Tag: <span>COVID-19</span>

It’s only two weeks until Christmas, but this year it’s going to be very different. This year I’ll be 4 months post-surgery from my gastric bypass.

Every other Christmas in the past has involved me eating my own body weight in turkey, potatoes, christmas pudding, and chocolate! There would be a lots of rich and calorific food consumed, both at home and in restaurants and pubs at meals out and parties.

Christmas, like a lot of other celebrations, is inextricably linked to food, and often lots of it! Plates are usually piled high, and meals are often rich and decadent. And usually there’s a fair amount of drink flowing as well.

Christmas food

This year my Christmas dinner will be served on a side plate. There’s no point piling food up on a dinner plate, because there’s no way I’ll be able to eat that much, and it’ll be a waste of food. The portion sizes after my gastric bypass are considerably smaller than I’m used to, and I’m physically unable to eat large portions. Indeed, if I did attempt to overeat it would make me really uncomfortable or sick.

I’m also going to have to resist the urge to graze on food and treats during the day, because if I eat between meals then I’ll not be able to eat anything at the dinner. I’m also not going to be able to eat lots of fatty or sugary foods, as I know they’ll make me ill.

And so food this Christmas is going to be a different proposition for me.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m still going to enjoy my turkey dinner – but I need to get my head around the fact that I won’t be eating to excess. And I won’t have my face stuck in a tub of Quality Street for a week!

I guess I just need to get used to a Christmas that isn’t dominated by food.

Christmas drink

As for drink I’m undecided whether I’ll have any over Christmas.

The advice from bariatric surgeons seems to be that patients avoid all alcohol for the first 6 months after surgery. And for the last 4 months I’ve not touched a drop, and I haven’t really missed it.

I suppose the only reason why I’m considering it is to be social, and because (like food) drink is so heavily associated with Christmas celebrations. I don’t want to get drunk – I’m too old to be dealing with hangovers – but maybe one or two glasses might be ok?

But then again, I’m not meant to drink any fluids while I’m eating, so the glass of wine with dinner isn’t going to be a thing.

Argh! It’s no wonder I’m undecided.

COVID Christmas

In these COVID-19 pandemic times, Christmas this year is going to be very different for most people. We’re not meeting up with family and friends, we’re not having office Christmas parties, and (thankfully) there are no occasions when someone is trying to shove a plate of mince pies in my face.

Some people are also not going to have a happy Christmas at all, as they deal with grief from the loss of a loved one, or the hardship that comes from losing work, or with physical or mental health issues.

So although my Christmas will be very different this year, I still feel very lucky. I’m still in work, my friends and family are all well, and I was able to have surgery that will help me live a healthier, longer, and more fulfilled life. And so I feel very blessed!

Diet Surgery

The amount of time off work needed after bariatric surgery seems to vary quite a lot. Some people take only a week off work, and others take 3-4 weeks, and some as long as 6-7 weeks!

It probably depends a lot upon the type of work that a person does. Those with sedentary desk jobs – and particularly those that are currently working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic – may only need a short time. Whereas those that have physically demanding jobs may need significantly longer before they are strong enough to return to work.

The recovery time in terms of pain can be quite quick. I was off the pain medication within 4 days, and able to sit quite comfortably. So in theory I could have been back within a week.

However the post-surgery recovery is not just about the pain from the surgery. It’s about the body trying to adapt to its new much-smaller stomach. The post-operative diets are pretty restrictive, and lots of people struggle to get to grips with their new way of eating. As such many people suffer from:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Fatigue
  • Abnormal bowel habits
  • Flatulence

It can take time to get used to some of these things, and to feel physically strong enough to work again.

It’s also important not to forget about also the psychological and emotional side of what’s happened. Having surgery is a big event in people’s lives, and it can have a profound effect of their recovery. There may be all kinds of repressed feelings that will need to be worked through. And that’s just as important a part of the healing process as any physical symptoms.

Originally I planned to take 4 weeks off work after surgery, and my employer was being very good at supporting this time off. However I found that I was ready to go back to work after only 3 weeks. I could have even gone back sooner, but I think it was important to take the time to rest and recharge.

Sickness Surgery

All people being admitted for surgery are required to answer a questionnaire and have a swab taken for COVID-19 testing.

