Diagram of Operation

Diagram of Operation
My new tummy arrangement after gastric mini bypass

Sunday, 17 July 2011

The Last Day of My Old Fat LIfe

When I woke up this morning after a not so good night's sleep, the sun was just sneaking in on the window wall but, by the time I had listened to the news and decided to get out of bed, it was raining - just what I need for wandering around the rabbit area and then the field. 

I decided to go and sort out all the animals before I had a shower, so my feet would be pristine clean for my arrival in hospital.  I usually shower first, but, I wear Crocs without socks, not a fashion item I agree, but very comfortable for feet which have spread under a massive weight over the years. 

The problem is that, particularly on wet mornings, the wet grass and mud sneak in through the pattern of holes in the top of and the non-existent backs of the Crocs.  So I decided to do everything, including clearing up the kitchen and loading the dishwasher before showering and washing my hair.  I shall have the joy in the hospital of showering tonight and tomorrow morning in Hibiscrub so I'm as bacteria free as possible. 

One thing that always worries me about being away from home, wherever I am, is leaving the cats.  In October last year, Mimi disappeared on my second day of six away and never returned home.  Two years before that Oscar also went out never to return while I was in England for five days. 

My friends will come in to feed all the animals, including Daisy, Purrdy and Alfie, and because there is a cat door they can come and go as they wish, so have everything they need except, perhaps, the cuddles and kisses I subject them to.

I feel very vulnerable and although part of me is longing to get this all over and wishing it was this time next week, part of me doesn't want it to happen at all.  I know I have to have the op and obviously I won't back down, but it seems very daunting now the time's come.

I am beginning to doubt whether I shall be able to stop putting things into my mouth which I know I mustn't eat.  All the medical people I've seen have said, it isn't a miracle cure.  You still have to control what you eat and drink.  I'm just having a bit of self-doubt and can't seem to be positive at the moment. 

I hate the beds in hospital.  I am far too fat for a single bed and turning over is really awkward and difficult.  You can see how there is not a lot of room for me in this photo taken six weeks ago after my parathyroidectomy.

And here's another photo taken in May this year at my Book Group - it will be good to lose the apron of fat that falls from my tummy, but I'm worried about finally having to have the loose skin removed.  I feel as if the operations are never going to end.  I wish I didn't feel so negative today, but I do.   I think it's called panicking!

Just before midday I took my final morbidly obese photo.

I have just got on my scales and weigh in at exactly 143.1 kilos/315½ lbs/22stones 7½lbs. I shall obviously weigh differently on the hospital scale, or I should think I will, scales usually vary.

I will go by these scales all the way through my weight loss journey.

Today I've eaten a warmed pain au raisin with butter, a bar of chocolate and finally, for lunch, fried bacon, fried bread, fried tomatoes and mushrooms.   I decided to freeze the duck I was going to have and chose the fryup for my last fat meal.

The longest I should be in the hospital is seven days and hopefully it will be much shorter.  I'll keep a note of what happens while I'm away and I'll be posting again as soon as I'm home and have an internet connection.   Thanks to everyone who has been sending messages of support -  it's hard to express how much they've been appreciated. x

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Food and Measurements

I've got to think of something to fill my day, not only today, but to take the time up which I used to enjoy sorting out food. My fridge is almost empty. No more camembert, no chocolate bars, only half a pack of butter left. Usually there would be loads of cheeses, chocolate bars and at least four packs of butter. There is still some cream, but it's long life so can wait until my daughter and grandson come over in August. I have no biscuits left and no crisps or nuts. It seems to me that I shall be very much better off when I'm not buying lots of food, which is just as well as eventually I will have to buy clothes which fit the final me.

It's hard to imagine being slimmer. I've been so fat for so long now that it's become the norm for me. Though something in my brain must think I'm still a normal size, because I'm constantly banging my tummy or bum against door frames as I always think I can get through gaps which are definitely too small. I just can't imagine being able to see my feet when I'm standing up, without leaning dangerously forward. I'm always having to think about treading on Purrdy, my new kitten, who is permanently by my feet when I'm walking around and who I just can't see under my bust and tummy.

