Unfortunate Son

A CCBC student and war veteran was barred from campus after having a violently graphic essay about his time in war published in the school paper. Check out the Baltimore Sun article here: http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2010-11-20/news/bs-md-veteran-suspension-20101121_1_iraq-veteran-war-veteran-campus-violence

Unfortunate Son

I once wore a shirt to middle school that read “See Dick Drink, See Dick Drive, See Dick Die” on the front with three stick figures to represent Dick and his actions. The back of the shirt in big block letters, read “DON’T BE A DICK.” At the principal’s office, I stood behind the First Amendment like it was a shield that could deflect a nuclear bomb. Even then, I knew it wouldn’t work. I was just wearing the shirt to be a dick anyway. There were no social or political motives I was campaigning. At 12, I understood that though a legally binding supplement to our country’s constitution, there were sometimes more important issues which trumped my freedom of speech.

Charles Whittington, a war veteran and community college student in Catonsville, MD, had an essay published in the school paper in which he spoke openly and graphically of his addiction to violent killings and his hate toward “the rag heads that hurt our country.” He was banned from campus pending a psychological evaluation and seems to honestly question why. After a DUI in which I was barely over the limit, I had to have a psychological evaluation before I was able to drive again, which I believe to be completely justified. If I was responsible for a college campus full of potential victims to a person’s admitted addiction, especially any “rag heads” who might press a once-dormant button in an admitted killing machine, I think a psychological evaluation is the least I should require, if for nothing else than to protect my own ass.

I understand why Charles is upset. These writings were recommended by his therapist and he was encouraged by his professor to publish this particular essay. The administration’s reaction was a complete contrast to his professor’s advice. So he is now being punished by his college administrators for carrying out the wishes of another of his college administrators. I hope for the sake of the student that the professor has taken some responsibility for suggesting he publish his essay. Surely, the professor must have imagined this reaction as a possibility.

Maybe Charles is simply voicing the thoughts of most men and women who fight in combat, making public what most people think about in private. If so, he is certainly a hero for that and he wouldn’t be the first writer to be persecuted for his writings. He shines a light on the real issue here, which is the reintegration of these government-made killing machines back into society after being “brain washed” by the military to the point where killing is “something I really need so I can feel like myself.” However, it doesn’t change the bottom line in the eyes of the Community College admins.

In a November 2010 article in the Baltimore Sun, Charles rejected comparisons that had been made of him to Seung-Hui Cho, the Virginia Tech shooter, claiming Cho wasn’t a “veteran or a soldier, and he was mad at the school.” Charles is correct on this subject. His background is much more consistent with John Allen Muhammad, another man who had trouble reintegrating himself into society after war and took his sniper rifle to over 13 people around the DC Beltway in 2002. Whittington likely would not turn into this sniper at all, but no one is a murderer until they are. There’s not a single-file path all serial killers have to follow and his essay is just cause for speculation.

I ran a well-respected day camp for 7 years and if one of the kids had chicken pox, he or she wasn’t allowed back until they had a note from the doctor saying they were no longer contagious. If another child contracted the disease, I could at least show the parents –in writing – that I did what I could to avoid that. If a trained killer – who could likely snap someone’s neck without thinking about it – were to take out his pent-up aggressions on a “rag head” classmate of his after this essay was published and the administration hadn’t done anything about it, there would likely be a big pile of bricks and a skate park where a college campus once was. If this murder still happens after a passing psychological evaluation, the college has a legal leg to stand on. A psychological evaluation isn’t a brain sample and these administrators have a business to protect. Like it or not, that’s the bottom line. Hopefully one day, Charles, for everything he’s been through, will be able to see it through their eyes, just like I’m sure the admins are trying to see through his.

Concussed – Part 2

Concussed – Part 2

It was recommended that I go to the ER to get scanned or probed or to basically do whatever they told me to do. Unfortunately they told me to wait. Apparently, I had passed the “wait in line without collapsing” test, so they put me at the back of the line. Jenn and I had to sit in the waiting room for hours, under some false impression that I shouldn’t go to sleep. Apparently, that’s not really a concussion thing. I understand why it shouldn’t be in the middle of a football field in 20 degree weather using a football as a pillow, but regular sleep in an ER waiting room chair would have probably been OK. Still no word whether or not we were on offense or defense.

