As I mentioned in my personal page, I’m due to have surgery shortly. This is a potted history of the pathway to the operation.
A couple of years ago, when I lived down the road in Todmorden, I was with my then GP, Dr H, and we were talking about my illness and my weight. Part of having lymphoedema means that I have two very swollen legs that contain a considerable amount of fluid. We had previously tried using compression stockings to try to squeeze the fluid upwards without success, and although this contributed to my increased weight, I was also quite well-built and carrying a fair amount of weight.
Up to about ten to twelve years ago was quite fit and refereed several soccer matches a week to a reasonable standard. During a match on the Wirral I gave a goal-kick and while running backwards, hit a pot-hole in the pitch and fell backwards. As I fell, I stuck my arms behind me to stop the fall and managed to break both wrists! That ended my active refereeing career and as a result my weight ballooned from the 13 stone to just over double that, the weight that I am today. Changes in employment also meant that I was away from home staying in hotels and this, plus my lymphoedema fluid has left me in the shape I’m in today.
Over the past eight or nine years, I have tried a number of diets and enrolled in both Weightwatchers and Slimming World. Although both work for a lot of people, they did little for me, I disliked the “happy clapper” nature of the groups, and I gave them both up. As my mobility deteriorated, and my dependence upon the NHS increased, I felt I had to look at alternatives, and Dr H suggested surgery. It had worked for several of his other patients, and he suggested that it could help me.
I looked at the options available to me, remain as I am and become more dependent upon other people or have the surgery and considerably increase the quality of life. It was a no-brainer really, and so I agreed to have the operation.
There was an initial period of waiting while the local PCT agreed to fund the operation, but Dr H had obviously made a good case and it was agreed that the funding be approved.
In Calderdale, there is a defined pathway for this surgery which involves interviews with the surgeons and other Healthcare professionals. There is a multi-disciplinary team that provides a fully inclusive care package with a specialist ward at Huddersfield Infirmary dedicated to bariatric medicine. I met with all the members of the team, my surgeon Mr A, and the lead nurse Cara, and dietician Vanessa. I had to satisfy all three that I was a suitable candidate for surgery. I also had to undergo a number of clinical tests, including a gastroscopy and also attend at least three meetings of a Bariatric Support Group to meet other patients who have had the operation or are undergoing it.
Only after this, are patients accepted and then listed for surgery. There are two main types of operation, the gastric bypass and the gastric band, made popular by Fern Britton and latterly Ultimate Big Brother contestant Vanessa Feltz. The main difference between the two operations is that the band is reversible, and the bypass not. Band patients also need to have their “bands” tightened at least once a year, it’s not a major operation but essential.
After meeting with my surgeons, Mr A and Mr D, it was felt that the bypass would help me, although it will not cure my lymphoedema, nor may it help my mobility. A few weeks ago I underwent my pre-op testing and met the anaesthetist who explained his side of the procedure. I was also given a whole library of leaflets about my surgery as well as details of a special diet that I have to follow for three weeks before the operation. the purpose of this diet is not to reduce weight as such, but to remove sugars and glycogen from the liver and to shrink it. If this is successful, then it means I may be able to have keyhole surgery rather than the other more invasive method.
A couple of weeks ago, I received a call for Mr A’s secretary advising me that they had met and proposed to operate on me on October 6th. I would go in 24 hours earlier and prepare. The operation lasts around 6 hours and afterwards I would need a couple of days in the Intensive Care Unit and a stay on Ward 10 to make sure I stabilise and things are ok with my other medical conditions. Most people go home after 3-4 days but in my case this may well be longer. There are a whole lot of new regimes and eating practices to follow and I’ll share these with you as I go along.
So that’s where I am at the moment. I have to say I am a bit scared of the op, but oddly, probably more scared of my stay in the ICU.
Tonight is the monthly meeting of the Bariatric Support Group and I’m taking Big Sister to meet and talk to people who have had the operation and what they’ve been through. She has always been extremely supportive, and I love her dearly. She’s going through a fairly tough time at the moment with her baby great-grandson also having major surgery, a serious op a couple of weeks back and another one today.
I’ll see you later.