Per aspera ad astra. a story of willpower
A brief background
My story begins in a beautiful port city. I was born and raised as a single child and I had all the support of my family in everything I did. In my teenage years my life revolved around sports. I was an active person and I played tennis, rugby, karate.
I was in full control of my life, I believed, but here comes 18 years of age and due to some entourage I got into trouble with the law. I had the support of my family and got past the not so bright event in my life, but out of that came a decision I realized I had to make. Who I wanted to be, a bad boy or a good one? The whole experience in the court of law influenced me deeply, so I decided to become a lawyer. I moved to the capital city, where I’m located now, started law school and later on decided to specialize in criminal law.
In my personal life there was happiness, in my twenties I met my wife and started the family life, which I am so grateful for. We have two beautiful, smart and healthy kids. So I became a father and I wanted to provide for my kids. I wanted to give them opportunities, the same way my father did for me.
Being a penal lawyer is no easy job, always on the road to different Courts of Law, late working hours on the cases, no weekends, no holidays. The pressure was huge. People’s destinies are in in your hands, so all the passion has to go in that direction. The attention shifted from me to my family and my work. I got used to having a disorderly life, skipping meals, sleep, doing less and less sport and trying to recuperate that lost energy with bad food choices at bad hours.
These bad eating habits that I perpetuated for almost a decade led to a maximum weight of 145 kilos and developing diabetes in my late thirties.
It was discovered by accident, or, I now say, by chance. A wound on my leg wouldn’t heal. After seeing a number of dermatologists, the last one suggested I should take a diabetes test. Although it was discovered relatively early, it escalated really fast, even under treatment. Eight months after I was recommended insulin. The news was a complete shock for my family and I. But after the denial phase I decided that I will fight for my life. I started reading and gathering as much info as I could, trying to understand this enemy I was facing.
The more I read about the disease, the more I understood its devastating effects. Accepting insulin became for me the acknowledgment that I was going to live with this disease for the rest of my life and that was unacceptable. The focus shifted on me. I decided that I would do everything in my power to cure myself from this wicked disease. I discovered a pilot program which only took place in the United States of America, Britain and Russia. A non invasive procedure which consisted in removing one gram of fat from the pancreas leading to the reversibility of diabetes. The waiting list was too long and I had no time. I needed to act fast because the disease was starting to act up. Sleepless nights, dried mouth, a sort of depression. I simply wasn’t feeling like myself. My health was deteriorating fast.
According to a Danish study, I read on the internet, as many as 7 out of 10 people with type 2 diabetes could achieve long-term disease remission by having weight-loss surgery called gastric bypass. I was ready to try anything. The solution came ultimately from a team of renowned doctors. Their schedule was fully booked for at least 6 to 8 months, but by chance an opening appeared because of another patient who had given up the surgery.
The surgery took place on April 16th 2017 , the second day of Easter. The date has a personal importance because while I was in prep for the surgery I lost the grandmother who raised me and could not participate at the funeral.
After the surgery I had to deal with a lot of pain, but if I had too, I would do it all over again. It gave me a fighting chance for a healthy future.
Ten days after the surgery, the blood sugar level started to drop and I was feeling better and better. After 6 months the disease was gone. I was told that only discipline would keep me safe.
I understood that the situation wasn’t irreversible and that I had to fight for my health daily.
Sport had an important role in my recovery, both psychologically and physically.
My life wasn’t in danger anymore, but it felt like I was running for my life.
I was explained all the stages of weight loss and I knew that at some point some aesthetically surgeries would be mandatory due to the leftover skin. On 17th May 2018 I had my face surgery which was nine and a half hours long and almost a month after that, on 22nd June I had the panniculectomy for removing extra skin and tissue from my lower abs. After this surgery it is prohibited to practice any kind of sport for a period of at least six months. I couldn’t wait for the period to end, because my mind was set on training for my first marathon.
Not only that running helped me recover post surgeries but it also became an important health tool. Losing all the supplementary weight gave me back the joy of running. The idea of training and running a marathon was something that I wanted to pursue.
I ran my first half marathon in April 2019 in my home city. It was a test for me, because I had already registered for Madrid Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon. At the end of April I had run and completed my first 42K. I was feeling motivated and excited for the next two, Berlin and New York Marathon which I finished both. I registered at 4 hours and managed to finish under this time. What I achieved in a year span gave me the motivation to push forward.
My marathon philosophy has four steps: participate, participate and finish, finish and win, win and set a record.
In 2016, at 41, one year before surgery I decided to face of an old phobia, the fear of heights. What better way than sky-diving?! I realize now that it was a coping mechanism, a way to take back control of my life by letting go of some.
The experience made quite an impression on me. I’ve never felt so afraid in my life but neither that free. I secretly desired to become a skydiver.
The stunning view and the sensation of flying got stuck deep in my mind, therefore in October 2017, six months after my bariatric surgery, I started skydiving school. I had the UK privilege of being technically and theoretically trained by Steliana Popa, a Romanian skydiver and multiple times national champion at accuracy landing. After a short while I met Johnny, a EPA/USPA qualified instructor, the man who became my mentor.
Sooner or later, preparing to take a skydiver’s license, you will be asked what it is that you desire from skydiving? Maybe you want try wings, or formations, or angle flying, etc. I wanted for sure to challenge myself.
The “clear to solo jump” was something I will never forget
And soon followed License A, B and ultimately C.
With Johnny’s support I started experimenting with the wind tunnel. I had had a similar experience in Dubai but I hadn’t been convinced of the benefits. In Warsaw, with Johnny’s guidance I got to practice well and learned a lot by experimenting. Wind tunnel practice has become a regular thing.
I skydive in many drop-zones, in my hometown where I train regularly, in Dubai, in The United States. In February 2020 I participated to an exclusivist skydiving boogie in Maldive. Unfortunately, one of my jumps turned into a messy accident. I broke my spine and the recovery wasn’t easy at first, but 5 months later I was 80 per cent recovered and running 30 km per day. Skydiving always made me push my limits and in June 2020 I was free falling again and almost feeling the emotion of my first ever jump.
The whole diabetes and surgery situation changed me in a profound way. It made me realize how short and unexpected life can be. So if life is short, we’d better not waste it on superficial things. This is why I became a promoter of healthy life based on sport and healthy food choices. I want to be a model for my children and family and inspire friends, colleagues and as many people as I can reach.
Being born as a Gemini, I am governed by Castor and Pollux, the two mythical brothers. One from earth and one from the sky. Just like them I want to get closer to the stars. “Per aspera ad astra” – through hardship to the stars.
My life experience has proven to me that impossible is not a fact, it’s an opinion. I want something, I believe in it and I work to obtain it.