It's been a rotten weather day here today. Grey and raining on and off, so I couldn't sit outside which I had been hoping to do. I have loads of magazines which I've been given and I had planned to enjoy some of those in the sunshine. It was not to be.

I went to see the Pharmacist in case my bespoke stockings had arrived, but no luck, so it will be down to someone to bring them in to me when they are telephoned by the shop to say that they've been received there.

The supermarket is next to the Pharmacy, so I went in and got a few bits and pieces. They don't often have watercress and I love it, so when I saw that was in I had to buy that. I came back home to have a watercress sandwich followed by a chocolate bar mid-morning.

This time tomorrow I will be in my hospital room. As I think about this I'm just eating a bowl of strawberries with sugar and cream. I like to dip the strawberries in the cream and then into the sugar. I wonder if I'll have supper tomorrow night, or whether once I arrive that will be the start of my "nil by mouth" leading up to my operation. I shall have my lunch here tomorrow, which will be duck breast with watercress, beetroot and new potatoes. I've got one crème brulée left, so that will be my last indulgent pudding.

I've just walked up the studio stairs to find a tape measure to take my measurements. I was stunned! In fact, that's an understatement.

Bust   136cm – 53.5ins (a lot of back fat too in that measurement)
Waist 138cm – 54.3ins (difficult to find the correct place)
Hips   172cm – 67.7ins (I have the biggest bum of anyone I've ever known)
Calf     54cm – 21.3ins (I've never worn full wellies - always cut them shorter)

Roll on tomorrow's trip to the hospital!

Friday, 15 July 2011

I should have been operated on today

I’m feeling quite nervous today, perhaps it’s because it should have been operation day for me.  It would have all been over by now and I would have been back in my room.  I know the delay is only three days, but three days seem to go very slowly when you're waiting for something.  I hadn’t arranged to do anything or see anyone as I wasn't going to be around and I’d just finished my book, so was at a loose end.

I sat in the garden for a while and then came back in and watched an old episode of Waking the Dead which I'd recorded.  This afternoon we had a bit of rain, luckily my washing had dried by then.  

Sorting out my stuff for packing yesterday brought home to me for the second time recently just how tatty some of my clothes are, particularly my underwear.  I had originally thought the bypass would be sooner, and kept putting off buy new things until after the operation.  In the end, it was much longer than I had expected and I really did need new clothes.   Still, I won't by buying anything new for ages, as I have loads of clothes, apart from trousers, which will fit me as I go down through the sizes.  I may treat myself to a few things when I go back to England in October for my daughter's birthday.  Finding suitable clothes in Brittany doesn't seem as easy as going to shops that I am familiar with in Cornwall.

The first time I was aware of my underwear shortfalls was on Monday when I had to visit the Pharmacist to tell him about not having received my prescription for made-to-measure surgical stockings for my hospital stay.  He said he'd measure me anyway and I could take the prescription in later or he'd get the hospital to fax him one.  We went into this little enclosed space where he knelt on the floor at the same level as my knickers in order to take loads of different measurement on each leg for these bespoke stockings.  As I removed my trousers, I couldn't remember which pants I had on and couldn't see because of my huge stomach overhang.  It was only when I got home that I could see that there was a 2"/5cm strip of elastic which had parted from the top of my knickers.  Embarrassing?  Yes!  This must have been why my mother always told me I had to have decent underwear on when I went out!

I don't feel I have much to say and I'm feeling a bit negative today, so rather than rambling on for the sake of it, I'll finish here. 

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Veggies, Packing and a Surprise on the Landing

It’s the Fourteenth of July – Bastille Day, and a public holiday here in France.  No-one is out it seems.  The roads are deserted at the moment around my village.  I haven’t heard a single vehicle except for mine going up to the field to do the animals and pick some vegetables.  Yesterday I picked runner beans and spinach.  My runner beans are only just coming ready but most have reached the top of the frame.  You can see from the photographs that I love my vegetables, so I shall have lots of ingredients for soups after my mini gastric bypass.

