Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Painful weight loss diaries

On Thursday i had lap band surgery. A silicon band like a cable tie was put around the top of my stomach, with a wire and a port placed underneath my skin. In about five weeks the will be inflated with saline. It will be adjusted over and over again until it leaves me able to eat half a cup of food three times a day without feeling hungry or interested in food. For another ten days or so i will be on liquids only, and then for two weeks i will be able to eat only mush. The last two days have been water only.

For the last three weeks i took some stuff called Optifast, a weight loss supplement, along with two cups a day of light vegetables. Nothing else. i lost 5 kilos. i kinda got the hang of it and didn't suffer too much. Two days before the surgery i cheated - i ate two and a half slices of luncheon sausage and afterwards i has visions of the surgeon finding the horrible things, completely undigested, still flattish and slightly curled at the edges, in my stomach, and he would be scathing. But that was my only cheat. i turned down fudge brownies and chocolates and fish and chips and actually felt the better for not eating them.

Before that i was seen by a dietician, an exercise consultant and a psychologist for assessments. I also saw the surgeon. All of this was under the private system, so it was in pleasant rooms with National Geographics, where i bet no one threw up in the water coolers. It's a a different world where you pay for stuff. And i paid all up about $20,000.

The operation was at a private hospital. i had an ensuite room to myself and the wards were named after the First Four Ships*. There was blonded wood panelling and rosy pink carpet. i have always been suspicious of luxury. It seemed to go well however, and i came out with five interesting incisions in my stomach, as if i had been in a sword fight.

Two days later i was wracked with pain, just trying to ride through each minute of the pain, bent over with it, and eventually i rang the surgeon. He arranged for my admission to the public hospital. i spent the next night in a ward that seemed to be for medical mysteries and seriously dying people. The surgeon saw to me even though it was the weekend, and ensured i got the best stuff - even a CT scan. But it was the public system all right - tatty, grubby, noisy. It struck me as ironic that i had paid all that money and then when it went wrong, it was the public system that bailed me out.

It was gas all along. They put CO2 in my stomach for the op, and i was constipated, and it was all just gas and shit. If i may quote Timon: 'With you, Pumbaa, it's all gas'.

Home one night and then yesterday we had a 5.5 earthquake. Things fell over and i felt a bit vulnerable being post-op and still sore and very gassy. Then the lactulose began to kick in. i was on the loo when the 6.0 earthquake struck. i was dethroned, and ended up on the floor, and the cistern lid came off and splashed water all over me and the room. i pulled my pants on and made my way through the laundry to the computer room, where i crouched behind a couch. The earth rocked on all that time.

The filing cabinet had fallen over and blocked my way out. My husband had to shift it single handed. We had intermittant power and no water for a while. The rest of the day we saw neighbours, and he picked things up, and i couldn't help much. It was deja vu all over again. The quake, the screaming, the sirens, then the liquefaction comes up from under next door's porch, and the traffic jam begins. There has been a lot more damage in the city. Again, we are lucky as hell.

So why have surgery for weight loss? i have had a BMI of 37. i have been unable to fix my head and shoulder pain through osteopathy and exercise. i have high blood pressure and the next thing will be cholesterol and so on. i come from a long line of little round people, but they often live a long time. If i live till 90, i need to be healthy enough to look after myself and to continue to be responsible. i have commitments to others, and it is important to me to be useful. Service and diligence are core virtues for me, despite their unfashionable status. So that is why.

There are some mental changes already. i think much less about food and if you gave me something large i don't think i could even consider it. i have had several dreams about not eating specific foods. i had one dream where i was at a feast, and was carrying food to be served. i ate 6 snow pea shoots. In the dream i chose the snow pea shoots. Weird as.

i figure the blogosphere is full of weight loss diaries so i will not add to them in any regular way. But it was for me a remarkable decision, and worthy of a post.

* The ships that brought the first main contingents of Pakeha settlers to Christchurch. Descent from these people still carries some weight here.


  1. Wow. All the best with the recovery, and the clean up. I guess at least you will be off duty during a hectic time at social services
    Sen & Sonja

  2. Gee, I echo what Sonja and Sen say. Wow, what an undertaking! I can understand why you did it, but it is surely a difficult ride. And then the earthquake, just to make things worse! How dreadful to be thrown to the floor in the loo like that. I'm pleased your house has made it through. My heart goes out to those who have been made homeless and have as yet no news on where they are to go.