Hello all, I have been reading here a while but finally decided to make a post and contribute to the community. Perhaps my story will inspire someone else into making changes as happened to me after reading other peoples stories on here.
A little introduction first.My name is James, I am 33 and I live in Manchester U.K. I have been overweight to one degree or another since I was 14, I have always had quite a rounded face and so I always looked heavier than I actually was. For that reason I took alot of abuse as a teenager, I was 5ft 8in and 11 stone but I was constantly on the end of a barrage of abuse about my weight even though I had a perfectly healthy BMI. At the time I didn't realise it but all these painful comments pushed me into a mild depression and I started to comfort eat all the time.
By the time I left school I had jumped to nearly 14 stone and I had really started to withdraw from life to the point where I had effectively cut friends off and become anti-social. Luckily I managed to snag a decent job and this helped me to stabilise my weight as well as my mood for a number of years, I was generally happy and even though I was somewhat overwieght it had become something I had learned to live with.
Then disaster struck, at the age of 21 I blew out 2 discs in the lumbar region of my back. I was bed-ridden for nearly 6 months with the pain, I began comfort eating again to a much bigger extent and my weight ballooned quickly. After exhausing all options I eventually underwent surgery to shave the damaged discs, the operation was not a complete success sadly and ever since I have had a lack of sensation in 2 of my outer toes on my left foot as well as some weakness in the left leg, nerve damage is common in cases such as mine where the nerve has been compressed for many months.
So, onwards to the next phase in my life. I was 23 years old and now fully recovered but my weight had hit 16 stone, luckily I found a great new job as a computer engineer and again I managed to stabilse my weight before actually shedding over a stone in the next year. I was happy in my life again, work was good and family life was begining to blossom after many years of struggle. This all continued to go well for the next 5 years or so, then disaster struck again. Another disc in my lumbar spine popped out, this was the 3rd of 5 discs that had prolapsed. MRI scans also showed that all 5 discs were badly damaged to some extent, the ortopedic surgeon basically told me that my back would never be 100% and that I would have some degree of back pain until the day I died.
As you can imagine this is a shocking thing to learn in your mid-20's, that no day would ever be totally pain free from now on. Again I spiralled back into a depression and began eating at an astounding rate, within a few monthsI had another operation but this time on the 3rd damaged disc and then started out again on the long road towards some kind of recovery. It took 6 months or so before I felt I could return to work in any capacity, I went back on light duties and tried my best to get through the pain but after 6 months I just physically could not take it anymore, my health was going downhill fast and I was depressed to the point where I was begining to wonder if life was worth living any more. My weight was well over 16 stone now and it was starting to have other effects on my health.
At the age of 28 I effectively stopped working, my career was pretty much over and so I started eating myself into oblivion. 18 stone came around pretty soon after and I began having serious issues with blood pressure, I lived with it for a long while not realising how dangerous it could be but then the headaches became debilitating and I knew I had to do something. I managed to get my weight back down to 16 stone while waiting for the NHS to find out the root cause of my blood pressue problems, it could have been a number of things but in the end they blamed my weight and told me to exercise more. What planet were they on??? My lower back was wrecked, I was housebound most of the time with absolutely no money. The pain levels were so intense that exercise was not an option, I couldn't even swim because all my local pools are cold water and the coldness caused the scar tissue in my lower back to tighten up making the pain ever so much worse. I was stuck in the classic catch 22, unable to become painfree and healthy because of my weight and unable to lose weight because of my pain.
I began eating again, I guess you can see a trend here...
Then 30 years of age came calling, my health was an utter mess and I was developing joint pain in my hips and knees as if I didn't have enough pain to contend with. My GP decided it was time for me to go on blood pressure medication as my pressure hadn't improved and my weight was back up to 18 stone again. I was really at my lowest ebb now and could not see a way out. For the next 18 months I just plodded along, out of work and on benefits unable to see any way to change my life. My career was a distant memory and my future prospects were zero, as you can imagine it was really the worst of times to go through.
Then about a year ago a lady who lives down the street from my mum had a stroke, this lady was in her 50's but very active and very slim but her blood pressure had slowly been on the rise and now it struck with a vengence. The stroke left her partly paralysed down her left side, through strength of will alone the lady is now able to walk and fend for herself although it is unlikely she will ever fully recover.
As you can imagine this scarred the hell out of me, I was 33 now and heavily overweight, I was swallowing medication for pain and blood pressure for fun yet I felt had no way to stop this endless spiral.
Then one morning I was watching TV and an interesting program came on about gastric bands, it explained alot about the procedure and the benefits. I was intrigued and so I started to do some research on the internet to see how much it cost, would it help me in my circumstances and also to find out the risks. It all looked good, I spoke to my family and decided this was perhaps my last chance at a somewhat normal life. I would never be totally painfree but a normal weight would help lessen that pain quite alot.
