[b]November 3rd 2012[/b]
When I was a baby, my father remarked to my mother: 'She's going to have problems with her weight in the future.' Apparently I was physically very similar to his mother. It turned out he was right but not for the reasons he believed. Ironically, it was his life choices that set me on the road to super morbid obesity. Whenever I want to imagine myself as slim and fit I have to go way back through the photo albums to the age of twelve or so. My thighs were so muscular, tanned and slim then! I ate normally, felt normally, behaved normally. I had friends at school, worked hard, and as the daughter of a vicar, was expected to behave impeccably.
At the age of twelve my father abruptly left his children, his job and his wife for another woman and we had to vacate the vicarage quickly. We moved to a small, moldering terraced house in a rough part of Manchester. Our diet changed to extremely poor quality food as my mother struggled to care for her three children without the assistance of Child Support (I don't think it had been invented then).
I ate to comfort myself, to choke down my feelings of abandonment and sadness. I stole change from my mother to buy sweets, I sneaked out of school at lunchtimes to go home and eat chips and cry on my own. My weight gain and my obvious differences in life experiences from my new classmates meant I was bullied, not only by the 'in crowd' of girls in their smart clothes, but also by my sadistic PE teacher, who on one occasion brought a tape measure into the girls' changing rooms and measured everyone's vital statistics. The closer to the fabled 36-24-36 they were, the more they were congratulated upon for being 'nearly right'.
My home life didn't improve. My mother met a man who was an alcoholic and he moved in after their second date. Years of drink, violence, abuse and other horrors took its toll on my mental health and I began self-harming in secret. How is a fourteen year old schoolgirl, already reeling from changes in her life supposed to react when she comes home from school to find her stepfather passed out in the garden, his trousers to his knees, fully exposed and wet from urinating on himself? Worse still was later on when he had come round, expected to sit around the dinner table as if nothing had happened.
My weight climbed and my self-esteem plummeted. At fifteen I went on my first ever diet. A quarter of a glass of grapefruit juice for breakfast, half a slice of dry toast for lunch and a quarter of a tin of mushroom soup for dinner. I lost weight, I obsessed about food constantly and my yo-yo had begun its lifelong twirling.
I dieted several times in my life - sure to lose many stones then just as surely putting them back on and some.
One does not simply wake up at 27 stone, it is the peak of years of food use, abuse and denial. My last big loss was in 2008 when I lost almost eight stone through strict diet and increased exercise. Four years later ... every stone is back and they, as always, brought a couple of friends back with them.
I know this would have been the pattern for my almost certainly truncated life had I not had the incredible good fortune to have a mother about to receive a hefty inheritance along with a deep sense of guilt and regret for some of her life choices. I asked her several months ago if she would consider releasing some of the funds that she intended leaving to her children in the future early, enabling me to have private WLS. She said yes.
It has happened very, very quickly. A medical screen by a bariatric nurse yesterday, followed by a consultation with a surgeon booked for next Tuesday. As soon as the funds come through (early December) I will have a date for a sleeve gastrectomy booked.
The WLS is only ever going to be an aid, not a cure for my weight. I know I have years of poor eating habits and psychological difficulties to work on. But I have never been in a happier place personally than I am now. A husband (blimey!), a sense of direction (future children and employment) and a maturity of self set me in good stead for this undertaking.
Bring it on.
[b]November 7th 2012[/b]
I had a consultation with Mr Agwunobi last night at the Alexandra BMI Hospital in Cheadle, Manchester. The day had been busy with taking my sister to her psychiatrist appointment, dropping some books off at a charity shop, then attending a CAMHS course to help my sister and I learn some techniques for managing her son, who had Autism and ADHD. Then I had to help my Mum get ready for her holiday to the Canaries and we drove over the Pennines to Manchester. The weather was horrible and the traffic worse. The intention was to go to the airport hotel first, drop her things, have a coffee, then to go to the nearby hospital for my appointment, relaxed and refreshed. Instead we arrived breathlessly after a quirky satnav diversion, with half an hour to spare before the 18:30 appointment.
I had been to this hospital before - my Mum had a back operation there in the nineties, and I remember a country house-style retreat with mature trees and squirrels frolicking on the tended lawns. Now it feels like a hospital and I had a little pang of nerves as we walked towards the main entrance. I have never been into a hospital in my for myself - only friends and family. This time it was for me.
