It has now been just over a week since I had weight loss surgery.
I started the journey in October last year but, thanks to Covid-19 elective surgery cancellations, it has taken this long to actually happen.
I really wasn’t sure it would happen at all to be honest. I kind of feel like it shouldn’t have and that it only did happen because God was willing for me to have the surgery.
I started the pre-op diet but had very little success. I kept cheating and having my favourite meals and I would tell myself, every time, this is the last time you’ll be able to eat this.
I lost weight anyway because I was restricting myself to one, sometimes two, full meals a day. That’s a lot less than I used to eat normally but they were not healthy foods.
Fish and chips were a regular indulgence as were potato cakes during work shifts and McDonalds on the way home from work in the early hours of the morning. When I had fish and chips, it wasn’t just a piece of fish and a handful of chips. It was a piece of fish, two potato cakes, chips and a medium sized container of salad with its dressing. Pizza was another regular item on my menu and I would eat the whole pizza. Sweet and sour fish with fried rice was a third menu item and all of these were items that help a liver get, and stay, fatty!
Three weeks into the six-week diet period my surgery date was postponed three weeks. That meant I still had to stay on the diet but now it was going to be for nine weeks in total.
I kept complaining that, if I could do six weeks of three weight loss diet shakes a day and nothing else, I wouldn’t NEED weight loss surgery but that didn’t help me deal with the shame I had every week when the nurse called to check on my progress and I only had small weight losses to report.
Then the surgery was cancelled again and rescheduled for January 2022 so I went back to my usual eating patterns and began wondering if God was letting me know He didn’t want me to do this.
The bible says, in Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me”.
I kept thinking I should be able to get control over my eating. If I were a good Christian, I thought, I shouldn’t need any help but the Lord to conquer my gluttony.
By this time, however, I had already paid the six and a half thousand dollar surgeon’s fee so it wasn’t going to be easy to back out.
Six weeks before the January surgery date I had to go back on the diet and my performance this time was even worse as I was starting to suspect God wanted me to lose weight the hard way so I didn’t think surgery was going to happen and, sure enough, Covid-19 struck again and elective surgeries were cancelled. Again.
A few weeks after that I was given another surgery date. This time in March but I wasn’t holding my breath this time either so my performance on the diet was pretty woeful.
I lost almost two kilos during the previous tries and I managed to lose another three in the first three weeks of the last try but, on week four of the final diet period, I put two kilos back on.
I called the surgeon’s office and confessed expecting them to cancel the surgery. The receptionist said she would speak to the surgeon and call me back. She called me back and said the surgeon said that, as long as I stick to the diet completely for the final two weeks, surgery could still go ahead.
I vowed to do better but, like I said, if I could curb my appetite that completely for two weeks I wouldn’t need weight loss surgery!
I did lose weight because I did restrict myself as much as I could but, the night before surgery, I still pigged out on fried rice and sweet n sour fish telling myself, as always, it would be the last time.
I got to the hospital and they weighed me. I was eight kilos lighter than when I started this journey six months earlier. Just eight kilos though and I knew it should have been at least double that.
The surgeon came to speak to me. He palpitated my abdomen and commented that I don’t really carry my weight there. He said he was prepared to try as long as I understood that, if he got in there and my liver had not shrunk, he would cancel the procedure. He said it would be too dangerous to me to continue if my liver had not shrunk enough.
I was there. I’d already paid him. I put it in God’s hands and agreed to go ahead.
I prayed that God’s will would be done. I told the Lord if the surgeon gets in and has to cancel the surgery I will accept that as His final answer as to whether He is OK with me getting the surgery and I will stop trying.
My last conscious thought before the anaesthetic knocked me out was; “Your will be done Lord”.
When I woke up I was groggy and in excruciating pain but it was back pain. I haven’t lain flat on a bed since the arthritis in my shoulders made it impossible to sleep without being propped up on pillows.
All that time spent flat on my back on a hard operating table had triggered acute back pain.
When I delivered my first child the doctors told me I had an “inefficient labour”. There was a lot of pain but it was all in my back and the progression of my cervix opening and all the important stuff labour is supposed to achieve went at a fraction of the speed it was supposed to happen. It took over two days for my cervix to open enough to deliver the child. My son would have been born by caesarean had I not been determined to celebrate Christmas before going to hospital.
That was the same pain I woke up with after surgery! Agonizing!
I let the staff know how much pain I was in and where and they gave me pain meds which helped but only barely. They offered to give me morphine at one point and I said I didn’t want to go to that extreme so they just gave me prescription pain killers.
I remember the surgeon coming in and telling me “It all went very well!” and he looked and sounded surprised. I challenged him the next time I saw him and he said he wouldn’t say he was surprised but “You hope for the best and prepare for the worst”. He said whatever I did in the last couple of weeks obviously did the trick because there was no problem with my liver at all.
I’m convinced my liver was fine because God fixed it. I’m convinced He is OK with me having had the surgery. He could have so easily stopped it from happening.
Everyone is asking me why I want the surgery if I can’t control my eating.
I told them I need a reset for my eating habits. I need to be forced to make a change because the switch in my head has been broken and I can’t do it myself any more.
There’s a switch in my head and it has just two settings – on or off. While it’s set to on I have no control over bad habits like smoking and overeating. When it flips I gain complete control.
In 2014 the switch in my head flipped and I quit smoking. I have never had a single puff of a cigarette or any type of substitute since then.
I’m an all or nothing kind of person. I quit smoking and it was all. Not another puff – ever!
The switch in my head has flipped a couple of times for my food addiction but it hasn’t stayed flipped because you can’t swear off all food forever.
The last time it flipped I became a one meal a day intermittent faster and it was working well. I had lost a lot of weight and showed no signs of stopping but then I quit smoking and I couldn’t keep it up. Since then I haven’t been able to flip the switch again.
I’m hoping this surgery will force me to stop thus breaking the habit and giving me a chance to gain control.
The surgery is not the ultimate answer. It’s just the kick start. It will be up to me to establish a new way of eating that will keep the weight off. If I don’t I will gradually stretch my new tiny stomach until it can hold the amounts I used to eat again and I will go back to being overweight.
For now – it has been just 9 days plus all the various diet periods and I have lost 15 kilos in total with 8 of those kilos falling off me over the past 9 days.
I am already finding it easier to do certain things like get up and down, fit into my clothes, get in and out of bed without grunting from the exertion and so on.
The surgeon has done his work. Now it’s up to me. I pray God will help me gain the control I need and that He will help me stay in control from now on.