You Never Remember Pain Unless It Happened to You
In my daily rant against people — the gift and the curse for me is that people make me sick, but I also love people and my ultimate purpose in life calls for nothing but service unto them — another thing has resurfaced recently which rubbed me the wrong way 10 years ago and now does so again in 2013.
“Why didn’t you play football in college, or run track, or baseball?”
Oh how people forget. I know that Erythrodermic Psoriasis is not all that common, and most people have never been affected by it first-hand or otherwise, but I have done quite a bit to speak on it on my social media outlets over the past 9 years of being on Facebook. It is a very insidious disease which is largely fatal if not treated thoroughly. I was fortunate to not only live with it for THREE YEARS, but to make it out of the whole thing alive and living today with no signs that I ever had it. God ultimately healed me. It is nothing short of a miracle that I am even alive today. That is why I say I am playing with house money even to this day; a near-death car crashes and a high-speed spinout in 2006, included.
The fact that there are no real signs (besides the massive battle scar behind my left ear, that I wear proudly as a reminder of what I went through) that I had EP, but the scars and effects that it had on me spiritually and physiologically are going to be evident for the rest of my life. People who were around me in high school (it came on full force midway through my 10th grade year; late in 1994/early 1995), whether classmates — several of whom act like they weren’t amongst the chorus of spineless children who teased me incessantly, since it meant that there was one less person teasing THEM potentially — relatives or people who I attended church with, have completely forgot how extensively destructive that disease is, and was for me.
My skin ripped and tore literally every day. The sores bled. Head to toe. I lost large patches of hair. My skin appeared akin to someone who had been burned from head to toe and the burns were 80% healed, only to break open again. My joints were swollen. I was in constant pain. I was shivering in 100 degree heat. Literally. In fact, the day that I ultimately went to the hospital to have the grapefruit-sized cyst from behind my left ear at the base of my cranium, I was less than three weeks away from dying from the same septic poisoning that took out my beloved cousin Josh.
It is amazing that the doctors who treated me for the prior 18 months (surgery occurred in August 1996) misdiagnosed the disease to begin with. They treated it topically, as if it was merely eczema, or an untreated form of psoriasis. EP is internal, it eventually poisons your system, which can go into shock because of the trauma done to the blood and dermis/epidermis. You lose all ability to maintain body heat in the latter stages of the disease. Had I not gone to the hospital — which I begged my mother to take me to get looked at, because I had to quit my job at McDonald’s in July 1996 due to extreme fatigue and nausea 24/7 (the sepsis) — I would have died the week that I was to begin my senior year of high school.
I am not sure how it is not clear to people how I did not get a chance to exploit my physical abilities. And no, this isn’t some Al Bundy, pipe dream, exaggerating my abilities. It was GOING TO HAPPEN. I was nothing more than a great shooter in basketball. I only had average ballhandling abilities, and was not a point guard. I had no desire to play basketball other than recreationally. But as a cornerback, I absolutely would have played college football, had I been healthy for my last two years of high school. My track coach, who was also an assistant coach on the football team, saw me running past everyone (clocked at 4.38 a half dozen times) while goofing off playing around during P.E., and TOLD me (not asked) that I was going to play football. My mother wouldn’t have any part of it, but that is not why I didn’t play. Coach Ratliff wanted me to play either RB (no sir) or WR (boring) AND play CB (bingo, the position I dreamed of playing after growing up idolizing Deion Sanders since 1986, which is why I am a Florida State Seminoles football fan since then to this day). I became so physically sick that I fell asleep in class every day in the spring of 1995 through the spring of 1996, before the aforementioned surgery occurred. People thought I was just bored (which I was, I learned virtually nothing at that school and should have gone to Talent Unlimited, Manhattan Center, Juilliard or LaGuardia, which was the debate that I lost with my mom before starting 9th grade, although my dad was with it). I understood my mom’s concerns about going to high school in the city in those days. That’s over and done with. The point was, I was not really bored as much as my system was literally shutting down. This is what led to me falling asleep every day.
I never got kicked out of class or sent to detention for it, but my grades suffered once I became sick, because managing that disease with the internal and external effects was literally a 24/7 endeavor. It took its toll. Once my blood became infected, the cyst developed behind my left ear, and it swelled to the size of a grapefruit, before I just became so physically drained that I begged to be taken to the hospital, shivering in 100-degree August heat in 1996.
People love comparing a mild case of eczema and a once-in-a-while bout with regular psoriasis with what I went through. Most people simply do not ever develop it, nor know anyone who had it, which is what infuriates me the most when people who SAW what I went through, come back and ask me why I didn’t excel in sports to the point where I at least went college — and would have been DAMN GOOD enough to play CB in the NFL, as I devoured all of the nuances that surround the position, and everything else on the defensive unit. If I ever get the chance to coach again, I would rather be a lifer as a defensive coordinator, not a head coach. I want to focus on defense.
I couldn’t hit anyone’s offspeed pitching in baseball. I had no real aspirations about playing baseball, because I knew all I had going for me was my speed and my arm to play third base and right field. I didn’t devote any real time to getting better at baseball, so I didn’t care. I don’t have any regrets about not devoting time to baseball. I don’t have any regrets in basketball, because I was not good enough until I was in my 20s, when my game became complete, so it was irrelevant to be anything other than a city league player once in a while. Football is the sport that I ate, slept, studied, drank and aspired to excel in.
For those who have either forgotten, never knew, or failed to realize how impactful Erythrodermic Psoriasis was in ruining any chance for me to play football beyond high school. This is why. Stop asking me. I have no regrets, because my health failed me, not my desire to put in the work, which are two different things.
PLEASE STOP FRIGGIN’ ASKING ME. I HOPE THIS SETTLES THE WHOLE THING ONCE AND FOR ALL.