I feel very lucky that my employer gives me private health insurance. Without it I think my experience of being referred for bariatric surgery would be considerably different.
My oncologist had said to me that he wanted to refer to me to some colleagues to deal with my weight, but I didn’t think much more about it until I received an invite to a free information evening run by the bariatric team in my hospital.
I hadn’t ever thought of surgery as a way of dealing with my weight. I’d heard of people getting gastric bypasses, but I thought of it in the same league as cosmetic surgery – something that only people with lots of money could hope to afford.
The invite talked of a range of options including diet, exercise, medication and surgery. And when I agreed to go along, my intention was to perhaps to try some medication to help me lose weight.
I learned a lot that night that changed my mind.
First of all, it was a revelation to learn that the medical community is now treating obesity as a disease. And instead of being lectured to and made to feel embarrassed for being so overweight, they actually sympathised with everyone’s weight struggles. They said that medical thinking had changed a lot in recent years. It used to be that the emphasis was much higher on prevention (diet and exercise) rather than treatment (surgery). But that approach hadn’t worked. And now the emphasis has shifted greatly towards treatment, as it’s much more effective than preventative measures.
Second of all, I was surprised to learn that the cost of weight loss surgery is covered by private health insurance. The insurance industry are willing to pay for bariatric surgery in the short term to avoid having to treat the multitude of obesity-related illnesses in the longer term.
These two facts changed my mind about going for surgery.
After that I met with a series of medics on a one-to-one basis, including a dietitian, a phycologist and finally my surgeon. They wanted to discuss my weight struggles, my attempts to lose weight in the past, and my state of mind. They explained what surgery involved, both in a physical way and what emotional effect it would have on me.
So I feel like I’m going into the whole thing with my eyes open. It’s certainly not going to be an easy fix for my weight. Going under the surgeon’s knife is only the start of a long and difficult journey. But I know it’s one that I want – and need – to take.
At the moment, I’ve been assessed as suitable for a gastric bypass. My insurance company has confirmed that I’m covered for the procedure. And I’m just waiting for my surgery date.