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Big T and little t

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Trauma.

A popular word. A challenging word. Who does it belong to? Who qualifies? How do we value all the pain, without making the suffering all the same value? Does it have subcategories? Is it a spectrum?

I’ve struggled with the Trauma term, I don’t use the word for myself. It’s everywhere, for every range, rightly or wrongly, of bad situations. My therapist has diagnosed me with Medical PTSD, of course, medical trauma. Technically in the DSM maybe yes, but spiritually I reject it. I have all the privilege, means and support to treat the traumatic effects of what I call TAMS (The American Medical System). I may be experiencing traumatic things, but do I suffer from Big T Trauma? I don’t think so. 

I don’t feel guilty often, I don’t give that emotion much room to inhabit. But I do feel guilt, Big G guilt, when I think of using “Trauma” for myself.

Today, in chemo, I had an intense experience that told me, like a one-act play, exactly why.

An older gentleman in the infusion bay, the only other patient in the room with me, began talking to his nurse. She listened as she ran his IV. His voice was clear and steady; we made eye contact and acknowledged with a nod that I was listening too…


“When I came back from Vietnam it was really hard for me.

It really messed up my life.

When I went in a bar, I had to sit in the corner, with my back protected.

Not sure why I’m talking about this now. Sometimes you just need someone to listen.

What you did wasn’t right.

I didn’t like killing people.

You see some hideous things that exceed anything you’ll see here ever even as a nurse.

A whole different world that you don’t want to be a part of.

You’re trained to kill.

You’re trained to ignore pain.

Ignore death.

Ignore everything.

It’s a mental state I can slip back into by accident sometimes.

If an officer approached me and I didn’t think it was legal, if he touched me I’d claim self defense. I’d hit him right in the throat first shot. That’s an easy take down, you know?

You get into that mode you don’t realize what you’re doing.

I try to control myself and not get into that state of mind.

I could become very very dangerous to many many people even at 76 with the cancer.

I’ve got gas masks for my whole family.

I’ve got my m16, all kinds of weapons.

Just in case.

And my for my mental well being I want to be prepared.

I’ve got probably 4000 rounds of armor piercing ammo down there.

I don’t tell anybody that.

You’re the first person I’ve told that.

I’ve got a vest for all my clips, special ops stuff.

I put on that camo gear and I’m right back in that mental state.

Why am I telling you this?

Probably because I had some bad dreams about it last night.

I don’t really dream about it anymore, it came out of nowhere.

Here’s a quote you should remember—

“For those who fought for it, freedom will have a taste that the protected will never know.” It’s on my old Zippo.

I’m an old warrior fading away.

I want the best for everybody and I can’t do it.

It’s out of my reach.

I have a heart now that I didn’t have before.

You want to reach people. You want to help everybody if you can, that’s where I am now.

I brought my kids up right.

They’re a lot different than what society is today.

I brought them up as caring, giving people.

My mental state wasn’t too good when I had them.

You can only do so much.”

 

 


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