Bariatric Surgery: Post-Op Thoughts

I did it! I had the bariatric surgery on the 25th of June! I travelled to Turkey, Istanbul because it was cheaper than other places. The hospital itself was a private hospital and it was an excellent facility. I was admitted the day before the actual surgery where lots of tests were done, including an endoscopy. The next morning was the day of the surgery. It was a little scary because you just don’t know what the outcome will be, but it went smoothly, and it was a success. I have never seen an operating theatre before, so that was a strange experience in itself. I thought I would feel a lot more emotionally just before I had the surgery, but I was surprisingly quite calm, and my brain really was not thinking much. I think I just wanted it over and done with. I remember seeing them inject the anaesthesia and within thirty seconds I was out. After waking up from the surgery I was in complete agony. I could feel where I had been operated on. My vision was very blurred, but I remember seeing that I was being given morphine through a drip after crying out in pain. Thank whoever invented morphine! I stayed in the hospital for four days in total which was an adequate time to recover a little. I say a little because bariatric surgery is a surgery that needs a few weeks to recover properly in my humble opinion, but this is best done at home as you start to resume daily life. I slept a lot after the surgery and each passing day, the pain lessened a little. I started a liquid diet one day after and personally, I loathe liquid diets. However, it is a necessity for two weeks post-surgery. This is definitely the worst part for me. I am on a liquid diet until the 15th of July where I will then be able to start the puree stage. The puree stage lasts for two weeks and then it is solid foods, but still with some restrictions. I am okay with this as this is only the beginning of the journey. I know this part is temporary and eventually, I will be able to cook flavoursome food. 

I did this alone and I am glad I did because this journey is mine and mine only. I wanted it to start off with just me and I am very independent as it is. I travelled to Turkey, had one day of sightseeing and eating delicious Turkish food (their breakfast is divine) and then it was time to go to the hospital. Despite doing this alone and being content with that decision, it has been tough at times. It is the little things you need someone to help with, like helping you get up so there is no pulling near the incision sites, or someone to lift your suitcase at the airport. However, I managed all of that and I am now back in my own little space which I am grateful for. There is no place like home after all. I have been back a few days and have managed to rest a lot so already, I am feeling a better. I am also doing normal things such as driving, walking, doing household chores and so forth. The only things I am struggling with are not being able to bend over to pick things up, so I must bend down by squatting and just do things very slowly in general, like getting in and out of the car. I can sleep but only on my back whilst being turned to the side a little, just so there is no pulling near my incisions. The most difficult thing is getting out of bed because it adds pressure in my stomach, and this is the most painful part. I remember in the hotel one day I got out of bed and cried out in agony because of the physical pain. Since then, I have been taking it much easier, but it takes me a solid five to ten minutes to get myself out of bed. I have low levels of energy, but I am putting that down to the lack of nutrients with only being on a liquid diet. 

This is no walk in the park. The part I struggling with is that I am still feeling hunger and because my brain thinks like a fat person, I think that I can still eat the same as I used to. Deep down though, I know my stomach will not allow this and I am glad. This is the part that proves just how challenging this is because I must constantly have a conversation with myself to remind myself that I do not need a lot of food to be content and that I must listen to my hunger cues, not my brain hunger cues. This is so much more than just having an operation to help you reduce hunger. It is the psychological work that goes into it to help prevent you from getting into the same situation as before. The hunger I was feeling was intense after surgery. I wondered what the difference was because immediately, I did not feel any difference. However, this is down to the fact that the hunger hormone ghrelin has not reduced completely yet. As time progresses, this hormone reduces, thus, not feeling as hungry. I have noticed now, nearly two weeks post-op, that the hunger is reducing and my protein shakes, water, fresh juice (selected fruits) and broth do keep me satisfied. I am interested to see how much I will be able to eat once I do start the other stages and will be able to eat actual food. 

Despite some of the challenges I am currently facing, I don’t regret doing this. After having the surgery, it has become even more clear that this was the absolute best decision for me. I have no regrets and I would highly recommend this to anyone that has had several failed attempts at trying to lose weight. It is not just about losing weight, but it is also about the healthy lifestyle you gain when your entire being is not focused on food. I have already started noticing small differences such as my face looking a little smaller, sleeping more restfully through the night, not to mention a 4kg reduction on the ‘glorious’ scales thus far. There is so much to look forward to but the thing I am looking forward to most is being satisfied with less food that is nutritious, building that healthy lifestyle I have always wanted to achieve. This is a progressive journey where I am learning each day. I am excited to see how my life will be as I continue this lifestyle change. I will document this journey with honesty because I know it is not going to be smooth sailing. It’s going to be one hell of a rollercoaster, but I am in for the thrill! 

