This is the 5th blog in my journey series. This blog is being released on the day that my life changed forever. On the 11th of May 2015, I underwent weight loss surgery. The journey that I went on to arrive to this moment two years ago was incredible and emotion, but 2 years ago – My new life began.
Day of Surgery
The day had finally arrived. I was going to be going to the hospital as a fat person, and leaving with a new path to follow. A path of healthy living. The hospital was going to perform gastric bypass on me which would change my life forever. Getting weight loss surgery was not an easy feat to accomplish. At the end of the day, I was getting it because I needed help. The journey to this day was rough and tiring, but what a journey it was.
Before I left to go to the hospital, I made sure that I had everything packed and ready to go. Some night clothes and some form of entertainment. I also made sure I took a picture of how I looked before I left. Who knows, maybe I’ll be able to recreate that picture a few years down the line and look at the difference.
I was going to the hospital with my auntie, who throughout my journey had been a massive support. She told me that she would be there for the whole day to see me into surgery, then to spend time with me in the recovery room. We had to wait in the waiting room for about 5 hours. I had to arrive early to get my weight checked, to make sure everything was good to go.
I still remember the day like it was yesterday.
Going into surgery
When my name was called to go off for surgery, I told my auntie I loved her and followed the nurse through. Complications could happen (as with any surgery) and I did not want to regret not saying that beforehand. Of course I told my family I loved them too before I left.
When I got taken through to the back, I was told what would happen. I was told to go through to the changing room and place my hospital gown on. I also had to put on compression socks. These would help the circulation in my feet/ankles so I would not get blood clots. They were horrible to put on and very tight, but it had to be done.
After I was dressed in the proper attire, I was brought into a room and the surgeon was there. We were able to talk for a little bit while I was put onto the bed. The anesthetist also came through and talked through with me what would happen. I would receive a jag that once inserted, I should start counting until I could not anymore. Once we finished talking, I was wheeled through to the preparation room.
This was it.
The nurses worked around me and the surgeon was getting himself ready. The anesthetist started talking to me very gently while he put the injection into my hand and kept telling me I was doing well.
I started to count.
1, 2, 3….
I blacked out.
The next thing I remembered was slowly waking up and hearing lots of noises. A nurse came over and told me that I was in the recovery room and everything was fine. I would be wheeled into a ward soon, I just needed to wake up first. So I am just laying there in a bed not able to feel anything, being incredibly confused. It was a very strange feeling. God damn anesthetic.
After what felt like forever, I was wheeled through the hospital into a ward where my auntie was waiting for me. The only thing I can remember at this point was how tired I felt. I believe I was currently on various antibiotics and painkillers. I’m fairly certain I was also on morphine also. That stuff can knock you out! When in the ward, I also noticed that I had a big drip attached to me and that I had a blood bag attached to one of the holes in my stomach with a drain. That thing was freaky as shit.
The surgeon would come in to see how I was, alongside other doctors who I had never seen before. Other dietitians would also come in to see how I was feeling and they would let me know when I would be allowed to leave.
I remember the the first night in the hospital very well. It was disgusting. I was hardly able to sleep and I felt like I was constantly going to be sick. I needed to call the night nurse through several times to ask what was wrong. She even had to help me go to the toilet. That was the worst thing ever, not being able to walk. I think I took a heavy hit with the antibiotics and the operation. Everything was fine though, I just needed time to recover.
Days in hospital
The amount of time in hospital varies for people who have had weight loss surgery. Some people are only in one night and then they are allowed to leave. For most gastric bypass patients, it is usually two nights. However since my body was struggling and I needed to be looked after quite a lot, I was kept in longer. After 2 nights I slowly started to feel better. I was not feeling as sick in my gut as I originally was. My stomach also started to allow me tiny bites of jelly and drink little bits of liquid. That is all I was allowed at the start.
Hospital visits from family and friends!
I enjoyed having visits from family. My auntie, my mum, my sister and my good friend Myrathi (and others!). They all lifted my spirits because regardless of the reason, being cooped up in a hospital sucks. I received a variety of get well cards and I enjoyed reading from time to time on my new Kindle Paperwhite (which I bought precisely for this moment!). I was also able to visit another patient who had weight loss surgery too. She was lovely and we were able to visit one another whenever we liked.
On the 3rd day in hospital, I was informed that I had a high temperature and they would be keeping me in for another night, just to monitor me. At this point I felt like I could go home and start recovering from there without the help of nurses. But they wanted to just keep an eye on me.
The 4th day I was hopeful that I would be allowed to go back home. I had many visits from the dietitian and the surgeon. Finally I was given the all clear to go home. My auntie and uncle picked me up and took me home. When I arrived back home, I just sat on the couch for a little bit to talk to my family. I then retired to the bed.
I was ready to start my post-op diet and begin my new life.
For the next little while, I would be following a post-op diet. At the meeting this diet was explained to us. Before going to hospital, I had everything prepared for this diet. Since the operation changes the stomach completely, I was basically back to square one when it comes to food.
For the first 2 weeks post-op, I was only allowed to consume liquid foods. This included things such as protein shakes, chicken broth (with no bits), jelly, lollypops (sugar free), unsweetened juice and water.
For the 3rd and 4th weeks post-op, I was allowed to consume pureed foods. This could be food that blended well or were able to be mashed up with a fork. Food that could be consumed during this time were things like cottage cheese, soft vegetables, mashy potatoes and eggs.
For the 5th and 6th weeks post-op, it was finally onto soft foods. These had to be easy to chew and not completely solid. Food could be things such as diced or minced meat, soft fruits and cooked vegetables without the skin.
Once the 8th week arrived, if I was handling everything well, I was allowed to start trying various different solid foods that would be good for my diet.
The first 8 weeks post-op were the longest weeks of my life.
Over the next few months, I would need to visit the dietitians for post-op check ups. They would weigh me and monitor how I was getting on. I was told I would have meetings every few weeks at the start, then monthly, every 3 months, 6 months, 1 year and 2 years.
At 16 to 18 months post-op, if I wanted to start the process for plastic surgery which would remove excess skin in areas of my body, I only needed to ask. They would then weigh me and see if I would be eligible.
However I had mixed opinions about this.
During my entire journey to weight loss surgery, I was in an amazing relationship with my partner from the Netherlands. Being apart from him for long periods of time was hard. I did not know whether or not I wanted to wait longer in order to move over with him.
It was now time to make a final decision. Would I want to go forward for plastic surgery, or leave it?
How was my life after operation?
Was it all worth it?