Money was a massive issue, I just did not have any savings left after being out of work for 4 years, my parents themselves were financially stable but still I could not ask for that kind of money knowing that I could no guarantee being able to pay them back. So I applied for NHS funding, I knew it was a long shot as my BMI was nowhere near the level my PCT would fund the surgery. I hoped that my letter explaining the circumstances would sway them, especially the fact that I had previously had a very good career and was contributing a substantial amount of tax to the treasury. I felt that with my other health issues and the high chances of success for someone in my category that I was worth the funding. Sadly in November 2008 they wrote back saying 'No', ahh well it was worth a shot and I can understand why they fund people over 30 stones so I had no real arguement with the descision.
Ok so now it was time to see how I can raise the cash, I asked everyone I knew for small loans over long payback periods. I used credit cards, small bank loans and even borrowed a couple of thousand from my parents with great reluctance.
I visited my GP and he thought it was a great option for me, one of his other patients had opted for surgery the year before with great sucess although she he chosen the bypass. My GP arranged a private consultation for me with Mr Ammori in Manchester, I had considering going to Belgium but I was plauged with doubts about having it done abroad so I found the extra money and opted for closer to home.
On the 21st January this year I had my consultation with Mr Ammori, he said I was a good candidate and we discussed my options but he felt that the bypass was a better option for me considering my other health issues and my history. The problem was money, I just didn't have the extra few thousand required so I went for the band.
Ten days later I started my 2 week pre-op liver reducing diet, at this point I was 17 stone 10 pounds. The first 3-4 days were rough, it really wasn't a pleasant time but slowly I started to feel better. My operation was sheduled for 14th February and a couple of days before I went in for the pre-op examination. To my suprise I had dropped 9 pounds in 2 weeks! The nurses were very pleased with that and said that it showed I was commited to making this work for me. For the first time in many years I felt like something had changed in me, I was feeling positive even if I was nervous as hell.
The remaining problem was nagging away at me, I was going for the band when I wanted and had been recommended the bypass. I went home on the 11th of February and had a heart to heart with my parents, not with the intention of borrowing the extra money but more to talk about if I was doing the right thing having the band. I was confused and they saw it right away, the last thing you need a couple of days before surgery is any nagging doubts and so they insisted that I either cancel the surgery or take the extra money to pay for the bypass. I wasn't happy either way so I took another 36 hours to decide but in the end the bypass just made alot more sense for me personally.
I contacted Mr Ammori's secretary Lousia (lovely lady) and asked if it was possible to change my mind and go for the bypass, it was so late in the day that I was worried they would say no but she was very helpful and insisted that changing was not a problem.
So, here we go. The 14th February arrives. I am nervous as hell but determined I am going to be fine and make this work. Surgery goes well and a couple of hours later I am back in my room at the hospital with wires/tubes hanging out of me but generally feeling ok. I guess keyhole surgery really is the best way of getting the job done!
I go home the next day feeling sore but happy, drinks are not much of a problem so I am content for a while. By day 5 I am climbing the walls, constantly going for a pee and generally a bit miffed. Feeling sorry for yourself happens to everyone, the trick is not letting it consume you. Over the next week the weight falls off and things gradually get better, I was still sore but coping just fine and starting to feel happier by the day.
Now here I am, 4 weeks post op and 15stone 6 pounds, that is a loss of 2 stone and 4 pounds in 6 weeks including the pre-op diet! I know it sounds fast but I am eating, as much as I can without feeling sick and I am taking all the supplements too religously. I have discovered that pistacho nuts are great, lots of protien and no sugar so I can eat them no problem and I am getting what I need out of them. I had a rough day yesterday, I tried a little bit of chicken and it felt like I was being ripped apart from the inside, I had to force myself to be sick to get rid of the offending food but I have felt ok ever since if a little sore from the retching.
Wow I have typed alot!
I will stop in a minute but I want to sum things up. I undertook this surgery to change my life for the better, so far it feels like I have done the right thing. There are bad days, no point denying that but overall I do so a huge amount of positives and I am looking forward for the first time in many years. For that reason alone it was worth the risk and the financial struggle but do I have regrets? Occasionally if I am honest but that is more about my mental state than the procedure itself, the bad days leave you feeling low but you have to tell yourself that they won't last forever. The key to dieting or wieghtloss surgery is staying positive, infact that is the key to everything good in life.
Ok I am done now, I hope this helps someone, even if it is just one person. If my experience helps someone else make a change in thier lives then I am happy, everyone deserves a second chance and that is exactly what I feel I have been given now.