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Next Phase

Today I went to see my Surgeon, Mr Shaw Somers for a follow-up appointment about my gastric bypass surgery. It's 18 months since I had it done and I have now lost 14st!! That is almost 200lbs. 200lbs!!!! It seems almost unbelievable doesn't it?
He is very pleased with me and has written to the NHS to request funding for plastic surgery to my stomach and breasts to get rid of the loose skin. I can't believe that within a year, I should be a normal person, at a normal weight with a normal-looking body. ME. The little, round old lady who was dying slowly every day.
I now see Shaw on a regular basis as I speak at seminars run by Streamline Surgical, his Bariatric Surgery company. He is just one of the most amazing people I have ever met in my life. Honest, modest, empathic and talented. Lucky bugger!
So, I'm on the last leg of my journey. I'm being encouraged to write a book about how to survive a gastric bypass and I think I will. I have a degree in English and have written articles that have been published before. What do I have to lose? It might just help someone else too.

Read all about it!

Just in case you are interested, the story of my weightloss journey will appear in the UK national newspaper the Daily Express tomorrow (22 January.) It's also going to be available online.

I spent most of the day in central London yesterday doing interviews about how bariatric surgery saves people's lives and is not to be considered a 'quick fix'. It is really hard work, requiring 100% commitment to a totally new, healthy lifestyle. It is merely a tool to aid weightloss that is recommended for the Morbidly and super-morbidly obese (I was the latter.)Bariatric Surgeon, Mr Shaw Somers, and my GP Dr Colin Martin were instrumental in saving me from a premature death. It's not an exaggeration to state that I owe them both my life.

On the brighter side, I have now lost 14st and am no longer in danger of dying anytime soon!! I have been diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis (which often happens with my other health probs) but that ain't gonna kill me right!? I'm in quite a bit of pain but I can handle it - I had 2 kids with no pain relief!

Being in London again (I used to live there) made me appreciate living down by the sea in Sunny ole Southampton. Ok, you might not be able to buy a pair of Cowboy boots at 3 am in Southampton, but the air is clean and there's time to stop and chat.

Anyhow, read the story or don't: it's up to you. All I want to say is: if you are struggling with huge weight problems, remember there are other options to yoyo dieting and self-loathing. It's a scary, major operation but it changes and saves people's lives. Mine included, for which I am forever grateful.

My constant companion.

My constant companion is back and is extremely unwelcome. It is pain.
I have Fibromyalgia and Lupus and both are out of remission. On top of their resurgence, I have Flu and a sinus and eaar infection. The high dose antibiotics have given me thrush and a rash. I'm a bloody mess.
I've lost 14st now (196 lbs, 89kgs) and should be feeling on top of the bloody world. Instead I'm exhausted and verging on depression again.
Pain has been my bug to bear since I was 17 so you would think I'd be used to it by now!
Anyhow, i'm too miserable to talk about it: just wanted to get it off my chest! Prob doesn't help that we are gripped by one of the worst Winter's for 40 years and I have been snowed in for 2 wks. Ho hum.


My friends and family keep 'rainchecking' all our plans and meet ups. I'd like to know why. I'm also not being included in new plans to meet. Maybe I'm being paranoid but it's been going on for a fair few weeks now. I also know it's the holiday season and people are busy seeing others but I am beginning to think that I am doing something wrong or just being boring. Maybe I'm just feeling sensitive as I've been quite poorly for a while too. I don't tell anyone when my Fibromyalgia has resurfaced or indeed, when my Meniere's disease is flaring up (as it has been for months now, and I'm back on the dreaded medication) but maybe my energy levels depleting is visibly obvious. If this is the case then I feel doubly rotten as the people who notice it should bloody well cut me some slack right?!
OK that's enough feeling sorry for myself but, well, I ruddy well do. SO THERE!

Writer's Block: The right fight

What is your proudest life accomplishment so far and why?

Having two babies with absolutely no pain relief. Oh and losing 13st/182lbs/82kgs, in 15 months.

More than I can chew.

