Friday, 23 December 2016

Losing weight hand over fist!

Today I woke up to:

*** 96.4kg * 15 stone 2 & 1/2lbs * 212lbs *** 

The last time I was 96.4 was on the 20th December 2012!!

I can't believe I have turned back time by 4 years. Its so amazing. I am thrilled with the bypass and what it has given me to help me get rid of this weight once and for all.

I am thinking that another 20kgs and I will be about my dream weight. To be honest I feel great now, but I am still in the Obese category. I think that after losing 27kgs (60lbs!) you will feel better at any weight to be honest, but now I haven't a clue, so I have to go by how I look and what the charts say.

This will probably be my last blog post for 2016 and possibly my last weigh in as we go on holiday tomorrow for a couple of weeks and I most likely won't have a chance before I go. This will be interesting to update when I get back and see if being away makes a difference to the weight or not?

My December Goal was to say goodbye to the 15 stone bracket. I know a lot of you weigh in all kinds of other measures - Aussies and Europeans in KG's and Americans usually in LB's but Brits usually weigh in Stones. Lbs and KGs are great ways to measure when dieting as they are congratulatory and quick. There seems to be more joy in losing 0.5kgs than losing 1LB though, and thats the same with stones. Stones are the worst I think. You are in a Stone zone for 14 miserable pounds and it takes ages and ages and ages :(

I started weighing in KG when losing 50kg seems far less than 8 stone! Its all about psychology at the end of the day so whatever you have to do to help yourself, you have to do!

BUT… I still like to know where I am in the grand scheme of things in the weight measurement that I was brought up with. I use this fabulous weightloss chart to double check mine and others weights. It would be so helpful if other bloggers, instagrammers, or facebookers posted their weights in the different forms too as we don't all understand instantly the numbers on their scale, so if you need a double checker… heres the link: Weight Chart

I think that I will definitely be in the 14 stone zone when I get back and close to the elusive Onederland that I have never ever been able to manage to get to.

Onderland is another thing that doesn't immediately resonate with me because I have never really measured myself in LBS but for those that do, this must be an amazing thing! Seeing that number 2 fall off the front of their number must be so exciting if you've seen a 2 or a 3 there your whole life.

How do you weigh? Did you ever jazz it up and change the way you weigh yourself?


Monday, 19 December 2016

Can I believe how much I've lost? Nope!! haha!!

Wow, what a month! I am just amazed by the results since my bypass.

In just a little over 3 months, I've lost a whopping 26.2kgs or 58lbs or 4 stone 2lbs! like Whaaaaaaaat???!!!

I am flabbergasted, seriously!

I have to admit that my head is taking a long white to catch up with this. I see my new outline in the mirror and am chuffed to little mint balls, but then once I've walked away, I still feel as fat as I ever was. I have no idea why. I feel fat too. I check in the mirror: amazing difference, walk away: feel massive! It's utterly crazy.

I've spent so much of my life obese that it's still taking me a while to know for sure that this process is really working. I can't say that it's in any way down to me, other than the fact that I am living with a smaller stomach and a shortened intestine. It's totally effortless. I don't want to eat food, I am not interested in it, I'm totally over it. Its amazing!

Also, my tastebuds seem to have completely changed. For instance, I had a glass of wine the other day as we had a special dinner to go to, and I still had a mouthful left at the end of the evening. It wasn't that it didn't taste nice, it wasn't making me feel bad, or woozy (since I haven't had any alcohol for 3 months), but that it just didn't do anything for me at all. The focus of my pleasure has changed. Its like that with a lot of my previously favourite foods.

I seem to gravitate towards charcuterie, cheese and eggs a my ideas for dinner. This is most unusual for me and must be simply what my body wants/needs to eat that's guiding it. I eat beef jerky as a snack, or parma ham… so strange for me! Pre op, I could easily have been vegetarian as I rarely ate any meat except for the occasional bit of chicken or bacon. Now… totally different story.

On a slightly differing theme, I think that I have also been expecting to fail. As you may or may not know, my Gastric Band broke on 20th May of 2007, just 3 months after I had the operation. I have had my bypass now for about 2 weeks longer than I had my first band. I lost 11kgs with my band before it broke, but in the same time with the bypass I've lost 26kgs! I am, however, only just a little bit lighter than I was when my band broke. It's been such a horrible journey, and I truly feel I have most definitely had a raw deal. 

Here is a shot of my whole weightloss journey since banding: from 14th February 2007 until today 19th December 2016.

The 1st downward slope is my initial weightloss with my first Gastric band -11kgs. It broke and then I gained all the weight back and tried several times to get it to work with me... until it was found to be broken and I had to go back to Belgium and be reiterated on with a new band.

The 2nd downward slope is when my new band was fitted. I lost a bit more this time and got down to 97.9kgs. At the time, I had WLSGroup as my fill provider and the nurse made the decision that I was too tight and unfilled my band by 1ml. Why I let her do this I'll never know (probably because I just wanted a break from the rigours of the band hell!). This made a catastrophic change to my eating where I gradually regained weight over a year or so. The band is so useless that, even though I was having fills, I just couldn't get it right. I was apparently tighter than before the drastic infill, but yet still not have much restriction! Go figure!!

Then there is a small descent again where I went to slimmingworld and tried my very best, but still no joy. After fighting with this band and knowing that I was being given bad advice time and again from the old fill provider, I took the decision in April 2010 to have my band completely emptied and to try and start again. I used a new fill provider who came to my house. She was (and is) amazing. Hr name is Jane Wilkinson Tancock. After the unfill I just let me body rest and ate normally. Sadly I knew this would come with a rise, and this is the large rise into just above 120kgs.

