Big Loss Posts

A few weeks ago I had my 2-year follow-up consultation with the Bariatric team at St Vincents. I mentioned that I was concerned that I was regaining weight after losing 40kg after my gastric bypass.

They suggested that I might like to try a drug treatment to see if that helped me out, which was Ozempic (also known as Semaglutide or Wegovy). It’s a medication often used for the management of Type 2 Diabetes – but is also used for long-term weight management.

The drug is NOT cheap. It costs €150 per month, and (for weight loss usage) it’s not covered under the Drug Payment Scheme here in Ireland. However I am in a financial position to be able to afford it, so I decided to give it a go.

So far I’ve been on it for 6 weeks, and my appetite has definitely decreased – and as such I’ve started (very slowly) to lose weight again.

When starting on the drug, it’s common to start at a low dose and gradually increase it over time, as some people don’t tolerate it very well. The dosage is:

  • Month 1 – 0.25mg / week
  • Month 2 – 0.5mg / week
  • Month 3 onwards – 1mg / week

I’m currently on the 0.5mg dosage, and I’m tolerating it fairly well. The only obvious side-effect is a feeling of nausea every now and again – but this has the knock-on effect of reducing my appetite, so maybe it’s a good thing ?!?

Drugs Surgery

It’s close to 2 years since my Gastric Bypass surgery, and my initial weight loss after surgery was over 40kg (about six and a half stones). However, over the last year I’ve put nearly 9kg (nearly one and a half stones) of that back on!

My current progress

Looking at it one way, it’s good news – because I’ve only put on 9kg in a year, which is significantly less than I would have gained without the surgery. Without the surgery to limit what I can eat, I could have easily gained the full 40kg (and probably more) back within the year.

However, I’m not happy that I’m gaining weight again. I don’t mind a gain of one or two kilos, but 9kg is a lot. It has an impact upon my health, and my ability to live life to the full. It also means that I now have to buy bigger clothes again – having gone from 2XL to 3XL shirts.

The good news is that I’m still under the care of the bariatric team at St Vincent’s Private Hospital, and I’m due to have my 2-year follow-up visit in a few weeks. At this point of the journey the bariatric team would be looking to discharge me from their care, but I think I will have one last ask from them before I depart.

I want to see whether there’s any drugs out there that can help me lose a bit more weight – to at least take off the 9kg that I’ve regained. I know that there’s one or two options out there, and I also know that they’re hard to find and also quite expensive, but I want to give them a go.

I guess I’ll see what the doctors say.

Surgery Weight

The Irish Times ran an article this week entitled Flawed weight-loss operations abroad creating ‘huge problem’

The article states that there is currently a waiting list of over 400 people in Ireland needing bariatric surgery, and that some of those people are accessing faster treatment by paying for surgery abroad, in places like Turkey and eastern Europe.

However it seems that some patients are experiencing complications when they get back to Ireland, and according to my surgeon Prof Helen Heneghan, who works at St Vincent’s Hospital Dublin, they are presenting to Irish hospitals and need urgent surgery to correct problems.

She estimates eight to 10 patients a week are presenting at Irish hospitals with complications of bariatric surgery carried out abroad, with numbers doubling over the past 18 months.

Many suffer leaks where their stomach doesn’t seal, or stitches haven’t healed, after the operation. Bowel blockages and clots have also required treatment.

The answer, of course, is to increase the funding and capacity for bariatric treatment in the public hospitals here in Ireland, where the current average waiting time for surgery is 6 years!

If people could be treated for their obesity more quickly, they wouldn’t have to resort to paying thousands or euros to use a private clinic abroad.

News Surgery

It’s exactly one year ago today that I went into St Vincent’s Private Hospital in Dublin to get my Gastric Bypass surgery.

It’s been a strange year, what with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s also been a great year in terms of prioritising my health.

My weight loss surgery was never about being slim, because I’m not. I’m still obese. But having lost over 40 kg of weight, I’m a lot more healthy than I was before. And I’ve significantly reduced the risk of life-altering (or indeed life-ending) diseases. And that’s much more important to me!

