I’m going to be having Bariatric Surgery
Since I was 18 I have struggled with my weight. I first became overweight or what Doctors like to term obese after marrying an abusive man. I was in a terrible relationship where I was controlled and made to feel rubbish and bad about myself constantly. The more I was verbally and at times physically abused, the more unhappy I became and the more I ate. Eventually after 2 years of violence I gained the courage to leave and found myself single and overweight. I joined weight watches and exercised hard to get down to a reasonable size. I managed to get down to a 16 which was great. I felt confident and although I still had curves, I was no longer massive.
Preparing to Have Bariatric Surgery
I then went on to marry my daughter’s biological father and once again found myself in an abusive marriage. There was a lot of abuse around food. I was not allowed to eat, then I was given comfort food as an apology. I was forced to exercise at times and constantly told I was fat and ugly. I was a size 18 and my husband would call me an “Animal”. He refused to look at me or be in the same room as I apparently disgusted him. Later on he admitted to an affair and his reason for doing so was, “if you were not ugly and fat, then I wouldn’t have to cheat”. I was heart broken and my self esteem was at an all time low.
I struggled to get rid of any extra weight from my pregnancy and I was a size 20 when I separated and took out a protection order against my husband. I again joined weight watchers and yo yo’d losing weight and then gaining again for the next 3 years. Finally in 2012, I began to lose weight for good. I swam 4 times a week, walked when my child was in school and ate healthy. All was going great. I was back to the size 16 which made me happy. I met John my now wonderful husband and we married in 2013.
The week after my Wedding, I collapsed and was diagnosed with Adrenal Insufficiency. I was put on steroids and within five months I was the heaviest I had ever been in my life. I had gained six stone and was a size 24. I could not believe it. I felt disgusting and fat. I still do. Being stuck in bed for the next two years did not help. I was hungry and unable to exercise. My weight continued to climb.
I talked to my husband about weight loss. I joined weight watchers for the 6th time but I was too physically ill to attend and failed miserably. In 2014 my Endocrinologist suggested I consider bariatric surgery. It could help reduce my daily steroid dosage requirements and benefit me in other ways. I read and studied and researched and decided this might be the only way to lose my excess weight.
A letter was sent to my GP and we spoke about my weight issues. I was referred to Royal Salford in Manchester to see a Endocrinologist who specialised in helping patients on steroids lose weight. At this point I had become pre-diabetic and my health was not getting any better. I was told if I wanted medical support to lose weight, such as bariatric surgery, I would have to go on a diet for one year.
People are not given bariatric surgery lightly in the UK. Its an expensive and life changing operation and if your health is poor and doctors believe surgery is the best option for you, then you have to do your part to earn the treatment.
I was told to lose 10% of my body weight and diet for one year and then I would be able to see the Bariatric team again. This is the norm and anyone wanting treatment has to go through a one year program to make sure surgery is something they really want.
Even though I am dependent on steroids to get through each day, I would have to find a way to lose weight.
I was able to see a Dietician every 3 months to advise me and had to attend a support group each month to learn all about life with weight loss surgery. It was a huge decision but I decided to do my best to lose the weight and attended the meetings once a month on a Wednesday night.
I was put on a weight loss plan and for one year I ate healthy and was only allowed 1,200 calories a day. The Diet was really hard. I lost weight slowly often 1/2 a pound a week. Then each time I went into hospital and got pumped with steroids, I’d regain some weight, but the scales were going down slowly but surely and I really tried hard.
After my year of hard work, in October 2015, I had my final weigh in. I had lost 30 pounds but had gotten to the point where no matter what I did I could no longer lose. I had been stuck in a rut for months and was at the point where I usually start to regain weight. I was still eating healthy and some people assumed I’d come off my diet but I had not, It simply wasn’t working anymore.
After my final weigh in, in October 2015, I was discharged from the Dietician team and referred back to the Bariatric team. I then received a letter a few weeks later stating I met the criteria for bariatric surgery.
I was asked to go to Liverpool Hospital on the 19th of December. I had to try for another 3 months to not regain weight. Unfortunately I had another Adrenal crisis and more steroids and my weight went up by two pounds. I had to work hard and try to lose it but I couldn’t.
On the 19th of December I attended my Pre-Op. This was a full day of assessments and tests. I had to see a dietician, surgeon, anaesthetist and psychologist. I’ll be writing blog posts about these appointments in the coming weeks. I had swabs, blood tests, an ECG and other tests completed. At the end of the day I met someone who regularly works with bariatric patients with Adrenal Insufficiency. We discussed the extra medication I would need for an operation and changing my medications from tablets to liquid and or steroid injections after my surgery.
