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9/11 ONE YEAR LATER / The Long Road To Recovery

Lauren Manning waters the flowers on her third-floor

balcony - no big deal, unless you're Lauren Manning.

Burned over more than 80 percent of her body in last year's attack on the

World Trade Center, Manning, 41, beat the odds just by surviving.

She managed to hang tough through several surgeries and months of

rehabilitation. She refused to be undone by terrible memories of that

astonishing morning when, heading to work at the Cantor Fitzgerald bond trading

firm, she was swallowed by a fireball in the lobby of Tower One.

In therapy, physical and occupational, Manning was eager and resolute. (And

continues to be: She sees therapists six days a week.) There was no choice.

Give it your all or give it up - that seemed to be her mind-set.

"I'm determined to get better," she said the other day. "I don't want the

terrorists to get one more minute of time than what they have taken from me."

Hers is an uplifting saga, triumph amid tragedy.

Manning's struggle to stay alive was captured by her husband, Greg, 45, in

e-mail advisories that he sent to friends and family during the initial phase

of her treatment - messages that became the basis for a bestselling book,

"Love, Greg & Lauren." A new paperback edition (Bantam, $11.95) updates the

account.

She has been the subject of articles in the New York Times and appeared

with Greg on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and with Katie Couric on "Today." An

appearance on "Larry King Live" is scheduled for Wednesday. During

rehabilitation Lauren was visited by Sen. Hillary Clinton. Even Mick Jagger

took notice. To demonstrate support for the couple, the Rolling Stones star

sent a guitar to Greg, a brokerage firm executive who also plays bass for a bar

band called the Rolling Bones. (Manning revved up the red Telecaster for one

performance and retired the instrument while ahead.)

High-profile as her story has been, Lauren Manning knows - despite the love

of her husband and son, Tyler, nearly 2, and the expertise of medical

personnel - that recovery is mostly a solitary enterprise. "I have a job to do,

and I am going to do it," she said.

So, resolute, she is hard at work. Therapy, exercise, whatever it takes to

retrieve a normal life after an unthinkable event and unspeakable aftermath. As

Lauren Manning says: "This wasn't a burn from a barbecue."

Manning wears Jobst compression garments - sort of support stockings for

the legs, upper body, arms and hands - because pressure on her skin grafts

helps them heal properly. In conversation, she presents her right ear; a

portion of the left is missing - burned away in the attack (but likely to be

reconstructed.)

The tips of her left index and middle fingers were amputated, although

their absence is barely noticeable through the open ends of her Jobst gloves.

On the way back from therapy, Manning, who lives with Greg, Tyler and an

affable wheaten terrier named Caleigh in a renovated, three-bedroom apartment

in the West Village, sometimes passes the site where the Twin Towers - those

"grand structures," as she describes them - stood until they collapsed.

More to the point, when she goes onto her little balcony to water the

dahlias and petunias and the potato vine, Manning has a straight shot downtown

- south, in the direction of what people for a year have been calling Ground

Zero.

It was on the same balcony that Greg Manning stood, horrified, on the

morning of Sept. 11 and watched the towers burn - smoke belching, he was

certain, from the 105th floor of Tower One, where Lauren worked, and the 84th

floor of Tower Two, where his employer, Euro Brokers, was located. Friends and

family called immediately. "I could not say whether Lauren was alive," Greg

Manning wrote in his book. "I was almost certain she was dead."

(Behind schedule that day, Greg, a Euro Brokers vice president, was to have

attended a meeting at the Windows on the World restaurant on the 107th floor

of Tower One. More than 160 people at Windows perished when the skyscraper

fell.)

How is it for Lauren Manning to view the attack site and then, while

tending the summer poseys on her terrace, see the eerie emptiness where the

Twin Towers should be - buildings in which Lauren and Greg Manning easily could

have died?

"Surreal," Lauren said, sitting next to her husband in their apartment - an

appealing, homey space brightened by a painting Lauren brought back from

France and by a bit of unexpected renegade art: brown crayon on the white

fireplace, compliments of Tyler. (The Crayola Kid was attending a birthday

party at the moment.)

On a shelf near the kitchen stood a framed picture of Lauren before she was

burned - a beautiful woman holding a bouquet of flowers on March 8, 2000, when

she and Greg were wed in the office of the city clerk, the second marriage for

both.

It is not patronizing to say that Lauren Manning still is beautiful - that

the essence of the smiling, unscathed person in the photo shows through the

uneven topography of her wounded skin.

Manning anticipates at least eight more operations, some to improve the

functioning of her hands, others to smooth the scars and rough spots.

"I mourn the fact that I don't look like I did on the morning before I went

to the office," Manning said. But she refuses to be sentimental about herself.

"What happened is a lousy thing," she said. "I wish it hadn't."

That's it. What more need be said?

