We can all agree that any kind of operation is scary. but choosing to be operated on takes a special kind of courage. a courage that has been built up for a very long time. Perhaps since childhood.
Before Catherine’s weight loss stories begins we need to make an apology. After reading Catherine’s story we felt a bit guilty even a bit ignorant.
Reason being. we have always looked at weight loss surgery as lazy, weak and an easy option. We couldn’t be more wrong.
My Gastric Sleeve By Catherine
I had my gastric sleeve via the NHS at the heartlands by the bariatric team.
My journey in weight loss is one full of success and failure.
From as young as seven, I had a taste for chocolate. I would get through boxes of matchmakers, after eights, and numerous other boxes of chocolates.
It was so bad that I used to take fifty pence out of my mum’s purse to go to the shop and buy chocolate. I never even enjoyed them. in fact, I always felt sick as I would eat the whole lot at once.
As a child I was chubby. I was always aware of me being chubby and used to admire the thinner girls. Secretly wishing I was like them.
Shockingly, at the age of ten, I was prescribed diet tablets by the GP to help me to lose weight.
Going on into my teens I was always aware of my mum trying all the faddy diets like the all fruit diet for one.
At school, my clothes were larger than other girls. In fact, I was wearing size 14 – 16 (UK size) as a teenage girl this is quite large. Considering, some of the thinner girls would be wearing 8-10
As I got older my weight was less of an issue. But Cake Definitely Was!
When I left home and had a place of my own I celebrated. Thinking I was free to eat what ever I wanted. How I was so wrong!
Consequently, I would buy a cake for me and my husband and eat them both before hubby got home. Feeling guilty, I headed back to the cake shop to buy another two cakes. So for his one cake, I would have three.
At twenty I weighed 11 stone after losing weight at the gym. Then my weight started going up again. This led me to join Weight Watchers and lost 4 stone in weight. Weighing in at 9 stone exactly.
During this time I had a bowel operation which I still feel contributed to my weight loss.
Again I was unable to stabilize my weight it weights plummeting upwards again .again I joined weight watchers and lost 3 stone. I gained two gold member awards at this time
Because it lost my weight I gave up smoking, the weight piled on I tried lots of different diets but could not seem to lose weight at all .i went to Rosemary Conley, weight watchers, slimming world nothing worked.
The weight began soaring upwards till I reached 17 stone+ (230lbs) I was so upset, I had sleep apnea, high blood pressure, really bad joint pain. I still tried to diet and exercise but no good the weight just would not shift.
I Knew I Had To Do Something Drastic Or I Could Die
One evening my husband and I were watching a programme on gastric bypass, it talked a lot about how well it worked. I spoke to my GP asking him to refer me for weight loss surgery. I had already gone armed with the facts, I ticked every box for weight loss surgery on the NHS.
My GP agreed so I had my first appointment with the weight loss specialist team at the heartlands. I was advised that I needed to lose weight in order to show commitment if I were to be considered for weight loss surgery as it was such a big operation.
So I went onto the Cambridge diet and lost weight. Generally speaking, I did so well that I didn’t go back to the specialist team. However, the weight soon went back up.With this in mind, I was referred to the weight management specialist team.
This time I started a weight loss group once a month. We discussed different aspects of food and eating. on the whole, it was a very good group, which we were also weighed.
I lost a little bit of weight Through this group. Surprisingly, at the end of the sessions I was asked if I wanted to be put forward for surgery and if so what kind of surgery did I want.
There were three options of weight loss surgery discussed –
- gastric banding,
- gastric sleeve
- gastric bypass.
We were informed of the disadvantages and advantages of each procedure, being shown how they work and given a lot of information on the procedure. Then we were asked what kind of surgery did we want. I opted for gastric bypass, I waited as my case was put before the team for surgery consideration.
Happy & Scared At the Same Time
I was accepted, it was a good feeling though I was quite scared about the operation. I was then interviewed by the surgeon who told me that although I could have surgery I wasn’t able to have gastric bypass as I didn’t have enough bowel to section the stomach off to.
However, I was told that if I consented they would do a gastric sleeve. This was a relatively new procedure but it has fewer side effects and it is very successful in aiding weight loss.
I waited to be told about my operation date. One morning, I had a phone call to ask if I would be able to have surgery in two weeks time. The reason being that I would be part of a teaching session for staff.
I agreed, so then I had to start my liver reduction diet so that the stomach was easier to be operated on as the liver lies over the stomach.
With very little time, I swapped the liver reduction diet back to the Cambridge diet. I have to say at this point the Cambridge diet was good and helped to reduce weight
Often, the problem is in the maintenance of weight loss following a diet. Ultimately, this diet would need to be combined with sessions on healthy eating. Also, the psychology of eating needs to be taken into account.