Until next time, 

Yours, 

The Unveiled Reflector x 

Bariatric Surgery: Pre-Op Thoughts

I can’t believe I have made the decision to have bariatric surgery! I have never had surgery before, so I am nervous as hell. I hate needles and hospitals, yet here I am, willing to go under the knife! But I guess that just proves how much I want this and how much I need this in all honesty. The surgery date is approaching fast and with it nearing the end of the academic year here in the Middle East, I haven’t had a lot of time to really sit down with my thoughts and gather them until this last week. This is when it hit me like ‘Oh f***, it’s happening’. The fact that the surgery is becoming a reality is scary and nerve-racking. I can’t believe I am about to start a whole new chapter in my book of Life! There have been so many thoughts that have been going through my mind as the date gets closer, but they have all been chaotic. They have been hard to articulate. There has been so much to think about that I almost feel like I do not know where to start. 

I am excited as I embark on this new journey. I wanted my thirties to start off with a healthier and happier me. I can’t help but wonder what this fresh new start will bring. As I have been sitting with some thoughts, I am excited because of what this means and the positive changes I am hoping it will bring. I feel I will start seeing results quite quickly and this will motivate me to keep pushing when I am struggling. It’s also the little things like the fact that my clothes will fit better. I won’t constantly be worrying about my next meal. I will be able to be more physically active because my body will allow it. I won’t be exhausted all the time because of my weight, I won’t be out of breath for walking small distances, food won’t control me, and I won’t have to feel completely uncomfortable in the skin I have, are just some examples. 

Despite all the positive thoughts I have and the excitement of a new chapter, a part of me deep down can’t help but be apprehensive a little. See, the thing is, if you’ve never had to battle with weight to the extent where it has impacted your entire life and it feels like everything has revolved around physically being a certain way, it can be a little difficult to understand why someone like me might have such fears. I’m not saying that my fears are overriding my positive thoughts completely, but at the same time, if I fail with this then I question whether there really is hope for someone like me. See, my biggest fear is that I won’t be successful long term. And that’s what it comes down to. My weight has been a problem for me my entire life. I can’t even begin to imagine a life where it won’t be a problem. However, I think I have come to terms mentally that my weight and this health journey is going to forever be a personal struggle for me. It’s the biggest mental challenge that I face, and it requires a lot of inner work to form healthy habits. I am trying to work out why I am an emotional eater. I am scared that even though I am having surgery, will it really mean I eat less? I can’t imagine what it will feel like to not constantly feel hungry or be worried about food. Bariatric surgery is such a personal decision that I am worried people are going to question how I am losing all this weight and judge me when and if they find out, even when they might not know anything about surgery. I’m trying to do the mental work but it’s hard. It takes a lot, and it is an evolving journey. I can’t imagine what it will feel like as I am changing physically. I’m scared about whether this will even work for someone like me. I can’t imagine what it might feel like to not always be the biggest person in the room, wondering if I am taking up too much space. Maybe I won’t feel like people are judging me all the time or only staring at me because of my physical appearance. Maybe I won’t think that the only thing people are thinking when they look at me is how I let myself get this way. I can’t imagine what it will feel like to eat smaller portions and feel full. I am wondering whether even after the surgery, will my eyes be bigger than my stomach and want to eat more? Will I be able to differentiate between head, emotional and physical hunger? Will my brain be able to catch up to my body whilst I am losing weight, or will I go through body dysmorphia? I am scared that I will go back to old eating habits, feel uncontrollable around food, and that emotional eating will get the better of me. Will I be able to meal prep enough to cook homemade healthy foods and be able to listen to my intuition as to when I should stop eating? Will I be the mindful eater I am working on being? I wonder if I will ever be able to love my body the way I want to because of the loose skin I will most likely have. I know loose skin isn’t the end all and be all and it is something that can eventually be removed, but I feel that feeds into the body dysmorphia and will result in me not feeling different. I am scared that I won’t become active like I want to because I will still be hesitant that my weight will stop me. Most of all, I am scared that food will still be my vice and I will eternally be self-conscious about my physical appearance, feeling like I am not living in the present moment.

It’s a fact that bariatric surgery isn’t going to be a quick fix. In fact, this surgery is just the tool I need to get started. It’s the mental challenge that can be the most difficult part. That’s all it is – a mental game. I know nutrition, a healthy lifestyle and fitness is something that I will forever need to work on. My weight will always be something I need to keep an eye on, and it will forever be a work in progress. It’s a lifelong journey that I am about to commit to, which is why I am fearful. I am wise enough to know that it isn’t going to be smooth sailing and a perfect journey. But I want this change. I have wanted it for so long! I want to be the best version of myself, and I am hopeful that this will enable me to succeed. I don’t want to be who I am physically anymore. It’s tiring and makes me unhappy. I’m just fed up with constantly feeling this way. I hate it and feel like this is always on my mind and prevents me from living the life I dream of living to the fullest. I just wonder if I will ever feel supported on this journey without feeling like food choices are a constant mental battle. Finally, all these chaotic thoughts lead me to one final thought. I have no idea what to expect. A life after bariatric surgery will be completely new territory to me. All I know is that as frightening and as scary as this seems, I am excited nevertheless to begin this new chapter in my book of Life.

Until next time, 

Yours, 

The Unveiled Reflector x