I was regularly attending slimmingworld and trying to get a grip of myself in early 2011, but had a fill or 2 with the new provider which started to help me a little. I lost weight steadily and was going to the gym. However, fills are expensive and in early 2012 my weight was on the rise yet again.

I was then invited onto a radio show to talk about my gastric band and how I felt it was a bad idea to have one and not the panacea that it was sold to me as. They gave me 6 months help with a lady called Linda form "The lost it coach" to help me, and I logged food, counted calories and used my BMR to help me lose weight. This was very effective whilst using her mentorship & my band to help me, however I was struggling with eating so much and being sick at every meal. It was a seriously unhealthy way to eat because of the bands restriction.

After losing 18kgs following her advice, I then fell over in the road and took the entire top layer of skin off of my knee. It was so bad I couldn't walk for 10 days. It took ages to scab over and then it kept breaking and opening again over the next month and causing me so much pain; I didn't hit the gym at all for several months. Once I returned I couldn't get back into it. Couple this lack of exercise with an unfill I had shortly before falling over (because I couldn't drink water in the mornings!) I was on a hiding to nothing. I was so depressed by the whole situation and no matter how I tried to get my mind back into gear, it wouldn't play ball. I felt like I had lost the entire game and steadily over the next 18months my weight rose. I couldn't face another fill; The being sick, not able to drink, wandering around with a pot of hot tea hoping it will soften things up and "get things moving", wondering if I would be able to go to the gym or not because "If I go to the gym and I can't drink, I will be too thirsty whilst walking fast uphill for an hour" - That was the situation with the fickle band.  Ugh. I just couldn't do it.

So during the period between march 2014 and about May 2016 I tried every diet going, fads, 5:2, exante, raw food, milk, atkins, clean etc etc. You name it I gave it a go. I had limited success each time and felt that "If I could only get back to where I was I will be ok" but I could never get there. I was horrified, sickened, and just a total failure. How could I have let this happen to me?

Then, in March/April this year (2016) I started to get pain and bleeding under the skin around my port. I hadn't had a fill for ages - maybe a year. I had no idea what was causing this at all and was referred to a bariatric surgeon in the UK for assessment. I was quite excited by this and I had expressed my wish to get my weight under control to my doctor at the beginning of the year anyway. I thought it could be the start of something wonderful. You can read about that hideous encounter earlier in my blog, but basically he was a prat and his idea was just to keep me on antibiotics until I had had several eruptions at the port site and then they 'might' see what they could do. Stuff that.

Throughly ticked off, that's when I decided to take matters into my own hands and get the operation that I should have had in the first place. The last slide downwards shows you the results.

Anyone who's had a band or a sleeve or a bypass will know their own personal struggle to get that downward slope. I am more than proud of that slope. I actually am more than proud of my entire journey. I think it shows that I have fought a good fight and I am now finally winning. This isn't about beauty, its about being acceptable. I have no doubt I will be healthy and thats great and all, but if I am brutally honest it is, and always has been, about being accepted in society. Being normal.

I am already noticing the subtle shifts in random strangers perceptions. The smiles, the eye contact, the holding of doors, the politeness. This doesn't happen when you are morbidly obese. You don't know it until you lose it. Its disgusting, but its not going to change. It doesn't matter how much people try and change opinions, it will always be a socially sub par thing to be obese. The fact that a human can have so little value and be degraded and feel so unacceptable in the world like I did, makes me feel so angry, but if you can't change their opinion and you don't actually want to be obese, you only really have one option: Lose weight.

The only way, after all I have tried, was to have a gastric bypass.

I will no doubt continue to have weird emotional thoughts about being obese v being normal weight. I will still feel like a fat person inside for I don't know how long. But at least I might live long enough to deal with those demons. And I will do everything in my power to shame society's fattest attitudes.

I am proud of myself for being brave and enduring being obese. I am currently still obese, but so close to being overweight, and out of that doom category. Every bone in my body craves this normality. I wonder what it will be like when I am there, and I don't have to fight any more? What will happen then? What will be my focus? Will I write this blog still, or just post yearly updates or drop off the radar entirely.

I wonder where my friends are from blog land. The ones who used to write so regularly, like The Dash, Dinnerland and Linda's Bandwidth and so many others. I loved reading their daily updates and struggles. I hope and pray they all got to their goal weights and they are out living the fast and furious lives that come with their new found health. I haven't met anyone who struggled like me, but maybe they just read blogs rather than write them?

If anyone has read to the end of this long boring post, then please say hi. I write this mainly for myself and my own catharsis, but it still means a lot to know it might help someone else.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Updated Weightloss Photos

I've been blogging since January 2005. That's just incredible to me! I haven't written for large months at a time, but I regularly keep coming back to it… normally when I'm trying again in some way or other!!

But to have a history of more than 11 years of my life, my struggles and triumphs… well that's pretty good, even though I am still (currently) fat.

I have loved the journey, frustrating as it has been. I feel though, that the worst is now behind me and I am rapidly climbing out of the quagmire of fat and self loathing. I have never truly hated my body, I just hated everyone else on earth's perception of fat people. The assumptions that they jump to and all the derogation we face on a daily basis. It's disgusting and hideously judgmental.

Currently in the UK there are arguments being bandied about that the morbidly obese should not be allowed operations or procedures because of their overweight. Yes. True story. Apparently the reasoning behind this is that people who are obese have done it to themselves and are therefore not as deserving as someone who is of normal weight. Under the same category come alcoholics, smokers etc. What about Anorexics? I wonder if they will be denied medication and or operations? Doubtful. As a nation (world?), people consistently see people who starve themselves as sad and unhappy cases and want to nurture them back to health. They take a careful approach with emphasis of care and baby steps. If only the same were true of the health system for obese patients. In my opinion, both the obese and anorexics amongst us suffer from the same body dysmorphic tendencies, inner voices, punishment and emotional terror. The need to control what these problems stem from are also the same. Bullying is the same for both too. However, that's where the similarity ends. The way obese people are treated by professionals, with their lack of empathetic understanding, is simply a compounding and vicious situation. If only they would treat us the same, there would be immediately better outcomes.

