Mike Adams
Dear (name deleted):

Yesterday, I received your email explaining the reasons for your poor performance in my class this semester. While I was pleased that you refrained from asking for a change of grade, I was disappointed that you attributed your bad grade to adult ADHD.

I hope you were kidding when you said that you plan to join an adult ADHD support group. Since you are an 18 year old male, I would suspect that a trip to nearby Wrightsville Beach could cure your "disorder." If you can't pay attention to the environment there, you may really have a problem.

Adult ADHD is another one of those problems we didn't have to deal with when I was growing up. But, now that a few doctors and drug companies have let us know it is out there, everyone seems to be getting it. The list of these disorders just keeps growing, doesn't it?

The reason I am writing is to warn you of a new syndrome that may (hopefully) soon sweep the nation. It is called Adult Determinism Deficit Disorder, or ADDD. This disorder is characterized by an unwillingness to allow any tragedy, no matter how large, to keep you from succeeding.

Although it is new, one of my former students, Christina Price, has already been diagnosed with the disease. You may have seen Christina sitting in her wheelchair in the hallway between classes last year. She lost the use of both arms and both legs after a tragic accident that occurred when she was only seventeen.

Christina's school day really begins the night before. She picks out her school clothes before she goes to sleep. It takes her approximately 2 1/2 to 3 hours from wake-up in order to get ready to leave the house.

First, the nurse wakes her and she gets her teeth brushed, flossed, and washes out her mouth. Her face is washed before toners and creams are applied to keep her skin soft. Next, the nurse puts on her pants and shirt. This means a lot of bouncing for her and a lot of lifting for the nurse. Then, there is a lot of pulling and checking to prevent wrinkles. A small wrinkle under her for more than an hour would cause her blood pressure to go up and, if not fixed within several hours, could cause a pressure sore or make her pressure continue to rise to a dangerous level.

A net is put under her to lift her out of bed. It takes two people to hook up the net to lift her. One person holds her head to keep her from swinging and watches the ventilator hose to make sure that the tube does not get pulled out, which would remove her only source of air. The other person works the controls on the lift and holds her feet while watching out that her catheter is not pulled. Once she has been lowered in her motorized chair, all the wrinkles have to be pulled again.

She is then put in the chair in a reclined position and has to sit up straight in stages, so her blood pressure does not drop too low. Once the seatbelt is snapped, a chest strap is hooked and a head strap is put on over her head. After being disconnected from the bedside vent, the wheelchair vent is quickly hooked up and air flows again. It takes several tries to stop leaks and get her comfortable.

Her hair is then brushed and styled according to the skills of the nurse on duty. Makeup is applied to her face. Tube ties are adjusted (if too tight it causes high blood pressure and some discomfort, but if too loose the tube will come out and the air supply will be interrupted). Her shoes are put on with care not to bend her toes. Her toes have sometimes been broken while putting on her shoes and not discovered until several hours later when her high blood pressure started causing problems. The problems include headaches, a flushed feeling, and red spots on her body.

The suction machine that was cleaned the night before must be assembled and hooked to her wheelchair. Medications or foods that have been packed before she awoke are put into the van so they can be administered every four hours (usually between her classes) by way of a tube in her stomach. The emergency bag is loaded into the van with the backpack soon to follow. Her dogs have to be walked, the garage door opened and ramp lowered, and her wheelchair positioned properly for the trip up and into the van. Several ties for the wheelchair are secured to prevent unwanted movement.

When Christina gets home from her day at school everything goes in reverse to get her into bed. Usually a short nap is in order, but then she has to hit the books. Someone reads to her and she completes the homework assignments for the day. Then her physical therapy is preformed.

I really hope you were paying attention to this description because you won't be seeing Christina around the halls of UNC-Wilmington anymore. After repeating this ritual for four years, Christina has now received her college degree.

You have every right to claim you are a victim, just as you have every right to join a support group. Nonetheless, I hope you get hit with a case of Adult Determinism Deficit Disorder. But that is not for me to decide.

Only you can ADDD it to your list of disorders.


Mike Adams

Mike Adams is a criminology professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and author of Letters to a Young Progressive: How To Avoid Wasting Your Life Protesting Things You Don't Understand.