I can hear the gasps of surprise. I am still here! Things have happened, lots of attempts, lots of fails lots of giving up. But then while sitting at my diabetologist’s desk I made a promise that I didn’t think I would ever make. I promised to have a talk in an Adipositas Center of a Clinic about Weight Loss Surgery because neither I nor my doctor believed that I can do it alone and I need help.
So I decided to get back on this blog and will be using it to write about the whole thing, every step of the way from now until whenever. Back to the story.
I never even thought of going the WLS route, not because it’s bad, but because I am so afraid of surgery that I get panic attacks only by thinking of it. Not the surgery itself, but the general anaesthesia, or more precisely not waking up from it. I have had a near phobia of death ever since I was a child without even knowing where it came from since the first death I remember was when I was a teenager, many years later. When I was 20 my doctor told me that if my weight doesn’t change I won’t become 40. Well, my weight changed, in the wrong direction. Because I am an emotional eater.
Either way, yesterday I had my consultation at the clinic and it was a day full of surprises. First of all the people, patients and doctors alike were all super nice. Not a single judgy look to be seen, no whispers behind one’s back. The chairs didn’t look like they’d collapse when I just look at them. I could have jumped on them and they would have been fine. As someone who isn’t overweight, it might not be special but if you had chairs collapse under you or cut off your circulation, or did not even fit you because the seat was too small, this is heaven.
After my initial talk with the front-man, who was a humorous, happy young man who enjoyed talking a lot and made me feel welcome from the first second, I had to fill out a bunch of papers while I waited for my first of several talks. I had just finished when I was called in, which surprised me since I had been told to bring a lot of time. Not that I minded. The first talk was actually just measuring and weighing me, ugh.
To my utter surprise, I must have either shrunk 4 cm or I never was as tall as I thought. Still 1.86m so tall enough anyway. Maybe if I keep shrinking I will one day look UP to my boyfriend lol I also have gained weight, more than I thought I gained. So full disclosure, starting weight is 214.2 kg (472.23 lbs). That makes a BMI of 60.1. My waist diameter is 179cm (so almost as much as I am tall), forgot how much my hips are, but a lot.
So after that initial shock and surprise, I waited once more, not more than 10 minutes on a heavenly comfy chair before I met with the Surgeon. She was a very friendly and patient woman, explaining everything in detail and answering my questions. So a few things here. She would want me to get a gastric bypass (Either Roux-en-Y Gastric-Bypass or an Omega Loop Gastric Bypass ) because of my diabetes. It would eliminate the need for Diabetes meds from the moment of the surgery. There is a chance that some parts needed for the rearrangement to be not too fatty, are too fatty and won’t hold securely enough. In that case, the doctors would make the decision to do the Sleeve instead during Surgery.
One of my burning questions, of course, was the risk of the surgery. The clinic I went to has performed over 400 surgeries by now, some patient with a weight higher than mine, and they haven’t lost a single one. Some had some problems later on and had to go back under the knife, but went out of that well as well. While it did not just snap away my fears, it quieted them down a lot for now.
In the end, my weight and its negative effects are a higher mortality risk than the surgery. Now isn’t that a scary thought?
Other questions also were answered, like yes I can still have kids without problems. The hospital stay after the surgery would, in general, be 3 nights. Leaving the stomach in there won’t cause any problems, on the contrary, it still has a function so it’s needed. Yes, I’d have to take vitamin supplements and be under constant control with blood tests and such. And my life would change radically.
Usually, before this kind of surgery, patients have to visit a nutrition course for half a year and proof that they tried to lose weight with help of a doctor. Here is where my BMI comes in because patients with a BMI above 60 don’t have to do that beforehand. That means two things. If I decide to do it, it could be much sooner than I expected. And I still need to do the nutrition course – or rather it was suggested and I want to do it – because it shows not only healthy eating but also helps to adjust to the life with food after surgery which will be a huge change.
There were more questions answered but I don’t remember them right now. If you are curious about anything to feel free to ask in the comments and I’ll see if that was one of the things I asked too 😉
The next talk was with the nutrition Lady. She went with me through my food diary for the last week, gave me points where I need adjustments, gave me tips for alternatives, went through the food pyramid with me and gave me a couple of things that I can already ‘train’ myself to do. Changing habits and all that. All things that would be important to me after surgery as well. And they are all things I don’t do now, so it’ll be hard, but helpful. Lemme see what it was.
- Eat slowly, take your time and don’t do anything next to eating. Focus on it and enjoy it.
- Take small bites, really small birdy bites.
- Chew each bite 15-20 times. (How in the heck am I supposed to chew birdy bites that often?)
- Make sure your food is like a mash before swallowing. Later after surgery especially in the beginning, it can cause trouble otherwise.
- Eat fewer carbs and sugar, add more protein. (Did you know there is an eggwhite bread? I had NO idea. Got some today, will see how it tastes.)
- Veggies are your best friend. Starving? Eat veggies as much as you want. But remember to chew a lot.
- Drink water, but stop 30 minutes before your meal and after your meal is done, don’t drink for another 30 minutes. Otherwise, your food will just drop and wash out through your stomach and didn’t get all the great digestive stuff it needs. (I know it is more complicated but that’s the gist in short.)
I have tried it for the first time today. My bites were still too big, I did chew until I violated the not doing anything rule and read my emails and gone was the food without chewing, oops. I didn’t have any veggies and I drank in the middle of dinner. But it was the first day of breaking a 38-year-old habit. I’ll just have to break through that and be more mindful.
So after the conversation, there was done I had a brief talk with the psychologist. She wanted to know about family history, illnesses, mental health of course, what my biggest wish is to achieve with this surgery and most importantly if I have a support network. As this is a life-changing surgery, a support network is so very very important. To go through it alone would be so hard. So I hope everyone doing it does have one. I am lucky because I know I do.
My last visit was back at the front desk, where I got a nice folder with all kinds of information and a list of what the Adipositas Center needs from me for my application. Once I got all that together I can hand it in and they will fill out everything for the insurance, to make them pay for the surgery. I am relieved that I don’t have to fill that out myself because these forms always frustrate me.
The Center calls me as soon as the next nutrition course begins so I can start that right away. Most likely January. It’ll be once a month and goes for 6 months. A group of 5-6 people who all are in the process of getting that surgery. Yay for no fat judgy people, we’re all in the same boat.
The biggest piece of information I got from the lovely man at the front desk. He suggested to start the process right now and get the stuff together as soon as possible. As soon as the insurance agrees to pay, that agreement lasts a full year. What that means is, since he knew that I’m afraid (I wear my emotions on my sleeve), he told me I can change my mind at any time up until the day of surgery. So basically, if I am too scared the day before I can cancel and thanks to the 1 year ‘warranty’ I can try again later. It is good to have that piece of safety, the knowledge that I can change my mind if I really feel I can’t do it.
So right now, it’s holiday time, doctor offices are closed so I can’t do anything. But I have decided to start the process. I’ll talk with my doctor, do the courses, collect the paperwork and hand it in. And then if all goes well and I don’t get cold feet, I’ll go through with it. And if not, I know it is okay. That helps my stomach to not want to hurl constantly right now. That’s good, that’s always good.
So, here it is, step one into a future, in which I have a chance for a normal life (with a lot of work (after all surgery is a tool, not a magic spell to do everything for me) and change but better than now no matter what).
Wouldn’t that be something?