Bob Dembicki, 57, of New York City, has always loved to eat, but he never knew how much comfort he got from food until after Sept. 11.
Dembicki managed the nursing staff at the surgical trauma unit and burn center at New York Presbyterian Hospital, which treated 22 badly burned victims from the World Trade Center towers.
For several weeks after the tragedy, he raced around the hospital working 16-hour days, and when he had a few minutes, he’d wolf down some of the high-fat fare brought in for the staff. At night when he was home alone in his apartment, he’d watch the TV news, cry in disbelief and console himself with big feasts of takeout food from local diners and delis: macaroni and cheese, chicken and mashed potatoes, burgers and fries, ice cream with chocolate syrup and whipped cream.
One evening, he remembers thinking: “Why am I eating this large container of macaroni and cheese?” And his answer was simply: “Because it feels good, and nothing feels good right now.”
By Thanksgiving, he had packed an extra 16 pounds on his 6-foot-2 frame, and he knew it was time to get back in shape and in control of his eating.