* All patient reviews on our website are based on that individual's experience and may vary from person to person."My name is Mike, I am a foodaholic. I have always been a food person, I enjoy food but I am not bothered by alcoholic drinks.
I have always been FAT. I was teased at school and frequently into my adult life.
I have no idea what alcoholics, gamblers, drug users or compulsive/obsessive people go through and I do not wish to offend or demean them here, but food was my addiction and to a large extent ruled my life. Not as severe as other addictions I know, but before breakfast I would have already decided on my three main meals of the day. I would, around mid-morning, decide if I needed a burger or sausage roll and by lunchtime if I was near a chippy I would often succumb.
I do know of people who have to eat a chocolate bar before getting out of bed and I have never been that severe. My weight whilst excessive has never really stopped me, unlike those that are unable to move. So I suppose it could have been worse.
However, there is something in the human brain… a software problem if you like. It makes some skinny and others eat like a furnace, some drink alcohol by the bucket and others sip wine. What wires are crossed that you gamble away your whole life or scrub yourself until your skin bleeds?
Time for a mind software reboot!
I suppose my mind software is FB 3.01 (Fatboy version 3.01).
I like all kinds of food and can even eat salad to excess. Maybe the problems started at home. My dad was a baker so there was fresh bread every day. My mum was an excellent cook and we had a hot meal every evening. I was never allowed to leave anything on my plate ‘there are starving people in the world that could have eaten that’ my dad would say. I once sat at the Sunday dinner table for four hours because I did not like the taste of swede, but still, I had to sit there and eat it!
Sports: I hate sport…… doing it, watching it, talking about it. My parents did not do sport either and we had no TV until I was nine. Not that sport featured on TV so much in those days. At school I always found ways to beat the system and sat it out. I went for cross country strolls (supposed to be a run) or made sure during the first rugby tackle that I went down and stayed there.
I had to lose a severe amount of weight to get into the Fire Brigade. To achieve the weight loss, my diet consisted of Ryvita with cream cheese in two sandwiches for lunch. The addition of cucumber added a third (soggy) dimension… liquid lunch! I took cucumber in foil from then onwards. I allowed myself a Sunday dinner only. At the end of six weeks had lost 1.5 stone (9kg) and made the re-selection.
The hectic lifestyle of the Fire brigade and lots of volley ball kept my weight reasonable. I suppose though I was still a FB 3.01, I was able to eat and burn it off. Even so, I was still 16 stone (96kg). When I changed to a more deskbound job that slowly increased to 106kg.
On premature retirement (due to high blood pressure) it meant even longer days and plenty of take away food. By the time I reached 65, I was about 24 stone (149Kg).
I tried all the so called diets but I was a foodaholic. Any portion control was controlled by my eyes which were running Eyes5.05….. Everything that looked like 100 grammes to me was in fact about two and a half times that size!
I understand men suffer from this quite a lot although with length, with four inches being often mistaken for twice that!
FB3.01 also allowed me to supersize portions, so a medium portion of fish and chips could be replaced by a large one with no real affect. I blame the fast food outlets to some degree ‘Want to supersize that to a large sir?’ Luckily I did not like much of the fast food on offer.
Eyes5.05 also showed a remarkable body in the mirror, large yes, but not FAT! I was able to overlook the fact that clothes were now XXXXL and I had to wear braces or ‘suspenders if you’re American, on my trews and my feet hurt a lot of the time.
I did know better though. When I lived in Spain I was a weightwatchers leader for two years and my group (as well as myself) managed quite a steady weight loss.
In time I ate myself into higher than ever blood pressure and Type 2 Diabetes which went with a ‘fatty liver’. On top of that I had an early diagnosis of Prostrate cancer, a family trait. The Oncologist, a lovely lady, warned me that I had to do something about my weight. Radiation would be ‘not as effective’ once it got through the layers of fat and the need to increase the power would cause collateral damage to the surrounding tissue and maybe even to my bowel. This could be a huge problem. No surgeon wanted to cut through layers of fat that bleeds and risks infection. The final treatment, hormones, would cause me to gain significant weight.
B****! What was I to do?
I tried hypnotherapy, but plinky plonky background music and “noooow yooou will look better and peeeeeeople will admire you” failed to overwrite FB3.01. I did explain to the therapist that what people saw in me or thought of me didn’t matter and that the music blocked almost everything out, bless. We tried again with the sound of the shoreline and a more “you need to lose weight you FB3.01” approach. It didn’t seem to work even though I did listen to the CD a few times.
In mid 2015 my wife met an old friend who had lost a shed load of weight, the big question was HOW? Answer ……… Lighter life!