The sign at the main door asked visitors to 'kindly report to reception' which you wouldn't see at an NHS hospital I'm sure. We went into the restaurant and I had a yoghurt and cup of tea. At the prepared meals section there were some small plated salads - a saucer-sized plate with some fish and salad. Post-bariatric surgery patients their intended purchasers, I'll bet.
There seemed to be a significant number of Dr Handsome's walking around, and the nurses and auxiliary staff were just that little bit more polished. At six twenty we went into the Consultation Suite and the staff at the reception asked to swipe a debit or credit card as part of the registration procedure. I wondered if my bank account was going to be Â£9,000 overdrawn when I next checked it! Five minutes wait, then a nurse asked me to come through for a height and weight check. Yes, I'm still 5'6" and yes I'm still 26st-something, with a BMI of 60.
Mr Agwunobi was polite, official and with a firm handshake. The chair sitting ready for me was extremely, comfortably large - a bariatric chair. We chatted about my expectations for the procedure, my experiences of dieting and hopes for the future. I was pleased to discover I am one of his healthier patients as I have no comorbidities. Tell me any other medical situation where I would be considered 'healthy'!? He never actually said 'Yes' but I presume he is happy to go ahead with the operation!
Dropped mother at her hotel then the long drive back home to Yorkshire. I actually managed to listen to the whole of Tim Minchin's Heritage Orchestra album, which ended pleasingly just as I pulled up outside my house.
I have a few worries about having to pay further for any complications, and I have to wait until the beginning of December until the money comes through and I can book a date with Mr Agwunobi to rummage around inside me. I'm wishing the days away, but I'll probably look back on this time and say 'You fool! You can eat anything you want to now, enjoy yourself!'
[b]November 28th 2012[/b]
Gang aft agley indeed! I received the terms and conditions from the NOSC and read them carefully. I discovered why they are Â£2000 cheaper than BMI - very little provision for financial coverage should anything go wrong. I know how expensive even a day in ICU can be, let alone if something serious goes wrong. After a quick conflab with mother, who is releasing the funds from my inheritance early, we decided that it was too great a risk and we would look at a different provider. Mr Agwunobi had mentioned that if I had the surgery through BMI, emergencies would be fully covered and any problems for the first thirty days too. Then I realised - if I was using a BMI hospital I could go with my first choice of surgeon: Mr Ackroyd at Sheffield, which is much closer to home. I rued the loss of the Â£150 consultation fee with Mr Agwunobi, but luckily BMI are offering Â£100 discount to new consultations in November and December. I met with Nerissa (not Narissa or Norissa) at BMI Thornbury on Monday evening - battling my way through flooding and then had fun navigating the hospital layout. Why would Level 3 be on Floor 4?
Nerissa, as I've heard, was lovely - very personable and knowledgeable. We discussed my eating habits, and although on paper I would better suit a bypass, I opted for my original plan - a sleeve gastrectomy. She said one of the best parts of her job was meeting someone a year down the line and I had an immediate vision of myself, sitting in the same room a year's hence, half the woman I am now. It was a good vision. She then asked if I wanted to meet Mr Ackroyd now, which I wasn't expecting, but we headed up (or was it down?) in the lift and I recognised him standing by the desk.
It was a lightning-fast consultation. He was decisive and informative and I learned in ten minutes all that I needed to - he is the surgeon for me. He asked me why I was overweight, I said it was due to poor food choices and repeated dieting. He was surprised and said many people don't acknowledge any responsibility for their weight. He was impressed that I knew what a bougie was (he uses a 34 calibre beastie) and I left feeling very, very happy and confident that I was in the best possible hands.
We left the hospital via the wrong entrance (of course!) and walked all the way round the building to find the car. We passed the back door, where the bags of clinical waste were stored and I imagined the larger part of my stomach being in there soon!
I got home, very happy and excited. Mr Ackroyd's waiting list is right down at the moment, and I know as soon as the money comes in, I'm good to go. I have my pre-op diet sheet ready (3 pints of milk and two yoghurts for 10 days) ... I am raring to start!
Height: 5 feet 6 inches
Starting Weight: 372 lbs
Weight on Day of Surgery:
Current Weight: 187 lbs
Goal Weight: 154 lbs
Weight Lost: 185 lbs
Surgery: Gastric Sleeve
Surgery Status: Post Surgery
First Dr. Visit: 01/01/1970
Surgery Date: 04/17/2013
Hospital Stay: 2 Days
Surgery Funding: Self Paid
Insurance Outcome: n/a