About three hours after arrival, we were escorted to a room designed strictly to make us feel like we were closer to being helped. It still took another half hour for anyone to come in to say hi. Two nurses came in and took blankets from our closet before anyone came in to see me. They used to tease me with sex, now they tease me with head trauma treatment and the promise of getting home before Taco Bell closes. The doc finally came in and started asking some questions. No, I don’t remember that. Yes, I can see fine now. Yes, my head hurts, but after three hours in the waiting room, so does Jenn’s. He thought it best to get a Cat Scan of my brain. I figured since we’d been here for so long, I might ask him about my rotator cuff, which I think I re-tore or my thumb, but then I thought better of it. I had chicken baja chalupa on the brain.

He warned me of the perils of radiation and then sent me on my way. Well, I had to wait another half hour – I’m assuming just because they’ve established a pattern – but then I went into the cage. I thought about just sticking my thumb in there to see if it was broken, but the wheelchair nurse didn’t think it was a good idea. Then she licked some whipped cream off the side of her mouth. Damn them!

I got back to the room and had to wait an hour for the results. At least Jenn had gotten access to some very remedial cable television in my absence. Which means I now had the biggest headache I’ve ever had in my life and had to watch some damn home improvement show. And not the one with Tim Allen. After looking at some blobs in the shape of a brain, he concluded I didn’t have any “significant brain damage.” Awesome. Is there any insignificant brain damage I should know about? And is there such a thing as insignificant brain damage? Why don’t you just say “no brain damage.” I don’t even care if you’re lying. I’m so damn hungry and by now we’re probably on defense again. Or offense.

I called my doctor today and the scheduling office told me I’d have to wait until “mid to late February” for an appointment.

“What?! I’m not a new patient.”

“It doesn’t matter. That’s the first appointment available for her. All the other doctors in here are booked until March too.”

“I just had a concussion and lost consciousness for 90 seconds and have about 15 minutes of my life I still can’t remember and spent 5 hours in the ER this weekend getting my brain looked at. You think you could check again?!”

“How’s Wednesday at noon.”

So I have my follow-up appointment Wednesday. While I’m there, I’m just going to go through the laundry list of shit I need fixed. I’m getting a referral for my shoulder, having her check out my thumb, I’m going to revisit the whole pus coming out of my old Achilles scar-thing and I may even see about that green fluid that seems to be leaking from my car. But if I’m not getting back in until March, I’m getting my $20 worth, that’s for sure.

(check back tomorrow for the exciting conclusion! or maybe just some more BS)

Concussed – Part 1

Concussed – Part 1

My first interception in three seasons and I don’t remember it.

For those that watch the NFL, you already know that this year has been the year of the concussion. I decided to get into the action in my flag football league. I jumped up to make an interception and after contact, I fell to the ground with the ball cradled under my chest, which see-sawed my head into the ground.

This is all hearsay for the record, as I don’t remember any of this. Nor do I remember the 90 seconds of unconsciousness, using the football as a pillow, denying the request to bring an ambulance when somebody had them on the phone, getting helped to the bench or unsuccessfully trying to remember what day it was. After being asked the question, I just stared off into space. All I kept asking is “Are we on offense or defense?” Dude, you just intercepted the ball! “Great! Are we on offense or defense?” People who don’t even really know football know that when you intercept the ball, you’re on offense next. So if the 90 seconds of unconsciousness or the inability to remember the day of the week wasn’t enough, this made everybody realize that things weren’t quite right in my head. Literally.

Lost in that comment is how awesome of a feat this was. How many people do you know of who get concussed and lose consciousness for over a minute and still make the catch? My body may be frail and injury-prone, but NEVER question my dedication to the sport, even in the face of severe head trauma.

When I came to, (the part that I remember), everyone told me that I gave them a big scare. Sorry. Ironically, I wasn’t afraid at all, as I don’t remember a damn thing. I remember becoming aware of my surroundings, which was about 10-20 minutes after everyone else thought I woke up. Strangely (or maybe not), my memory also starts exactly then. I was again asked what day it was. I had it narrowed down to 2 days, as I doubted I’d be ditching work with everybody else to play a football scrimmage. Then I remembered I wasn’t watching football and figured it out. Score some points for my deductive reasoning, but I don’t think that’s the process by which concussion patients are hoped to come up with that answer. I think most people just kinda know what day it is. All I really wanted to know was whether or not we were on offense or defense. For some reason, everybody laughed.

(stay tuned for my trip to the hospital tomorrow)