February 18th - Later

[The prior entry for the 18th was written late Sunday night, posted early Monday morning. It's now 8pm Monday night.]

I had no real way of knowing.

Kev and I have been trying to go see the movie Blackhawk Down together for weeks now, but our schedules just haven't worked out. We had talked about going this afternoon when we were both off work, but yesterday he suggested I go ahead and see it, as he had some family matters to attend to. I took myself to a matinee this afternoon.

I'm sitting here at Tony Roma's a few minutes after the final credits scroll, still trying to control my shaking. Maybe putting a few of these racing thoughts down on my Visor will help calm me. The last time I was this shaken by a movie was when "Platoon" was first run. At that time, in the late 80's, the VA had PTSD counselors stationed in the lobby to help folks as they came out of the theatre. Teeth grinding, I walked right past the counselors, off to cope in my own manner.

Then, as today, I found myself feeling a steady release of nervous adrenaline from the middle of the movie on. Today throughout the scenes of combat I was gripping my armrest. I started shaking early on and really didn't stop. I found myself choking back sobs four or five times. Tears came readily, unbidden. After the last scene I could not move except to wipe tears. No one else in the theatre - as I slowly became aware of their presence - moved either. When the lights came up I slowly gathered myself and walked out to my car. This wasn't the time to stumble about the kitchen, so I drove the couple of blocks to the restaurant, tried & failed to eat a meal, and on back home to finish this entry and try to go to sleep.

[picking up on the story back home now...]

I'd read the book before. I've worked with a fellow who was there in Mogadishu with the Rangers, and we had discussed the Somali battle at length. I've watched Thin Red Line, Saving Private Ryan, Good Morning VietNam, Apocalypse Now, Stalingrad, Enemy At The Gates, and many more fine war films. I've read just about everything that has come out in the genre. Hell, my own uniformed combat tour was over in June, 1970, and I haven't seen anything in the way of street combat in two or three years now. This one just hit me below the belt, hard and unexpectedly.

I'll be ok. I always turn out ok when this happens. I always do a lot of introspection, reflection, and it takes a while for the chilled energy of the adrenaline to wash out totally. I've never flipped out, trying to protect the world from an enemy that's still trying to attack me [although I've taken care of - and been hurt by - patients who were still fighting the Japanese on a Pacific atoll, in the middle of Seattle]. It helps to have this forum available to vent it out on, and the good friends who are ICQing me as I'm typing. I guess I'm not even asking for anything here - I'm just saying.

Fourteen months in combat and not a scratch on me. Thirty-two years later, I'm still limping inside on occasion from the other kind of wounds.

Sometimes life just is, eh?

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