We've all seen the advertisements. The pop-ups and banners on every website, "Miracle pill sweeping the nation" and "Super diet pill helps you lose 40 lbs in 4 weeks". Yeah, I never believed them either. My grandmother died a little over 2 months ago and her will was read after just a week. After her bills were paid for by her estate, I inherited enough money to live comfortably while I attended university for my teaching degree.
My weight has always fluctuated; from a chubby child, to a skinny teenager, to an overweight 20-something, but at the ripe old age of 28 I decided it was time to change. I'd done it all before; the dieting, the morning running, the personal trainers but now I had the money I thought I would try something new. I'd never trusted these ads but this one pill was genuinely getting a lot of buzz on the internet. A few forums were full of people claiming it would work. Lipasan, they called it and it seemed to work wonders. I asked my doctor and he gave me the fair warnings and recommended I keep up exercising and dieting. But I wanted a quicker solution and I didn't want to jump into liposuction.
I found a website that seemed official and trustworthy; it had some good reviews, as well, so I was less suspicious. I set up a payment through PayPal so they couldn't log my card details and ordered four weeks’ worth of pills. Sure enough, the very next morning they arrived, which is a good sign straight away, I remember thinking. The instructions advised I take one pill during lunch time instead of a meal. I'd always heard that skipping a meal was unhealthy but I ate enough as it is and thought that I might as well go for it and just have a bigger dinner. I ate my full English breakfast and headed to university, making sure I had the pill jar with me. Lunch time came around at half past midday and I took my pill out of the container. It has a strange iridescent orange-ish colour about it, with a strange sheen like the paint on a brand new sports car. I took the pill and guess what? It really felt good. I didn't eat lunch but I didn't feel hungry either. I felt full but not bloated. I followed this pattern for the next 2 days.
On the third day I got home from university at 8pm and went to make dinner but I still didn't feel hungry. Actually, I still felt full... and tired. I'd only just noticed, but this pill was helping me sleep. I was sure it was just a side effect but, being an insomniac for over a decade, it was a bonus, like winning a car and then finding out the car is insurance free. I was sleeping well, I was eating less, I was losing weight, I was happy. For the next week I followed this routine: Wake up, shower, eat breakfast, brush teeth, check the scales, go to university (or my part time job on the weekends), swallow my pill at lunch, finish work or university, get home go to bed; and I'd always wake up feeling refreshed.
The following morning I woke up and went to make breakfast. When I put that first rasher of bacon in my mouth and instantly threw it up. I thought this was especially strange as I hadn't felt sick at all that morning, or the night before, nor did I feel sick now, even after throwing up. I finished my cup of green tea and headed out the door as I didn't want to be late for class. Lunch time came around and I took my pill and instantly felt hunger pains in my gut. I could smell the food from the cafeteria and instantly gagged but had nothing to throw up. I told my manager I'd been sick and he sent me home without a moment’s hesitation. I asked him if he's sure it's alright as it's not like him to just allow it. He told me I've been looking very unhealthy lately.
I got home and went to look in the bathroom mirror. I couldn't even remember when I last looked in mirror but I didn't even recognise myself. My hair was greasy and thin, my skin was dull and dry and my eyes were sunken and surrounded by deep black lines. I looked over at my toilet bowl and realised I hadn't had a shit in nearly a week. I went to the kitchen and tried to eat some bread but before it even touched my tongue I gagged violently and painfully, spraying spittle on the counter in front of me. "A side effect of the pills", I murmured to myself. I would not take any more.
I woke up the following day feeling a little better but looking much worse. I didn't even bother to shower. You know the drill; I’d go to university and then lunch time rolled around. I didn't take my pill this time. I felt no different. I didn't feel worse. I didn't feel better. I just felt the same. I got home in the evening but didn’t dare touch food. For two more days I didn’t go near food or even smell it, where I could help it. I feared that I’d gag so much I’d throw up my own stomach. I checked the scales in my bathroom and I’d lost 12 stone from the 18 I was. I was twenty-eight years old, 5 feet 10 inches and only six stone. I was a mess.
I was starting to get worried. I thought that if I didn’t start eating again soon I may become seriously ill or die. I didn’t go to class that day. I stayed in bed, stomach growing more and more painful by the minute. Eventually I passed out from the pain. I woke up and my eyes blinked rapidly, trying to adjust to the bright sunlight coming through my bedroom window. I checked my digital clock on the nightstand and realised that I’d been out for four days. Shit, I thought to myself as I hobbled to the bathroom and looked in my wall mirror and gasped. I was skin and bone, if you could even call this skin. I felt dryer than was natural. My hands and feet were swollen, I was freezing cold - even though the heating was on - and a lump was forming on my chin and throat. I assumed, from iron deficiency.
I tried to call an ambulance but the phone in the living room was shut off. I guessed the bill needed to be paid while I was unconscious, so I dragged myself to the kitchen and opened the cupboards. I instantly ate what bread I had left, thanking God that it wasn’t stale. My body kept trying to force it back up but my will was stronger. I was eating today, I thought. I was going to eat myself back to health.
It has been a couple of weeks since I forced down that first slice of bread and now I’m back up to a healthier 8. I tried contacting the company but I keep getting the same response - “please check with your doctor for allergies and health issues before using our product” – and the comments from other ‘customers’ are disappearing from the forums. I implore you, reader, be careful what you buy for your health, starvation is painful but recovering from it is hell.
Still, I don’t want to gain too much weight again. Maybe I’m over the side effects now. I’ll try taking another pill tomorrow. I’ll just to it for one more week and see how it turns out.
This pasta has received a rating of 6/10 or higher and has moved on to the finals of the 2015 freestyle pasta challenge.