I was six years old when we moved to Southern California and in extremely poor health. Two doctors diagnosed me with leukemia and one told my parents that I'd never live to be twelve.
I won't go into the excruciating details of all that happened - it would take too long. Eventually another doctor pronounced that I might have very severe anemia. He took a homeopathic approach, with strict diets and numerous medications.
Despite having many health issues I never missed school and lived a reasonably normal existence.
I was never coddled or catered to.
As a child I was always an extremely picky eater - and it didn't help that my father's violence inevitably erupted at the dinner table.
Mom and I often had to grab a plate of food and go into another room to escape him. Or, more likely, run outside and not eat at all.
As I entered my teens and started to grow physically (eventually over six feet) I was still in poor health and pathetically skinny. By the time I was 14 or 15 I looked like an Auschwitz survivor. There are photos of myself taken then that I would never dare let anyone see.
In desperation, I soon became obsessed with trying to gain weight. My appetite was a little better than when I was a child, but not much.
No matter what I ate, I couldn't gain weight.
Somehow (I don't recall exactly how) I heard of a product guaranteed to help people gain weight - called Wate-On. It came in tablets and also a liquid form. To me - from all I discerned - it seemed to be a magic elixir of instant physical metamorphosis.
When I finally persuaded my parents to buy it, I was ecstatic. In my eagerly delusional mind I figured in a week or two I'd look like Ron Ely or Johnny Weissmuller.
Wate-On liquid came in several flavors, but for some reason it was only available in banana - which tasted rotten. You had to mix it in a large glass of milk. In retrospect, I think the only thing that provided any calories was the milk. The Wate-On didn't seem to serve any discernible purpose whatsoever.
Despite faithfully consuming the odious stuff for several weeks, I absolutely didn't gain any weight at all.
An Aside: I was recently shocked to discover that Wate-On is still being sold. I can only imagine how many disappointed skinny people consumed it.
When I was eighteen or so I still only weighed about 125 pounds, but was intent on making a major physical transformation...and eventually did.
I was never in the least athletically inclined - but I forced myself to do physical exercise, lift weights, walk, jog, swim, surf, and eat like a pig. I remember making nearly-lethal concoctions in a blender which contained cream, raw eggs, wheat germ, bananas, and anything else I could think of.
I got contact lenses, and soaked up California sunshine until my skin was like brown velvet and my hair golden straw.
I was never a gorgeous hunk, but I created a potent illusion - and was completely astonished at how many people of both sexes were attracted to me. And I eventually took full advantage of the opportunities (that's another story for another time).
As for my weight: over the years I eventually went from 125 pounds to 185. It wasn't an easy journey.
I initially wore large, bulky clothes in an attempt to look heavier - but it only made me look ridiculous.
During my Hindu/guru transcendental meditation phase, I exclusively wore clothes from India, including handmade sandals.
That phase didn't last very long.
A guru advised me to give up my worldly possessions and abstain from sex.
I abstained for about three hours.
Strangely enough, despite weight gain and physical transformation, I've always felt much too skinny. To this day I often wear long sleeves because I think my arms are too thin. Go figure.