Thursday, 5 September 2013

4 weeks Post Op

Back to walking, back to working...Yay! Finally.

4 weeks post operative this week, I am almost 100%. I am able to get myself about, walk, work, drive a little... My life is almost back to normal. Still not able to lift or stretch but on the whole, doing really well.

Cate and I walk for 35 mins each morning, much less than what I used to, but I'm not into breaking world records just yet, so we are happy enough walking at a steady pace for that amount of time each morning at 6 am. We will build it up steadily each week, no need to jeopardise the healing for the sake of a kilometre or two. I've plenty of time. I'm feeling great. Enthusiastic and willing to do what it takes.

Cate took a photo of me in my work clothes yesterday. It felt soooo good to be back in the real world, I asked for a photo to send to Hugo. He is in SA working for a fortnight, so I thought he would appreciate a photo of the momentous occasion of me returning to work. Today, I posted that photo on Facebook.. Understand that I have spent the best part of the last twenty years in hiding, an invisible overweight person, living in a world where thin is beautiful.. So Imagine my surprise this evening when I logged into Facebook and saw 128 likes on that photo and some really heartfelt comments. I am not used to that flattery, and was borderline embarrassed, worried to think people may see me as showing off... Then I thought, bugger it, I am bloody showing off, I have worked damn hard to get to this point, just this once I am going to enjoy this attention. I can see now why teenaged kids post so many selfies, the positive attention would be addictive... Prepare yourselves, I am practising my duck faces, and posing in front of the bathroom mirror at this very moment.

From that photo, I have had many private messages from people asking who did my surgery, how did I loose my weight, did I  have gastric banding,what is my motivation, how much did it cost, did it hurt, can I help.... So, today's post will attempt to answer those questions..

I lost my weight the easy way. With grit, determination, and persistence. 

I didn't have any operations to cut my stomach in half, I didn't take any pills or potions, I didn't skip any meals. I took the easy option. I just worked off more energy than I ate. Simple. Up until a few years ago I was the queen of theory, I had read every self help, diet fad book ever published. I knew how to loose weight, I just didn't. Yeah, sometimes I would walk a couple of kilometres, ride an exercise bike for 45 minutes every day, but although my body was willing, my head wasn't in the right spot. I am a firm believer of 'what you declare, you achieve', so after watching my son beat a brain tumour with this very theory at the ripe old age of 6, I realised that I too could make a difference in my own life if I only tried. 

It is very true that your body hears everything that your brain thinks, so if you spend your day telling people you can't loose weight, that's exactly what will happen. I have a mantra that I sing to myself when walking " thin and healthy, successful and wealthy".. I chanted internally everyday when I walked alone, willing my big arse and rubenesque hips to not only listen, but take action! I also used to imagine little Pac-men gobbling up all of the fat I accumulated over the years. I also wonder now if it was emotional weight, I was unhappily carting around years of excess baggage, and not all of my own! Now I'm rid of it, and I've never been happier! 

I joined the gym in D Town, and fate brought me in contact with two of the best personal instructors I could ever have met. Wild, wicked women with raucous laughs, and mischievous twinkles in their eyes... They challenged me, helped me, encouraged me every step of the way. I still to this day miss those two... And wish I could find someone here that inspired me half as well as they did.

Anyone who knows me well will know I hate sweating, I hate not being in control, I hate being out of my comfort zone, and I hate any form of confrontation. Loosing weight made me face every one of these things. I sweated my arse off ( literally). I looked stupid in too tight Lycra gym pants and bright white runners, I was embarrassed having to ask how to use gym equipment, I blushed profusely when the most handsome man in D Town casually wandered over for a chat when I was on the rowing machine, struggling for breath, hair seductively stuck to my forehead with sweat. I did not own high impact bras and I'm sure all this jumping about was doing nothing but creating comic relief for all in the gym. I was made box, run, jump, lift weights, do leg presses, ride stationery bikes, do aerobic step sessions at peak hour at the gym in front of work colleagues. But it worked. The endorphins were taking effect, sneaking  in and colliding with my fat cells, convincing them that working out was fun.. Not at all flattering but much fun.

Then, suddenly the universe decided it was time for us to move on. I had to leave my safety net, my cocoon and head for the real world. We left D Town very unhappily, and moved to the Emerald City. Life and reality hit me front on for a number of years. My home flooded, we moved house, my son battled depression and suicide attempts, my job changed multiple times, I was working 14 hour days, my relationship broke down, I had few friends and no social life. There were many Turkish Delight days during these times. I joined a gym but couldn't find the spark that I had. I tried a trainer, didn't click. I phoned another, he never bothered to get back to me... I didn't push it. 

One evening it occurred to me that even though I had no external down time to exercise, that didn't mean I couldn't incorporate some into my daily activities whilst at work. I started wearing a pedometer, I aimed for 20000 steps a day, every day. I ate very few carbohydrates. I packed only healthy foods in my lunch box. If I didn't pack it, I couldn't eat it. I shopped more carefully. I walked those conveyors and climbed those stairs as often as I could, I parked away from the office, I walked everywhere rather than drive.. Little things that added up over time to make a big difference. 
Bingo, I was back in the game.. As easy as it is to fall off the wagon, it's that easy to get back on. Sure I had some days where we ate cake to celebrate a birthday, or sometimes just for no reason at all.. But I now knew that if i wanted a treat,or i was lucky enough to be asked on a surprise dinner date, i just worked extra hard the next day.
Wanna Eat cake? Go for a run - Fancy a chocolate? Head for a weights session that afternoon. Easy. Work off more than you eat. Simple. Not even close to rocket science. Don't buy shit, don't eat shit. 

