Friday I was due to meet the doctor (a professor, no less) who would do my surgery. “Are you nervous?” asked P that morning. “Oh no”, I replied “it’s just a chat”. And as soon as I got there, I was instantly nervous. So nervous that I forgot most of the questions I was going to ask. Doesn’t bode well for the nerves I am likely to have when going in to be sliced up.
One thing I did remember to mention was the reaction to the option of the band by the NHS doctor. She had said that it’s no longer used because it doesn’t work and the risk of complications is so high. The prof was frustrated but resigned. He said that it is a difficult procedure if you don’t do it properly – and he’s been doing it since 1990 and almost every day since then. You have to site it correctly – and he uses some stitches to ensure it stays anchored (slippage being one of those complications). And, as I had suspected, the fact that it requires quite a lot of very personalised aftercare, makes it impractical for the NHS. He said that there is pressure for the more drastic forms of surgery as they deal with larger people (as a rule) and with those forms of surgery, they can be in and out without the tinkering necessary for the band. As he pointed out, there is only a difference in terms of loss of 10-20% (of excess weight) – and why would you put yourself through such drastic surgery for such a little extra ‘reward’. He said I was too young (bless him) and not sufficiently overweight (again, bless him) to start out at a point which requires 2/3 of my stomach to be removed or my stomach re-plumbed and the very significant impact that would have on me for the rest of my life. I mentioned the study I’d seen that said when you’re 5 years out (I think) it the loss rate actually converges. He became very animated in a very Italian way (for, dear Reader, he is indeed Italian) and waved his hands about and agreed – he’d seen this study too. I felt very confident in him and reassured in the process. So as of today, I have paid the deposit to secure my slot of 16 June. Eeek.
The Prof was ambivalent – at best - as to whether I need to do the pre-op diet. Other surgeons working for the same company are insistent, I believe. I thinkit’s partially down to the skill of the surgeon, although this is by no means what is said. I had read that the diet is in part to shrink the liver, so that it’s easier to get underneath it to the stomach. The Prof thought this was hilarious when I raised it – and gave me to understand that he has no truck with livers getting in the way (and btw, he thought mine would be v pliable. Not sure how he knows this other than having had a good push around of my abdomen). He said there is some value in doing it just as a mindset for post-surgery, and in any case, not to go for a blowout meal the night before the op. I want to do anything and everything that I can to ensure this surgery is a success so on to the diet I will go. There seems to be some ambiguity over whether it’s a week or 10 days. I’ll probably do 8 days, not to make it utterly wretched (it’s a VLCD). I imagine that the night before, the last thing I will want is a blowout meal. I will be terrified by then, I am quite sure.
16 June is timed so that I am not doing the pre-op diet until after our weekend with friends at the end of May (the other June date was 2 June) and I have a big project which launches on 12 June, so I’ll be able to finish that off. I’m taking the week after the op off – apparently I should feel pretty well after 3 – 4 days, but I have to say that commuting in London is a bear fight/scrum at the best of times, and I don’t fancy being elbowed in one of the five wounds. Also, you can’t shower for a week to 10 days until the wound heals over. My boss is keen that I don’t come back until I can shower! I can have a shallow bath – and apparently wash my hair over the side of the bath – so I shouldn’t be too rank.
I haven’t gone into specifics on the nature of the op with my boss. She is excellent in many respects, but empathy is low and I’m pretty sure she would be scornful about this. I’ve said it’s too embarrassing to discuss and that I’d rather take leave than have to divulge the nature of the op. She’s been absolutely fine with this – I don’t have to take leave and although I’ve offered to work from home, she said I should just recuperate.
It is my sister-in-law’s party the following weekend – which is a problem. I will either have to skip it or just go along and sit quietly (it’s just in a local pub to her). It’s not something I’d enjoy at the best of times tbh, but is something I feel I should go to if I can (and if I have been able to wash my hair and have a bath/shower!). In truth, there is never going to be an ideal time (unless I waited until January which is, after all, the misery month). This way, I should be pretty au fait with what I can and can’t eat and how best to manage life with a band before we go on holiday in mid-September. As ever, I am all about the secrecy. The only people I am telling is my husband and you, dear Reader. Not quite sure how I’m going to manage my mother though, especially as we’re due to go walking in Wales in the last week of July. I suspect the week won’t happen however, as I’m leaving it to her to sort out! I shall worry about that if and when it happens. Okay, I’ll worry about it anyway, but hope it won’t happen.