Fat guys can suspend too
I'm 6'2" (188cm) and I weight about 140kg. So I'm by no means a small guy.
For four years now I've been reading up on and imagining what it would be like to do a suicide suspension. There's so much material available here on BME and all over the web, and with a little effort you can generally sort the wheat from the chaff, but one thing that I could not find much information or pictures about was pictures of or experiences by larger framed people. It really seemed like one of those things that only people of a smaller frame attempted.
A couple of months ago, I found out about AUSCON3 from IAM:Piercing Pete who put me in touch with IAM:JedandSeth's Dad (Karl). I sent him an email and told him I was 130kg, and he emailed me back to tell me that I'd be best to suspend from 4 6g hooks. I also asked him if he'd ever suspended anyone of my size before and he told me that he had suspended someone before who was almost my weight, so I was set! I didn't know then that I was actually closer to 140kg.
As the weeks rolled by I dropped in to The Piercing Urge a couple of times to discuss it with Pete. It was all really cool. I was mentally prepared for it. In fact, I'd been mentally preparing myself for it for years. I was driving down to AUSCON (a two hour drive from Melbourne) and offered to give people a lift. IAM: applecactus (Jess), IAM:dani_doo (Dani) and IAM:Cinnam0n_Spider (Megan) ended up coming with me in exchange for petrol money. The trip down was full of excited chatter about suspension. Dani and Megan had suspended before and told Jess and I about their experience. It's a good thing that they came with me as I missed the signs a couple of times and we were some of the first to arrive (even though we were about 20 minutes late) and went down to the tree where the suspensions were to take place and started introducing ourselves. There were about 40 people there altogether and though I'm sure I met everyone, I can't remember many names (something I've never been all that good at).
The Hack team turned up not long after we did, the ropes were set up, tables were arranged and the hooks were got out so we could have a look. They looked awesome! When I introduced myself to Karl, he looked at me and said "I think we're going to have to use 6 hooks on you you're a big bloke".
I had already decided that I didn't want to go first as I'd never seen it before and I generally like to see someone else do things before I do them myself. (When I was in France, I didn't start eating my snails and frog legs until the people at the next table had started theirs I had always imagined that it was just a cruel joke played on tourists). A few people went up before we broke for lunch and I told Pete and Karl that I wanted to be the first person to go up after lunch so I could do it with some food in my stomach.
Pete cooked me a couple of my steaks on the bbq while I took some photos of Jess. The steaks were just how I like them 30 seconds a side and full of blood.
So, once I'd eaten and had some water (and a quick piss), I took off my shirt and put some sunscreen on my chest and arms paying attention to my tattoo sleeve. My chest and arms don't normally see daylight and the last thing I wanted was to get tanned. I went over to the tree, sat down and took off my Docs. I figured every little bit helps in the weight game and it was great as I spent a lot of the time suspended on the tips of my toes. Pete asked me if I wanted him to sling my hooks and I said yeah, for sure. He was going to sling one set of hooks while someone did the other two at a time but because my skin is so tight at the back it was decided to sling them one at a time, so Pete got to do them all. There was a bit of a discussion about the best place to put the hooks and everyone contributed their thoughts. Once the twelve little crosses were placed on my back, I was asked to lie down on the table.
I'd been doing breathing exercises for about ten minutes, and was quite calm and ready for it by then. I lay down on the table and adjusted myself so I was comfortable and listened to everything that was going on. Pete asked me to take a big breath in and then slowly let it out as the hook went through my skin. The sensation of the needle and the hook passing through my skin was just as I had expected it would be, but then that's not too surprising. Mind you, getting six in a row was more that I was used to. After the second hook I asked Pete to pause for a bit after each one so the white rage that was mounting in me could subside ready for the next. The rage comes with the adrenaline rush, and I've come to love it and learned ride it. It's a kind of euphoria I suppose, and hard to describe like the proverbial fine line between pleasure and pain.
None of the pain was unmanageable though (with the aid of some considerable growling and swearing from me) and within a few minutes I was sporting six shiny 6g hooks which protruded from my upper back.
