Gastric (un)banding

May 26th 2008. This was the day I first met my surgeon, Dr. Claessens, at the hospital ‘Maas en Kempen’ in Belgium. Before this meeting I had already done lots of research online about weight loss surgery and finally decided gastric banding would be the solution for me. So I made an appointment and there I was. They turn you inside out, mentally as well as physically, but I was prepared for all of it. On the same day I saw a dietitian, a psychologist, another medical examiner who performed a lung function test and an ECG and they took several x-rays of my lungs and my stomach. All this was evaluated and I finally received approval to join the educational pre-surgery meetings and then have the surgery itself on January 28th 2009.

When I woke up after the procedure I was in agony. I wasn’t prepared for this much pain, but mostly I remember feeling afraid and I was convinced something had gone terribly wrong. Everything inside me felt so strange, but this is actually not surprising considering they’ve put something inside your body that doesn’t belong there. But still. Brr.

Eventually it turned out that everything had gone perfectly as planned, but I’ve never been able to shake the feeling that something wasn’t right. Even until this moment. Who was I kidding anyway? But at the time I was so desperate that I thought this was my last option. The last possible solution for me to regain my health and happiness. It was either that, or that was the end. I had to do it, even if it killed me in the process. And honestly, I was quite prepared for that unfortunate possibility as well. I was that far gone.

But life went on as before, though I must admit I did lose weight during the first months after the surgery. Of course you already lose a lot weight easily during the first month because you’re only allowed fluids and minced foods. But after several months the weight came back. And then there was the regret. This surgery did not help me at all. All it did was make me miserable during each meal. And the worst thing is that the healthier the food, the more difficult it passes through your stomach! Each bite hurt and on top of that there was the fear that something was wrong. Every time I sensed something different in my stomach or chest area I was immediately alarmed and thought “this is it”. I imagined myself at the hospital undergoing emergency surgery – or worse. And that fear never goes away. Never. Not as long as it’s in there.

So two months ago I made a decision, consulted my surgeon and as a result, next week, the fear will go away. Along with this silicone thing in my stomach that has been continuously reminding me how I failed myself during all those years – until that moment 17 months ago when I decided I was strong enough after all.

With this blog I not only want to share my story for the first time, but mostly I want to give hope to all of those who are considering to undergo weight loss surgery because they think it is their last option. It is NEVER too late to take matters into your own hand and GO FOR IT. Without a doctor cutting into you and messing with your body while it was never intended for that. You can do it. At every age. At every time. Not just on a Monday, as we’ve all so often thought (‘I’ll give my diet another go starting on Monday’). You can also start on a Friday evening if that’s your moment. Take it. Do it. And then when you’re ready; never look back. Just be happy. And be proud!

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