this thought provoking post, he explains why

Health insurance is not insurance

He has also published a book,

Moving Mountains: A Socratic Challenge to the Theory and Practice of Population Medicine

“This book will be of great interest to any reader concerned about healthcare. It will be of particular appeal to medical and public health students, as well as to healthcare professionals, including academics open to a challenging perspective.” Amazon



2 peds in a pod– (peds meaning pediatricians)

Practical pediatrics for parents on the go

Dr. Julie Kardos and Dr. Naline Lai practice pediatrics together and co-author this blog about infant, child, and adolescent  health issues. Including  “Essentials of Life- eat, sleep, drink, pee, poop, love”

Here they explain how to read food packaging labels accurately.

Deception in Packaging: Navigating the Nutrition Information Highway

Family of 4 sitting at a dining table.

Read food packing labels carefully to create nutritious meals.

Freud and Fashion

by psychiatrist Vania Manipod, DO


sketch of clothes, shoes, pants

because it’s fashionable to talk about mental health

Dr. Manipod is active on several social media sites as well as her blog. As a psychiatrist, she focuses on mental health, for both patients and other physicians.

She offers Advice on How To Cope With Burnout,  advice she tries to take herself.

And in an interview post she discusses

how a New York woman fights the stigma of mental illness


Just a family doctor speaking up from the frontlines of medicine

Dr. Linda Girgis, M.D. has published a  fiction book, Pandemic Rising

Pandemic RISING- a book

“The year is 2025 and there is a war of worlds in full swing: pathogens versus humanity. In the antibiotic-resistance era, people are living in a petri dish of toxic microbes. Unfortunately, humanity lost its most powerful weapons, antibiotics, when previous generations of doctors prescribed them indiscriminately. Additionally, the efficacy of vaccines waned when people refused these fortresses based on mythological beliefs. Across the globe, tens of thousands are dying while scientists and doctors race to find a cure and vaccine for these super-bugs. Will the medical community of scientists and doctors succeed in developing new ammunition? Or will humanity die off in the battle against the new world order of infectious diseases and pandemics?” Amazon



On her blog, she shares a poignant story about a terminally ill patient with an unshakable will to live in this post-

A Lesson a Patient Taught Me about Defying Death 

Please visit at least one of these doctor bloggers, and leave them a comment. They will appreciate  the support and you may learn something new.

Previous posts about  doctor bloggers

10 health blogs you should read- a pair of docs and more

10 health blogs you should read- a family (doc) reunion

10 health blogs you should read- blogs by docs

10 health blogs you should read- 3 blogs by 3 docs


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