What happened on May 5th, 2014

This is how 14 year old me had his life flipped.

I do not​ clearly remember what happened from this point onward except the emotions I felt.

The first two people who gave their testimonies on what happened said that I bursted out in laughter; the first was given by the person I hit with the ball and the second submitted by his friend. The third testimony, written by a bystander, said I let out an alarmed cry as I rushed towards my hurt classmate. From this point onward, all three testimonies aligned. My classmate grabbed me by the shoulder as I hastily approached him, twisting me to my side and nailing the first punch just above my left ear. I immediately lost consciousness, collapsing to the ground. As I crumbled, another two or three punches landed in the area of my occipital lobe. He proceeded to land punches on various spots of my body as I was on the ground. I laid on the field, unconscious, for 10 minutes as kind hearted classmates scrambled to get help. I faintly recall envisioning bright stars with streaks of gold and blue fireworks.

A lot of people still remember.

The first aid protocol for a situation where the student cannot stand up on their own is to call an ambulance.

First aid didn’t call an ambulance. Instead, a group of worried classmates had to carry me to a wheelchair that was off the field, since rolling it would “destroy the turf”. People convinced administration that it was a minor injury; that I was faking it or overreacting; just “Adin being Adin”. By the time I fully resurfaced, my mom was in the first aid room beside my emotional attacker who continually reiterated his apology. I tried to talk, but my slurred speech became a bad mix of inability to speak and emotional discharge. Everything I said had to be repeated before I could get a message across, and the “first aid” helper repeatedly reminded me that I was letting myself get too emotional over the situation. Ironically, that’s a common symptom of a concussion, yet the helper claimed that I didn’t have one. My mom, who was furious and fearful for my health, remained calm and said that she was going to take me to the hospital. All I did was say, “please don’t tell dad”. I knew my parents were going to do everything they could to make sure my assaulter was held accountable for his actions. What no one knew was that he was one of the first person to talk to me when I entered high school. The year prior, at grade 8 camp, he even chose me to be his zip-line partner, and we flew side-by-side across RockRidge Canyon. I knew my parents were going to file a police report, but in the moment, I really I didn’t want that for him. The first aid helper thought I was crying because it hurt, and that the experience scared me. She was actually right for once, I was absolutely frightened. It didn’t help that my emotions were blown out of proportion because of the head trauma. There were only two people in the room who really understood the severity of the situation: my mom and my attacker. At the hospital, I failed to walk in a straight line, balance on two feet, remember four words, touch my finger to my nose and back, and a couple more tests. My reaction time from tests with the reflex hammer was severely delayed, so much so that the doctor said it was the “worse she has ever seen” from a person of my age. On a personal note, she made my mom promise that the person who did this to me suffered the consequences of his actions. An acquaintance of mine and my assaulter, who saw the entire incident, notified the office that he would submit a testimony from his neutral perspective. However, school administration did not wait to see it and handled consequences based on the initial testimonies from the assaulter and his friend.

Reflection

I found it hard to forgive. Within the year, I suffered severe retinal detachment in both eyes. Although retinal detachment is hereditary in my family, it came an unexpectedly 35 years in advanced compared to my dad and uncle — likely due to the head trauma. It was especially in situations like this where I wish it never happened. The insecurity I developed through the manifestation of negative thoughts continued to seriously affect me over the years. I may have eventually came back 110% physically, but my head stayed in the gutter. I wish I still could do certain things or chase the opportunities that I lost. However, with time came recovery, and with both came maturity. This situation took a lot away from me, but I have decided to not let it happen for nothing. I’ve learned from it and am still learning. It took me three years to realize that I am not the same person anymore — three years before I stopped striving to be who I was before and began to focus on the person I could become. It is then when I broke off the chains preventing me from growing past the situation, allowing me to acknowledge the blessings that come out of it. I am still a work in progress, but I look to supersede physical recovery with the effort of building atop a new foundation that makes me the person I am today. For that, I am thankful. Not for the injury, but for the opportunity to rebuild myself from the ground up. It’s all part of the learning process, and I trust the process.

Thanks

To everyone who walked with me through this journey. In no particular order:

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Adin K

Adin K

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SWE Intern @ Facebook. Ex-SDE Intern @ Amazon (AWS). Ex-SWE, Data Eng, Product Manager Intern @ Intersect.