My wife and arranged to go and see the advisor together, something that was a bit out of the box for her (the advisor). I watched the promo video and we took the information and went away. Lighter Life consists of a meal replacement programme. No ‘proper’ food, just lots of water and four sachets/bars/packs a day. Oh yeh methinks!
There must have been a software loop in my programming because sucker that I am, I decided to go for it.
So I went to men’s night. Lo and behold ……I was the only man! Chrissy the advisor and I chatted for a while and I left a few £’s lighter but with twenty-eight sachets of food, milk shakes, hot food and soups. I worked my way through the week. I did not at any time feel hungry but I did think about real food a lot. I must have had a software overload as I did not move off the plan at all. Water was a huge problem because if I had a drink much after 16:00 I was up almost all night.
I lost 3.5Kg that week. Impressive, but would it last? I discovered some of the packs I did not like. Week 2 =2.5Kg and so it went on for 8 weeks. I had lost 15.8Kg or over 2 stone. I was into a routine and I can only think that the hypnotherapy and the medical issues had over written FB3.01 with some sort of virus. At 12 weeks I had lost 18Kg that is 3 stone. By Christmas at around 6 months I had lost 25Kg - 4 stone, although at that point I had introduced light meals in place of the sachets as by then, some of them made me gag at the mere smell of them. Christmas would be an issue. A time for plenty and this year it would be no different …..or would it? I did have a stack of food and I did for the first time in 7 months make a gain but I could not eat anywhere near my old all-out levels.
It did show me however that FB3.01 was still able to wrestle control over my mouth when it reared up. This weight gain took a short while to lose and it was getting harder especially with the colder weather. I wanted stews, casseroles and hot food though I did stick to the milk shakes and had other food in moderation. My loss was slower but by February I was only really maintaining my weight.
TIME FOR ACTION!
I was referred to the obesity unit at Addenbrooks, but frankly the information was scant and all I knew was that they replaced my meal packs with milk and vitamins. No thanks! A trip every two weeks to be weighed…… a four hour round trip and fuel costs?? I don’t think so!
What I wanted was Bariatric surgery. The NHS said maybe after a year on their programme and then a three year wait, by which time I would be too old for it anyway!*
* opinions expressed here are for a particular group of patients and may vary from person to person.
So I looked at going private.
I looked at several providers, some did general work and weight loss surgery but one did just weight loss. Hoping they had a far better idea of what I wanted I contacted them.
National Obesity Surgery Centre.
I had been talking to Sarah at NOSC, (National Obesity Surgery Centre) and I made a decision to go for the Gastric Band. Arrangements were made a few weeks ahead as I had a lot of commitments, to see their surgeon at Epping Forrest, Mr Koak. In the meantime I did a huge amount of research online. Reading about the band, I became a bit uncertain. It seems some people can have problems, especially if you eat wrong. You can get food stuck in the neck of the stomach. The band needs adjusting and this would have to be done at the clinic a ninety minute drive away. I read that the band can slip if you do not follow the rules. All of this made me review my options. The Gastric Sleeve seemed a better and more maintenance free way to go. More expensive, but in the long term better value. So I revised my consultation. Mr Koak is an extremely pleasant man, softly spoken and gives a complete feeling of confidence. He asked a lot of questions whilst making notes. My wife and I asked several questions, my wife being concerned should there be a medical emergency while in the theatre, and also regarding aftercare.
Mr Koak offered me the Sleeve which could be done in two weeks time. So the stage was set.
I had to have a blood test pre-operation, for crossmatch I think. That was a four hour round trip to the hospital, only to be told I had to have a repeat test a week later by another doctor, I think to confirm results and to avoid mistakes. There was no chance I was doing that drive again so they moved my admission to the morning, allowing time for the tests and results, Phew!
The two week pre-op diet.
I had to follow a very special ‘liver reducing diet’. The diet advice was mainly to increase protein consumption by eating lean meats, fish and eggs, lower carbohydrate consumption, avoid breads, pasta, cereals, rice and eliminate sugars including chocolate, desserts, juices and fizzy drinks.
So two weeks later I rolled up at the hospital, The Holly Private Hospital in Epping, which has a Premier Inn hotel next door. Very handy for my wife.
Booked in, tested and bloods taken, I needed a cup of tea…. not allowed… I could have a SIP of water. Mr Koak came by and asked about any last minute questions, he was followed by the anaesthetist. The stage was set. I couldn’t settle to anything and then before I knew it, it was time to go. I was walked to the theatre and I have to say this was the scariest moment, a room full of people! I was given lots of instructions, lie down, move up a bit, put your arm on here. They put on an oxygen mask and I started to panic a little. Breathe deeply, relax. Sharp scratch, you will feel a horrible taste in your throat. I was about to say ‘STOP’ I want to ‘STOP’ but too late I was gone. Completely out of it!