Ok, so it's an old, old saying but I honestly think I have bitten off more than I can chew in the past week. I have been counselling several post and pre-op gastric bypass patients (some of whom are personal, beloved friends)and have actually become so concerned that I am losing sleep over them.
I have always been a very caring person but have managed to rein in my concern when needed to save my own sanity! However, the surgery, weight-loss and the whole ensuing journey is SO personal to me that I am finding it increasingly difficult to 'switch off' when people call me for help.
There are certain people in my life who I would NEVER turn away if they asked me to help them. They know who they are. Lately though, as if by magic, complete strangers have been pouring out thier hearts to me about absolutely everything/anything going wrong in thier lives. How does one say 'I can't listen to or deal with your problems at the moment as I am in emotional support overload'? It's virtually impossible to be so harsh and, well, cruel in my book. But I need some time to sort out my own stuff.
I have applied for a new job. I'm terrified they will want to interview me. I am overqualified for the position but the old, fat me is dreading them seeing me. In the past I have walked into interviews and known, immediately that the job was closed to me the minute they saw how big I was. In my head I know that I am now a normal, fairly attractive-looking woman with a good degree from a top university. In my heart I am a hugely overweight middle-aged woman with absolutely no future or prospects.
Why can't I offer the same support both emotional and physical to myself as I do to others? Why do I feel that absolutely EVERYONE else is more important and worth saving than me?
The surgery re-wires the digestive system but unfortunately not the brain. Losing 13st has not made me feel more normal, even if it has made me look it. Will I ever care about myself as much as I do others. I bite off more than I can chew for others but I don't even take a bite for myself. And NO, the food metaphor is not lost on me!!

Writer's Block: Message in a bottle

What three items would you place in a time capsule to help future generations understand you?

A music CD of my favourite tunes.
Pictures of my husband, children and family
My diaries (over 40 years worth!)

Seminar and surgery.

What a week I've had!

On Tuesday evening I did my first seminar as the guest speaker for Mr Shaw Somers (from Fat Doctor.) I was so nervous but once I started, the words came flowing straight from the heart. My husband said there was an audible intake of breath when I told everyone that I had lost 13st in 15 months. I didn't hear it as I was so focused on what to say next! As I spoke, there were pictures behind me of 'before' on a screen.The difference in my appearance was quite startling as I have halved my body weight! 

I then got the opportunity to talk to Mr Somers' prospective patients in a question and answer session. It was so satisfying to be able to discuss aspects of the surgery that only a former patient can understand 100%. Most people were scared of being left with loads of hanging skin and scars. I was not going to lie to anyone and told them that both things would happen to varying degrees. Some of them thought I had already had my loose skin removed! I told them that a good foundation garment is often all that is needed - and a good bra! I will be having my skin sorted next year as it can get very sore in the 'creases' which can lead to dibilitating infections. Luckily, I will have funding from the NHS as I have lowered my BMI (Body Mass Index) by 30 points, meeting thier criteria for free surgery. When it is all finished, my body will look like a road map as I scar very badly, almost to the point of it being keloid.

Most people can't understand that the scarring and relative disfigurement, does not bother me in the slightest. It does NOT matter to me that I will have raised, red, sore scars for the next 20-odd years: I WILL BE HERE! 18 months ago, I had a 3-5 year life expectancy. A few unsightly scars is a fair trade-off for 20 extra years of life right??!

Anyway, the whole experience was totally fantastic. I helped scared and desperate people to make an informed choice as to whether costly weightloss surgery was going to be beneficial to them or not. They told me that seeing and hearing me talk made them realise that the surgery is a sound investment in thier future health and well-being and would give them hope for a normal and healthy life, not just for themselves, but for the people who love them.

Yesterday I had a gastroscopy to try to find out why I am still regularly sick after eating. My beloved friend, Ally, took a day off work to come with me. I was sedated so much that I don't remember a thing about the actual procedure - result! My gag reflex is so bad that sedation was the only option for me. They widened the tube to my new pouch with a little 'balloon', did a biopsy and took photos. Next stage is a barium meal - YUKSVILLE! I also have tablets to take before meals. I've had breakfast this morning as so far so good, YAY! My throat is a sore as hell and I am full of wind which is making me uncomfortable and unsociable haha. Hopefully, I will stop being sick as this is what has caused the hernia to develope.

So, all in all, a very hectic, interesting and exciting week for me. I have learned 5 things this week:

1. I hate driving in London still
2. I love meeting and helping new people
3. I have the most truly remarkable, giving, unselfish and devoted friends
4. I am loved
5. I am good enough

I will be doing the seminars once a month which is brilliant. I have set up my own website which offers advice and support for anyone either considering, waiting for, or post-op. I want to help other obese, morbidly and super-morbidly obese people to see that there is a way out of their predicament. It 's not easy but it CAN be done. Listen, if I can do it, Absolutely anyone can. 

Writer's Block: Play it again, Sam

If you could only listen to one CD for the rest of your life, what would you choose and why?

The Eagles Greatest Hits.
In general, do you find yourself more attracted to people with similar or different interests, life experiences, political beliefs, and religious backgrounds? Do you think having some common interests/goals is essential for a successful relationship?

I don't think there is any particular 'formula' for attraction. I have been with my husband for 30 years in January and we are complete opposites. However, our life goals are similar.