As surgery is something I’ve been thinking about for a number of years then I’ve obviously done my research into and know the pros and cons to it all. It’s not a decision I came to lightly and even now I see it as a last resort. Since I’ve started telling people about the surgery I’ve heard a few of the same questions popping up so I’m writing this which will hopefully explain a few things.
An estimated 500 million people across the world are now classed as obese. In the UK, one in four are overweight.
Weight loss surgery is also known as bariatric surgery and there are several different types that are performed to aid weight loss. At the clinic I have been attending they offer three different types: gastric banding, gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy.
The gastric bypass is where they just bypass the majority of the stomach and attach this to the small intestine. The stomach is reduced to a very small pouch approximately 10% of the size before surgery. This type of surgery is usually performed in more extreme, often life-threatening, circumstances caused by obesity. Weight loss of 65-80% of excess body weight is typical after having this procedure.
The sleeve gastrectomy (or gastric sleeve) is probably more commonly known as “stomach stapling”. This is where the stomach is reduced to around 25% of its original size by the removal of most of it and then the open edges are stapled back together. This is also performed on people who are extremely obese but unlike the bypass, if the person is an over-eater, it is possible to stretch the reduced stomach and weight gain can occur once again.
The option I have gone for is the gastric band. This is an inflatable device that is placed around the top portion of the stomach to create a pouch roughly the size of a ping-pong ball. It restricts the amount of food that can be eaten at any one time so appetite is reduced and it slows digestion. It is first fitted with a port just under the skin which will gradually be filled with saline until an optimum diameter is achieved. Weight loss of roughly 40-50% of excess weight is typical of this procedure.
I feel that this is the better option for me because at the moment my eating habits mean that I do over-eat. There are different types of eater, for example, a “grazer” is someone who eats small things throughout the day and doesn’t have a proper meal. I can’t remember what the terminology is but I’m the opposite of this. I will go for hours without eating anything and not be hungry. Then I’ll realise I’m starving and will then over-eat to compensate. By this point I’ll be so hungry that I’ll stuff my face before my body has time to realise I’m full and so I’ve over-eaten.
My typical working day consists of breakfast of 2 Kellogg’s Special K cereal bars and a cup of coffee. I don’t like eating as soon as I get up and so this is consumed when I get into work while I’m starting up for the day. Lunch will usually be between 2-3pm and will usually be a sandwich or something hot from the canteen with a drink (bottle of Ribena Light, Lipton iced tea or a can of Diet Coke) and probably a packed of crisps and a chocolate bar. I will probably then not eat until about the evening, ranging from 7-9pm depending on what time I get home. By this time I’m usually pretty hungry so I tend to eat convenience stuff. Sometimes I’ll cook but, unfortunately, not very often. This will be accompanied by maybe 1-2 cups of drink, usually Diet Coke.
You may notice that, apart from a not-very-healthy diet, I also don’t drink much. This is a major downfall with me as well as I suffer from chronic dehydration. Do you get hangover the after day after a night on the town? I can get a non-alcohol-induced hangover just because I haven’t drunk enough – headache, nausea, that sea-sick feeling – I get all that without the fun of being drunk the night before! It’s like the opposite of diabetes where you have an unquenchable thirst, I’m rarely thirsty and find it difficult to drink if I’m not thirsty. Plus, (get this!) I can’t drink water. It’s disgusting to me and makes me gag. I can’t even swallow any water when I wash my mouth out after brushing my teeth. The only time I can force it down is if it’s ice cold and there is literally no other option. Yeah, I’m weird and I know this really isn’t good.
Anyway, I digress. These are all the reasons why I feel the gastric band is the best option for me. So what’s next?
The procedure is usually done in a few hours and I will hopefully be in and out of hospital on the same day. The band will not actually be filled until 5-6 weeks after surgery so it’s just a case of getting used to it at first. It will be adjusted from time-to-time as weight loss progresses.
So now it’s just a waiting. I’m waiting to find out if I have been put onto the waiting list and whether I have a date for surgery.
Tick-tock. Tick-tock. Tick-tock.