I guess what I'm trying to say is that, if I can do it, you can do it too. I have been single, homeless, broke, sad, unhappy, drunk, busy, tired, worried, kids to mind, men to deal with,etc etc etc... You would not ever be able to think of an excuse that I haven't had to battle through. 

So just do it, it's much easier than continually avoiding the issue. Go one, be your very own Nike ad, what have you got to loose aside from 50 kilos?

Now that the easy stuff is out of the way, I'll get to tell you about the gory, much harder stuff..

The operation to remove the skin.

Obviously having 4 kids in less than 2 years was never gonna be kind to the elasticity in my skin, particularly twins. I had stretch marks from neck to knee almost. Regardless of how much weight I lost that skin wasn't gonna tighten up. Enter the thought of reconstructive surgery. Although the surgery took place  just a month ago,the thought has been rattling round in my brain for years. I have been to see 4 surgeons prior to Dr Tristian, but none of them instilled any confidence. Three years ago,i was quoted 20 k to have a similar operation, at the times was saving for a house deposit and just couldn't justify spending that kinda money on myself.

Almost two years ago, my fiancé at the time, made a statement one Saturday morning, that changed my life forever. We had just had breakfast, and the two of us were happily sitting chatting in the sun on the back deck. Life was good,or so I thought. Within the next ten minutes, my son had joined us at the table, heading out on his way to the gym, we started a conversation about fitness, and my fiancé uttered the words that struck me like a knife. "You haven't got an ounce of fat on you mate, you want to see fat, ask your Mum, she has enough spare skin to make a human floor rug" I was struck dumb with the ferocity of the words that had, to me, come from nowhere. I walked away, and spent the remainder of the weekend avoiding him. He came back the next weekend like nothing had happened, and the next, and the next... But each time I looked at him those words were there. I had nightmares about me laying alongside the TV downstairs head and all, like a zebra mat in an African hunting lodge.
I broke off the engagement. 

I was once again single, alone and parenting 4 teenagers, whilst working to payoff a very large mortgage. Stress levels were high and Turkish delights were close. 

Around this same time,I had begun working with the fabulous Hugo. He and I were fast become friends and enjoyed each others company a lot. Now,I have to tell you Hugo was not my ideal not usual type of man. He is skinny, eats like a horse and has no concept of the difficulties that a fat person faces on a daily basis. Hugo actually has a serious aversion to fat people. Yep, he is what fat people like me, call a bastard. I had no intention of falling in love with this cream bun eating bloke, who frowned if he ever saw me tucking into a slice of birthday cake. I'm sure that he also did not have plans  on ever being seen with someone like me, looks being very important to Hugo. But, the world works in mysterious ways, before long he had fallen for my charm, ( i was unaware i had any, at this point) and we were an item. I know my loose skin must have been unsightly, hell, I couldn't even look at it in the mirror, but not once did he mention it, not once did he make a comment that related to my size, or my diet. 

It was pure synchronicity that I picked up a newspaper to throw out at work, and it fell open to a page with an advertisement for Dr Tristain de Chalain. I wrote his number down and gave it some serious thought. Soon after, I phoned made appointment to meet him in Rocky to discuss the options. He is a reconstructive surgeon, not a cosmetic surgeon, and I think that made all the difference.

From the moment I walked into his surgery, I knew this surgeon was the right one. Instantly he put me at ease, he discussed options at length, treating me with dignity, and not making me feel like a side of beef as the Dr's before him had. Dr Tristian involved Hugo in the conversations, showed us very graphic photos of the operation and expected outcomes. He took his time, answered all of my questions and I walked out of that office knowing that I would be in safe hands. He has a gentle manner about him, that was very comforting to me. The operation was scheduled for August 5th, a month after we had returned from Paris. Due to having to wear a compression garment, it is recommended To have this operation in winter, for obvious reasons. 

His surgery was going to cost $12500, with $500 being paid as deposit when operation was booked and remainder due two weeks prior to operation. I was lucky enough to be able to claim about $1600 on Medicare also, due to their being a medical reason I needed to have skin removed.
Anatheasist fees were $3600 and were due one week prior to operation. Again I can claim Medicare rebate for this.. I'm not sure of exact rebate, but will update when I get final figures. Hospital fees were totally covered by my health insurance company.
Some surgeons will charge an extra $200 for each compression garment, mine was included, as were my dressings and tape, wound gel etc.
I know it's not cheap. $12500 is a lot of money, but I don't smoke, gamble and very rarely drink, so the money was saved very quickly, once my priorities were put in place. There have been people that have made derogatory comments about my selfishness in having this operation, and they are the same people I see in the KFC drive through, in Maccas, or with a trolley full of bad food... In my opinion, people can spend their money however they please... I choose reconstructive surgery, some choose KFC.  

The surgery itself was not painful as much as aggravating. It was hard for someone as independent as I am, to be grounded. Unable to get out of bed, or off a chair, not able to walk or drive. It was literally a pain in the arse. But, I'd do it again if I had the chance again. Only sooner.

I didn't mean for this post to be so sombre tonight, but it is serious stuff. I know there are people out there who need to hear this, who need to understand that they can do it, it's only as hard as you make it, and that it's never too late to make a difference.

If a friend has directed you here for a read, don't be cross or offended, be enlightened and please find comfort in knowing that there are people that care about you, and worry about your health and well being. Hug them, and thank them for loving you enough to want to help. 

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