New Life New Me
And so my journey to a new me begins. My life forever changed with a gastric sleeve. In order to operate, the liver needs to be reduced in size. Thus, a new diet to try. The liver reduction diet, the reason being the liver lies over the stomach making surgery difficult. So by reducing the liver, it is easier to operate on the stomach.
I lost my liver weight ready for surgery and went in to have surgery, oh gosh was I nervous so scared but knew it was either this or I could die for sure.
The team were fantastic the senior dietician weighed me before I went into surgery. She congratulated me on the loss and said just think all of the weight will soon be gone. The words are some of the best I have ever heard.
Cap and gown on I said goodbye to hubby and got onto the trolley ready to go into theatre. I lay on the trolley once in theatre it was really scary.
I looked up there were three operating lights above me. I was ready to jump off that trolley and leg it but no it was now or never and I knew that I had to be strong. I drifted off into a lovely sleep.
Waking up in the ward I felt sore but not too bad. I found it difficult to swallow. The next bed was my friend Ann ( name changed to protect her privacy) *Ann had had a gastric bypass she too had been asked to come in for her operation to be filmed.
We started our journey into weight loss together.
Reality After Surgery
My first goal was to try and drink some water, this was really difficult because at this time I couldn’t swallow properly.
The water came back up again, it was OK though because I was on a drip to hydrate me. Eventually, I managed a glass of water and kept it down. Ann in the next bed was doing really well at this point.
I seemed to be struggling a bit. Longing for a cup of tea. It felt such a long time since I drank a nice brew. Well, the time was ready for me to have my very first cup of tea after surgery this was day three now.
I sipped the tea very slowly. However still extremely dry and swallowing difficult. I waited while each mouthful went down my gullet slowly and quite painfully. Almost like I had a blockage (I have to add that I also had had an oesophageal operation at the same time to repair a bad hernia)
In fact, it was so so difficult to swallow I would hear the fluid gurgling down my food pipe once the gurgling stopped it was then time for another mouthful then another.
All of a sudden the whole lot came straight back up, I vomited. So again I couldn’t have tea for a while I was back on the water.
Eventually, I managed that wonderful cup of tea I’d waited so long for. It was time to go home now and start eating.
My Diet For The Next Three Weeks
Once home I started my week one diet.
Here are my diet sheets.
- Week one
- Week two
- Week three
3 meals daily.
It’s crucial for you to eat slowly and chew thoroughly. You can have crunchy foods but make sure you chew it thoroughly into a soft paste. Also, dilute fruit juices with water.
- 1 Weetabix with a little semi or skimmed milk.
- 3 tbsp thick ready break
- Special k
Without any nuts or raisins and no added sugar.
Maximum of 5-6 tbsp per meal
- ½ bag fish in sauce
- ½ small chicken breast casserole in sauce or gravy
- 1-2 tbsp minced meat sauce or gravy
- 1-2 tbsp bolognese sauce or chilli con carne
- 1-2 tbsp macaroni cheese or another pasta dish
- 1-2 tbsp dahl
- 1-2 soft scrambled eggs
- 1-2 tb tofu or Quorn
- 1-2 cottage cheese ( with soft pieces )
- 1-2 tbsp lentil or bean stew
- 1-2 tbsp baked beans
- 1-2 tbsp corned beef hash
- 1-2 shepherds pie or fish pie
- 1-2 tbsp cauliflower cheese
- 1 tbsp hummus
- 1 tbsp mashed potato
- 1-2 tbsp mashed cooked or tinned vegetables
- ½ ready meal
- 1-2 crackers or crispbreads or ½ slice of toast
DESERTS if physically hungry
- 1 small diet yoghurt with soft pieces of fruit. Not exceeding 100 cals fat-free
- 1 small diet fromage frais with soft pieces of fruit as above
- 2-3 tbsp stewed fruit sweetener can be used if needed
- Mashed soft fruit ½ banana, 1 peach,
- 1inch slice of ripe melon
- 2-3 tbs frozen or tinned fruit in natural juice
- 2-3 tbsp of sugar-free jelly.
Conclusion On Catherines Journey
Clearly, choosing to be operated inst an easy journey. Moreover, for most, it starts at an early age and it’s anything but lazy.
When Catherine sent me her story I couldn’t pull myself away. The bravery and courage it takes to go through a drastic change are breathtaking.
What kept us hooked more, was the sheer pain and emotions Catherine must have been feeling through out her life.
We hope Catherine’s story inspires you.