I’m writing this post for anyone who is thinking of surgery, knows someone who wants or has had it and for everyone else that is curious and wants to raise their own awareness of such things. Good on you for reading this! I want as many people to have this life saving option available to them as possible so spread this to anyone you know who might want to hear it.
Why didn’t you just go on a diet? 5kg’s yes a ‘diet’ might be a good idea
10kgs yep that can be done – maybe a change of lifestyle type outlook would be perfect.
75kgs… now that might need a little more horse power
We are all different – this was for me, it might be for you or someone you know or there might be another way. Whatever we choose isn’t it just good to go ahead and DO something instead of talking, wanting & thinking about something while we get bigger, sicker & more tired? I just made that decision & went for it.
Is it exxy? Without private health insurance it is, with it though you’re looking at around $7000-$8000 not cheap & worth every single cent.
What can you actually eat? Leading up to the big day you are on a very restricted diet of optifast ‘shakes’ (flavoured water) and 1 serving of vegies. It’s only a few weeks and you will lose weight – optimal is around 10kg – and you will be hungry but not 40 hour famine hungry… more hangry. In my head I was saying ‘Suck it up baby it’s not that bad’, this is the time you need to reassess your idea’s about food being a treat, something to look forward to or your reason for living. It’s a good break – it’s like going cold turkey on a drug (which food totally is to so many of us right?!) or giving up something while your pregnant (if you did). Luckily food WILL be back in your life in a moderated form eventually. I wouldn’t exercise too much in this phase and I would plan to live a quieter life (read: no social life unless it involves a glass of water) with time to rest while your body does it’s thing and starts the weight loss process which will continue for the next year or so… weeeee! The main reason for this diet is to shrink your liver to help them get to where they need to get but may as well think of it as a booster to start the fat break up process. Apparently the better you do at this the better you’ll do after – this could just be what they tell you to get you to behave but hey set me a challenge & I’m in. I lost 9kg in the week before my surgery and I’ve had pretty good results since (75kg down in 9 months).
After the surgery it’s back to being a teeny tiny baby, you start on clear fluids, then thicker fluid, onto mush (you’ll never be so excited to eat mush in your life) – you spend about a week at each stage. After that you can start introducing other soft foods slowly and eventually you’ll be able to eat anything – but you might choose not to. Actually hot tip – mince meat with a tomato based sauce is the easiest to keep down so if you’re finding other proteins too difficult try different mince meats. Tomato’s help everything go down, they’re my magic little tricks.
Can you ever drink a champers again!? I was a little worried about this one, I like the odd glass of champagne – while I was in my losing phase I stayed away from the empty calories because I’d heard it halts weight loss in it’s tracks. Once I was nearly at my happy weight I had a glass every now & then at special events (& I do go to a lot of those so I was careful) but it didn’t seem to make a huge difference by that stage and now I’m back to ‘normal’. Champagne or anything carbonated has been pretty hard up until now (18 months post) but now I seem to be able to have one every now & then. Phew. Pass the French!
Worst thing? I’m not going to say the (very) early morning blood tests in hospital or even the swallow test after – be prepared for an interesting few days… were my idea of a fun time. Trying to stay hydrated post surgery is close to impossible and there were many times I would be SO DESPERATE for water but I had to wait. Absolute Torture. You can’t drink anything an hour before or after you eat (at first – I’m a little more lenient now) & you can only fit in SIPS at a time you can NEVER drink even half a glass of water at a time – still even now. So scheduling eating and drinking time consumed by waking hours. I think this is one reason I drink green tea all day now I’ve learnt to never get thirsty – I notice now that if I’m thirsty I eat now – just like they say you confused it with hunger.
Best thing? The safety net. If I get into that frame of mind – I could just eat that entire block of chocolate right now …. Tell me you know what I’m talking about!? I get a few pieces in and start to feel FOUL! Or I get one piece (or sometimes half a piece) into a pizza and I’m done (at least for a few minutes I feel full). Then I have a moment to have a chat to myself and realise that is all I ‘need’ – not 4 pieces of pizza or another row of chocolate and move on – comfort, calm or make myself happy another way. As far as I can tell other people are like that all of the time… I couldn’t even imagine this mind-frame before. I always wanted more food than was good for me and now I am reminded that food isn’t there to make me feel different when I’m feeling unhappy, bored or rejected, it’s there to stop me from feeling hungry!
What kind of surgery to pick… I looked at the research for all three – band, sleeve & bypass. The reading material my surgery gave me plus Dr Google were a start and then had a great discussion with my Surgeon & asked his advice based on my medical background & what I wanted out of the surgery. This area has come a long way since the original operations, they’ve learnt a lot about what works and why. The band is basically considered old school now and I’ve met so many people who it hasn’t worked for I personally wouldn’t even look at it now. The sleeve is considered the next level up & they remove permanently part of your stomach but recovery is faster and surgery more simple. I went with option 3, the bypass which is where they cut part of your stomach but reattach it further down. It’s more ‘risky’ but for my situation we decided to go with it. I’m no Dr this is just my experience but from research if you have reflux this is the one to choose & it seems to also have the best long term results for weight loss. Do your research, ask & go with some good advice.
Did you lose your hair!? Most people are petrified at this one – including me. The best tips I can give you are to keep your protein (your number one priority) high with every single meal & try supplements as early as possible. Also don’t push yourself too hard. It’s a combo of stress, too little protein, malnutrition & your body being in shock that has the biggest impact on hair loss. I took a liquid hair skin & nails sup until I could down bigger tablets again and now I’m obsessed with Hairdressers Formula avail from Priceline. A good multi vit will also help so that if you only fit your tuna in at lunch and not many vegies (not ideal but it happens sometimes) you’re still getting some vitamins and minerals. It’s working for me! All of my blood tests post BP (bypass) have seen an improvement in every area including blood pressure, cholesterol… everything.
How do you avoid excess skin? I always get asked about this one. I don’t have a lot of excess skin – I can’t tell you 100% why. Luck, good genes, I’m in my 30’s, I eat lots of protein, keep as hydrated as possible and I walked EVERY SINGLE DAY as the weight came off – these all probably helped. But I believe the one factor that I had that some might not is that I made sure my head was always aligned with what I was doing. There were days when I felt very disconnected from my body – ask anyone who knows me I look like a completely different person – to the point where people don’t recognise me. But talking nicely to myself, visualisation and talking about what I was going through were essential. Our minds control our bodies they need to be in the game all the time. I will be expanding on this subject in another post because it’s huge and crucial and I’m learning more & more every day – there’s books about it & I’m doing my research on it because it’s FASCINATING. When I’ve got it down pat I’ll share it I promise. In case you haven’t noticed I think mindset is the key to it all.
What do your kids think? They’re over the moon with their ‘skinny’ mummy. They also make a point of telling me they loved me EXACTLY the same before I looked like I do now. Unprompted. Because kids are awesome and their love really is unconditional. They can get their arms around me now and they totally get why I did it. They know all about it, watched my recovery and we talk about healthy eating choices and exercise all the time. They know fat is an unkind word to say, they love me exactly the same as they did when I ‘had a bigger tummy’. I’m open and honest with them about everything & this is no exception.
Would you do it all over again? HELL YES, next question.
My Doctor’s deets: I’m in Sydney & if you want a great Dr with all round care and support I think my Dr & my ‘Wellness Team’ that comes with him is awesome… Dr David Martin.
Questions? I’m sure you have more, comment below and that could be part of a future post! x