My name is Lorna, I am 42 years old and live in Ayrshire. At the moment I am about 6 stone overweight with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of nearly 40. I don’t know quite how things got to this stage-but they have and it`s time for a reality check.
I do know how I feel and that`s fat, miserable and out of control. In the space of 4-6 years I have gone from being a very fit, slim, confident, attractive woman to this flabby, unfit, couch potato with poor self-esteem and so little motivation to exercise that I can barely get over the front door some days. (I shall go into this a bit more later).
It’s not all doom and gloom though and in many ways I am blessed. I am lucky enough to have a fantastically brilliant and supportive son, a marvellous, caring mother and some super pals ….I am solvent, own my own home, have a nice car and a good job.
I am due to have gastric band surgery at the Nuffield Hospital, Glasgow on the 4th August 2010. My specialist surgeon (the man who will soon `tame the beast`) is the accomplished and charming Mr David Galloway.
I have decided to write about my own experience so that I can share my thoughts, fears, hopes and achievements with you over the coming months ….warts and all!
This is just the start of my journey and it’s so exciting….I feel like I am on the cusp of a new life. Hopefully a happier, fitter and healthier new life!
I am, however, under no illusions that this procedure is the easy option or a `cop-out`. I see it as a tool to help me get to where I want and need to be.
In my head I see it very much like stopping smoking…something which I am proud to say I have achieved in 2010 after many years of trying. Smoking as any current or ex-smoker will tell you is a very, very hard habit to break. I was truly and utterly addicted -smoking 20 plus a day for the past 26 years. I tried numerous times in the past to stop…and failed miserably. ..a bit like losing weight really. I thought I would never be able to quit.
I wanted to stop and hated being a smoker….so why couldn’t I do it? I felt like a failure – trapped, thinking I would
never be able to give up the fags…feeling like a dirty `junkie` hiding in the shadows – ashamed of my secret vice…funny how I feel like that with food at the moment. I don’t like eating in front of certain people for fear of the `who ate all the pies` comments or equally hurtful looks that say are you sure you need that biscuit!!
I work as a health care professional so this made it even worse…oh the disgrace!
Well I am now proud to say I have not smoked a cigarette since March. (even though I have gained close to 2 stones in weight).
I couldn’t have done it on my own. I needed HELP to quit. I thankfully got the help I needed through my local doctor who prescribed a 12 week course of Champix (Varenicline) tablets which helped me through to the other side. I now firmly sit with the non smokers and feel like I have been released from the clutches of the nicotine monster.
Champix is the latest tool in the smoking cessation armoury and is available through your GP on the NHS. Not all GP`s are prepared to prescribe it however, mainly due to the fact that it is much more expensive than other methods. You must have tried nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) and show motivation to quit before they will consider handing over `the goods`.
Although research has proven that Champix (Varenicline) is having a good success rate in helping more smokers to quit it is certainly not a magic pill that will make you stop if you are not motivated to do so.
You have to really WANT to quit and it still takes a modicum of willpower.
The difference is that for me compared to going `cold turkey` Champix made the process and the cravings manageable and success achievable.
Ok….sorry to harp on about the smoking thing but I think it is very relevant and akin to being overweight and out of control with food.
For me anyway it’s one and the same really. It`s about dealing with and overcoming an addiction…. whether it be alcohol, nicotine, food, sex or gambling .
For this lady I see the gastric band as a TOOL in my fight to be slim again in the same way that Champix helped me to quit the fags. It will allow me to deal with the physical cravings i.e hunger, so I can deal with the emotional cravings and the changing inner me.
At the end of this process I hope to think more like the thin person I used to be. I want to eat to live and not live to eat, enjoy exercise again put this Mrs Blobby to bed.
I`m not expecting it to be easy as I know that I am the one who ultimately will have to stop stuffing my face with rubbish.