Maybe this: Manning was determined not to die. As she ran from the Trade

Center, a stranger batted out the flames crawling over her. He and a friend got

her to an ambulance. So terrible was the pain that Lauren Manning told her

husband she at first wanted to let go. Then, she caught herself. She was not

giving up. She was going to hang on, she said, for Greg, for Tyler.

"I chose to make it," she said. Enough people were lost on Sept. 11 -

including more than 650 from Cantor Fitzgerald and more than 60 from Euro

Brokers. She was not going to squander her chance for survival. Manning's pluck

may have been her greatest ally. "I'm not going to conduct my life in the

confines of what these people did to me and my colleagues," she said.

Manning at first was taken to St. Vincent's Manhattan hospital and then to

the William Randolph Hearst Burn Center at New York-Presbyterian Hospital's

Weill Cornell Medical Center.

Dr. Roger Yurt, burn center chief, said Manning was badly hurt - "a big

burn and very deep." In addition, he said, smoke and perhaps the ingestion of

fuel had affected her lungs. For more than two months, Manning needed support

from a ventilator.

She endured several sieges of pneumonia, Yurt said - one so severe "we

thought we might lose her." But, the doctor said, Manning - who was deeply

sedated during the initial phases of treatment - had fortitude beyond what

might have been expected. "Her determination to survive made a big difference

in the acute phase and now in the rehabilitation phase," Yurt said.

The physician, 57, has treated trauma patients throughout his career.

Lauren Manning, he said, was an inspiration.

"Although we have seen similar cases in the past, this one made much more

an impression and affected me in that not only was Lauren Manning the survivor

of the Trade Center, but her ability to snap back is probably better than I

have seen and drives me to work even harder," he said.

After three months at the burn center, Manning went to the Burke

Rehabilitation Center in White Plains.

She began a therapeutic regimen six days a week. There was emphasis on ADL

training - activities of daily living. Perhaps nothing testifies more

profoundly to the extent of Manning's injuries than her need to relearn the

basics - getting dressed, feeding herself, taking a shower, sliding into a car.

"Lauren had been deprived of all those things," her husband said in the book.

Again, she wowed the professionals. "She is a very active coper, as opposed

to a denier," said Dr. Richard Novitch, director of pulmonary rehabilitation

at Burke. "She is not a stick-your-head- in-the-sand kind of person. Probably

that is the way she deals with the rest of the things in her life."

Novitch said that Manning was, in a sense, fortunate because her injuries

were related mostly to burns - no heart or kidney damage, for instance - and

did not present unusual complications. On the psychological front, Novitch

said, while Manning occasionally was "distraught," she never needed treatment

for clinical depression.

If Manning showed spunk, Novitch said the occupational and physical

specialists at Burke did, too - often providing seven man-hours of therapy a

day, a taxing schedule. "I don't know how our staff did it," he said.

Manning's treatment at Burke lasted three months. "She really flew through

it," Novitch said.

Then, Lauren Manning was home - a half-year after she fled the lobby of

Tower One.

On leave from Cantor Fitzgerald, Lauren, a senior vice president, said she

hopes to resume her career when life allows. Greg, on leave from Euro Brokers,

said the same. But for now, recovery is their priority.

They consider themselves lucky.

Lauren, who grew up in New Jersey and studied economics at Fordham

University, and Greg, a Manhattan native who majored in English at the

University of Pennsylvania (he was executive editor of the campus paper), could

have lost each other a year ago. Tyler could be without one parent, or two.

The Mannings are not the kind of folks to dwell on somber contingencies.

True, Lauren described herself as "a casualty of war" and, speaking of

Sept. 11, 2001, Greg said, "I don't think I've been free of that day since it

happened."

But they prefer to dwell more on the promise of the future than the anguish

of the past.

There is no way of knowing how any Trade Center victim will fare, of

course. Burn patients have much to overcome. "Most of these people can go on to

live reasonably well-adjusted lives," said Weill Cornell psychologist JoAnn

Difede, who has worked with a number of survivors. "Some may have problems

continually."

In the way she looks and talks and thinks and conducts herself, Lauren

Manning seems solidly in the camp of the well-adjusted.

She said she hopes there will be less hatred in the world - that parties

hostile to the United States will see the futility of their ways and that

Americans will take care not to lump terrorist factions with peace-loving

peoples.

Greg has spoken at an antiterrorism summit organized by Gov. George Pataki

and serves on the advisory council of the 9/11 United Services Group, a

consortium of human service organizations that helps coordinate assistance for

victims of the Trade Center attack and their families.

On Wednesday, Greg and Lauren expect to attend observances planned by their

respective employers. After those melancholy reunions, the Mannings will get

back to business - the business of being a family and planning a future and,

for Lauren, of getting well. "Another workday for me," Lauren said.

The couple intends to stay in New York and watch the city renew itself.

They have a son to raise, careers to pursue, flowers to water on the balcony.

The Mannings vow to continue doing what in the last year they have done best.

"In my mind," Lauren Manning said, "we should move forward."

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