I had my one month post op visit with my surgeon today, so I thought it fitting to get this blog started!

But then life got in the way … school finished, Christmas, both girls birthdays, New Years … so now, here I am just past 9 weeks post op (January 2018) – finally finishing this! Now to find where I was up to …..

The weight loss surgery conversation

My pain specialist initially brought up the idea of weight loss surgery back in early 2016. I wasn’t sure … I thought maybe it was too drastic. It is major surgery after all. But I had to stop and really look at everything as a whole. I was overweight, obese class 3. In chronic pain, my back getting worse. And at the end of 2015 when I ended up back in hospital on ketamine infusion and an updated MRI on my back, my neurosurgeon stated that he would not even see me again, to talk about what to do next for my back, until I had lost weight. It was harsh, brutal, hard to hear, but honest at the same time. And he was right. It wouldn’t do me any favours to rush into anything. I was in a very bad flare that did eventually calm down enough for me to keep on keeping on!

Booking in with a bariatric surgeon

I decided to go ahead and book the appointment with the bariatric surgeon for a consult to find out anything and everything. That was mid 2016. During the first appointment his nurse thoroughly went through the gastric band, the gastric bypass and the gastric sleeve. The pros and cons of each.

Straight up I knew I didn’t want the band. I should mention my dad came to this appointment with me and he agreed with me about the band. Then the surgeon asked which one I was leaning towards. I asked how much the other two cost. He informed me that he charges one set amount for all three procedures – as he doesn’t want his patients making a decision based on money. He prefers them to make their choice on what they think is best for their body and lifestyle.

I chose the gastric bypass. The main reason to start with was that a side effect of the sleeve can be severe reflux and I was already take medication for that and didn’t want to make things worse. He said I could change my mind right up until the day of the surgery if I wished – just to tell him before I went under!

After the initial consultation

I took all the information home, spoke with my husband and my mum and dad. I decided to go ahead and book it in at the next visit.

The surgeon I saw has his own team including his nurse, a psychologist and dietician whom I had to see before the surgery. I also had to have a few tests. If I remember what they were called I will add them in!

Getting ready for surgery

I originally booked the surgery for 3rd November 2016. I did all my tests and appointments and three weeks of opti fast pre op diet. This is required by many, but not all, surgeons to reduce the amount of fat on the liver to make it easier to operate as it’s generally via keyhole surgery.

Three days before the surgery the hospital called to inform me that it had to be cancelled as I didn’t have the correct level of hospital health cover with my private health insurance. A fact that no one had even checked or asked about. Me included. Naively I didn’t realise there were different levels. I was absolutely devastated. I burst into tears. I felt so much guilt as my mum had missed the beginning of a trip wit my dad to be here with us for after the surgery for my recovery wry to help with the kids. Then I was so angry that no one had bothered to check this earlier. But it was just one of those things that happened and I had to move on.

I decided to increase my hospital cover and wait the 12 month waiting period. Although it did mess with my head for quite a few months after and then I put on what I had lost already plus more.

Getting ready for surgery … take 2 …

About four months before my new date, 9th November 2017, I started to get excited and joining Facebook support groups and learning and researching and preparing. I like to believe that things happen for a reason and that for whatever reason, maybe more than one, I was meant to have the surgery a bit down the track. And I definitely learnt so much more before the surgery this time and feel I ended up a lot more prepared.

It’s not an easy journey to take. Many people who don’t know anything about it assume it is an ‘easy fix’ and so on, but it’s not. It is so much more. There is so much preparation and constant work. It is very much, if not more, mental change and work as it is physical.

So that … is how I got to getting ready to go under the knife, in order to help my health and myself.

I have since posted about how my pain has been affected in a follow up post, here.

Michelle xx

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