I have struggled with excess weight since I was a young child. I have been on diets all my life. I have had good success during key points, but as my life got busier, children came along, my career got more complex and I was getting older, I could not sustain commercial diets. I knew I was getting bigger and bigger and risks to my health were getting higher each day. I felt I needed a “kick” start and something that would help me sustain my commitment to a new lifestyle. My obstetrician suggested I consider surgery after the birth of my first child. It took me 10 years to make the decision to have the surgery at the time I had it.
To prepare for surgery I was determined to lose as much weight as possible to make the surgery as safe as I could. That was my focus. For anyone who is thinking about having surgery know that it’s worth it. I wish I had done it sooner. I love my smaller stomach – it is a physical barrier for over-eating and I really appreciate the flavours of food so much more now.
At the time I was petrified about the actual surgery – that I would not wake up. Being so big I knew I was very high risk. I was also worried I would not be able to enjoy food again, such as eating out.
I changed surgeons less than a week before my scheduled surgery – he was unprofessional, judgemental, rude and saw me as a number and not a person. It was traumatic and I could have given up, but I was determined that having the surgery was the right thing for me. My new surgeon has been amazing and was able to schedule my surgery only two weeks after my original surgery date. It was the best thing I did.
I only told my husband and my parents. My husband is my biggest supporter. I only told my Mum a few weeks before surgery and my Mum told my Dad just after surgery. If something were to go wrong, these were the people that would need to know. I was too ashamed to tell anyone else about my surgery and I still haven’t.
Seeing a dietitian (Nicole West) has been very useful. Having this surgery is not like other weight loss experiences. I am learning to ensure maximum nutritional value into my smaller stomach. During the different texture phases (optifast, fluids, puree, soft) understanding why the phases were important was key for me along with recipe ideas. “Sip, sip, sip” for the fluid phase was really useful as it was a mind shift. Some things you’ll find useful is having enough recipe ideas and some guidance how to deal with social situations. I think it would be good to be able to share ideas from others who have gone through these phases.
Going through the texture phases (optifast, fluids, puree, soft) is not easy, but its not forever! It is so exciting when you start the next phase! I invested in some special bowls for the fluid phase and it made it much more exciting. I also avoided eating with others. The smells from other food in the house were difficult, especially in the fluid phase.
I continue to learn from Nicole West, I am learning how important quality food is. Also, when I am not eating, I need to be drinking water. Also, portion sizes – having those visuals has been essential for me.
I definitely recommend the support of a specialist dietitian (Nicole West). This journey will be a long one and it is important to me that my medical team are supportive and invested in me, as I am in them. I want to be accountable to them and have them be invested in my success. Despite changing surgeons, I was able to see the same dietitian (Nicole West) and this continuity has been key in journey. Even though attending appointments with the dietitian can be difficult – especially getting parking near the hospitals!