Anyway, I'm in my happy place and although the end is still a long way off, it's weirdly in sight too.

Here's a little happy pic of me. I can practically see the soul light coming back into my eyes! 15kg - 35lbs down!


L/R Today 22nd October 2016 v Week before Bypass 30th August 2016 

I've also updated my Weightloss journey in photos (right had column), so feel free to see the current changing body of bunny if you dare. I look forward to the next 35lbs off!

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Progress so far

Hi everyone, things are going well. I'm pretty much off the pappy soft food and onto a normal, but relatively wet diet. I am eating salad again thank goodness! I was craving this so badly. I even munched on a whole romaine lettuce head and then spat it out rather than swallow - it got THAT bad!

But things are fine. I can eat about 3/4 to a cup of food. As long as I keep the sugar way down, this can literally be anything. Again the confusing "protein" question rears its ugly head. This never meant much to me when I was banded as our guts were never rearranged, so never really got the whole high protein need fad. Since bypass however, I can defo see why its a necessity.

I am not following a diet of any kind apart from trying to get all my protein in. I have given myself a break on this for the last 5 weeks as it's too hard to get protein in when on a soft diet unless you drink those devastatingly foul protein shakes :( YUK!

But as I've been feeling better and eating more normally, I am trying to make sure that it's the first thing on the menu.

I am also not following a low carb diet. I know that a lot of people do, but it was not mentioned at my dieticians appointment and to be honest, was slightly discouraged. She said "You are not doing this to be on a 'diet' for the rest of your life are you". Made sense to me. She even used the 'air bunnies' lol! That said, when you are eating the amount of protein needed post op, it doesn't leave a lot of room for anything else, so carbs are not particularly high in any case.

So protein high, sugar low. That's my goal. It's working so far and I'm currently standing at just over 13kg loss (2 stone!!!). To say I'm thrilled is an understatement. Todays weight is 110.9kgs down from 124kg.

My favourite meal so far post op was this delicious Salmon salad:


Loved every bite and so did my new guts arrangement! I also found a sweet treat that doesn't kill me with sugar overload, or mad calories… Oppo Mint Chocolate swirl ice cream. I found it in the local Co-op convenience store randomly, but you can get it in Waitrose and Budgens too (UK stores). It was 80 calories for this bowl full!!! Can you believe it? I think in the US there is Halo Top which is a similar thing. This Oppo stuff is made with coconut oil, spirulina and raw cacao. Superfood goodness and tastes EPIC!
 

Been doing a bit of meal prepping too. I made a massive chilli con carne in the crock pot and made lots of little dishes and froze them so that I had something to eat whilst I was dying of pneumonia (yes, I have to say that I am still suffering from this and not entirely 100%!)



(Excuse the state of my kitchen - no housework has been done for over a month!! HAHA)

And on the hospital front, the clot is under control, but the pneumonia continues to be a pain in the back. Its still hideous. I keep taking the pain killers and hoping for the best though. I am back to work because I want to still own my house! It was getting freaking desperate after not working for 3 months. It's just not possible to sustain a £400 a week loss of wages for any more time without having to sell all I own, including our son and pets, and possibly my husband too!! Its bad. It's fab being self employed until you can't work, and this has stung me in the backside big time.

I also still have the remains of my war wounds… my operation and subsequent hospital stay bruises are nearly gone though and here they captured here for posterity 5 weeks and 3 days later. Yes, I like to keep my bruises a long time!



Also my instagram account byebyeband.hellobypass is up and running with my weightloss pics. Come check it out. I don't post much at the minute though. I am doing 3 posts every 3 weeks or so, so that I can look back and see the difference. I'm doing it in such a way that to view the change, it's best to look at the grid of photos rather than the individual shots. That way, I can just scroll to see me disappearing!

I'm fitting in clothes I haven't worn for a year and that makes me feel FAB!




Wednesday, 28 September 2016

3 weeks ago I was under the knife!

I can't believe it's been 3 weeks already. It feels like a lifetime, and no time at all.

I can see a difference in my face, and my watch needs a link out already! That's too crazy to believe actually.

I had a long pillow chat with my husband after we turned the lights off last night… me just worrying that this will fail or go wrong just like my band did. I know it's crazy but I had SO much trouble with that darned band that I just can't believe that it's all going to actually happen.

I have several goals.

I'm gunna write them down here just because I want to se them and then update when I complete them.

All my weight loss goals are based on previous weight loss efforts, or weights from the past that I want to see again and want to surpass. I might not be exactly correct, but it's what I can remember.


Start weight 124kgs - 7th September 2016

114kgs - What I weighed when I had my Lab Band 2007 - DONE ✅ 27th September 2016

112kgs - What I weighed when I went on the JVS radio show May 2012 - DONE ✅ 5th October 2016

110kgs - What I weighed at Christmas 2013 - DONE ✅ 15th October 2016

96.4kgs - What I weighed at Christmas 2012 - DONE✅ 23rd December 2016

93.2kgs - What I weighed at my LOWEST March 2013 - DONE ✅ 3rd February 2017

Now into the realms of fantasy…

85kgs - My weight when I met my husband aged 19 in 1996 - DONE ✅ 31st March 2017

80kgs - Very happy to reach here and remain stable. 

74kgs - My ultimate fantasy dream goal. What I weighed in Senior School.