I lay there for a minute while people moved about me and then I asked if I could get up. Karl said sure, if I was ready. I sat up on the table and walked over to the chair. There was no way I was going to be able to stand while the ropes were put through the rings in the hooks and connected to the suspension rig because I was too tall, so I sat in the chair and waited. My back felt numb by then and I couldn't feel any of the hooks. I don't know if that's the brain shutting down the pain sensors due to overload or what it was but it felt weird. I just sat there, taking sips of water from a cup to keep my mouth from drying out until it was all ready.
Once I was rigged up and the ropes were adjusted, I was asked again if I was ready. I loved the fact that it was all done in my own time. I didn't feel rushed at all and everyone was so supportive. I never imagined that it was going to be so cool. I stood up and the rig was raised so that the ropes were taut. The middle hooks pulled a bit more than the others but the guys told me that would even out as I went up which it did. I put a little bit of pressure on the hooks, kept it on for as long as I could and then slackened it off a bit. To start with, I spent a lot of time on the tips of my toes, trying to bring my heels back down to the ground. I was getting used to the hooks, and as I got more confidence in myself I started swaying from side to side and asked that the rig be raised a little more. The swaying really helped a lot in evening out the ropes and thus the pressure in the hooks. After some time I was moving from one foot to the other, trying to see what the feeling would be like, and willing myself to lift both feet at once. I concentrated on my breathing to calm myself and control the pain. I got told to wiggle my fingers to stop myself from tensing up in my shoulders which really helped too. It seemed like ages, being lifted a half inch at a time before I was swaying just on the tips of my toes.
Then, as I stood there supported, I suddenly felt that I was ready and asked to be lifted from the ground. My toes were dangling in space and I felt the sensation of being lifted from the ground. I was up! I kept wiggling my fingers and moved my legs about to keep from tensing up. I couldn't believe that I had done it really and I was just ecstatic. I had had my back to everyone before I was off the ground, and so the first thing I remember was asking to be turned around and what a weird feeling that was! I looked around and saw everyone looking at me with smiles on their faces and I felt like God must feel when he's suspending as everyone applauded.
Sharing this experience with so many wonderful people was one of the best things I have ever done in my life.
I stayed up for about three minutes, and honestly I can't describe exactly how it felt. There are no words for it. It was a mixture of pain, euphoria, and self-pride. The pain that I felt was less from the hooks and more in my lower back which I had expected from reading other people's experiences. I wish I could have stayed up longer, but I remember starting to have a bit of difficulty breathing at one point and so I asked to be brought down. It was all a bit of a blur, and even now, less than 24 hours since the event it's difficult to remember much more than the feeling and the fact that I want to do it again.
After the suspension so many people congratulated me on getting there which filled up those few remaining empty spaces in me with pride. I lay back down on the table so that the hooks could be removed (which didn't hurt a bit) and so I could get that massage to get the air out of my back. Someone said there wasn't much air to burp out at all. I thought "damn, that means this wonderful massage is going to have to stop sooner". I remember shaking everyone's hand and thanking them. I just wanted to hug everybody. They were all so wonderfully supportive I can't imagine a better experience.
Once I was all cleaned up, and had the gauze patches on my back I put on my t-shirt and sat down with a nice cold beer handed to me by IAM:Sandron and watched Dani and Megan suspend. Jess had already suspended before lunch and she stayed up for ages. So the car was full of proud, happy people on the trip back to Melbourne, and even though we were perhaps a little quieter than we were on the way out, we all knew we had achieved something fantastic.
Before I hopped into bed last night, I asked my seventeen year-old son to remove the gauze and clean up the wounds with some anti-bacterial soap which he kindly did for me. I put on a clean t-shirt and hopped into bed. A couple of the puncture wounds leaked a bit in the night and made my t-shirt stick to me, but not too much, and I'm a little stiff this morning in my back like I've been lifting heavy weights or something, but there's no bruising at all and I'm feeling fine!
So, I've proved that larger guys can suspend, and I hope this experience will encourage anyone else out there who'd like to go up but may be a little hesitant because of their size. My best advice is to find a suspension team with experience and a fantastic attitude and it'll be wonderful. If you want to ask me anything more about this experience, please don't hesitate to ask me.
submitted by: Anonymous
on: 07 Feb. 2006