Carol D's story

My journey started when my wonderful G.P said she would investigate getting me some help in August ‘07. I had presumed only people with severe diabetes, heart problems, maybe housebound and very ill would get onto the list – I mistakenly thought these people were ahead of me in the queue for NHS surgery. In November ’07 I was referred to the weight management clinic at the hospital to meet the team to discuss my options and even though I knew they would want to talk about all the nitty gritty I still wasn’t ready to start on a decent eating plan.

I was amazed to meet other patients and happily discussed my plans and quizzed them on their progress and how they were coping. At my heaviest I was 23 stone and was always very active, perhaps youth being on my side and a constant denial always to hand. The best bit of information apart from all the technical side of things was that a patient support group was only 2 miles away from my home. My 1st visit was in Dec ’07 which just happened to be the Christmas party. I attended around 8 times that year and was very lucky to meet an anaesthetic consultant, plastic surgeon, bariatric surgeon and former patients and had the chance to ask all those questions inside my head.
 Nov ’07 I met the surgical team and the diabetic team who were making the decision about whether I was ready for my op. It was decided that the gastric by-pass would be the best option for me and they mentioned there was a very good chance my diabetes would disappear too. It was sort of good cop, bad cop and I went away in tears about how “hard” they were on me. With hindsight it was just the kick that I needed and I started eating smaller portions and exercising down to my surgery goal weight (10% loss) they had set for me. In March ’08 I was ready and they ticked all the boxes. I was very lucky not to wait for too long and I had my date for Sept 12th ’08 and I had something to aim for. I’m not the sort for gym’s and I lost 3 stone by walking, walking and cycling in the spare room. 
The surgeon mentioned he might fix my hernia whilst there and I got my “2 for 1” surgery done. The High Dependency Unit was fantastic and the level of care was second to none. The nutrionist visited, the nurses explained everything, the anaesthetist visited and it all seemed like a blur of gowns, stockings, showering and most importantly making sure my mobile was charged so I could text everyone later.   It was a culture shock to be then thrown into women’s general surgical ward. That was difficult as many, many women were so ill, loss of limbs, cancers etc and none of them could understand why I would voluntarily put myself into hospital. BUT none of them had ever been overweight.! I found a few other weight loss surgery patients to chat to and soon realised I had had a very successful surgery without complications and I thanked my lucky stars. I did have a longer stay than most bariatric patients because of the hernia getting infected and my tum ballooned to a huge frightening size, but antibiotics came good in the end.
I thought it was important to show the “real” side of surgery – it’s not magic & fairy dust you know….
I followed the 8-week eating plan religiously and all was well. I even took on board the blood thinning injections and medications and wrote a plan on my fridge. Those weeks raced by, because you are so elated that you are on the beginning of a new life and it’s true what the Dr’s say – “there is no happier, more positive patient, than a bariatric one.!!!..” The weight fell off fantastically and I continue to walk over Tamar Bridge 3-4 times a week, which is a mile a time for those who don’t know.
August 2009 - I am now 8 1/2 stone lighter with another 3 stone to go I reckon. Shopping has become my main hobby and I treat myself to facials and pedicures instead of food. I have so much energy, a new out-look on life and I readily tell anyone who is prepared to listen that I have had this marvellous operation. I will always need extra vitamins, the B12 jab and iron tablets, but that’s not much to put up with is it.?
I am amazed at the whole process and very thankful I had the strength and daring to do it. As I chat to friends I realise not everyone can muster the nerve and I do try and put their minds at rest, but it doesn’t always work. It is such an individual thing. I am planning a cruise for Dec ‘09 and I intend to do every excursion going – there is no stopping me now. Thanks to everyone who helped me get this far – the rest is up to me now……..

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