So 50kgs is my ultimate weightloss goal. I was however, feeling very happy with myself when I was 93kgs. I felt the bees knees literally. Light as a feather in step and attitude, so that will be a great one to feel again. Overall though, I will be perfectly happy getting to 80kgs. I'm not living in a fantasy world and I know getting back to what I weighed in school will be very very outside edge of reality, but who knows. It's a challenge and a lot make it. Anything lower that 93kg will be amaze balls.

So there they are. Lets see how many I can tick off.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

The deed is done! Goodbye band, Hello bypass!

So, it's goodbye to the band and hello to the Bypass!! 
(Instagram goodbyeband.hellobypass)

I had my Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass on 7th September 2016 in Brugge, Belgium.

I went to Brugge with DH on 28th August, the week before surgery, to have a gastroscopy to make sure that everything was ok for the band to be removed and the bypass done at the same time. The gastroscopy was great and showed nothing untoward except a teeny tiny patch of pink from indigestion/acid reflux. It must have been small as, as far as I knew I'd never had acid reflux!

I was really worried about having a gastroscopy; I'd never had one before and I was petrified of choking or something similar. I had nothing to fear. It was all totally fine, minimally annoying and after about 30 minutes, like it never happened!

We spent the rest of the day chilling in Brugge having a beer and enjoying the food. It was our anniversary weekend too which made it even nicer, so apart from the gastroscopy, it was a really lovely day out. When you consider it also cost us £1000 less to go to Belgium and have it done too, I was even more pleased!! ;-)

Then I travelled back to Brugge on 5th September and checked into the hotel ready to have all my pre-op tests and my surgery.

All my pre-ops were done on 6th: ECG, Bloods & Barium Swallow. I then had a meeting with the Dietician who gave me my post operative guidelines. Basically it would be liquid for a day and then puree for 6 weeks. Not too bad really. I then had a meeting with Dr. Dillemans who looked over all my Pre-op tests including the gastroscopy. Usually its a 95% possibility of Band to Bypass in one operation, but after reviewing my images he said that I had a 98% chance of having it in one operation as my band was in a good position and there was no erosion or slippage.

I then went in to see his secretary and handed over my bag of cash!

We went back to the hotel and chilled for a bit and then later on went out for a slap up meal in the restaurant De Carre. That was the same restaurant that I had my last meal before my band too! It was divine!






On the 7th, I had to be at the hospital early at 6:30am. I was taken to my room at about 7:30am, initial ops were all completed by 8:00am and then the first problem occurred! I had a fever.

My temperature was 38.6 oC!! This is very high, but I wasn't feeling ill at all. I had no idea how I could have been totally fine beforehand, and now had a high fever. It sent the nurse into a bit of a panic and she called a doctor. Another nurse quickly took my blood to check my CRP level and white cells. This came back clear and of no note.

Then, Dr. Dillemans, in full scrubs, came up himself and checked me over. He made me cough and stuff and felt my skin and looked at me and decided that maybe I was just hot from the room (It was BAKING!) and the fact I had got some sun the day before. With the blood results negative for inflammation or infection they were going to go ahead.

It was a huge relief! I had insurance, so if they had had to cancel my operation, then it would not have been the end of the world. It would have just meant that I would have had to wait and that would have been seriously annoying as I had psyched myself up for it.

So they prepared me for surgery. I was probably the first to go down to surgery that day I think because they finished my obs and extra blood tests and stuff all by 8:45am and Dr Dillemans had been up too… but I went down to Surgery at about 9:00am!

My room was lovely by the way: Separate sinks, toilets and everything. Such a pleasure to know you don't need to permanently carry antibacterial wipes about with you like you do here in the UK. There was also only 2 beds in the room! Much better!! So sterile.

 


I came out of surgery into recovery. The operation itself took about 50 minutes altogether, but I was in recovery for a long time though and not back in my room until about 3:30pm. I slept and was super dopey for the entire evening, although I didn't have that much pain. I had a drain in my side, but it didn't cause me too much bother at all. I was just worried about pulling it out!




I managed to take a couple of after shots. I had a massive bruise and fat lip too, which I assume is from where I was intubated or where they inserted the large bore gastric tube to make my new stomach pouch. It really hurt!

I was also super hot. Literally burning up and was spraying myself with the remaining water in the Evian atomiser can. I had a flannel too that I wet and left on my head. It was ridiculous. The temperature didn't go down until the evening on day 2! However, I had nothing wrong with me at all. I felt 100% fine at all times and I didn't get sick even later on.

I found it really difficult to focus on anything over the next couple of days, which was different to when I had the band. I also found it hard to swallow cold or room temperature water; coffee was much easier. The sensation of drinking and eating afterwards was totally different to when the band was there. There was no resistance at all, just a full sensation. I was super careful while eating my first meal on day 2.

I had been nil by mouth for the entire day of surgery, just using the atomiser of Evian to spray into my mouth to wet it. It helped a lot although my mouth tasted like butt!

The next day I was water only until about 6pm when they gave me a yoghurt to eat. I managed half before I could not eat any more. Im not sure why I couldn't manage more… I think it was just because I felt a revulsion. I feel that now, its like a "Urgh, I don't want anything else" feeling rather than a full feeling. I have not been hungry at all since my surgery.


This yoghurt was particularly gross. It was plain, set and just yuk, but I ate it. I got my parents to buy some Petite Suisse from Aldi near the hotel for when I got out as they are low in fat and high in protein. 

My breakfast on day 3 was more usual, but not what i was expecting so early on. There was some toast, coffee and a yoghurt! It was impossible to eat that much. Just looking at it made my head swell. 