I awoke as they removed the tube from my throat. I had pain in my abdomen and told the staff, pain killers were injected and the pain subsided. I had to sit up and didn’t feel any surface pain, just the nag inside. Gas I assume.
My throat was sore and I had a headache. I was a bit disorientated but I was assured it had all happened, Phew!
After a while I was pushed in bed back to my room, had my ‘vitals’ checked and I was allowed into the chair. Oh, that was better. I had a lovely cup of warm tea and I was fine. I then dozed in the chair listening to music on my headphones as my wife watched TV. I am told that I had a twenty minute check but I don’t remember. Going to the loo was a problem; I had to be disconnected from the drip and leg compressions but got there in the end. I was amazed at how little I hurt.
My first tip: Take some Strepsils or other throat medication with you, the hospital did not supply them, fortunately the staff had a secret stash! Tip two: Have some lip balm, the oxygen dries out the lips and they can crack.
I had a funny night; I kept waking up as they checked my vitals and I had the urge to go to the loo. In the end I got up and had a nice cup of tea about 03:30 and a really nice chat with a nurse.
Breakfast was clear broth and a cold cup of tea. I was encouraged to go walkies around the hospital which I did many times. Around lunchtime the surgeon arrived and said if my blood test was clean I could go home. Unfortunately the right and left hands got mixed up and it was Friday rush hour before I got discharged onto that famous parking lot more commonly known as the M25/M11. I am still and was at the time, amazed at how little pain I felt.
At first, I found the reduced diet difficult to deal with as my brain still wanted fish and chips. The medical advice was to eat clear soup, mashed food and to eat little and often. Once or twice I did not do as I was told and the pain was there to remind me! I found this the most difficult time. NOSC called me every day and helped me along the way but my FB3.01 was calling out for food, food, glorious food……..
My wife was a bit of a taskmaster, I was glad of that and I managed the first two weeks with few problems. Excess stomach acid can be a problem with this procedure but I rarely got that. Gas after eating was a problem, as were the vitamin tablets I had to dilute and drink, they smelled horrible. Eyes 5.05 was still giving me grief, a 100g mashed stew looked like a teaspoon, so I upped it to a man-sized portion but after eight or ten sips I was feeling the discomfort that you can only know if you push it post surgery.
Since April I have continued to eat ‘properly’. My fatty liver has gone as have most of my other aliments. I am now down to 104Kg around 7.5 stone lost. I have never put on weight and I continue to lose weight slowly.
I have been lucky as my skin has more or less shrunk back. I walk every day with the dogs, I do a lot of DIY and I am awake early. FB 3.01 still tries to run my life and my portion control and Eyes 5.05 is still active, but I recognise now when I have had enough and when ‘just one more mouthful’ will be uncomfortable.
My biggest regret and it is only a small regret, is Bread. My dad was a Baker as I said, and I love fresh bread but I can no longer eat it like I want to. It sticks in the top of my stomach and swells. Even careful chewing does not really alleviate this. Going out to dinner as an invited guest can be difficult as a pre-dinner drink, a starter and a main meal is going to be much too much. I stick to a glass of water to sip, skip the starter and if in a restaurant ask for a child’s portion.
I have on occasions and when pre-planned, phoned a week or so before the booking and informed them of my child menu choice. Many are very sympathetic and all the servers are keen to know how it works. My lunch colleagues (all ex fire brigade) more than make up for me so the restaurant does not lose out. I have a couple of times doggy bagged my leftovers and the dogs love it.
I am now beginning to get the plan and I think FB 3,01 is doomed. What I do know is without the surgery I would now be back to 140+++ kilos. It would have been so easy to go back as I had done dozens of times. I think less about food now than at any time previously. Some days I can’t be bothered to eat though I do eat but always something sensible. I never feel hungry although if I do skip a meal or lunch is late I get a bit of a rumble in my tum. A small something gets rid of that. I have never really needed the ant-acid medication.
As we approach Christmas 2016 I have a positive attitude.100Kg is going to be here soon and that will be a third of my original weight and this would have been my original target weight, BUT I think I will maintain my downward trend to maybe 84Kg or thereabouts.
It may take another six to twelve months but I have no huge rush now. I am fit and well and I can cope. My final tip is to have a budget for clothes. I have to change trousers every two months, so one pair will do. There is no point in buying two or three pairs as you have to give them away before you can wear them. I do buy a slightly tight pair now and then the next size down they still fit. It works. The children’s charity shop has reserved a parking bay for me now.
If you are thinking about this journey I can only tell you that it can sometimes be hard, it can be uncomfortable if you push the limit of your sleeve and you might have slight social problems (ie eating out), but the benefits are huge! It really works. Yes, you can cheat and push hard and stretch your new stomach but why spend all that cash and do that? I still don’t really care what people see, although it is nice to have the weight loss recognised.
