Friday, April 18, 2008

Look at Me! I'm a Big Strong Boy!

Steroids make you big and strong and throw a ball like Roger Clemens. Do you know what else happens? A firsthand account from a man who will never do it again.

By Craig Davidson

"A lot of first-time novelists don't stray far from home; their stories are drawn from their lives. Holds true for me: The main character is...well, me. That's not quite true. He's wealthier, pampered, more dismissive. But his deep-seated fears, his inborn weaknesses -- those we share intimately.

My character goes down dark roads. For the sake of the book, I thought I'd travel those roads with him.

He begins to work out obsessively. I began to work out obsessively.

He joins a boxing club. I joined a boxing club.

He takes steroids. I took steroids.

The thing is, I've never done drugs. I therefore lacked the ability to spot the dealer in a room. Such was my quandary when it came to steroids. Where to buy? Who to ask? I'd heard your local gym was a good place, but I didn't have the first clue how to go about that. So I typed "steroids" into Google, which promptly introduced me to an Internet scam. I purchased a bottle of what I thought was a steroid called Dianabol. But what I received was Dianobol, which, for all I know, were rat turds pressed into pill form. Effective as Flintstone chewables.

I'll not go into great detail about how I came to possess real steroids -- or "gear," as we 'roiders call them. The whole thing makes me look as stupid as I was. Suffice it to say the process involved an encrypted e-mail account, a money order wired to Tel Aviv, and weeks of apprehension -- Had I been ripped off? Would DEA agents break down my door? -- before the package arrived, pills and ampules and six vials wrapped in X-ray-proof paper."

"I've been shooting my glutes, and while it's relatively painless, the skin has gone tight and I'm guessing the oil hasn't dissolved. I stick my thigh instead.

The needle goes in half an inch before hitting a major nerve. My leg bucks uncontrollably, knee nearly striking my forehead. Blood leaks from the puncture down my leg. I try my calf.

Sitting cross-legged, ankle propped on knee, I push the needle in. Goes in easy, but when I aspirate, the syringe fills with blood: hit a vein. Wipe the needle with rubbing alcohol, try another spot: blood again. Boot the excess onto a paper towel, plug a fresh needle onto the syringe, try again: blood. It's bubbling out of my thigh and the neat triangle of holes in my calf. What am I, all veins?

End up back at my glutes. After injecting, I regret it: A bubble of oil the size of a pearl onion now lies an inch under my skin. When I massage it, the bubble wobbles, all of one piece. It's still there come nighttime. I feel it pressed against my hipbone, solid as a ball bearing. Like the princess with a pea under her mattresses, I have a hard time sleeping.

To embark on a steroid cycle is to devote yourself to rituals. Wake up, eat, medicate, work out, eat, work out, eat, medicate, sleep. Repeat daily for sixteen weeks."

"I became a huffer, a grunter, a screamer. Anyone who frequents gyms knows those guys who make ungodly noises while hurling weight around. I'd always found their displays childish and tended to look away, as I would from a toddler having a tantrum in a supermarket. So imagine my surprise to find myself bellowing, shrieking, groaning.




Look at me! I'm a big, strong boy!

It was pathetic. I should have known better -- actually, I did know better, but I didn't let that stop me. Those "pumps" clouded all judgment. My glances at the gym mirrors were at first baffled, "Is that me?" double takes that mutated into looks of preening narcissism. I noticed how light played upon my chest and arms, the pockets of blue shadow filling my new contours. "

"That oil I shot into my hip hadn't dissolved. A deep, throbbing pain convinced me I'd developed an abscess. I had a pouch of weeks-old oil inside my hip, walled off by my immune system. If I was lucky, it was sterile. If not, it was infected, the surrounding tissue gone necrotic.

I decided to drain it by injecting an empty needle to draw out the stale oil. My hope was that it was still liquid; if it was congealed, gone to lard, I'd need medical attention.

The needle sunk into the pocket of infected tissue. The pain was expected and oddly bearable. Drawing back the plunger only earned me a few drops of clear broth. I disconnected the syringe and left the needle jutting out, applying pressure to the surrounding skin. Blackish fluid the consistency of crankcase oil dripped out. Disgusting and scary, but the pressure subsided. Once I'd squeezed it out, I filled another syringe with sterile water, attached it to the needle still stuck in my skin, injected it, unclipped the syringe, and squeezed the water out.

A decent job for an untrained meatball the likes of myself. Did the trick: A week later, I could comfortably sleep on my side again."

"I'm staring at a human boneyard. Where are my pecs? I see two shriveled bags hanging off my chest. Arms -- dear Lord, my arms! Shapeless shoestrings dangling from a pair of rotten-apple shoulders. Stomach a deflated clown balloon. Legs belonging to a coma victim.

Step on the scale: 222 pounds. Thirteen pounds, most of it fluid, shed virtually overnight.

Now, only the most deluded of 222-pound men can stare into a mirror and see a zombified horror staring back. But I'd lost it. Most of what I'd gained: washed away. Popeye without his spinach. Weak and broken and utterly human. All the needles, the piss of pregnant women running through my veins, the fainting spells and sleepless nights, the muscle knots and bitch tits and shrunken gonads and the hair in my food and fears of abscesses and caveman brow -- every risk I'd taken, all that sweat and toil for fuck-all."

The whole article( all text above is selected bits from ) is available Here

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