There is a tiny little article in today’s paper about an obese man in Ohio who had to be cut out of a chair that he had been sitting in for two years. Two years! I don’t know about you, but I think that after the first week of not moving anywhere warning signals would have gone off in my head. Of course, with anything you read, questions go off in your head that you seek answers to in the text. You can imagine the sorts of queries that exploded like little fireworks in my brain. Who is this man? What does he do for a living? Did he never need to use the bathroom? What did he do for food? How did he keep himself entertained in that chair? Who were his friends? How did they actually cut him from the chair? What does it take for someone to let himself lose control of his health and his life to the extent that he morphs into an extension of a piece of furniture?
I didn’t get all the answers of course, since the article was only about 150 words long. I don’t even know if I want all the answers. If you want them, I am sure you can google this chap and find him all over the Internet by now, because there will definitely be lots of people in that city, that state, that country with whom this story resonates, and there will be a range of emotions expressed, from pity to disgust. And maybe even solidarity.
His skin had become “fused to the fabric of the chair”. (You’ll never again ignore that velcro-sensation when you shift in your seat, will you?) And my question about the bathroom? Suffice it to say that the multitasking chair served that purpose as well. He just went to the bathroom where he was sitting. The chair, we are told, was “covered in his own waste and maggots”. When did he cross that line that toilet training in our baby years set up? You know that line. It’s the one that makes it really hard for you to go in a bed pan in hospital, because you are so conditioned to release those muscles only in the right place and in the right position.
But my biggest problem with this whole thing is that this guy was not alone. There were people living with him, who only called the police when the man became “unresponsive”. What does that mean? They didn’t get worried when he started making them fetch and carry for him? When he refused to get up and go to the bathroom? When he started to stink? He had a girlfriend, this man! Who brought him food. For TWO YEARS! And you thought you’d never get a chick to love you. Apparently you’re not missing much by not having friends like this man had. It took him losing consciousness for them to get help.
Seriously. All three need their heads examined. There is more to this situation than a 150-word article can convey. Something about deeper problems in urban society related to mental health, isolation, and the changing dynamics of human relationships within a community.
The report as it appeared in the paper doesn’t say who actually did the cutting. They deserve medals for heroism. I hope this is not something they have to do everyday.