It’s a lovely day again today.  Sun shining brightly and strongly even though, as I write this, it’s only 10.00am.  I picked broad beans, courgettes and more spinach, which I have already prepared for cooking.  

 My bargain purchase of tomatoes is bubbling away gently in a very large pan with cider vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper and garlic.  

 When everything is soft and gorgeous I shall whizz the beautiful red concoction and then pass it through a sieve.  It will then be ready to freeze,`for soup or sauces - if I can stop myself eating it all immediately.

I'm pleased with the part of my veggie plot behind the polytunnel this year, it seems to be really productive. 

Last night when I got off my stair lift on the landing, there was what appeared to be a small frog on the floor.  The cats often bring them in, so I wasn't surprised.  However, when I wrapped my hand gently around it to pick it up and take it back downstairs and into the garden, it tried to fly away!  It was a bat.  I was amazed.  I placed it on the outside pane of my velux window in the bathroom and shut the window.  I checked again before I went to sleep and it was still there, but this morning had disappeared.  It was quite a coincidence really.  Yesterday, I was visiting, a friend while there was a powercut in my village, she said that a bat had flown into her suspended sticky fly strip overnight.  As we didn't know the French translation for bat we looked it up in the dictionary, it was chauve-souris - for which the direct translation would be, bald mouse.

Mid-morning, the same friend came round to help me finish my hospital packing.  We packed from my computer-saved list into supermarket bags, which seemed easier than a suitcase. 

Apart from the few items I shall need right up until I leave home, everything is packed.  Result!

I feel alive today, which is why I have already achieved so much.  I was told that after my parathyroidectomy I would regain my energy and not feel so tired.  It didn’t seem to have happened.  At bowls on Tuesday one of the girls said I seemed to have more stamina and not be huffing and puffing as much.  Today although my back and knees are still difficult, I do feel as if I have some oomph back and it’s a great feeling!  Hopefully, this feeling will stay with me and as I lose weight I'll feel even more like being active again.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Shopping for the Extra Days and Starting the Packing

So, still four more nights at home before I go in after the delay due to the lack of anaesthetists.  As there was a power cut here today and I couldn't do much at home, I went shopping for the extra days' supplies I need.  I bought calves’ liver which I shall cook with bacon, onions, mushrooms, cream, parsley and lemon juice and have with new potatoes and butter. I bought mussels which I will do marinière style with shallots, Muscadet, parsley, seasoning and I always add cream. This gives a beautiful sauce to mop up with crusty French bread. I also bought a pack of chocolate desserts, some more milk (semi-skimmed nowadays) and three more bars of chocolate etc. etc.

I picked spinach and the first of this year's runner beans on the way home from coffee and charging my laptop with friends, so I have some green veggies to go with the calves' liver meal. 

There were lovely and very cheap vine tomatoes in the supermarket today.  Everyone was filling two or three bags and loading their trollies with them.  I bought one large bagful to make some sauce, as my own polytunnel tomatoe plants aren't producing large quantities yet.

I've been eating a chocolate bar a day this last week, as I shan't be able to have chocolate at all I don't think.   I've also had roast pork with crackling, bacon, fried eggs and fried bread, prawns in a cream sauce and all sort of other food loaded in calories.  What is weird is that I've only gained 700g in the last seven days.  Normally I wouldn't have dreamed of having all the food I love in one week - I can't explain it, but I'm just glad it's working out like this at the moment.

This afternoon, I've deadheaded petunias and roses, so hopefully the plants will continue flowering well.  In the driveway was this frothy pink poppy which I had to share.

I've started work on my packing list for the hospital stay.  Yesterday evening I sorted out all my medication, which has to go to the hospital in the original packaging with a copy of the prescription so that the staff can see exactly when you take what.  At home I use a tablet dispenser as I seem to take so many pills that's it's easier to fill that each week and not have to sort it out every day.  I hate not being in charge of my medication, or in charge of anything come to that.  I am used to doing things for myself and find it hard to relinquish control.

