“My ever increasing weight was never mentioned growing up, however at the age of 16 I joined the first of many slimming groups. The desire to lose the weight was so strong that I could lose huge amounts of weight (6-7 stones) at a given time however I lacked the ability to keep going and not put any weight back on. The psychological comfort I sought from food and in particular binge eating was too great and therefore when life started to through further challenges at me I managed them the same way I had always done. In putting everyone and everything before myself I subsequently got heavier and heavier.
I turned to my GP to request a referral to the weight management team at UHCW. Little did I know at the time that this would be the start of a journey that would give me life. For 2 years the majority of my appointments were with the Doctors and the dietician. I remember my first appointment vividly. I viewed coming to this clinic as my last chance and remember feeling optimistic that this team would have the answers to help me but also apprehensive since nothing had worked for me previously so why should this? As with my weight loss journey prior to attending this clinic I faced lots of successes and setbacks, again largely owing to the underlying psychological impact on my eating habits. With a lifetime of being advised to follow particular diets/plans, it felt surreal to not leave my first appointment with the Dietitian with such a plan. The focus was on making small achievable goals based on eating healthy meals and healthy portions. .
Over 18 months, with food as my usual psychological crutch, a further significant challenge came my way by my mum for whom I was the main career was diagnosed with advancing vascular dementia and so my weight continued to yoyo. However hope for me was not lost when at a routine appointment with the Dietitian I was informed that I was going to be put forward for Bariatric surgery, which I would later discover became my lifeline. With this re-energised hope I appeared to have a light bulb moment and joined slimming world which to date, turned out to be for the last time. In the 6 months leading up to surgery to meet the criteria and give myself the best chance with surgery in reducing the risks associated by my weight, even by a small amount, I successfully lost 4 stones. During this 6 months I became more focused than ever before and genuinely started to believe that I deserved the health/happiness I longed for. .
The surgery day, was the day that changed my life forever. I had obvious apprehension regarding the surgery and the risks associated with my size but for me, the excitement I felt overshadowed that. The keyhole operation itself performed by Mr Menon and the amazing theatre team, thankfully was uncomplicated. Immediately following the operation and for a few days later I had expected pain from the wounds and felt quite nauseous. However the team on the surgical HDU are very skilled in post bariatric surgery care and made sure I had appropriate levels of pain relief and anti-sickness medication. I stayed in hospital for 2 nights and received excellent care. The Dietitian and Nurse also visited with instructions for when I went home. .
The first couple of months following surgery remained psychologically challenging since your mind tells you that you want to eat everything everyone else is eating but physically you cannot. For years I would overeat without a care but now I was learning to respond to my body’s needs and learning what the feeling of fullness actually is. I would however warn anyone who is starting or in the process of their weight surgery journey to not take all they read or hear literally. Particularly from social media where people are often more happy to discuss the negatives than offer constructive support. .
Taking the decision to undergo a huge surgical procedure with all the preparation both physically and psychologically, let alone the huge lifelong lifestyle adjustment following surgery is by no means an easier option. Even now, every day is a challenge. .
I would not change a thing. 15 months on and I have lost 13 stones and I have dropped from a size 34 to a 14. I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes prior to my surgery and took medication for this and high blood pressure. Since my surgery my diabetes is in remission and I am off all of my medication. I refuse to use the lift and take the stairs, my husband now struggles to keep up with me. In the last 15 months I have completed a sponsored memory walk in aid of the Alzheimer’s society, have travelled to Hong Kong on my own to see my brother (the embarrassing seat belt extension no longer required) and next week my husband and I are going on our first holiday abroad together in 12 years. I now have a full, healthy life and a future which would not have been possible without the entire weight management team, regardless of job role.”