Part of me is dead. I don't mean that emotionally, metaphorically, or any other way but literal. A good hefty chunk of my body is now metals and plastic.
You only find out after the surgery that it's not what the ads implied. I think that's how it keeps spreading. The people who get it pretend nothing's wrong, that it's as fantastic as it looks because they paid so much for it and don't want to look like fools. While privately agonizing over the aches, pus, and constantly replenishing crust of scabs that forms wherever metal penetrates the skin.
The body thinks it's been wounded and never stops trying to heal. Outraged that it’s been invaded by some foreign body. It's more right than it knows. The prosthetic, replicating perfectly the movement of every digit and sensations on all touch sensitive outer coverings, is nonetheless not alive. Where it meets your living tissue is a sharp divide. On one side, close up, a teeming cooperative of single celled organisms that is you. On the other, cold, dead metal.
However responsive, it is only puppetry, never truly a part of you. And I know this. Now. I wish somebody'd told me sooner that you always feel it. The assumption is that it goes away, but it doesn't. The feeling of the bolts through your bones, where the mounts are. Flexing, straining, threatening to fracture. The sting where the metal passes through sore, ever-enflamed skin I've since learned the models conceal with cosmetics.
That's the fantasy of it. The unspoken assumption you go in with as they drain your bank account, put you under and prepare to operate. That in time, you won't feel a difference, that the machine truly becomes a part of you.
It never does. It just hangs on, and hurts. You tell yourself this is just growing pains, that more metal in your body will somehow fix it, which starts the craving. The more you replace with metal, the less of it can hurt, driving it all inexorably forward.
Until one day, you realize you've dumped your savings into novelty surgeries, in order to wind up a freakish patchwork primate with motorized prosthetics, aching intensely everywhere that metal meets bone and surrender to the realization that it's for life.
I wish I could say that’s the worst of it. I never fully appreciated that there is a spirit dwelling within the parts of me that are alive, until it met what's hiding in the parts of me that aren't.