By Simon Barget
Approximately one hour ago my head fell off. I could have struggled, tried to stick it back on but it was almost gone, already toppling. It was severed from the carotid and all the other arteries and it was a bit of a gorefest but I managed to cauterise it, stem the blood flow and now there are only a few steady drops plopping down onto my carpet.
When the panic died down I realised that I would have to live without my head and that it wouldn’t be easy. I am used to having a head not to mention the useful things it does such as talking. I thought that I would never be able to get used to living without it and I have to say I held on and didn’t want to let it go. For the life of me I didn’t want it to drop. Eventually I realised it was going to of its own accord I can just about acknowledge that. I mean I was alert or astute or whatever it is enough of to be able to see I had no chance of keeping it. I must have tried to hold it in place for a good hour, I don’t know how long. But it didn’t make the process any easier. It didn’t make it feel like it was something natural, something I would be able to get used to.
I have had body parts fall off before, that’s quite vanilla for me. I get used to it. Once the bit comes off, I hardly even remember it was there in the first place. When I was five my nose came off in a family friend’s chalet. Even at such a young age I knew I’d be just about able to get by without it. I had an inkling. But the fear was overwhelming, the hideous churning despicable fear, when the process is happening, when you realise it, when you clock it, just right before you accept that by the grace of something who knows what that the shedding is inevitable and you can do nothing to stop it, that feeling of being sucked away into the void, that’s the bit I really don’t like. But then again, it’s something I learned to contend with even as a toddler and it feels harsh, it feels like I had to suffer a lot, a lot more than other kids at least, and I do feel a little bit sorry for myself in that regard.
Other body parts followed at later stages. My first day of school my left hand came clean off when it hadn’t even been flailing, dropping off in the coach park as I was about to go home. I didn’t know whether to pick it up or just leave it stranded. The embarrassment paled into insignificance in the face of the fear, wondering whether this was another bit I would have to let go of, be without for the remainder of my earthly existence. I didn’t know how I’d function without a left hand yet somehow I knew that I would, that it all would be fine. Beneath all the terrible hideous disgusting unacceptable fear was this unyielding conviction that I didn’t need it, that I’d be ok, and I suppose that’s what got me through. Otherwise who knows where I’d be now. And in a way I didn’t look back. I had one hand and no nose but it made not the slightest bit of difference. If anything I felt better, more of an integrated unit.
Now I am still trying to get used to having no head since it’s been but a matter of minutes. All I can say is that there was that moment again when it was happening, that moment where I wasn’t sure if it was going to stay on or fall, where I hadn’t quite surrendered, and it’s so difficult to describe that moment, that feeling, but in that moment I am completely lost and hopeless and so involved in the ickiness of trying to hold on in the face of the hopeless stupid fear, and I wished so much that someone could come and help me and hold it up and sew it back on for me, stop it from all happening, within me I knew that that was never going to happen, there was no one around, and even if they were they’d have just passed me by in horror, or maybe not even paid the slightest bit of notice -- people can be selfish sometimes -- and then I admit there’s a bit of me that doesn’t want to get anyone else involved in my self-inflicted amputations, I feel it’s my business and my business only, well I was so involved in all of this stuff that I couldn’t imagine that I’d be better off without it.
All these parts of my body I started life off with that are inevitably going to falter. Though the head is a big one. I’m not trying to make more of it than there is, it’s simply a fact. I have realised now that I have a condition and although I see that I do, I don’t know why I am destined to live through it. It’s just a matter of time. And who’s to know what I’ll be left with. Just a stump representing an abdomen. How will I walk, poo, how will I breathe? How long can the body survive as a single block of nothing? And every time the next one happens it is no less painful than the last, no less traumatic, not the physical pain of course which I can relatively easily endure, but the heavy solid fear, the fear in my belly and all pervasive in my tracts, in my bowels and my buttocks, that fear whose location is so devilishly hard to pinpoint, the fear of letting something go, and where is that person to help me out of my predicament, because I do get the urge now and then to call out, to say: LOOK HERE YOU MY HEAD JUST FELL OFF, but it passes, and I am still here, you are still too, there is no panic, just this screen and this writing, only this moment, and all will be well, NO, all IS well, stay calm in the flow and let the breeze ruffle your wings.