SUSAN DENTZER: We first met Vasana Mututanont three weeks after September 11, when she was still in a New York hospital, undergoing painful physical therapy.
SPOKESPERSON: It's all part of the process.
SUSAN DENTZER: Mututanont, a citizen of Thailand, works for a Thai government agency that had offices in the World Trade Center. She had just walked into the lobby that morning when the tower she worked in was hit.
HEALTH CARE WORKER: She had some swelling here the other day.
SUSAN DENTZER: The fire that swept through the building left her with second- and third-degree burns over 40 percent of her body. Shattering glass sliced through a tendon in her leg.
VASANA MUTUTANONT: I'm so afraid because I don't know what is that sound all about. But then when I look up, you know, smoke on the Tower One, and I saw it with my eyes that the building shaking.
SUSAN DENTZER: You were terrorized.
VASANA MUTUTANONT: I think so. I kind of, you know, feel helpless, you know?
SUSAN DENTZER: Now, almost a year later, Mututanont has resumed her former hectic pace. Last December she returned to her old job, trying to interest American businesses in making investments in Thailand.
VASANA MUTUTANONT: Yes, good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.
SUSAN DENTZER: She's back to a busy schedule of traveling and speaking. But, as is true for other survivors of 9/11, much of Mututanont's life is still devoted to coping with the aftereffects. She still goes for physical therapy two mornings a week at New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center. She spent two months there as an inpatient following the attack. Mututanont still bears the scars of her burns and multiple skin grafts, or transplants of her own healthy skin to burned areas of her body. And she still wears a pressure garment under her clothes to minimize scarring. It's something she's finally gotten accustomed to.
VASANA MUTUTANONT: In the beginning, two, three months, I just hate every minute of it. I just hate it. But then, you know, after that, you have to wear it because it help reducing the feeling of having a thousand needles poking in your skin. So I think I can stand it. I will keep wearing it.
SPOKESPERSON: Nice earrings here.
SUSAN DENTZER: At the hospital, Mututanont frequently encounters other survivors of the Trade Center attack, with whom she's become good friends.
WOMAN: See you later, hon.
WOMAN: All right.
SUSAN DENTZER: Mary Jos was also badly burned and severely injured on an arm and leg. We talked to her last a few weeks after 9/11.
MARY JOS: I looked back and I saw flames, and I said to myself, "I'm not going to die here."
SUSAN DENTZER: Jos managed a New York state office in the second tower to be hit. She was helped down 77 flights of stairs by a stranger whom she later learned was Eric Thompson. He's shown here in a photo with Jos and her husband, taken when they met recently for dinner. Today, Jos also says her physical injuries are healing. But she's learned that recovery in the broadest sense proceeds at its own pace.
MARY JOS: Basically they tell me your body heals physically first, and then it will take care of everything else.
SUSAN DENTZER: And healing that "everything else"-- the mind and the heart-- takes longer.
MARY JOS: I still feel the loss of my friends and coworkers. That's still hard. And I don't think that'll go away very quickly. I don't think it will ever go away, but it's still as strong.
SUSAN DENTZER: Psychiatrist Joann DiFede heads the trauma program at New York Presbyterian, and has overseen efforts there to provide 9/11 survivors with psychological support. She says Jos' feelings are typical.
DR. JoANN DiFEDE, Psychiatrist, New York Presbyterian Hospital: Breaking down and crying is a very normal reaction for bereavement, and one that I would expect to be intensified again as the anniversary approaches. People are going to have more intense feelings about their losses.
SUSAN DENTZER: DiFede and her colleagues still provide individual and group counseling for Mututanont, Jos, and other survivors. Some are also being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder, a condition characterized by such symptoms as flashbacks to the event, or startling at loud noises.
SPOKESPERSON: We walk the person through the entire event.
SUSAN DENTZER: DiFede and her team have devised a virtual reality program to help survivors recapture their experience of the attack.
DR. JoANN DiFEDE: You might be thinking to yourself, well, that sounds awful; why would you want to increase a person's emotional engagement for something so horrible? But in fact, that's the way to recover, because a person has to go through it and be desensitized. And if they don't, the terror is rolling around in their brain somewhere, and continues to come back and, I think, interfere with a person's life.
VASANA MUTUTANONT: Thank you.
SUSAN DENTZER: Vasana Mututanont says she's experienced no symptoms of post-traumatic stress. But for her and her husband, there's still plenty of emotional pain. Sometimes it crops up at the most unexpected moments.
VASANA MUTUTANONT: One Time has happened to me when we... when we went out, you know, to the theater around the area, around ground zero. We went outside, you know, and we see a lot of families come together, and they're enjoying a lot. I started to feel so sad, you know. I don't know, I... I don't know, I don't really have such a feeling before. It's kind of... very sad. You feel it hard to be that 100 percent happy. Actually I feel like I have to pretend because I don't want to spoil the day.
SUSAN DENTZER: We asked Mututanont and her husband what they might tell their grandchildren some day about 9/11.
SOMPORN MUTUTANONT: That was the worst day of my life, of our lives, I think. It's the worst day, and a horrible day.
VASANA MUTUTANONT: I would just probably tell them a little bit that I was kind of reborn. I'd probably tell them that I changed my real birthday to September 11 because, you know, actually a lot of people die on that day, and I happen to be one of the survivors. It's a hard work, and you have to really, you know, be strong. Otherwise you can't... you can't survive. I have to pretend that I'm okay. But you can always crying after everybody sleep as much as you want to. I usually did it after... after everybody's go to bed; is only me in the room -- is only me.