My obesity disease is under control. I’ve lost weight, and I’ve not immediately put it all back on again, which would happen every time I stopped dieting. The surgery has been an invaluable tool to help me stop overeating, which is great. Even though I have pretty-much reverted to the same diet I had before the surgery, I’m not gaining weight!

And even if I don’t lose any more weight, I’ll still be delighted with the outcome.

I would totally recommend it to anyone that struggles with their weight. In the past I totally fitted the stereotype of a yo-yo dieter. I was use a calorie-counting app, or go to a slimming club, and I would lose 30kg / 5 stones / 70 lbs over the course of 6 months – but then sometime would happen, I would stop using the app or going to the club, old habits would return, and all of the weight I lost (and often more) would return.

However getting the bariatric surgery has helped break that recurring cycle of loss and gain. This time, it’s going to help me keep the weight off!

My Story Surgery

Going into hospital for any procedure during the COVID-19 pandemic is pretty strange.

There’s all the additional safety protocols to worry about, like having to wear a face mask, and not being allowed any visitors. And for some, there’s the concern that they might even catch COVID in hospital!

However, there’s definitely some advantages of going through weight loss during a lock down:

  1. Not working in the office – I’m lucky because I’ve been able to carry on working during COVID, and in the weeks immediately after surgery I felt able to return to work more quickly than perhaps during ‘normal’ times. I didn’t need to worry about how I’d do my commute by bicycle when my surgical wounds are still healing. And because working from home often comes with more flexible working hours, I could perhaps take a long lunch break to have a lie down if I wasn’t feeling well.
  2. Not eating in the office – As I’m no longer having lunch with my colleagues each day, I don’t need to worry about questions related to my restricted post-surgery diet. I was able to recover and get used to my new way of eating in private. And because I’m cooking for myself, and not trying to pick the most suitable thing from a menu, I can have exactly what I want.
  3. Fewer social occasions – When eating out in restaurants and cafes – as well as at friends’ homes – it can be difficult finding something suitable to eat – either because the food it too rich, or the portions are too large! I don’t need to field well-intentioned questions from friends or waiting staff about why I didn’t finish my meal. And I don’t need to explain to anyone why I’m not drinking.

Did you, like me, have your surgery during the COVID-19 pandemic? Are you planning your surgery in the next few months? I’d love to hear your perspective on bariatric surgery during the global pandemic!

My Story Surgery

It’s almost a whole year since my Gastric Bypass surgery, and so this week I met with the Bariatric physician for a check-up.

We talked about my progress in losing weight over the last year (around 41 kg or 6 and a half stones), but mainly the conversation was about the physical, medical, mental, emotional, and psychological benefits that the weight loss has brought.

The consultant was keen to re-state that bariatric surgery is not a tool to make someone thin – it’s a tool to help make someone more healthy.

Losing all this weight has dramatically decreased my chances of getting diabetes, heart disease, fatty liver disease, and cancer. It has also helped address my hormone imbalance, and is meant to help improve men’s sexual health.

But in addition to all the great health benefits, there’s all the quality-of-life benefits. I can now exercise pain-free, and simple thinks like getting dressed on a morning are easier. It’s easier to get up off the sofa, and to walk up a flight of stairs. It’s little things like these examples that make life better when you’re a healthier weight.

Of course, one year on, I’m still an obese man. My BMI is around 35, and I still wear 2XL shirts, but I’m considerably more healthy than I used to be.

The consultant said that a good outcome of the surgery would be to have lost around 40% of excess body weight after one year. That’s lower than the 70% that I had read about on other sites. And my excess body weight loss at this point is 48%, which I’m pretty happy about. I’ve not managed to get to my goal weight – I would need to lose another 20 kg for that – but that’s fine.

He did say that I need to watch out for a couple of things in the coming year:

  1. Potential to become alcohol dependent – which I don’t think will be much of a problem for me, as I’ve all but given up drinking. I’m not completely teetotal, but I only have maybe one glass of wine about once a month.
  2. Potential to gain weight – he said to watch out for any weight gains over about 3 kg (half a stone), and to get in contact with my Bariatric team if was gaining, as they would be able to help with other forms of treatment (I’m assuming that means diet plans or drug treatments).

And unless I have any problems, then I don’t need to see the consultant again for another year.

My Story Surgery