When I was in for my parathyroidectomy in June this year, I took in CDs with talking books.  I found these brilliant.  The scar site was on my neck under my chin and with the swelling it was difficult to bend my head down, so being able to listen to a book being read was great.  So since I've been back today, I've been sorting out some of the piles of CDs/DVDs in my cupboard.  There are loads.  A lot of them came with the Sunday papers which I used to buy when I lived in Cornwall and I never watched the DVDs or listened to the stories, so I've picked out twenty DVDs, several music CDs and a few talking books to take in with me.  I can't get the internet in hospital, but I can use my laptop to play CDs and DVDs and when I'm feeling like it I can write on it too.

Right that's it for today's posting.  Tomorrow I will start sorting out other bits and pieces from my packing list so I know I'll be ready on Sunday.  I hate finding and getting stuff ready for anything - holidays or hospital - and usually spend a week or doing it, laying it all out on the spare room bed.  So I'll do a bit each day and it won't seem so bad.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Slight Setback but Not a Real Problem

I played in the doubles tournament at Bowls Club this morning.  I partnered John, it was very enjoyable in spite of being knocked out in the preliminary round.  I did play a few more games for fun during the day, but wasn't playing well.  The final was excellent.  Well done to the winners, Keith and Peter, and well tried to the runners up, Sue and Darryl. 

I bought prawns on the way home to have for supper.  I’m cooking them in butter and garlic, tomato purée and lemon juice with pili pili and parsley.   I shall have them with crusty French bread to mop up the juices and indulge myself. 

It’s hard to imagine, but wonderful, that I shall be able to eat so little yet not feel hungry.   I have nearly cleared the fridge of things I won’t be eating after Thursday.  When I last went shopping I bought 0% fat 0% sugar yoghurts, apple compote and vegetable soup.  These will be my staples to begin with when I move to purée from just liquids. 

Opening the door of the fridge brings it home to me – usually it’s packed with goodies and it looks very empty indeed.   Everybody keeps telling me that it’s for the best and, of course, it is, I know that, I’m fat not stupid.  However, it’s a complete change of life forever for me.  I live alone.  Food is a hobby – one of those hobbies you can do on your own, although it’s good to cook and eat with other people too.  It has been a major interest of mine since I can remember.  Reading cookery books like novels, devising menus, enjoying choosing and shopping for food, cooking and finally eating my meals have taken up large parts of every day.  Nowadays I enjoy watching food programmes on the television and there are lots of them.  When someone asks me what I’d like to eat I never say “Oh – anything would be fine.”  I am very particular about what I eat – I love so many things.  

So – it’s going to be a change – a big change – a monumental change.  Luckily, in spite of the fact that I haven’t practised good healthy eating, I do know pretty much everything about nutrition and that will help me in the future.  I won’t be liquidizing fish and chips or dunking biscuits to make them soft enough to eat!   I’ll be a good girl because it’s my future that I’m making.

I had a dodgy moment on Monday.  I had received a file on 1 July from the hospital with a prescription in it for measured stockings for the operation and afterwards.  I took the prescription out of the file and promptly lost it.  I looked everywhere but couldn’t find it.  On 5 July I telephoned the hospital to ask for a duplicate prescription to be sent to me.  On Monday, when it still hadn’t arrived in the post I telephoned the hospital again.  They said it had been written on 5 July, but still not been signed and therefore not sent.  I called in to see my local pharmacist and he told me that there was not now time to get me measured, the order put in and to get it back by Thursday when I go into hospital.  To make matters more difficult, Thursday is Bastille Day here, a public holiday.  In the end he telephoned the hospital himself and agreed that I would go in without them and when they arrived at the Pharmacy that he would telephone friends of mine to collect them and take them to the hospital for me, although he didn’t know quite when that would be.

