Tag: <span>Surgery</span>

I’m having my weight loss surgery tomorrow, and I’m both nervous and excited about it!

In fact, I’m finding it hard to concentrate on anything else. My mind keeps spinning with thoughts about what it might be like after the surgery. I’ve read all about it, but it still feels like a bit of a leap into the unknown. So to help settle my mind, I’m trying to focus on the practicalities of what I need to do.

I’ve managed to stick to my pre-surgery diet by tracking everything I’ve eaten religiously in the MyFitnessPal app. Looking back I see that most days have been within the 800 calorie limit, and only a few days have gone as high as 1,000 calories, but I hope that doesn’t matter.

My COVID-19 test came back negative, so that’s good news. If I had been found to be positive then my surgery would have been delayed, possibly by a number of months. The hospital themselves didn’t notify me of the result, but I got a text message on my phone from the HSE the day after the test with the result.

We’ve bought in some supplies for my post-surgery diet, which should see me over the first few days when I get home – although I haven’t fully wrapped my head around that diet just yet.

So for now, all I need to worry about is packing my bag for the hospital, collecting my prescription of supplements and medication, having my last meal this evening, trying to get a good night’s sleep, and then getting myself to the hospital tomorrow.

I’m being admitted at 10.30am, so I’m guessing my surgery will be some time in the afternoon.

At the hospital I will need to go to Admissions and get registered, and then fill in all the health insurance documentation. I’ll also need to pay the excess on my policy, which I think is €75.00. I’ll then go to the Surgery Admissions Lounge where a nurse will carry out an admissions assessment, which will probably include blood tests, and I’ll get changed into a surgical gown and put on my dressing gown and slippers. I’ll then wait in the lounge until they bring me for surgery. I’ll only be admitted to the ward once the surgery is complete.

Surgery

I’ve been told that my hospital stay after surgery will be 2-3 days, so I’m trying to plan for all the things I’ll need to pack and bring into the hospital.

I’m having my surgery during the COVID-19 pandemic, and so there are some unique considerations. Nobody is allowed to visit me in hospital, and as such I need to think about things like having adequate means to communicating with the outside world, and also keeping myself entertained while I’m on my own. And with no visitors, I won’t be able to get someone to bring in extra items.

1. Night wear

Loose lightweight clothing for sleeping in, like pyjamas or lounge wear, that are easy and comfortable to get in and out of.

2. Dressing gown and slippers

Required before surgery when moving around the hospital, to keep warm and help protect modesty – and also after surgery, as the surgeon will encourage getting out of bed and moving about as much as possible.

3. Toiletries

Basic grooming kit, perhaps with travel-sized products which are great, and maybe also some wet wipes to clean and refresh when not able to take a shower.

4. Current medication

Existing prescription medication needs to be handed over to the nursing staff, so that they can dispense along with any other meds that you need.

5. Ear plugs and eye mask

Hospitals can be noisy environments, with people moving about at night and machines bleeping, so these are invaluable for getting some sleep.

6. Mobile phone and charger

A mobile is vital to keep in contact with family and friends, and to get a regular fix of news and entertainment.

7. Tablet and headphones for entertainment

A larger screen for entertainment purposes – or indeed distraction from the pain – loaded with streaming apps like Spotify, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video – and hopefully the hospital has good wifi!

8. Clothes to wear to travel home

Might be able to wear the same clothes that were worn for arrival, if they are loose and easy to put on – but definitely need new underwear.


If you can think of some other important things to bring, let me know in the comments!

Surgery

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.

Surgery

I’ve tried going to Slimming World and Weight Watchers numerous times. I’ve tried counting calories using apps and websites. I’ve tried following dietitians advice. And when I do follow these plan, it works and I do lose weight.

The problem is when I stop.

I’m a typical yo-yo dieter. I follow a healthy eating plan and lose weight, and then something happens – usually a bit emotional upheaval – and then I stop the eating healthily, and over time I regain all the weight I lost and often some more!

I know it’s wrong, and I am ashamed of my actions, but I can’t help myself. I reach for food as an emotional crutch and as a reward. My portion sizes for main meals are too big, and I also eat a lot of sugary snacks during the day.

So what are my options?

I could stay obese, and gradually over the years get bigger and bigger until my weight kills me. Or I could take the somewhat drastic action and go down the surgical route.

And so, in the next few months I’m going to have a gastric bypass.

It’s both scary and exciting at the same time. Scary, because it means that my relationship with food is going to change, and exciting because it’s my best hope of getting to and hopefully maintaining a healthy weight.

I’ve already gone though the preliminary stages of being evaluated by the bariatric team in the hospital, and at this stage I’m just waiting for a date for my surgery!

My Story Surgery