GO FOR IT!"
* All patient reviews on our website are based on that individual's experience and may vary from person to person.
I just wanted to email and say thank you! Just a year ago I had an operation that changed my life. Thanks to you I have lost over 6 stone and now weigh 8 and a half stone and wear size 8 clothes. With my new found confidence I completed my degree and 3 weeks ago started the job of my dreams.
I no longer need my antidepressants because for the first time in a long time I feel like my body and mind match up. I no longer hate myself.
I could write a million words but could never explain how grateful I am to you.
Thank you for giving me my life back.
* All patient reviews on our website are based on that individual's experience and may vary from person to person.
"Dear Head Office, I am 6 months into my 12 months Spatz balloon. Up to now I have successfully lost 3st 8lbs with a little more to go. I have found it easy to lose the weight after years of yo-yo dieting, and I owe my thanks to the support team. I couldn't do it without them. The help and advice that Carole gives me the strength to change my eating and thoughts regarding food – food was my life, it isn't any more.
I am so glad I made the decision to have the balloon as it and the support team have changed me and my life." *
"Dear Sirs, I would like to take this opportunity to thank your kind staff for their support and help following my surgery approximately 14 months ago. I would like to single out Judith in particular, whom I found to be caring, compassionate, supportive and reassuring.
I would have no hesitation in recommending your services and would appreciate if you could convey my thanks and feelings to all the support team." *
"Dear NOSC, As I said at the start one year ago, it is a big mountain I have to climb, but I will get there. I am about half way up to now. Four stone plus lost and still going. It is the hardest thing I have ever done and I know I could not have done it without your support.
You have been fantastic. What you do is so much more than your job description. You have been amazing, thank you." *
"Dear NOSC, The aftercare I have received from NOSC post treatment is wonderful!
The team are always on hand to give advice and listen to concerns. They are non judgemental and really do understand how hard it can be to get used to a new eating regime. They carefully identified lifestyle factors that are taken into consideration as part of my support plan.
Debbie is extremely efficient; she always follows up on appointments and returns your call straightaway if she is not free. She is knowledgeable about the different procedures and as well as offering advice and encouragement, she ensures patients get support from the correct member of the team.
Carole works very hard to ensure that you are well cared for, she discusses your individual treatment plan and take an interest in you as a 'person' as well as a patient. She instills confidence and has a practical 'no blame' approach that helps you recover from setbacks and get back on track.
Having bariatric surgery is quite an emotional as well as a physical change and the aftercare you receive makes such a difference to the whole experience. I can really recommend NOSC." *
"Dear Sir/Madam, I should like to say how pleased I am with members of your team and the service they have provided. Also with NOSC as a whole too.
I found when I booked my surgery that Sue was an excellent source of help not only to me but to my husband also, and spent time explaining to us both the procedure and the instructions both before and after surgery.
I was then pre-opd by Nurse Judith who again has been an excellent member of your team who talked me through my medical history. I have found her from the word 'go' – an excellent nurse with a very broad base of knowledge and understanding. Her knowledge is actually amazing and she is such a dignified, quiet, unassuming but very caring person. I feel totally reassured in her care. Finally I would like to acknowledge Tina, who thanks to her advice and help with support has never made me feel silly. I look forward to her calls and know I can ask regarding any nutritional support or ideas.
It is still early days for me but after my recent visit I wanted someone to know how good these people are. Thankyou very much." *
"Dear Sirs, I lost nearly 5 ½ stone with my balloon and I have even lost an additional 1/2 stone since the Balloon has been removed.
The help and support from NOSC has been fantastic as they have helped me realize I do have choices where food is concerned.
I am much more positive and sociable and coping a lot better with my illnesses. Having a Balloon has changed my life." *
"Dear Manager, My Gastric band has completely changed my life. I am delighted with my decision to invest in a Band. All the team at NOSC have been brilliant and taken me through everything step by step. I attend the clinic for my Band adjustments and have lost nearly 7 stone to date. Thank you." *
"Dear Deborah, I would just like to take this opportunity to thank you and all of your staff for helping me on this life changing journey. From Carole for all her help and encouragement to Tina and her staff on the dietary guidance after my gastric band operation. I believe these people are worth their weight in gold to your company and I could not get better care and support anywhere. I started my journey over two years ago after getting my operation at your hospital in Glasgow. It has taken a few band adjustments to get it right but with the help of Judith, Tina and I must say yourself, the weight is coming off well. When I started this journey I weighed in at 28½ stones and had a 64 inch waist, now I am a 48 inch waist and the weight is coming off steadily.
I honestly believe if I had not met these people I would have struggled with this journey so once again I would like to thank you and all your team for you support." *