I was just going to post this blog when I listened to the answerphone.  My surgeon had left a message saying that due to holidays, there were not enough anaesthetists available this week and that I would have to delay and instead of going in on Thursday, go in on Sunday and have my operation on Monday, 18 July.  Ah well - only three days extra to wait, and I get to have a couple more "proper" meals!


Monday, 11 July 2011

What the Mini Gastric Bypass involves

Lots of people have asked me exactly what will actually happen during the operation.  Well - it isn't a gastric band.  It is a mini gastric bypass, which involves bypassing two metres of intestine and reducing the stomach to a pounch the size of my surgeon's thumb.  You can see a simple diagram of the procedure just under my blog heading.

After the operation my intake of nourishment will be restricted to liquids.  Within two weeks of the operation I should also be eating yoghurt and puréed fruit and vegetables.  Six weeks post-op I believe that chicken and fish can also be made into a purée and added to the list of things I am allowed to eat.  I have to say that with the puréed food we are talking about a couple of teaspoonsful to begin with and getting up to half a normal yoghurt pot size, so not bowl or platefuls!  Gradually you add very small solid pieces of food which have to be chewed very, very well before swallowing to avoid bits getting stuck and causing a lot of discomfort.  By six months most healthy food can be eaten but a third to a half of a plateful per meal is satisfyingly filling. 

Liquids are taken differently too.  Initially liquid is only allowed in 1-2oz quantities.  No liquids to be drunk an hour before a meal and half an hour to an hour after a meal.  This is partly because liquids will fill the stomach and not allow enough food nutrients to be eaten, but also because the liquids will turn the solid food into a "soup" allowing it to pass through the stomach too fast and not give the feeling of fullness essential to being satisified.

There is a problem which can occur called gastric dumping syndrome.  This happens where foods bypass the stomach too rapidly and enter the small intestine largely undigested.  "Early" dumping begins concurrently or immediately succeeding a meal. Symptoms of early dumping include nausea, vomiting, bloating, cramping, diarrhoea, dizziness and fatigue. "Late" dumping happens 1 to 3 hours after eating. Symptoms of late dumping include weakness, sweating, and dizziness. Many people have both types.  Apparently you feel as if you are dying and it is to be avoided at all costs.  Not eating sugary and fatty foods and chewing everything well should make this less likely to happen. 

Alcohol intake has to be limited as it's obviously very easy to consume lots of calories that way.  Luckily I am not worried about wanting to drink alcohol, I'd be more likely to want cream on my fruit purée, which wouldn't be good either.

So it's not a miracle cure, the mini gastric bypass.  It is an aide to eating sensibly and having a resultant weight loss, and I now only have three more nights at home before I go in to have mine done - yikes!

Sunday, 10 July 2011

My Life Improving after the Mini Gastric Bypass

Not many days left now before the operation.  It's hard to stop thinking about it.  Distractions are good.  Today I had another "last lunch" with my some of my writers' group friends and husbands.

We had a drink at the tables outside first

and then ate in the café at Bon Repos and just had the main course.  I had prawns with chips and salad and very good it was too.

We're talking about meeting for lunch regularly - yes even after the bypass - I can be a spectator and chatterer - having the company will be good. 

I’m listing yet more things which could/would change for the better after the mini gastric bypass.

I will have more energy and maybe even be able to get up out of a chair without groaning, and let’s face it, that is really ageing!  I can’t tell you how difficult it is to climb up into the Land Rover, it is so difficult because of the height, so currently I have a child’s step stool that I have strung so I can use it and then pull it up into the vehicle – I can’t believe I’ve written that down.

Currently, I keep a strong foldable chair permanently in the car so that I can always have a chair that fits me and won’t collapse, if I need to sit down outside at a friend’s house.

I would be able to fly without asking for an extension seat belt.  Why is it, I wonder that normal seat belts are silvery grey, but that the extension belt is bright orange.  Although I give my seat number to the cabin crew when I enter the plane they always start down the aisle waving the orange extension belt and shouting “Who was it who wanted the extension seat belt?” with all the passengers behind them turning round to check out the fat person.  It’s a good job I am not easily embarrassed!