The toast was like a thick Melba toast. Very dry and crispy and therefore breaks down easily. There was margarine and cheese spread or jam to have with it. I went for cheese spread as I did want to risk dumping on the jam. The coffee was amazing but it took me so long to drink that it was cold by the time I'd finished. I have to eat and drink separately, so I made sure I got my caffeine buzz first!! 

I didn't even bother with the yoghurt. It was pointless even trying. 


The nurse came into the room about midday and took my drain out as there was no more effluent from it and removed it. JEEEZ that thing is LONG!! It was causing me no bother at all, but when it came out YOWCH! Mine was about 6 inches. I hadn't been in much pain at all, and I was absolutely amazed by this and at how easily, if tentatively, I could get up and all about. It was hard to get out of bed and stuff, but it wasn't that bad once I was up. It was a massive improvement on how I felt after the Lap Band surgery for sure… so to get this crazy pain after removing the drain?... I just wasn't expecting it. Thankfully it settled down after a few minutes and it didn't bother me again. 

The nurse put these bandages on and I was to leave them for 10 days. The drain was under the one on the far right and the old port scar was under the one next to that. The biggest tool they use goes through the one on the far right too, and both of those are quite big incisions.. just over and inch each. The others in the centre were painless and they are quite small: about 1/3rd of an inch in size. The one on the left is again quite big but not as big as those on the left. Its about an inch wide and although panels for a week or so, niggles occasionally now and then. 

About 1:30 on day 3 I was released, so I got a Taxi back to the hotel. Mum and Dad were waiting for me and had been enjoying the sunshine as Belgium had been enjoying a strange and fortuitous period of late summer. It was good that there was an outdoor pool and they used it every day. 

Everything went swimmingly. We left Belgium on the 11th September and I drove home. Yes, I drove! I was in great shape and in hardly any pain. It was fabulous. 

However, things were about to change. You might have been wondering why I hadn't written about this until now…well! 

We got home Sunday night and all was great. I went to bed and stayed there, and I stayed there all Monday too. Obviously I got up to mooch about and stuff, but just tried to relax and take it easy so that I recuperated nicely. But, I had a pain in my side. 

The pain was liken a stitch. It was in my lower left back. It was really sharp sometimes, but mostly it just caught me when I burped, moved, or breathed in too far. 

The pain of this stitch got worse and worse over the course of the day, and I though "here we go, here's the gas pain.. its all been too easy", because I'd had nothing at all, and it had been such a walk in the park. I jammed a pillow under my left elbow and tried not to move too much. 

When I came to lie down that evening though, it was agony. It took me ages to get comfy and sort out my position. Obviously at that time I couldn't lie on my side, but lying on my back was really awful, so I was sort of half sitting, half laying down. During the night I was awoken several times by massively sharp pains like I had been drawn through with a sword. It was the sharpest, longest pain I have ever experienced. It took your breath away, and you couldn't even breathe in as breathing in hurt too much. 

I couldn't cough, breath in, blow my nose, sniff, take an inhaler even though I was wheezy, move much or do anything. The only relief I had was when I was standing and panting like a dog. 

At 6am Tuesday I rang my surgeon in Belgium. He did some diagnostic tests over the phone and said that he suspected I had a Pulmonary Embolism or PE for short. He said I should get to the doctor immediately and they would check me out. So that's what I did. I went to the doctor and he did few things, listened to my breathing, chest, back, sides etc… Then he made me lie down to hear my bowel sounds and I nearly died. It was the most hideous pain ever. He didn't think there was too much wrong with me, and that I would be home and tucked up in bed again by tea time. How wrong was he!

He sent me into hospital for them to double check me over, but didn't think it was anything to worry about. Considering I'd gone form a 1/10 kind of pain to a 100/10 pain within 24hours I KNEW something was wrong! 

When I got to hospital I had a barrage of tests… D-Dimmer, CRP, Chest X-ray, ECG and eventually a CT scan. The D-Dimmer was raised indicating a PE, but so was the CRP (130 when normal range is less than 10!) so indicating an infection. 

My worst nightmare about getting a leak was freaking me out. I was literally climbing the walls of my mind and praying, a lot!

They told me I had a PE, but also that I had significant fluid on the lung and my lung had collapsed. This only briefly made me feel better because fluid on my lung and a PE could still mean I had a leak. Then one of the nurses freaked me out because the treatment for a PE is blood thinning, which breaks down scabs as well, and as I'd had surgery so recently they thought I might start bleeding from my incisions… Well that had me terrified! I was not so much worried about my incisions coming apart, because they could stitch them, but my 2 new internal anastomoses where they had joined my bowel to my stomach!! I was going mad inside. 

Heres a picture of my buggered left lung:



I made a call to my surgeon who reassured me that the anastomoses were made using a circular stapler and that they were very strong. He really put my mind at ease that I wasn't going come apart inside, that I had no other symptoms of a leak - fever, chills, pain in my shoulder sickness and nausea etc, and that it was all going to be fine. So I started to calm down about that, then started to worry about the clot moving and having a stroke! Honestly I was a mess. 

After a couple of days in the hospital things started to calm down. I hadn't died and they said the clot was breaking down ok… but I now had an infection and pneumonia, so I had to start on IV antibiotics. This wasn't so bad, and I gradually started to feel less breathless, need less morphine and less oxygen. 

Things started to return to normal and after a week I was released. I am still on bed rest, but I'm able to potter about. I am feeling gradually better and better and brighter in myself. I only get breathless when I climb the stairs or do something too quickly like stand up too fast and immediately start walking. I have to stand up then wait and then crack on. Very weird! 

So now I am home, recuperating and taking things easy. I have also lost a significant amount of weight in a very short time. I am kind of worried what people are going to say because I haven't told many people about the bypass. Most people who know me know that I have a band, and they know that I've been in hospital having the band removed. I have failed to fill them in on the full details though. 

