Saturday, 29 August 2015

Gastric bypass isn't an 'easy option'

I've just spent a lovely few hours with my friend at a food and drink festival

I call her my 'Gastric bypass friend' for reference (as I don't want to use her proper name) and she had a gastric bypass in December 2014. I've already blogged about My idiot Brother in lawmy crazy Uncle and Aunt and also my drama llama friend, however my gastric bypass friend is not an idiot, nor crazy, nor even a little bit dramtic - In a lot of ways, she's a real inspiration.

She doesn't know my blog URL, so the below is my own perception of her journey, however from where I'm standing, she's done so well and has had so much change in her life, she's really inspiring.

I met her about 8 years ago when we were both members of an online womens forum. I had posted about how I'd gone for an interview at a particular I.T. company and she had messaged me saying that from my post, she thought she recognised the company (turns out she was right and she was currently working for them so gave me some insider tips). We started messaging each other and realised we lived really close to each other and worked in the same industry. After meeting up for a coffee and realising neither of us were crazy (or maybe both of us were, hence why it worked) we got on really well and became good friends. 

Over the last 8 years so much has changed. She got married, and last year got divorced. I split up with my boyfriend, got back together with him... we've both moved jobs on more than one occasion, moved house more than once.... fluctuated in weight quite significantly.... just lots of changes, really.

A couple of years ago she told me she was going to apply on the NHS for weight loss surgery and that her Husband supported her - it wasn't as if she just went to her GP and they said 'Sure, have the operation'. She had to jump through a LOT of hoops and also meet the criteria - one of which was to undertake a lot of counselling sessions beforehand and go to a group, where a lot of overweight people would talk about things, and they'd have people who had already had the surgery come and answer questions....

She also had to lose a % of her weight... about 2.5 stone, I believe? She smashed the target and lost even more than that, so after about 18 months, her surgery was scheduled. In the year leading up to her surgery, both her parents emigrated to Australia and she split from her Husband so despite not having any family support or the support of a partner, she decided to still go for it. I was the one who picked her up from the hospital after her operation and drove her home.

From what she says, the first few days in hospital were a total low point, she felt very down and was in more pain that she thought she would be in. Once she got home, she said she felt better, and as she's very organised, she'd already bought a lot of her 'mushy food meals' that she needed. She had taken a month off work and was raring to go back after a month - thankfully she did not suffer from any infections or any complications after the surgery (although she did tell me she needed to inject herself with anti clotting stuff... Urghh).

Almost immediately I saw a massive difference in my friend - she started losing a lot of weight and started coming out of her shell. Less than a month later (just after new year) we went to a Wolf Conservation place and took photos before walking half a mile to a local pub and ordering fish and chips - the difference was, my friend only had about 10 mouthfuls and pulled away the batter and just ate the white fish and one chip..... 

At all stages, my friend followed the advice the Doctors and nutritionists gave her. She only ate a certain mount of sugar per day... she only ate what she felt she could and didn't drink alcohol for a little while. She also cut down the amount of liquid she drank and now asks for a skimmed late only half full in the smallest cup... 

As the weight came off, she seemed to become more and more confident and not only joined the local gym, but started going to karate a few times a week - It was amazing.

To cut a long story short, she went from a size 24 to a current size 12.... she says that it wasn't the 'easy' journey she thought it would be, but the best decision that she's ever made. There were times her weight loss slowed down and she realised it was because she'd increased her portions slightly and had to re-evaluate what she was eating, however now she can drink alcohol, eat puddings.. whatever... however in moderation as opposed to before. I don't think she was prepared for the pain straight after the operation, but she's said she'd go through it all again as it's so life changing.

And guess what? Throughout the entire thing, she's never pushed her decision down my throat or the throat of anyone else (she didn't announce it on Facebook and a lot of people don't know she underwent surgery). She's never told me I should do the same and has gone from being bigger than me to smaller - yet she's never rubbed it in.... According to my friend, the last time she saw the weight loss specialists, she's lost 78% of her excess weight and anything over 70% is considered a 'success', so in less than 9 months, she's totally nailed it. She's awesome :-)

I don't think it's the right path for me, I think I can lose weight naturally and I think I do have the necessary discipline and the changed mindset to reach my healthy and happy body shape, but I also believe that my friend went down the right path for her - It's great that we've gone through so much together and have come out closer in some ways... we're both quite closed people but have opened up a lot in the last year about feelings and our approaches to food and our weight.

Before my friend underwent gastric bypass surgery I have to be honest - I didn't know a lot about it and just 'assumed' that you had the surgery and couldn't eat so would naturally lose weight. However it's so much more than that - it's a total lifestyle change and the fact that my friend is making healthy choices, eating healthy food and exercising more suggests that she's really bought into making those changes and isn't just relying on the surgery. It's not my story to tell and I've certainly not done her justice, however I am grateful that she shared so much of what she went through with me and I know she's supportive over my weight loss journey as well.

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