“When the gods want to punish you, they will answer your prayers.” – Karen Blixen, Out Of Africa
The rain pitter-pattered constantly against the car window, as I stared out at the Cayey mountains on October 11, 2005. It was fairly dark out still at 5am, and I am sure I was quite groggy still, but the streetlamps glimmered orange with blurry halos; the rain, the slight tangerine glows, the mist over the mountains, the whole car ride was sublimely surreal, yet I remember it vividly.
Little did I know that less than 48 hours later I was going to drift into a coma.
Let’s wind back the clock, say, maybe a decade and a half. For most of my young adulthood, my body weight usually maintained itself at around 155lbs. (Another example of my lack of education – I have no idea how the Metric system works, but I’ve heard it’s the be-all-end-all of measurement. Whatever.) The point is, during my teen years, I was on the heavy side, robust, not flabby nor chubby, just husky, and many other adjectives that superficial people use to politely describe the exact amount of disgust they hold over what standards of beauty they deem fit and appropriate.
Personally, I prefer the term husky; it always reminds me of snowy, majestic hounds. Either that or it sounds way better than rotund.
Once I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and began medicating, though, my weight skyrocketed; many have adjudicated blame to medications stunting my metabolism due to harmful side effects. They may be right, but I have another take on the subject:
I ate my pain away.
Sadly, overeating is a very common symptom of many mental illnesses, including bipolar disorder. It’s all a cycle of filling the emotional void with whatever immediate self-gratifying element seems to be lying around and within reach, whether it be drugs, alcohol, sex, food, or all of the above.
I was never one to take my medication regiments seriously. I always considered psychiatry to be a hoax, a conspiracy theory-laced pharmaceutical cash grab that offered magical pills to dimwitted dopes like me that were aching for a quick fix permanent solution to life’s problems. And so, I would lie to my family, like a good reverse-junkie, fooling them into believing I was following my medication regiment, all the while abusing alcohol, stuffing my face with two BK Double-Whopper combos, chugging down at least 2 liters of soda a day (it’s a damn miracle I’ve never had kidney stones; they’d probably be the size of Kanye West’s ego – pretty damn big, painful, and insane).
You think hobbits had too many meals? Amateurs.*
*The fact that I am even considering comparing my former eating habits with those of fantasy literature races should be alarming enough
In any case, haphazardly taking medication, while combining it with massive alcohol consumption, scarfing down massive quantities of junk food, all of this on a daily basis….well, do the math. At 345lbs (damn that stupid Imperial system again; what’s a damn pound besides somewhere you keep cartoon puppies?), I had officially ballooned out to behemoth proportions. You’ve never lived until you can’t even fit in 2XL clothing, people staring at you as if you’re a walking genetic anomaly; there’s an odd sense of freedom in not giving a flying fuck about people’s opinions.
That, of course, was a lie.
Too much, in fact.
*The only existing picture of Seba at 345lbs. circa 2005 BM (Before Maria)
My only saving grace to avoid social exile was my inexplicable way of charming people and getting them to like me, by any means necessary. That became an addiction as well; there is no better drug than the subtle art of social engineering, knowing that you are able to get your way when others cannot. I was always the wingman in our hunting pack at night clubs; I was the scout who would point out targets of opportunity, would lull the ladies into a false sense of security, while the hyenas closed in for the kill.
Unfortunately, I didn’t want prey; I just wanted, and needed, love and acceptance, a sense of connection, unity, to belong. Making friends was not the hard part; it was keeping them that I truly failed at.
(That, as I always say, will be another story for another time)
*insert record scratch here*
Enough backstory, let’s get to the part where I get cut open on an operating table!
The year 2014 was spent in massive preparation for what would become THE defining moment of my life. I underwent extensive physical checkups, had a team of cardiologists, nutritionists, pneumologists, shamans, witch doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, etc. just prepping me for the road that lay ahead of me.
I was pumped! I was excited! I was motivated!
All because I expected to die the morning of my surgery.
I had elected to commit suicide by doctor. *
*I had many suicide attempts in the past, unsuccesful of course, just attentionwhoring pityparties, cries for help; for the sake of not triggering anyone or having someone get any ideas, I will not divulge any details. Needless to say, I know I was unsuccessful every time because I had hope that someday, my mind would find peace, magically, through fairy dust, alcohol, and blissful ignorance. Seba, always the dreamer, always the dumbass.
On the morning of October 11, 2005, I was about to undergo gastric bypass surgery, otherwise known as “let’s staple this dumb shit’s stomach so he’ll be obligated to eat right under the threat of rupturing his insides, and he’ll naturally starve his body so rapidly that all muscle and fatty tissue will be gone, leaving a saggy husk of drooping, scarred skin loosely draped over bones, Ed Gein style”.
I arrived at the hospital; my whole family was there. They had no clue that I had selfishly signed a death warrant.
My grandmother, my best friend in the whole world, the one source of purity I was never worthy of being gifted, joined me during the prep procedure. My mom was in the prep room as well; may aunt and father would take turns coming in and out of the room, but they were visibly anxious, not wanting to witness what might have been the last few moments they would see their child and nephew alive.
Grandma held my hands, kept making jokes as she would always do, smiling softly, gently patting my shoulder, rubbing me with warmth and comfort in that freezing room, while the nurses were injecting anticoagulants into my abdomen, tapping my veins for the IV, shaving my stomach to clean the area.
I lied on the cold stretcher, naked except for the surgical gown and pressure socks that would pump air in and out to promote blood circulation during surgery. I trembled, not out of fear, but out of the cold quietness that permeated the waiting room. They wheeled me to the checkpoint; it was time to say our farewells.
I held their hands, squeezed, and they prayed for me before being wheeled off into the sterility and loneliness of the surgical prep area. The nurses came to take me on my way. I kissed each member of my family on the forehead, and I told them that I loved them very much. That was not a lie.
Staring up at lights in a hospital hallway while being carted off to the unknown is quite the experience. It is silent, lonely, yet oddly peaceful in a very creepy way. The only sounds present was a TV with the local morning news, which I paid absolutely no attention to, and the sporadic, curious beeps and sounds of heart monitors, and other assorted medical gadgets .
My surgeon arrived (a tiny doctor who, I was told, needed ladders to be able to reach over our grotesquely immense bellies to work her voodoo magic); she was a genuine sweetheart. She tried to comfort me, gave me the pre-op pep talk, and then the staff proceeded to slide me unto what could be considered Antarctica’s butthole; I would assume White Walkers would shudder looking at that infernal slab of ice and doom.
The anesthesiologist arrived, asked me some questions, tried to crack a few friendly jokes (bless his jaded ass for trying, lame as he was), and proceeded to instruct me to count backwards from 10.
The blanket of shivering cold was gone; everything was gone.
No worries, we’ll get to my coma soon enough.