I am in 2 minds about this. I told so many people about my band that I wished I hadn't because it didn't work. I don't want to tell anyone about the bypass for similar reasons, but also for the fact that I just don't want people judging me again like they did when I had the band. I got a ton of negative comments and looks, and smugness when it didn't work but just ruined my life daily - the "I told you so" kind of thing.

But then on the other hand, if I lose a ton of weight, people are going to ask how. I have a few friends that are obese, and a few that are morbidly obese too and I don't want to say "yeah I just dieted" and then have them think "why the hell can't I stick to it too" and feel bad about themselves. I guess I'm going have to cross that bridge when I get there. 

One things for sure, everyone thinks its totally fine to comment on your weight loss or lack of it, and give you tips on how to do it. It's like a free subject for them to comment on, when in fact I think that kind of thing is more hurtful. You wouldn't comment on someones disability, or offer advice on how to rehabilitate oneself, and when you are morbidly obese like I am/was, then you are basically disabled. No amount of tips help. It just shoves your face into that pie further because someone has noticed you're fat, when you and often your nearest and dearest have been telling you for ever that no one cares and no one notices you anyway. Hmmm yeah right. 

Anyway, my surgery is done, and I have to prepare myself for the barrage of comments. 

I weighed in at 124kgs - 273lbs -19stone 7lbs on 7th September.

Today I am 115.6kgs - 255 - 18stone 3 on 24th September. 

That's 8.4kg or about 18lbs in just over 2 weeks. BRILLIANT!!

I haven't weighed this little in about 2 years I don't think :-)
  

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Some unexpected costs...

When planning surgery abroad, directly with the hospital, one must remember that when you ask for the cost of the surgery, this is the price you will be given.

It does NOT include the costs of tests needed prior to the operation.

Yesterday I received an email with a request for a Gastroscopy to check everything was ok down my throat and to the point of my band. This needed to be completed before the operation.

As I only have 13 days until I travel to Brugge, I was suddenly sent into a blind panic!

I phoned about 7 or 8 hospitals and hospital access groups to find someone who could do a consultation (why?!) and then do the test. The worst part was not that most of them couldn't fit me in, but that the cost was between £1400 and £1800 ARGHHH!!!

I did manage to find one consultant that would see me, and I booked to have the consultation on Friday (3 days time) and the procedure on the following Tuesday. However, that was before I asked myself the question of whether I could actually get this all done in Belgium too.

I phoned Dr. Dillemans secretary this morning and asked her. The reason she didn't suggest coming all the way to Belgium for the test was that she didn't want to put me out. She thought it would be easier to have it in England. NO WAY!! So I booked it. I'm having the scope on Monday 29th August in Brugge! This happens to be a public holiday in the UK, so my hubbie can come too.

I've just booked the Eurotunnel - £190 as it is a bank holiday Monday - and the procedure itself costs 300 euro.

I mean WHAAAAAAAAT!!!!! That's £250! What the hell is England playing at man?

I can go to Belgium in my car, get it done and be home the same day, including a nice day trip out with my hubby as it's our anniversary too, for less that £500!!! That's a huge amount of difference.

So sod paying through the nose here.

Total surgery costs are below for those interested in getting a Band revision to a RNY Bypass in the leading European Obesity Centre in Brugge, Belgium:

Surgery:              7750 euro
Gastroscopie:        300 euro
Barium Swallow:  150 euro
Bloods:                  100 euro
ECG:                     100 euro

Total 8400 euro - £7220 - $9500

If you pay in cash, you get a 4% discount. So I'm going to do that.

So beware the little extras, as these are not quoted when you ask how much it costs to do a band to bypass revision.



Wednesday, 10 August 2016

I've got my Euros! €7750 of them!

So glad I have a safe!



Today I got my €uros as I have to pay up in cash when I arrive in Belgium. My original Lap Band surgery cost far less, but times have marched on. If I had changed my £ to € about 2 weeks ago, I would have about £500 extra in my pocket but the ridiculous government reduced the interest rate to 1/4 f a percent and the pound against the Euro took a nosedive. GRRRRRRR Just ridiculous.

I can't take any more chances that it will drop further, as its basically gambling with a lot of money, so I changed it up today.

Not long now!

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Planning, waiting and preparing to not be a pussy!

So, 5 weeks today!

To say I'm scared is an understatement. I just keep thinking of the things that could go wrong. Even though I know that the vast majority of these things go to plan without a hitch, I'm worrying from the smallest of wrong things to the big.

Heres my list of worries:

1.) I get to Belgium, have my barium swallow (freaked about the too, as never had one!) and they see that there is a big leak or something and I will have to wait to have my bypass.

2.) I get into surgery and THEN they find I can't have it and I wake up bandless but not bypassed

3.) I get a bleed from the surgery

4.) I get a clot

5.) I get both of these, or a big leak and it all comes undone and I end up filling my body cavity with protein shakes or some horror

6.) I get the scar tissue thing where they have to give you a scope and insert a balloon to dilate the stoma where your tubes are bypassed because you can't eat or drink.

7.) I have to have No.6.  loads of times like Kacy Quinn! (Youtube!)

8.) I suffer horrific internal bleeding like another YouTuber had from an ulcer or similar.

9.) I die in pain.

10.) IT DOESN'T WORK

Yes, the whole thing not working is worse than death!!!

So this is my list. I am actually going to ask all of these questions to my surgeon as I am worried also about the money aspect. I mean, if something goes wrong and I'm in hospital for weeks… who pays?