I have often had to ask restaurants to provide a chair without arms as I can’t fit between them.  I have had to give up going to the cinema as the seats simply don’t accommodate me. 

Many years ago, when I rang the Hall for Cornwall to ask if all their seats had arms and explained why.  They were brilliant and said if I’d like to arrive half an hour early and check out the seats, they would remove an arm if necessary.  They didn’t have to, I fitted into a seat without problem, but it was a very kind offer, and it was good to find a newly fitted out building with kinder seating.

I will have a lap for the cats to sit on again and, if my grandson isn’t too big for a cuddle, he will be able to sit on me too.

I have one of those grabber things, to pick up miscellaneous items that I drop on the floor.  Bending down is very uncomfortable, not least when I’m playing bowls.  I use a lifter for picking up my woods, but still have to bend to bowl.  It would be good to be able to do that more easily and without getting hot and out of breath.

Again bending is difficult when gardening, so I don’t do nearly as much as I should, and have to pay others to help me out.  I love gardening and it will lovely to be able to do it mostly myself. 

I have to drive to my field where the animals and veggies are.  It’s 200 metres away, but because of my knees, back and breathlessness I have to use the car – crazy. 

So, there are a tremendous amount of things which will change for the better.  Even by Christmas this year, life should be much easier.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

The Reality of Being Fat

I’ve been trying to imagine life after the MGBP.   

At some point, I will apparently no longer need the breathing machine which pumps air into my nostrils twelve times a minute and which I have to use every night to cope with my sleep apnoea.  I also currently have an oxygen machine, which extracts oxygen from the air and feeds it into my breathing machine.  This was an addition which I acquired after further tests in October 2010 showed that my oxygen levels were way down on what they should be during the night.  Not having to cart the breathing machine around with me when I stay away from home will be a really good thing.  The oxygen machine has a room to itself in my house as it is too noisy to have in the same room as someone trying to sleep, so a whole room will be freed up. 

It may be that my asthma improves, although I don’t think it will disappear entirely, as I was asthmatic before I was fat, but any improvement would be good news.   

My stress incontinence may also improve, but scans in February showed that my bladder has dropped and does need surgery to make a real difference to this.  

My blood pressure may well drop sufficiently to enable me to stop the daily diuretics I take for that.  

My indigestion may also disappear and along with it the tablets I currently take each night. 

I take statins each morning for my high cholesterol and this will almost certainly drop to a normal level. 

Most of the above would give me the problem of what to do with my practically empty pill dispenser – a problem which I would dearly love to have to solve. 

I have also been borderline diabetic and am very lucky not to have developed diabetes.  Losing weight will make the possibility of diabetes much less likely and that has to be good. 

My knees are suffering from age and trying to carry me around and I have just had cortisone injections to try to alleviate the pain and inflammation.  My lower back is not good either and I sometimes walk with a cane now or I don’t walk.  It would be good to be able to pick things up easily when I drop them  and to get into and out of vehicles without huffing and puffing.

I have a stairlift at home and hate having to climb stairs when I'm out, because of the knee pain, the difficulty with breathing and the lack of speed getting up them.

Thank goodness, I have never really cared about my appearance.  It’s more important to be nice than to look nice.  I don’t use “products” – moisturizer, hair dye, make up (other than my lipstick), mascara, conditioner etc. etc.  I just use the cheapest shampoo and apply nivea to stop my lips cracking while I sleep.   

I currently wear very large knickers from BHS and the largest size bras - which are too small - from SuperU.  I wear men’s leisure pants trousers from Asda.  T-shirts aren’t such a problem.  Some of mine are men’s but it is possible to get women’s very large t-shirts in places like Asda, Tesco and Matalan.  I’ve never been a clothes horse, not even in my long distant slim days, but it would be lovely to have a choice again.  I always panic when flying away on holiday that I will be parted from my luggage and won’t be able to buy anything large enough to wear while I am away.  It is a problem – and one that now I won’t have for too much longer.  