My hospital phoned me a couple of weeks ago to make an appointment, which for my hospital needs to be done 72 hours (3 days) before surgery. The appointment was then confirmed in a letter.

I turned up at my appointment time today, with my mask on of course, and was shown to a seat just inside the door to the hospital. After a few minutes I was called in.

One person ran through the questions on the questionnaire – things like if I have any symptoms, or contact with others with symptoms,or those that had been asked to self-isolate. Then a second person, dressed in full PPE, did the swab.

They used a sterile swab – a bit like a long cotton bud – and took a sample from the back of my throat and up my nose. They got me to sit with my head back and say “Ahhhh”, and they swabbed right at the back of the throat. I had a bit of reflex to gag on it, but I believe that’s normal. Similarly it went quite a long way up my nose, which also made me want to sneeze.

However it was over very quickly, and I would say that it was momentarily unpleasant, and certainly not painful.

They then told me that the results would be known in around 24 hours, and that if I heard nothing then to assume the test was negative, and that my surgery would go ahead on Thursday.

My Story Surgery

I weighed myself for the first time in a long time yesterday, and I was pretty shocked at what I saw.

During the COVID-19 lockdown, I’ve been working from home the whole time.

Like a lot of people my regular wardrobe has changed to more casual and stretchy clothes, so I didn’t really notice that I was putting on weight. My polo shirt and stretchy shorts were hiding a multitude of sins, including the fact that my waistline and belly were both slowly growing!

It makes me ashamed to admit this but in the last three months, since the COVID-19 restrictions were brought in, I’ve put on around 20kg (around 3 stones) in weight!

Needless to say, that is not good!

It’s down to combination of these factors:

  • I’m eating a lot more – Being at home all day, I have easier access to food. I’ve been grazing a lot during the day. And without the disapproving looks of my colleagues to moderate my eating activity, I’ve been snacking on treats throughout the day!
  • I’m active less – When I was commuting to the office, I was cycling a 7 km each way, which amounted to about 60 minutes moderate activity a day. I’m not doing that any more. I’m still walking the dogs, but overall my activity levels have dropped significantly.
  • I’m on medication – I don’t know how much of a contributing factor this is, but I recently started on some drugs that list weight gain as a side effect.

Of course the food thing is probably the most significant factor, and it’s the one that I need to address first. I need to stop eating all the snacks, starting now! After all, I can’t go on gaining weight until I get my surgery. That’s not a good idea on so many levels!

The weight I’ve gained in the last while is already affecting my quality of life right now, but more than that, it’s also making the upcoming bariatric surgery potentially more dangerous!

The heavier I am, the most risks there are with having a general anesthetic. And I’m sure it also would make the surgery itself more difficult.

I should remember all of that the next time I reach for a snack or treat.

Surgery Weight

During the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown all elective surgery was postponed in Ireland, in both the private and public hospitals. The private hospitals were also taken under public management, and all resources were directed to dealing with COVID patients.

Unless it was life-threatening, people who were due to have elective surgery were told to wait until the COVID crisis was over.

We’re now at the point where the number of COVID-19 infections and deaths is relatively low, and the rate of replication of the disease is low.

The restrictions are being eased, and there is a roadmap to reopen the country.

More specifically, the contract to take over management of the private hospitals is due to expire in a couple of weeks, and at that point the private hospitals should be able to resume their normal service.

This is good news for private patients who have had an anxious wait.

One of the hospital consultants told me recently that it might take a while for private hospitals to get back up to speed. And I suppose in the last few months the waiting lists of people needing surgery has probably grown – so I’m guessing they’ll have to prioritise those in the most need.

My bariatric surgery

I was originally supposed to have my bariatric surgery in late February – before COVID came to Ireland. If that had gone ahead as planned then I’d be living a different life by now.

Unfortunately, my surgeon went on leave a few weeks before I was due to go under the knife, and the surgery was postponed. And then COVID happened, and so everything was put on hold.

However, I recently heard that my surgeon is now expected back from their leave at the end of this month, which nicely coincides with the private hospitals being restored to self-management. So I’m hoping it won’t be long until they start working again on their elective surgery lists.

I have no idea where I sit in the priority list for surgery. My oncologist is very keen for me to get the surgery as soon as possible, and has written to my surgeon to prioritise my case, but I’m not sure what weight that will carry.

I’m sure everyone is trying to get their case escalated and pushed to the top of the queue.