Marie’s Story

I wasn’t really a fat kid…I had a little ‘puppy fat’ aged 11 onwards, but rapidly developed big boobs in my last year of primary school..oh the humiliation of having to wear a bra before starting High School…in 1971 everyone still wore vests.

Exercise decreases as you move on up at school, leave school and go to college, find a job…dieting is the norm, whether you are overweight or not, and the fear of being fat is all pervasive, so a little yo-yo dieting becomes the pattern.
In fact I had just lost weight and was pleasingly slim when I met the father of my eldest child..probably because I was pleasingly slim. Relationship, baby, lost pregnancy weight with a little struggle, lost partner with bigger struggle, couldn’t exercise as much between work and home life, single parenthood. Life and weight crept on.

The children got older, I got slower, and the peri-menopause approached, with increasingly heavy periods, tiredness, inability and disinclination to exercise at all, lack of iron, and my new anti-depressants gave me my appetite back….sitting and eating became almost life’s only pleasure. So, now I was fat, forty-something, and fit for nothing. I had to get the weight off. Spurred on by comments from someone I loved, I stopped eating, started walking, shifted half a stone, started going to the gym, walking further and faster and the weight started to move. Right up until I had to start working with my husband, and had no time to walk, go to the gym, attend aquafit classes and generally look after myself…then the weight started its insidious creep back upwards.
By this time I was almost suicidal. I felt and looked awful, and was starting to experience restriction in my daily life, and wasn’t able to do the lifting and carrying at work. I asked my GP for help, and was offered an appointment with the (overweight) dietitian. But I felt there was little they could tell me that I didn’t already know.

“By this time I was almost suicidal. I felt and looked awful, and was starting to experience restriction in my daily life.”

I asked about the Gastric Band…the only form of weight loss surgery I had even heard of, despite having an interest in medical matters. No chance on the NHS…I wasn’t fat enough!
Could I have a Tummy Tuck? Nope, I was too fat. Could I have a breast reduction (from 38H)? No, I was too fat. Stuck between a rock and a hard place as far as the NHS was concerned.

I started investigating the private sector…around £10-£12,000 in the UK for a Gastric Band. More than my annual income. Not a chance.

I’d seen an article in a magazine whilst waiting at the GP surgery about weight loss surgery abroad, and decided to investigate in online. At this point I still hadn’t flown for over 20 years, and had no idea how I would be able to manage it, but the prices looked keen compared to those in the UK. Fully energised now, I hammered away at the search engine, discovering that there were more and different surgeries that could be performed…not just the Band, but the Vertical Gastric Sleeve, the Gastric Plication (wrap), and several different flavours of bypass (RNY, SADI-S, mini-bypass etc).

Lots of forums, companies, differing reviews, different countries…almost overwhelming, but several things struck me. Most were private clinics in Europe and Elsewhere. I quickly discounted Elsewhere….I wanted somewhere in the EU, where the EHIC card would cover any unrelated illnesses that might occur while I was abroad. Flights in Europe were cheap as well. It seemed that most clinics would allow you to stay for 1 or 2 nights, and then you would go to a hotel for the rest of your stay abroad. I almost gave up as this point. I couldn’t envisage being alone, unwell, and with no nursing care or family nearby. I carried on looking at surgeons and places to say, and came across Dr Hruby and New Leaf. It looked good…the website indicated that the prices were good, there was a 7 night stay in a real, proper hospital with all emergency facilities, and when I enquired further, I would be able to bring my husband who could stay in my actual room in the hospital, and hold my hand. Done, sorted, and booked my sleeve op for about 6 weeks from the moment I spoke to New Leaf.

I chose the sleeve because I am a big wuss…if they’d stapled, cut and cauterised my stomach, and thrown away the useless bit, there was no way I could be a wimp and tell them to put it back, was there? (I know exactly what I’m like the day after an operation). All I felt at this point was euphoria…I was finally going to be able to fix my weight problem. Now I was alternating between terror and elation, but I managed to keep it to elation most of the time, and started planning, packing and organising, whilst going through several days of ‘last supper syndrome’; eating all the things I thought I’d never be able to eat again after my op.

I’m not alone in this apparently, but most people don’t have to give everything up, just modify things a little. When we arrived at the hospital I was given my room which was a brilliant, large room with..TV and Satellite box, excellent ensuite, somewhere to plug in the kettle and fan, and 2 electrically adjustable hospital beds. Settled in went to bed and waited, sleeplessly for the morning; nil by mouth from midnight due to the impending gastroscopy, Nurses in very early pointing a digital thermometer at my head, I have no memories of anything else until Dr Hruby came and introduced himself to us. He was calm, friendly, and spoke to us as intelligent human beings who would understand everything he was telling us; unlike some consultants I have met previously, and answered all our questions. After he had gone, my husband and I agreed that all our lingering nervousness and worry had been allayed, and we felt completely confident and happy…well, that was easy for Paul as he wasn’t the one having the op.

“I was looked after extremely well and could not fault the care of the nurses, doctors and support staff”.

Now I’m nearly 2 years out, and I remain 5 stone lighter. I didn’t have as much to lose as some, and I’m quite short so it made a big difference to my BMI. I have a good memory for medical data, and spent some time answering questions from people who were thinking of weight loss surgery. So, now I am a patient co-ordinator and admin on the facebook group for New Leaf. . I drink some alcohol, and occasionally eat unwisely. I’m human, but I’ve remained at the same weight for over a year now. Not skinny, but pleasantly plump as some would say. And Dr Hruby, who comes to our annual reunion just like a normal person, remains, to me, a hero.


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