My iPhone started ringing just as my nursing colleagues and I were getting ready to report off to the next shift at Undisclosed Government Hospital. The frantic caller was one of our nurses. She cried, “Are you on lockdown? Don’t leave the unit!” I signaled everyone in the room to cut the chatter. Then we heard the patients in the television room gearing up. I’m not going to replay everything that happened last night. I can’t do it. Suffice to say that things got tense at the nurses station when the name of the Fort Hood triggerman was released. We knew him. He was a former psychiatrist at UGH.
People are asking me what it was like to work with Dr. Hasan. They want to know if there were any signs that he was going off the deep end. No, he didn’t come across as a Unabomber in scrubs. He was just one of the guys, and that’s what made him so dangerous. He could make me laugh. I use to banter with him about his bachelorhood. He told me it was too bad that I was already married and then he would ask me if I could line up a nurse who wanted to marry a doctor. We never talked about religion or politics on the unit. He was always polite and respectful. He was an officer and a gentleman.
There is a fine line between sanity and madness. I don’t know if Dr. Hasan was one the enemy among us, or a fragile man who snapped. News reports are saying that he felt persecuted by members of the military. I’m coming to terms with the fact that someone I knew took the Hippocratic Oath, swearing to do no harm, and then went on a killing spree. My biggest fear is that Muslims serving in the U.S. military will suffer the consequences of Dr. Hasan’s actions.