I’ve been on a diet since I was 12. When I was very young, I was a Beauty Queen, entering pageants all across America. I learned that I was beautiful and that looks were what mattered most. When puberty hit, it wasn’t very kind. I inherited the big boobs and butt that the women in my family are known for. I began to hide behind baggy trousers and oversized shirts. I didn’t want to be looked at. The combination of teenage hormones and severe anxiety led to me eating far more than was good for me. I put on weight fast and hard.
My pre-teen self began self-harming in subtle ways. I treated my body like crap. Razors to the arms, pulling my hair out, and most especially binge eating followed by purging and starvation. My weight fluctuated, as did my self-esteem. High school sucked, and it was only in my senior year that I started feeling more confident. The summer before, I had lost 15 – 20 lbs, and I was doing well. In college, far from gaining the “Freshman 15,” I actually lost another 20 or so.
I met my first husband when I was 19 and feeling fabulous. I was the thinnest I’d ever been (around 150 lbs) and life was good. But in our first week together, he suggested I needed to lose more. The next years were hell. I found myself on a constant carousel of diets. I would lose ten pounds and gain 20. I’d eat healthy for weeks and then muck it up with a huge binge.
By 26 years old, I was 260 lbs. I could not get my life under control. I resorted to extreme measures. You don’t resort to bariatric surgery if you haven’t tried everything else first. I paid a good amount of money to travel to The Czech Republic and let a doctor cut into me and remove about 75% of my stomach.
When I speak to someone for the first time about bariatric surgery, their initial expectation is that I’ve had Gastric Bypass surgery. And while it is true that this type of surgery is common, it is by no means the only option available these days.
Strangely enough, many people (myself included) had never heard of the VSG before. When I was looking into my options, I was set on having a “Lap Band,” which seemed the safest and least invasive option. After all, I was only 26 years old, and having all of my organs rerouted seemed a bit extreme to me. But the company that I went through offered both the band and the VSG. After reading up on both, I decided that I’d rather have the VSG.VSG stands for Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy. In essence the surgery is one of the more simple, but effective types. What it involves is the cutting away of about 85% of the stomach, leaving a small, banana-shaped, stomach in its place. Only 2 – 3 ounces can be held at any time, so overeating is no longer an option. And while the Gastric Bypass shortens the length of the intestines, the VSG has no malabsorption problems. All the nutrients stay in the body.
My surgery was carried out by Dr Michal Cierny of Brno, Czech Republic. He and his staff were incredible, making me feel totally at ease and cared for. There was not ever a single moment of doubt about him, despite the fact that I only met him the day before my surgery. The clinic in Brno was incredibly clean and well-staffed. And though there was a small language barrier between the nurses and patients, the vast majority of staff was easy to speak with.
Pre-surgery the clinic carried out a multitude of tests on me. First, they took blood, temperature (from the armpits), blood pressure and asked me questions about medical history. I had my weight taken, I had to get my lung capacity measured by blowing into and out of a cylinder, I had urine tests, an abdominal ultrasound, lung and heart x-rays, an ecg, spirometry, and then an endoscopy, for which I was heavily sedated.
My mother, who had gastric bypass in the US was not put through half of these tests, nor was she in the hospital for as long as I was. And her surgery wasn’t even laproscopic!
On the morning of my surgery, I was given anti-nausea gum and an IV of fluids to get me ready. The efficient staff had me ready for surgery in five minutes, and I was hardly in the operating theatre for 30 seconds before I went straight to sleep.
The pain and discomfort afterward was intense. I woke up in ICU, where I spent 24 hours after surgery. I was attached to an oxygen hose, a blood pressure cuff and I had an IV, a catheter and drains from my incisions. They kept the pain controlled with medicine which I thanked them for, as it really was quite painful. I felt as though I’d been hit by a truck!
They had me up and walking about 10 steps that night, and the next morning, I was able to walk a bit further. I had to have a stomach x-ray to check for leakages, and it involved drinking some disgusting barium. Luckily all was well, and I was sent back to my regular hospital room. I had the catheter removed shortly thereafter, and the drains came out the next day. I was refusing pain medication from the second day, as it wasn’t that bad. Also they stopped offering it via IV and said we’d have to have it in suppository form if we wanted more, and that really put me off! 😉
All in all, I was in the hospital for three days after the surgery, and by the end I was bursting at the seams to get out! I wasn’t nearly healed, but I was amazed at how much I could do even with all the pain and stitches.
Once back in the UK, it took me another few weeks before I felt truly healed, but I was energetic and losing weight quickly during that time.
It took me a year, but I lost nearly 120 lbs.
Of course, I didn’t get huge for no reason. I was in an unfulfilled marriage and severely depressed. Losing the weight did not change that at all. I knew I needed to change my circumstances. My husband became my ex-husband, and I set out to find myself. I didn’t get very far. Within six months, I had found love again. I met Mark when I was at my thinnest, and he helped me to be the woman I had always wanted to be.
Within only three months of meeting him, I found out I was pregnant. We had our first son, Dexter, in early 2011. Our second son, Daniel, was born almost exactly two years later in 2013. Our third son, Chester, was born 20 months after that, in October 2014. Finally, little Wilder arrived in December 2017.
Four pregnancies in very quick succession wreaked havoc on my body. More than the normal post-pregnancy issues, I have seen terrible effects from such intense weight gain and loss over and over again.
Now I am on a mission to explore the different ways one can lose weight, get fit and feel better in their own skin. I’ve created pages with information about all the diets I’ve tried in the past. I’ve tried to keep each entry uniform with a blurb about the diet which I copied from reputable sources (official websites where available), a section on my experiences with the diets, and an Incredible Shrinking Me (ISMe) rating for each diet.
In no way is my opinion to be taken seriously. I am not a doctor nor a nutritionist. I am simply a former fattie who has been through a lot of diets, and I have opinions. If one of the diets looks like something you want to try, I would seriously urge you to speak to a doctor and/or an official source. Books are great. I own at least 50 diet books, all of which are gathering dust in my attic!
If you have an opinion on any of the diets, please feel free to share in the comments!
To learn more about this surgery, or to find a supportive community, visit ObesityHelp.com