My Gastric Band Journey

My Gastric Band Journey
Thursday 28 September 2017

Monday 24th August 2015 is such a poignant moment of my life looking back but here is my journey up until now. I walked into to my regular weight loss group and said “hello” to all the members. I queued up and got weighed and my heart sank, a 0.5lb gain. My whole world collapsed or so I thought. I had gained weight.

I have battled with my weight since I was roughly 8 years old. I had always been active and enjoyed swimming, netball, rounders, you name it I did it but the weight just kept piling on over the years. During 2014 I had spoken to my then boyfriend and parents about getting a gastric band but we agreed I was too young and wasn’t settled in my life so I carried on and the weight increased.

In January 2015 I joined a weekly weight loss group and I lost two stone quite quickly but then the weight crept back on. Then on August 24th, a day that changed my life forever, I left the weekly group sobbing, got in my car and drove straight to my parents’ house.  I sat there crying, asking why I was the way I was. My dad brought up Mount Stuart’s website on the computer and there it was, the contact page to look in to weight loss surgery. We sent off a form that night. The next day I had a phone call and was booked in to speak to a member of the team a week later.

The phone call on the 2nd September was 45 minutes long, very in depth and asked a lot of questions about my eating habits, questions I hated answering, but it meant it that it was time that I took responsibility for my eating. After the phone call I was then booked in to meet the consultant and to have a face to face consultation on the 14th September. I was so worried about going for my consultation but I later realised there was nothing to worry about. I took my fiancé and parents with me, sat in the waiting room and I was then called in.

Mr Andrews went through all options of weight loss surgery, he was very honest and said his only concern was that I was young. I explained the troubles I had through the majority of my life. The consultation lasted about an hour. I felt instantly relaxed in the room, Mr Andrews put me at ease and answered all of the questions I had. He explained the pre-operative diet, the post-operative diet, life changes I would have to make. One thing that Mr Andrews said that will always stick in my mind is “This is a three year marathon not a sprint”, I often have to remind myself of the importance of this. After answering my questions Mr Andrews agreed that the gastric band was the best option for me so we started discussing when I could have the surgery done.

Mr Andrews looked in his diary and offered Thursday 1st October, I was shocked at how close it was. I snapped up the date. I left the consultation room with my pre-operative diet in my hand. The next two weeks were incredibly difficult but knowing that if my liver was not floppy enough that the surgery may have to be cancelled was enough to keep me on track. My whole family and fiancé were so supportive through the two weeks, I suffered with headaches as a result of the change in diet. As I was attending the gym four days a week I felt a real loss of energy so contacted the team and they explained what I could do in order to still go to the gym but to also be able to live a relatively normal life during the pre-operative diet. I was on the pre-operative for my birthday and in fact it was an amazing birthday. It was time to say goodbye to my old lifestyle and hello to a whole new life.

Thursday 1st October arrived, I was due in Mount Stuart for 7:30am. I arrived with my bag packed of all necessities. One thing I am so grateful for was taking in a pillow in order to be able to wear a seat belt comfortably on the return journey home. I sat in the waiting room a nurse came and collected me and took me down to a room. I was given a gown to change in to and stockings to put on. Mr Andrews came in to see how I was doing and that he would see me shortly. The nurse came back and asked if I was ready to go down to theatre. Then it sank in, that this was actually happening. I cried that I was making this change for my health, I had chosen to have this done and I was about to take control. I hugged my family and fiancé and we went. I remember being taken in to the anaesthetists’ room and asking them to look after me, we had a chat and then I was asleep.

I remember waking up and the nurse giving me a sip of water as my mouth was very dry. The next thing I remember is waking up in my own room. I felt stiff and slightly sore. I asked the nurse for a drink and asked whether I could get up or not. The nurse came back and said if I was feeling alright I could get up. She supported me to get up and couldn’t wait to get in my own bathroom and look at the incisions. It was so neat nothing like how I had imagined. The next thing my family and fiancé were allowed in. it is so nice knowing that there is no restriction on visiting time, I really needed them there and they were allowed. The hostess came round with some homemade soup and a cup of tea. Two weeks without a cup of tea and having one after surgery was like heaven. I took a few sips of tea and soup and needed a break. I was sore inside.

The nurses at the hospital were on hand for anything I needed.  The day quickly passed by and I really felt like I needed rest. During the night the nurses were on hand to help and to give me pain relief when I needed it. I didn’t sleep too well as I find it hard sleeping on my back. The nurse came and sat with me for a while about 5 AM and we chatted and had a cup of tea. I had my breakfast order taken and a yogurt and homemade smoothie arrived. I felt so much better the day after I could move a lot more without feeling in too much pain.

At 10 AM the morning after surgery, I was ready to head home.

I followed the post-operative diet to the letter, all homemade soups and smoothies, fish pie, cottage pie. One meal I had that I still enjoy when having a gastric band fill is mashed potato, corned beef and curry sauce. It sounds weird but for me it is pure comfort food.

For the first five weeks it was fantastic. I actually changed jobs whilst on the post-operative diet. Had my first fill with Mr Andrews and all was as it should be, I was losing weight. Second fill same again. Then I started having a few stuck episodes where I hadn’t watched what I was eating, eating too quickly or going back to my old habits. No matter what Mount Stuart and Mr Andrews were there to help. Late at night Mr Andrews came in to give me an emergency defill as I was unable to keep water down. Knowing the support is there no matter what time of day is the support that is required when going through something like this. I got married in April 2016 and was in standard size of wedding dress. I had bought a wedding dress in November 2014 but by February 2016 I wasn’t able to have it taken in enough to fit. I cried because I was well on my journey to a healthier me. I was always worried that I wouldn’t like my wedding photos because I was overweight but by the time I got married and the wedding photos were back I loved them.

I had a few times in 2016 where I returned to old habits but I kept reminding myself of the phrase “it’s a three year marathon not a sprint”, the phrase that continues to get me through some tough times. 

I went to all the support groups that Mount Stuart offer and really enjoyed them. I met two lovely ladies that are now my friends. We share the highs and lows, we meet for coffee and we know how each other feels. I really needed friends that understood the issues I was facing with food. I was really open to my family and friends about having a gastric band, I have even named my band Bobby. My friends and family have been incredibly supportive and I am glad that I was able to be so open and honest with them. It means that during meals when I eat slow or order a starter no questions are asked and everything is the same as it always has been. The biggest problem I have faced is with my head, sometimes I just haven’t thought about things enough, I have eaten the wrong foods and my brain hasn’t caught up yet to the newer me.

In January 2017, I set myself some goals, it was time I put myself first. I got a personal trainer from the gym I had attended, he understands my journey and is there for support each Wednesday during training sessions. I have seen him every week for seven months. I celebrated my 1st wedding anniversary in a dress three sizes smaller than my wedding dress. In June 2017 I ran 5km for charity and I qualified as a Zumba instructor and now teach classes at the gym I attend. In July 2017 I walked 10miles with no break for charity. I am now able to run for 7.2km. I am fit, healthy and enjoying my life.

Bobby and I don’t always get on but he has changed my life. If not for Bobby, I don’t think I would be here anymore. The way my life was going, I was eating myself into an early grave. Bobby has given me a second chance and I am working my way toward success. My gastric band journey hasn’t finished yet. I am nearly two years in to my journey and I feel the best is yet to come.

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