I have established from my own research, talking to Mr Galloway and speaking to other post-banders that there are many ways to `beat the band` should you so desire. Chocolate, ice-cream, milk shakes, wine etc., etc. will slip through the surgeons carefully engineered restriction like water down a drain.
I am prepared for some hard days ahead (in my head) and am sure there will be some tough times along the way but at the moment I am feeling hopeful, optimistic and desperately eager to get going, say adios to old habits and get on with living again.
I have not come this far for failure to be an option…..bring on the band!
This is just the start of my journey and to tell you the totally honest truth I am more scared about writing this blog than the surgery itself so please be kind to me! Having weight loss surgery does not make you a lazy, weak or a bad person. I hope to prove that and wave the flag of success in the faces of all the cynics out there.
Reaching the decision to undergo weight loss surgery has been a complex and at times emotional process. It has not been a decision I have taken lightly and I am under no illusions that the coming months are going to be a walk in the park either….I’m sure there are going to a `few tears and snotters along the way` to use a good old Scottish phrase.
I do hope that in some way by writing about my experiences it will help others contemplating or undergoing surgery realise that they are not alone as well as being a reflective, cathartic process for me personally.
It`s taken me quite a while to come to the point where I am ready to come out of the closet and speak openly about my forthcoming surgery.
The whole Fern fiasco in the press did not do us bandits any favours.
Fern was pretty much universally loved by the British public before the whole band debacle came out and I feel that had she come out and told the truth from day one the country would have supported her much more. Instead she chose to keep schtum, with the result that we all felt cheated, duped, lied to.
The `trust` had gone.
She had been deceptive and forthright in her denial. This resulted in the public turning on her unsurprisingly.
It must have been a very dark and lonely place for Fern when the truth came out after keeping it a secret for so long. I do not think badly of Fern (in many ways I truly admire her) but I would have had more respect for her had she just been honest from day one.
I feel that having made the decision to come out I will be able to live with my conscience. I detest cheats and liars and I would hate in the future to be named and shamed by my friends or colleagues or labelled as a fabricator of the truth….. I don’t want the band to ever be my dirty little secret.
I suppose in saying that I will need to bolster myself up for the odd negative comment but in my mind I feel that I can more than justify my decision to go ahead with surgery. It`s my body, my life and I am doing nobody any harm so why the hell should I be ashamed!
For some reason I am not even the slightest bit worried about the op itself. It’s a means to an end and from what I have heard fairly stress-free and pain free. The surgery in my mind is going to be the easy bit. I shall endeavour to explain why:
1. I NEED to do this for me ….so in some ways it’s a case of keep looking forwards….I see no ships!
2. I have total faith in Mr Galloway. He has performed over 800 procedures successfully and is very experienced in laparoscopic weight loss surgery, having both worked in Scotland and the States within this field for many years.
3. I live in Ayrshire, 45 minutes by car from the Nuffield, Glasgow – so should things go off beam in the future I am just a short journey away from getting the right help and support locally.
4. I am not travelling to Europe and putting my life in the hands of a faceless surgeon and (team ??) who may not even speak the same lingo as me, never mind have the ability to keep me safe. Plus I don’t particularly fancy being a `banded refugee` if things were to go wrong post op.
5. I feel very secure in the knowledge that post banding I will have the full Glasgow team behind me for support. (Hospital, surgeon, specialist nurse, dietician, psychologist etc).
6. The surgery itself is a low risk minimally-invasive procedure with a low rate of peri-operative complications (i.e. things going wrong during the op). I keep well, don’t smoke anymore (yay me!) and have no medical conditions (thankfully) that could increase my risk of anaesthetic and post-op complications developing.
7. Any scarring should be minimal (a small price to pay).
8. I feel for me that being overweight is more of a medical risk than the surgery itself.
9. The prospect of what the surgery can offer me in terms of future quality of life, health and happiness far outweighs any small risk.
10. All going well I should be fighting fit and back to work within 2 weeks.