I'm guessing that this is factored into the fees… sort of like an insurance? Those that have no issue basically pay for those that do… that kind of thing maybe? Maybe the surgery itself is really like £5000 but £1500 of it covers any serious issues. That then builds up so even though someone hasn't paid any extra, they will be covered. I dunno I'm just rambling.

But anyway, that's my current worry focus. So, to try and get away from it, and give myself the best fighting chance, I'm just making plans. I've got my vitamins to start taking in about 2 weeks time, which will then be about 3 weeks before the surgery rather than the suggested 2.

Here's what I have so far:



The first one, Hair Skin and Nails, contains a lot of vitamins useful for building and repairing our skin. So this will be good for getting my body ready to help heal itself. I thought that was a nifty idea ;-)

The Vitamin C I have bought as melons. There has been a lot of studies conducted which suggest that those taking vitamin C after surgery heal quicker and have less side effects like by HALF!  As I won't be able to swallow pills, I bought the melt variety. You can read about it here: Vitamin C. These will be great as I can take them immediately after surgery.

Now the other ones… Grapeseed Extract and Bromelian. There is a herbal tablet about called InflammEnz. Trials suggest that people taking it heal 17% faster than those that don't, although I am always dubious with such things ( even though that's taken from WebMD). I'm guessing it can't hurt! It contains 7 different vitamins and enzymes and the following:

Vitamin C
Bromelian
Rutin
Grapeseed Extract

Infammenz is expensive though and, to be honest, looks a bit of a quack item. Packaging is proper crappy and it just looks whack. So I am going to be taking the main ingredients from it separately and at a fraction of the cost. As I'm getting ready little by little, Rutin (a bio flavonoid) is still to be purchased. A job for today!

Also, after surgery I am not eating to be throwing hundreds of pills down my throat, and whilst I was browsing in Holland and Barrett health food store, I came across this:



I can literally pump 4 squirts of this on my tongue and thats my full compliment of vitamins for the day! No water, no swallowing. Fabulous. It was also only £10 for 40 days!

So I'm doing all I can to be ready, and hopefully be in the best place to help myself heal.

On another positive note, I have had NO PORT PAIN for about a week. That means I haven't had to take tramadol, and haven't been itching myself to death either. Phew!! I have Co-Amoxiclav antibiotics real to go just incase it flares up again, but as we speak… all good. :)


Friday, 22 July 2016

Waste of time. Plan A it is!

I went to my appointment today at a big Cambridge Hospital regarding my port pain.

I have been waiting to see the chap there (Mr. H) for about 2 months, so I wasn't going to cancel even though I have already booked my bypass surgery. Which I didn't tell him about either ;)

I arrived, a nurse checked my weight and height and then I sat with about 35 other people in a swelteringly hot room with all the windows shut slowly wilting. Thankfully it was only about 45 minutes that I had to wait.

Yet another nurse took me through to the consultation room and I sat there and waited some more.

Mr H. came through and asked me why I was there (!!) so I briefly told him: Lap band 10 years ago, which was then replaced some time later as it had burst, Huntingdon hospital didn't pick that up so I had had a lot of pain for months on end etc… Then I explained that in late February '16 I felt very bad pain in my port area similar to when my band broke before, which grew and grew and on 17th March I went to A&E as I thought there was something seriously wrong. They couldn't see anything, so sent me home with codeine. Then I was referred for CT scan because I was still in pain and now having to take tramadol regularly, which I had on 17th May. Apparently there was also nothing untoward in that regard either (except for my clips had come off from where I was sterilised 15 years ago arghhh!!!!)

I showed him the progressive photos of the bruise/bleed that appeared under my scar and got gradually bigger 2 weeks ago, but has since faded. I also showed him shots of the bruise by my tummy button.

Now remember today is 22nd July 2016, and the pain began suddenly exactly 5 months ago on the 22nd February. The bruising happened only 2 weeks ago.

He then felt the port a little for about 10 seconds and said I "probably" had a low grade infection, and would need antibiotics.

5 months to get antibiotics??? For God's sake!

Anyway, I said that actually I was very worried that as the pain was so sharp maybe it had flipped? and he said, "Weeeeell…. without referring you to X-ray to see the alignment bla bla…" In my mind then that's what you should flaming well do isn't it? But anyway, I then mentioned that I knew that if the band has eroded through the stomach wall it can cause a latent infection in the port site, but he was super vague and I got nothing apart from "It's a low grade infection… take antibiotics… it will come back… if its repeatedly getting infected then the system needs to be removed… more vague stuff, more vague stuff..."

No shit sherlock. Of course the damn thing needs to be removed!

The icing on the cake was when I said that if that was indeed the case, and the infection will keep coming back, then its horrible to just be constantly in pain for months on end and he said "Well there's nothing we can really do about that."

Wow. Cheers mate. All those years of training and this is all you can come up with.

So, after £7 bus fare and 3 hours of my life I'll never get back, he is writing a letter to my GP saying that I have some antibiotics immediately, and referring me to a level 3 obesity team.

Now, lets be clear, I understand that level 1 is like "If you eat less and move more you will get thin". Level 2 is a bit more advanced and gives you suggestions like "Did you know lettuce is good and donuts are bad?" and possibly someone looking down their nose at you and tutting in the hope you are shamed into losing weight. Level 3 seems to be the one where you get help after bands or bypass, or access to those treatments, but basically he is referring me to them so that if the infections keep coming back I will have it removed.

Going by previous encounters with these so called urgent referrals, I should get an appointment to see how the antibiotics are doing around the same time as I get back from my surgery in Brugge!!!!!!

Then I can just tell them to shove their crap care and pass the patient parcel game up their supposedly educated arses.

On a brighter note, I found my Hospital Card for AZ St. Jan Hospital, so that should save me some time and effort on the other side!







