Becky Jolene – Gastric sleeve

My story starts like many peoples – I come from a “Fat” family. We all like our food and as a child I associated good things with food such as birthdays, Christmas, Sunday lunches, in fact most of my memories involve food in some way or another. I was quite slim as a young child but once puberty hit my weigh started to creep up. That’s when the yo-yo dieting began! I would do some fad diet only to give up after losing a few stones then put it all back on again and then some.

 

When I was 21 I joined a slimming club. I was horrified to learn that I weighed nearly 19 stone at the time. I lost 7 stone over the next two years, however I started a relationship and stopped following the plan and all the weight was back on in less than a year. That started another pattern of joining various slimming groups only to give up after a few months and put the weight back on and more.

 

Starting university in 2006 and then doing a busy office/ community job meant that my eating habits were terrible – I would not eat all day at work, come home late and then sit in front of the TV all night eating anything and everything – in fact I remember several times actually making a sandwich to eat whilst I was cooking my huge evening meal!. I knew my weight was starting to affect me in all aspects of life – I had no energy, my relationship was suffering and I was struggling to do everyday tasks.

 

I started to care for my niece who was 13 at the time and I realized that I was repeating the cycle of teaching her bad habits and what would end up being a lifetime of weight issues. One day I realized I couldn’t lift myself out of the bath without going on all fours. I also took my niece to a local shopping centre and couldn’t walk from one end to the other – I drove round to a closer car park! I knew that was the time to do something about it. I was 34 years old and weighed a whopping 25 stone!

 

I started to do some research about gastric sleeve surgery and found out it would be more affordable to go abroad. I came across Dr Hruby’s name on a group about weight loss surgery abroad – it included his email address so I emailed him and he responded straight away and directed me to New Leaf and Amanda. I read all the information Amanda sent me and did my own research about Dr Hruby and the hospital in Turnov and was really impressed by what I found. I decided to only tell a few people about my surgery – my close family and a few friends.

 

I booked my sleeve for the 1st March 2015 and started my preop diet on 1st February 2015. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to stick to it but I was determined to give myself the best chance of a successful surgery so actually found it quite easy to follow once I got the hand of it. On arriving in Turnov I was very impressed with the whole process, from being collected at the airport to having a lovely en suite room with beautiful views outside. I met my surgery buddies – who I soon became close friends with due to the unique experience we were sharing. My operation went without a hitch and my friends and family back home were shocked at how well I was, even a day after surgery. By the end of the week I was walking into Turnov town centre.

 

On returning home I got weighed and was horrified to learn that my home scales were 1st 6lb lighter – meaning my start weight had actually been a whopping 26st 6lb!, whilst this was devastating at the time it also reminded me why I had the surgery in the first place and I was determined to succeed with losing the weight. Its been 10 months now since my surgery and my life has changed dramatically for the better. I have lost nearly 11 stone so far (Including preop) and gone from a size 28-30 to a comfortable 18 (sometimes a 16!). 

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At the time of my operation I didn’t use Facebook so didn’t really know about the very active support group for New Leaf or that there were such thing as secret groups where your friends on your main page couldn’t see what you discussed in the group. On returning home from Turnov I decided to join Facebook to participate in the group and I’m so glad I did. I’ve made so many friends and love being able to learn from other people who have had surgery and to share my own experiences – I was thrilled to be asked to join the admin team for 2016 and am really looking forward to sharing my knowledge and skills and supporting others starting this journey.  My life is so different today to what it was pre surgery. I am now interested in food in a completely different way and what I put into my body is now more about getting the right nutrients and protein rather than huge quantities and all the wrong foods – I’ve even started an online nutrition course to learn more about food and what we put into our bodies to help other patients. I’m not going to say its always easy – the surgery is a tool, but you also have to dramatically change the way you see food and consume it and it can bring other issues to the forefront such as things going on in your life that you didn’t even realise until you go through this process. However, I don’t regret it for a second, in fact I wish I had done it years ago! I now feel that I can fully participate in life – I’ve recently been roller-skating, to theme parks and I just generally have more energy and can walk anywhere without getting out of breath and having to stop every few minutes. I’ve even joined a gym and did a challenging aerobics class that some people only manage half of on their first attempt! I would advise anybody considering surgery to go for it – because once you make that decision you can start living your life to the full again!