When I was slim my feet were smaller and all my shoes were size 5.  As I got fatter and fatter my feet spread to take the weight bearing down on them and now all my shoes have to be size 7 and my feet are so wide that just about all I wear nowadays are Crocs – thank goodness for Crocs!  I don’t suppose I would ever want to totter about on 3” heels again, but slightly more elegant shoes would be nice.

This is me yesterday, photo taken by Keith, at the lunch I had with friends. 

Being slimmer sounds a really good idea.

Friday, 8 July 2011

"Last Supper" Lunch with friends

Yesterday I started to clear out my fridge.  I had two chickens which I'd cooked the day before, so I stripped them of their meat and bagged it for blitzing into soup when I am allowed soup with blitzed meat.  I made stock from the carcasses and froze that alongside the bags of chicken meat. 

I also cooked some of the beetroot from my veggie plot.  I ate a plateful and chopped and froze the rest, also for soups later. 
My list for things to take with me into hospital is growing daily.  It’s difficult not knowing exactly how long I will be staying.  When I asked the surgeon’s secretary she said “Une petite semaine” – a little week!  I asked what a little week was and she said 5-6 days.  I see on the list I’ve just found, of questions I asked the last time I saw the surgeon that I’ve written 3-7 days, so obviously not possible to know really.  I hope it’s three days as I have real problems with my back in the beds.  Although, like mine at home, they’re adjustable, I can never quite get it right and always end up on painkillers, not for my medical condition but for the pain in my lower back.  Moan, moan, moan – I know - but there’s nothing worse than all pain and no sleep.

When Libby, my daughter, was here in Brittany at Easter, she sorted into sizes my huge collection of t-shirts.  This morning I was using stain remover to get some grease out of a t-shirt and after I’d put it in the washing machine, I thought, I didn’t really need to do that, I could just throw it away as I’ll soon be out of these huge t-shirts.  Strange concept – that I shall definitely be into a different size clothes within three months – good, but quite hard to get my head around.

Today, I met twelve other members of my Bowls Club for a lunch at Relais du Lac at Caurel. 

It was suggested by two of the members once I had told them about my operation date having finally been given to me.  It was a bit like a “last supper”.  We had a good lunch and lots of chat and laughter.  My starter of prawns disappeared very easily and the chicken in a cider and cream sauce with chips went the same way.

Desert was a blackcurrant and a strawberry sorbet and coffee.  I really enjoyed the lunch and the support of the other members, and especially that they paid for me!  

They're a good bunch of people - thank you if you're reading this. 

Just managed to drive home before the rain started pouring down.   When I got home I was asked what I was having for tea?  Not a lot I think after my lovely lunch - the portions were not small. 

This time next week I will have had my operation - butterflies in the tummy!  

Thursday, 7 July 2011

One week to go before I go into hospital for my mini gastric bypass

Phew! I can hardly believe that it's only seven days, seven nights and a week of meals before I go into hospital for my mini gastric bypass.  I am equally excited and frightened.  No that's not true.  I am 90% frightened.  I worry about surviving the anaesthetic and I worry about surviving the operation itself.  

I have no need to worry about the anaesthetic, as only thirty-seven days ago I was in the same hospital having a parathyroid tumour removed under general anaesthetic and obviously survived.  I have faith in the hospital, Yves le Foll in St Brieuc, Brittany, whose staff are efficient, kind and respectful.  I also have faith in the surgeon, who is Dr David Le Chaux.  He removed my gall bladder in the last week of November 2009 and I had no problems at all post-operatively.  He removed my gall bladder by minimally invasive surgery, via five portholes, which is the way my mini gastric bypass will be carried out as well.

I am sixty-four and today weigh 142.8 kg - 22 stones and 7 pounds - 305 pounds.  In future I shall deal in kilograms, as that is the unit for being weighed here in Brittany, France.

