Today is the first anniversary of my mini gastric bypass. In some ways it seems much closer than 365 days from the operation, but in other ways it seems so much longer. I am not the same person inside or outside that I was a year ago.
I am just so glad to be celebrating it. It was an operation I didn’t want but needed to have. I had to convince myself to be there at the hospital I was so frightened at what the future would hold. If only one had the advantage of being able to see into the weeks, months and years ahead, how much simpler life would be.
Although much of the past twelve months has been difficult, I cannot regret my decision, and I am so grateful that the seven medical people who had to report on whether they thought the operation would be worthwhile, reported in the way that they did and gave me the opportunity to change my life.
It’s hard to describe all the things which are different for me now. I have mentioned most of them over the months of this blog, but every week something happens which makes me realize again how different things are for me now.
Most of all I am grateful for my incredibly increased mobility. It’s hard now to imagine how handicapped I had made myself. Having to walk with a stick for the 20-30 metres that I could manage was hard work. There were a lot of things in the last years particularly that I missed out on because of my inability to move any distance. Long plane journeys were intolerable because of the limited space in the seats, in spite of usually being given a possibility of changing to a position in the plane where two adjoining seats were available. Getting in and out of a plane toilet was almost impossible, the door simply didn’t want to pass the bulk of my body. The hassle of extension seat belts and the fact that they are bright orange instead of the discreet silver-grey of the fixed belts and that the air crew usually had to shout to ask in which number seat was the lady who needed the extension belt. I’m surprised the plane didn’t tip over as people turned to see where it ended up!
To bend down to retrieve anything I dropped was difficult as was loading the bottom shelf of the dishwasher, putting things into the lower oven of the cooker and contorting my body to find things on the base of floor cupboards.
I didn’t wear socks unless someone was here to put them on for me as no amount of twisting and bending would allow me to reach my feet. Likewise washing every part of my body was difficult and taking a bath instead of a shower was out of the question as I couldn’t get myself off the bath bottom when I needed to get out.
I couldn’t turn in bed without a huge amount of effort and this effort meant that every morning I had to shift the mattress back to its correct position as it would come over with me.
When I closed the car door it would bounce off my thigh and I’d have to start again, having moved further towards the gear stick.
I couldn’t sit in chairs with arms. Eating out and drinking in outdoor cafés meant either perching on the edge of an armed chair or asking if they had a chair without arms which I could use. I even started taking a collapsible chair in the car with me so I could sit at the same table as the people I was with. The easy chair I sat in at home had made my thighs constantly numb as I couldn’t fit into it properly. I hadn’t realized that this was the reason and only found out when I lost so much weight off my hips and thighs and the feeling came back.
Buying clothes was a matter of going to the Asda supermarket men’s section and picking up anything which had the label XXL. Women’s clothes just didn’t seem to exist in sizes which would go round my backside – which was enormous.
My asthma was not good and I became breathless at the slightest effort, even getting out of a chair was hard work. I was finally diagnosed with sleep apnoea and had a breathing machine which was later joined by an oxygen extractor at night. To date I have managed to get rid of the extractor and I hope that soon I might lose the breathing machine as well. I hardly use my Ventolin spray and only use my steroid spray in winter in case I get a chest infection.
I no longer take blood pressure controlling tablets, nor statins for cholesterol because I don’t need them.
I can garden again because I can bend without effort or discomfort. I can weed, plant, sow and water. Previously carrying an 11 litre watering can was something I didn’t want to do and on my veggie patch there is no piped water so no hoses.
I no longer use my stairlift. Before my weight loss I could not climb stairs for two reasons. Firstly my knees were so painful that it was distressing and secondly my breathing was so bad because the effort was too much. My knees are much better now and my breathing is not a problem at all.
I had no lap as my stomach spread onto my thighs before so my grandson and my cats could not sit with me comfortably, that has all changed.
I used to have to use a lifter to bring my bowling woods from the floor to my hand as bending was so difficult, now I just bend. I no longer throw my woods but bend to the floor and roll them along the mat and have become a better player as a result.
At the surgery when I had an appointment with my doctor, the receptionist would have to bring me an armless chair to the waiting room as the chairs were much too tiny for me. Now I sit in the same style chairs as everyone else.
I am not the fattest person in the room anymore, in fact I am sometimes one of the slimmest! I never thought I’d say that.
My children have never seen me this slim and I think and hope that they are proud of me. I often wondered if they were bullied at school for having such a fat mother. They said they weren’t but I still wondered.
When I rewind back to how I was feeling on this day a year ago, I remember how scared I was and how lonely I felt. I wanted someone with me all the way to the anaesthetic moment holding my hand but that didn't happen. Once I arrived in the operating suite I was left for ages without human contact and I was very afraid. This morning, in contrast, I am confident, and happy with my life.
I look in the mirror and am amazed at what I see. Appearance has never been important to me – I’ve never cared what I look like even when I was really slim when I was really young. I am just grateful that I now go out without people pointing at me and talking about me behind my back, I’m just happy to look normal.
So thank you, Dr Lechaux for giving me this chance at a normal life. I will continue to try not to jeopardize my new stomach and reduced intestine, because I am so grateful and happy that I’ve had it for 365 days and I would like to keep the effects of it for as long as I possible can.
Thank you also, all my family and friends who have been so supportive and who have put up with my constant conversations about weight loss, diarrhoea and the other situations I have found myself in during the last twelve months.
Pre-opMeasurements Today 52 weeks post op
Bust 136cm – 53.5ins 41ins 12.5ins lost
Waist138cm – 54.3ins 38ins 16.3ins lost
Hips172cm – 67.7ins 46.5ins 21.2ins lost
Calf 54cm – 21.3ins 18ins 3 ins lost
This morning I weigh in at 77kgs/170lbs/12st2lbs and have therefore lost 66.1kgs/145.5lbs/10st5.5lbsin the last 52 weeks - brilliant!