I was given my date and information on what I need to do in the lead up to my operation. I was given a Liver Shrinking Diet guide and all the information to help me prepare. My day started at 9am and ended at 8pm. I was burnt out and exhausted and I had a few days to rest and let everything sink in.
Finally after all this time, I am going to have surgery. It’s not an easy option. It’s going to be hard, painful and life changing. the operation is not without risks. One in two hundred people who have the operation die on the operating table. It’s a risk I’m willing to take because if I don’t have surgery I’m likely to regain my weight plus more and become diabetic. The heavier I get, the higher my steroid dose and the more steroids I take the more serious side affects I suffer.
I’ve been seriously thinking about a Gastric Bypass for two years now and I’m not interested in whether people think I should or should not have bariatric surgery. The reality is if I don’t have surgery, I’ll probably die a lot younger than I need to. This procedure is what medical staff believe is best for me long term and I agree.
Bariatric Surgery is not a quick fix. It’s a tool to help you make healthier choices and helps you to eat much less and much more slowly due to uncomfortable consequences if you don’t.
I had the choice between a Sleeve or a Gastric Bypass. (The NHS are not doing bands anymore as there are so many complications and things going wrong). Although the sleeve helps people, it has the ability to stretch and you can eat any food, in small amounts. I decided to go with the Gastric Bypass. The Bypass does exactly that, it bypasses the large stomach and so, I will not only have to eat small amounts and chew for 20 seconds each mouthful. I will also not be able to eat food with more than 3g of fat or 5g of sugar per 100g. This is going to be a life changer. I wont be able to drink hot chocolate or sparkling grape juice on special occasions. There will be no cheating. No more chocolate in moderation, no naughty food, or drinking liquids at the same time as eating. my whole world and relationship with food is about to change.
People have looked at me and judged me. I’ve had plenty of emails and messages from well intentioned “slimmer friends” assuming I eat like a pig and that I’m huge because I indulge in fatty foods all the time. It’s not true. I come from a family of people who struggle with weight issues. I do believe there is a genetic factor involved as well as the fact I comfort ate during abusive relationships and gained weight once i started steroids.
I have friends who eat takeaways and chocolate way more than I ever have and they stay slim. I’ve also had people interfere in my life and tell me what I should do because it works for them….but…every body is different and what works for some does not always work for others.
I am at the point where my body wont lose any more unless I put myself into starvation mode or Ketosis but that would cause stress and potentially affect my Adrenal Insufficiency in a negative way. I tried it. I started the Exante Diet but after two days I got very ill and (I did not like the food…it was gross). So I’m left with two options, do nothing and risk gaining more health problems or do something now in my early thirties. This could help me increase my energy levels.
I want to have a healthy BMI but I’m too unwell to swim or walk. I want to make sure I don’t get diabetes and other obesity related diseases. most importantly if I cut my weight down, then the amount of steroids I need on a daily basis to stay alive will reduce and that means when I get the Adrenal Pump, the cost of liquid steroid will be much less than if I remained as I am.
Having this operation could cut the amount I need to fundraise down by one or two thousand pounds. It will be so worth it to have a better quality of life.
I’m not going to lie, having a Gastric Bypass is scary business. I have started my Liver Shrinking Diet and it’s not easy. I’ve done a lot of meditating and thinking. I made the most of Christmas and went to Frankie and Benny’s for my last Steak meal. We went to McDonalds and I ate all my favourite chocolate for the last time before the New Year.
I could choose to keep my experience having a Gastric Bypass to myself but I know there are lots of people out there in the world who are interested in this life changing procedure. I think that sharing my experience as it happens will and can help others to make informed choices and it can help me to have support from those who choose to follow my weight loss journey and support me.
I wont be a skinny size 8 after the operation. It takes two years of hard work and then healthy choices for life and I have been told to not expect to lose more than 75% of my excess weight. This means after two years, I could be down to 14 stone and I should not expect to get any lighter than that. I might even be well enough to one day have a second child. That would be amazing. If not it’s okay but it’s a possibility.
I think I’d be very happy at 14 stone. I’m hoping the weight loss may help me with my body pains and fatigue levels too. There are going to be so many benefits. It is not an easy choice and theirs also some really not so nice experiences I will have to go through but I believe it will be worth it and I’m not about to listen to people try and tell me otherwise.
I’ll be taking a week or two off from blogging after my operation, probably until February although I’ve prewritten a few posts, in advance and I still hope to pop onto social media. I’ll need some time to recover for me. Then I plan to jump back into blogging and also Vlogging and I will be making youtube videos about my experiences each week and writing a weekly blog post.
Wish me luck, an excited and nervous
To Read more on My Weight loss Journey here are a few earlier posts