Mrs Lesley Stonehouse – 10 months gastric bypass surgery

I had always struggled with my weight and had yo-yo dieted over a lot of years.

I did manage to lose 6 and a half stone with a slimming club a while ago but over the last 10 years it crept back on. I had my son when I was 43 and again put on more weight. At first I thought about the gastric band. I had some sent through but never really read it; I kept thinking I should be able to do this without surgery because I’d done it before. Someone close to me had a gastric bypass on the NHS. She’d had to wait for 2 years and went through several evaluations before she was accepted for the surgery. However, after she’d had it done, every time I saw her she was thinner and really enjoying life.

I spoke to my husband and we went to see a consultant, Professor Humadi. He explained everything in detail, answered some questions very honestly (such as “will I die?”!!) I wanted to have the surgery and knew that it would mean a change in life style. I knew that, as long as I made it through the first 6 to 12 months, I would be able to relax and enjoy life again, but with different quantities of food!

I booked it when I was sure that I had a reasonably clear calendar for 6-8 weeks. I did not tell anyone apart from my manager and a couple of close friends. I didn’t tell my family because I didn’t want them to worry while I was in hospital. In hindsight this was a good thing. When I came round from the anaesthetic I knew that something was weird. I won’t lie; the first 6-12 hours are not great! I was really uncomfortable and could hardly move. It seems like you have to drink buckets of water before the nurses will let you have a cup of tea, although in reality it was not even a full glass over a set period of time. The next morning I was told that I had had a rare complication. During surgery my spleen had to be removed, that’s why I had the big incision on my stomach instead of the 4 small incisions from keyhole surgery that I was expecting. The complication had been caused by scar tissue from my previous caesarean section. It took me a couple of days to take this news in. I don’t think I had factored in complications; I had only thought about possible pain and the concern about only being able to eat yoghurt and soup! Because of this I had to spend a week in hospital rather than the expected 3 nights. The staff at the Spire Thames Valley hospital were brilliant; they made me laugh and were really supportive throughout my stay. One day I had a bad pain in my back and I was in agony every time I moved. Professor Humadi was informed and he arranged for me to be taken to the local hospital for a scan that afternoon, which quite was impressive considering it was a Sunday!

I was advised on what to expect when I got home. I would feel lethargic but needed to keep moving around. I wouldn’t have an appetite but I needed to make sure I ate. They advised on the vitamins to take and there was loads of eating advice from the specialist dietician. If it hadn’t have been for Scott I probably would have eaten tomato soup and yoghurt for the full 6 weeks!

The next issue was that the big incision became infected…it was sore and, when I prodded it, stuff oozed out so we went back to the hospital even though it was a Saturday. The nurses did everything they could to get it all out and they called Professor Humadi. Again he came in to check the wound. It wasn’t painful after that but it meant that I had to be really careful with it for nearly 4 months until it healed. The hospital, Professor Humadi, Melanie & Shelagh were brilliant. They called and emailed to see how things were, gave me dressings and there was always an open door if I needed to see them.

Living with my procedure has been the easy part. I have followed the advice of the dietician throughout; he is available via email whenever I need to ask him a question and he has great advice to make you think about what you are eating and the reasons why. Of course, the first 6-8 weeks was a struggle but it was easier than I thought it would be. The person I knew who had the procedure done on the NHS suffered with vomiting and reflux for several months after surgery but I didn’t. I believe this was down to the great advice and support I had from Professor Humadi’s team.

Now life is brilliant! I can eat most foods as long as I am sensible. I know when I have eaten enough and, if I do eat too much, it’s never normally enough to make me ill. I just get up, have a walk, drink lots of fluids and make sure I try not to make the same mistake again.

The difference to my life is not only through renewed confidence with the way I look and the ability to go into the high street shops and buy normal sized clothes. I can walk faster and for longer and the best thing of all is that I want to get up and go rather than sit on the sofa and eat crisps. Even with the unexpected complications I have absolutely no regrets.