Here are four photographs which were taken six months ago at Christmas in England

I don't normally wear t-shirts with text, but when I saw this in Asda it looked appropriate for the photographs.

If you want to click on the photographs you can look at them in a larger format - if you can bear to!  I am a couple of kilos heavier now than I was in the photographs, but I look pretty much the same.   When I can lay my hands on a tape measure, I'll take measurements of my bust, waist (if I can find it), hips, thighs and calves. 

I haven't always been fat.  When I got married in 1966, aged 19, I was slim - 46.3 kilograms - 7 stones 4 lbs - 102 lbs.  I am now three times this weight.  This isn't a clear photo, but it is possible to see how slim I was.  Some people said I looked like Audrey Hepburn, and that was a real compliment!

In January 1974, I weighed in at 9 stone during a medical for a new job.  I gained weight in 1978-80 while I was working and living in Belgium and Holland and when I came home to England in July 1980 I weighed 12 stones and 8 pounds.  I lost three stone during the next six months with a Slimming Magazine Club and then gained weight with my first son who was born in January 1983.  I gained again with my second son, born in December 1985 and yet again with my daughter, born in October 1987.  I was 15 stone 11 pounds when I went in to give birth to her and never really tried to lose weight after that, gradually getting heavier and heavier as the years went by.

I've never worried about what I look like, but doing things became difficult.  Bending, kneeling, carrying, moving all became harder with each gain.   In 1996, I moved with my children and my mother to Cornwall.  On 13 April 1997 I started a very low calorie diet, using Lipotrim through my general practitioner's surgery.  I lost over 3 stone in three months, but was soon eating again and put all the weight back on.  I joined various slimming clubs, tried different diets, but ultimately I regained the weight I'd lost whatever I tried. 

In April 2006 I moved to Brittany and after my gall bladder operation in 2009, the surgeon suggested I might like to consider bariatric surgery.  I refused.   In January 2010 I saw Dr Le Chaux again as the results of a test after my gall bladder operation showed that I had fatty liver disease.  Again he offered me bariatric surgery.  I refused as I was booked into an eating educational clinic for three weeks in February 2010, but couldn't stick to the regime once I returned home.  In March 2010, I had to see Dr Le Chaux again.  He explained that if I didn't lose weight then I was in danger of developing cirrhosis of the liver.  I said that I would think about the mini gastric bypass.  Finally, in September 2010 I agreed to have the operation.  I was told that if I was approved then the operation would be in about six months time.  This set in motion a series of appointments with psychiatrist, dietician, cardiac surgeon, lung consultant, endrocrinolgist and a gastro consultant   - who performed an endoscopy to ensure that the part of my stomach which would no longer be easily accessible, had no infection or cancer.  The health system is thorough in Brittany!  All of these people then sent in reports to Dr Le Chaux and a meeting was held to decide if I was a suitable candidate and if so the date for my operation. 

In December 2010, after a routine blood test, it was found that my calcium levels were abnormally high.  I had a follow-up test in February 2011 and they were still high.  This indicated a tumour on one of the four parathyroid glands.  After further ultrasound and nuclear based tests, it was confirmed that I had an almost certainly benign tumour.  I had to see the endocrinologist and then the surgeon involved.  They said that the tumour had to be removed before I could have bariatric surgery.

My date for the mini gastric bypass came through as 28 March, but I had a date of 1 June 2011 for the parathyroidectomy, so I had to defer and wait for a date after I had recovered from the tumour operation.  Finally, I got my date for the bariatric surgery.  Go into hospital at 16.00 hours on Bastille Day, 14 July 2011, and have the operation the next day.

Yesterday I met a previous patient of Dr Le Chaux.  She has lost 64 kilos and is just a lovely weight now and a really  lovely person.  She was very helpful and gave me lots of confidence to face this new part of my life. 

So that is where I am at the moment - seven days away from changing my life for the better.  Seven days away from changing my life so that I can be here longer for my children and so I can have the opportunity of watching my grandson grow into a man.