Monday, 18 July 2016

Pondering portions

Pondering what a meal will be like after bypass.

Last night we had bbq steak, jacket potato with sour cream and cajun green beans.


Now, considering I still have a lap band, I was able to eat most of this. But, here's what I left of the meal:


Then, it crossed my mind that this little bit in the centre might be the actual size of a 'big' meal post bypass (obviously a long way past bypass, but still). Just struck me that my leftovers, would kind of be my meals in the future! Ha! Love it!

Saturday, 16 July 2016

T minus 52 days!

Its booked. 7th September is the day I have my conversion to Gastric Bypass.

I'm travelling to Brugge on 5th September with my Mum and Dad. I was going to just go with my Mum but she will be alone in a city for 2-3 days and although I'm sure she will be fine, I don't want to be worrying that she's lost in Belgium on her own!

So my dear old Dad is coming too. We've booked a 2 bedroom apartment which should be lovely. It's in the centre of Brugge so they can go off mooching for the day. It's close enough to the hospital that I can probably walk there for my pre op tests, and a Taxi back from the hospital isn't going to cost the earth either.

I am debating on taking the ferry or the tunnel. I think the ferry will be the cheapest, but it also takes loads of time too. like 2 & 1/2 hours :(

But I think that's easiest.

My parents live about 130 miles away away from us, and in the opposite direction from the port of Dover. because of this I am debating on collecting my parents from their home and then dropping them off afterwards, or whether my hubby and I will meet them half way, and then he can just drive home with their car and do the same on return.

Hmmm decisions decisions.

 

If I went directly to Dover from my house it would take about 2 and a half hours.

If my Mum and Dad went directly to Dover from their house it would take about 2 hours.

If I drive to man mum and Dad's house it would take about 2 and a half hours…

Adding this data together it means that I would have to drive for about 4 and a half hours each way.

Meeting definitely seems the best option then doesn't.

Cool. I'm glad we had this chat!! Now I have to convince them that this is indeed the best plan.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

A new expedition?

Dear friends, you've listened to me whinge and whine about the band for the last 10 years, but me and the old goat are about to part. It's the last couple of weeks that I can whinge about it ever again.

Albert Ladysmith Steptoe, as I like to call my band, has been a pain in the backside (well stomach) for pretty much all of that time, and now it's had its last laugh.

For the last couple of months I have had excruciating pain in my port area. It started suddenly, and was a stabbing, continuous knife twisting pain.

As I'm sure you remember. I had that kind of pain back in May 2007 when my original band burst and the tubing whipped through my body cavity causing me endless distress and a new surgery 6 months later when I found out!

Because of this experience, I went to the hospital. I didn't mince my words, I made darn sure that I said I wanted to see the X-Ray after it had come through! When my original band burst, and the tubing flew off of my port, I went to hospital. They did an X-ray, CT scan and an ultrasound. I stayed in hospital for 3 days and even heard the nurse at a night changeover suggest "She's either in a lot of pain, or she's a very good actress" which I thought was a bit of a cheek! I was released after they checked all of those things as apparently there was nothing wrong with me... Possibly some IBS, maybe passed a kidney stone, maybe a little diverticulitis... But basically I was good to go.

BUT I WAS NOT!!!

The moronic doctors, radiologists and consultants had missed that there was a massive piece of tube lying in my guts all the way down to my pelvis, a disconnected port for no good reason and a load of shrapnel from the exploded buckle! For god's sake!!


Because of that I spent the next 6 months getting pointless fills, being told I would lose weight, being hungry, getting bigger, having serious pain whenever I bent over, cancelling work right left and centre etc etc until I went back to Belgium to see what the hell was going on,  just because they didn't spot that there was something wrong.

So, this time I was going to see those X-Ray's!

Everything was connected. The port looked fine and they didn't know what was up with me. I was booked for a CT scan, which I had on 17th May (yes, even the same timing as my original band break!!) and that showed up nothing untoward apparently... Except the clips on my Fallopian tubes from where I had been sterilised in 2001 had come off though 😳😳😳😳😳 Somewhat concerning! DH has still managed to glide over the fact we are getting him sorted as I'm not having a baby now with a 18 year age gap between his/her brother! And I like my sleep 😂

So I now have a port that's mega painful, occasionally massively bruises up under my old surgery scar, occasionally bruises near my belly button - those deep red bruises of a bleed not just a bump.
Old Gastric Band port scar
Strange bleed near my tummy button

I'm seeing a consultant about it on 22nd July. He's an NHS chap who deals with people who've had previous elective gastric surgery privately, or surgery abroad, and hopefully he can shed some light on it.

I have read a little here and there, as one does, and it's going to be bad whatever happens. The band will have to be removed, I'm dead sure. And the NHS won't give me a new one, or a bypass at the same time.

Either my port has flipped over or herniated causing the trauma locally, or the more likely story is that my band has eroded through my stomach wall. The band travelling through the stomach wall is pretty common, and is not as horrendous a problem as it seems per se.... But the buckle on the band is an issue. This lovely situation means that bugs from the guts travel down the tubing at the point of least resistance, and infect the port site. Pain at the port, swelling and stuff like that are oftentimes the only symptom.

I can no longer actually feel my port. It's all lumps and bumps and is too painful to feel naturally. I have braved the pain for a bit and had a dig about but I can't find it. I'm hoping that this means it's just a flip, but I always fear the worst, as with this little bit of silicone, it's always been the worst.

At any rate. The band is coming out. I have contacted Dr. Dillemans in Brugge and have made arrangements for him to remove it and convert me to a bypass. Surgery is likely to take place at the beginning of August nicely timed to coincide with the school holidays!

There I've said it, written it and now it's going to come true. Bypass me baby!