Interview with Victor Pérez Gea, Author of El DAI inesperado (From My Room Vol. 1, p. 135)

RELAT-Hos - Víctor Pérez Gea
RELAT-Hos - Víctor Pérez Gea
RELAT-Hos - Víctor Pérez Gea

"It's fulfilling to write, enabling others to witness that situations have taken a positive turn, that one has triumphed over a medical challenge."

-How did your first contact with the RELAT-Hos project come about? How did you come to know about it?

In 2017, I was admitted to Bellvitge Hospital to have an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) fitted. Since I was moving around quite a bit while there, I believe I mentioned to someone that I was working on writing a book - which I am still in the process of. Afterward, Antonia approached me and informed me that she was putting together a book where patients could express their feelings, with the aim of providing support to other patients through shared experiences. I thought, if possible, I'd like to contribute my writing, and that's what I did. In short, I became acquainted with RELAT-Hos because Antonia invited me to share my story.

-Was it clear to you from the beginning that you wanted to participate?

Actually, yes. Mainly because it's gratifying to write in a way that allows other people to see that things have turned out well, that you have overcome a medical issue. It's something that can help them avoid isolating themselves. In my case, when I was initially informed that I wouldn't be able to continue studying or working, I felt a bit disheartened. But later, during my time in the hospital, they provided me with a lot of encouragement. At that time, I was studying hotel management, and when they implanted the ICD, I was told that given the condition of my heart, there were limitations on what I could do. I continued that way for 6 months, until my heart stopped functioning, and I had to return to the hospital... Your story holds a unique structure, unfolding across three distinct phases: the initial admission for the ICD implantation, the subsequent six months of its usage until its efficacy waned, and finally culminating in the transplantation.

-Was this structure something that evolved naturally as you progressed?

I penned the first part of 'The Unexpected ICD' in a single session, while the subsequent two sections were written after the operation. I recall my hand trembling due to the prednisone, making me believe I might never write again. However, as the effects of the medication subsided, my hand steadied. This allowed me to compose the second and third segments of the story.

-How did you feel when you saw your story in the book?

It made me feel like a writer or a storyteller, and I was genuinely thrilled to see it published. When Antonia informed me that the book had been published, my initial thought was that I too would like to have my story published. Additionally, seeing one of my sentences on the back cover of the first volume of RELAT-Hos - 'If you have something to tell, it's much better on paper than in your head' - filled me with excitement. I had already moved to Castelló, when I attended the launch of the second book, where I had the chance to meet other storytellers, including a man with a crutch. We exchanged personal experiences; I shared with him that I had undergone a heart transplant. In return, I asked him, 'What about you?' He replied, 'Nothing, my leg became gangrenous, and they had to amputate it.' That was David Herrera. Another wonderful aspect of this book is that it brings people together; I've maintained contact with three or four individuals, and honestly, I believe I have more friends from the hospital than from outside.

-Do you engage in regular writing?

I've been writing for quite some time. The book I've been dedicated to and mentioned earlier has been a companion of mine for several years. However, there are periods when inspiration eludes you, or due to work-related stress, finding the time to sit down and write becomes a challenge. During my hospital stay, feeling bored, I resolved to revisit the book. This decision led to significant progress, but now I find myself once again at an impasse. Uncertainty looms – I'm unsure of the path forward, uncertain if the manuscript will find a publishing avenue, and uncertain if I should conclude the narrative. Nonetheless, after witnessing the publication of RELAT-Hos's book, my desire to see my own work published has grown stronger. The book I'm still in the process of crafting bears no resemblance to my journey as a patient; it's an amalgamation of science fiction and medieval themes.

-Do youbelieve writing holds therapeutic value?

When I revisit my stories, at times, I find it hard to recognise myself as the author. Objectively, expressing one's emotions through writing has a therapeutic quality. It enables you to release both the positive and negative sentiments harboured within, and the act of putting thoughts on paper yields a profound sense of relief. While some individuals might choose to keep their feelings to themselves, I firmly believe in the benefits of writing, sharing, or seeking support from those close to you. Prior to my operation, I was uncertain about the future. I had signed the operation consent forms a month prior, without notifying my father or my mother – each of whom lived in a different location – as I was residing in Hospitalet with my partner. To be honest, the operation caught me somewhat off-guard. I had imagined a life tethered to the ICD and receiving a pension. However, it turned out that my mother had been informed that I would require a transplant. The doctor outlined three possibilities for me, the last being the heart transplant. I remember standing when I heard this, and my legs gave way beneath me. But these are challenges one must confront and persevere through. On the 22nd of June, it will mark five years since the transplant. I'm now working in the hospitality industry, leading a relatively stress-free life. Whenever stress creeps in, I pause, take a moment in the restroom, and regain composure. It's a trade-off worth making – not only for my heart, but also for the second chance I've been granted.

-Finally, can you recommend any books?

I have them all up here. Although I liked it a lot, one of the books I found most difficult to read was Eragon, by Christopher Paolini. It took me three years to get past the first page, which starts iron, iron, iron... and I couldn't get beyond that. Then I finished the trilogy. And now I'm reading another one that has nothing to do with it: The Sleep in a Sea of Stars, also by Paolini. Image by Nenad Maric on Pixabay