Welcome to Dear George…
Everyone has a story and this is mine.
10 Months on from my first consultation with Mr. Ray McHenry at Lapsurgery Australia, which I have thought about every day sometimes multiple times a day since.
This thought.. this procedure has consumed my life, my plans, my everything for over 10 months. From the time I started researching the procedure well over 12 months ago (what procedure??) Gastric Sleeve or Sleeve Gastrectomy; in the most layman terms weight loss surgery. Whilst initially contemplating surgery and beginning to research the where? the how? the what and how much? I learnt that ‘bariatric’ surgery when performed through the public health system in a public hospital the wait list is from 2-6 years! whaaaat!!
Bariatric surgery is — Weight loss achieved by reducing the size of the stomach with a gastric band or through removal of a portion of the stomach or by bypassing the stomach straight to the small intestine.
You can go privately with the correct private health insurance (which I didn’t have) for a couple of reasons..
- because of one of my main beliefs about private versus public care. My belief and let me disclose that this is obviously mine and you can agree or disagree and that’s OK! I believe that private health insurance is a rort and not by the meaning of having a wild party! Fraudulent & dishonest yeah possibly. Look I am a nurse I understand many things related to hospital care, doctors, physicians, specialists, medicare and the australian government. I still view and by all means call me narrow minded, wrong or whatever you like, but i still view private health insurance as a major RIP off; Private health insurance gives individuals a false sense of security I hear all the time; “oh it’s ok I have private health insurance.” Well that’s nice if you can afford all the top premiums to have the top cover PLUS afford all the out of pocket expenses, that a lot of Australians can’t afford. Why because your bank balance is bigger and you can produce the $$$$ should you get preferential treatment?? I know we are lucky in Australia to have the medicare system, and millions of us have access to it and use it everyday. But again WHY should the wealthy only be the ones to move forward on the surgery wait lists, while someone else whose condition may further deteriorate and their quality of life decline because they can’t afford it!! Yes that’s my view, my opinion, and it may not be yours. Anyone who doesn’t know me should probably know that I can be opinionated but I am fair too. I believe in a lot of things especially equality for all humans on all levels, equality for Women, equality for Men, equality on marriage and a person’s damn right to choose who the hell they want to marry, love is love… end of that discussion.. where was I? oh that’s right bla bla bla private health insurance my reason number (1) and its mostly unintentional classing of rich vs poor.
- reason 2 of why i didn’t have private health insurance was the poor factor, or well not really, but my money gets spent else where, I am a single mum and I’m not poor as such but definitely fall into the low income earner category since master 6 arrived. I mean we don’t go without we are very fortunate we have a home and a car and everything that we need, but the dollars I earn are spent on living life, just your normal everyday life with bills and mortgage and cost of living.
So 10 months or really lets say 12 months ago I really had to make some tough decisions: The choice in my mind was made, I was having this surgery, but was it going to be a long drawn out wait on the public hospital list? being more miserable by the day, week, month with no end date, no goal date in sight? or try and find the cheapest health fund and join up? 12 months wait period to claim verses up to 6 years. That comparison alone made my choice, could I afford it? no….
My poor credit card.. but really that’s what they’re for right? emergencies? this is not a new pair of shoes or replacing a washing machine after all. BUT it is potentially life saving surgery.
We all know the statistics around obesity and higher chances of heart attack, stroke, diabetes etc etc, so yes my life is the emergency, me being here on this earth for as long as possible to raise my son, is my emergency.
Back to 10 months ago, Private health insurance CHECK… Appointment with surgeon CHECK..
My first visit to Lapsurgery Australia was to first see the surgeon’s nurse, then see him.
If I remember correctly Carol is her name; my first thought was “ohhh great, here comes this confident, skinny woman!” why did I automatically think that she would judge me? and the way I look? why? because it’s constantly in my head. My brain thinks – mostly from experience with nasty shallow people. I feel that fat people don’t judge other fat people because they know what the skinny and genetically blessed people don’t, they know you already hate the way you look; and don’t tell me that you “love your curves” when they are quite clearly gutters, roundabouts, ditches, footpaths and the service road all in one; don’t tell me when you try and squeeze your fat ass into a pair of jeans that won’t do up anymore that you’re happy with your curves… you are lying to yourself!!
Let me say there is a VERY big difference in being naturally curvy and being morbidly obese (isn’t that a horrible word!) I’m talking out of the teens in clothing sizes, 16, 18, and into the 20+ clothing sizes, the so fat you have trouble putting your own socks on or even reaching around to wipe your own bottom on the toilet! In my experiences skinny people judge you, I hear the “you would be beautiful if you lost some weight,” the “but… you have such a beautiful face.” the “why don’t you try shopping for clothes at xyz store, I saw that they have sizes that go to a Large.” and in reality those sizes that go to the ‘L’ are actually around a size 12-14- yep well double that and we’ll be getting there.
In my head they’re saying; “she’s so fat why doesn’t she just go on a diet.” and one that I am absolutely hating with a passion and do it myself is that, more recently with the now ever popular social media outlets like facebook and dating apps. We all have a selfie…right… yes… come on that picture of yourself that has been taken at a particular downward held high angle just right that it hides your jowls and triple chins, that’s all I have as profile pictures! god forbid that our facebook friends or tinder potentials actually see what we look like from head to toe, we crop out our arms, or just use a head shot, totally makes us feel better, for a while at least, especially after your 95th like on your new profile picture…. that is until you have to actually meet a person in the flesh…panic…anxiety…depression…worry…inadequacy all sets in.
For Carol the nurse who I went in to see before my first consultation with the surgeon, I was wrong, she was lovely, caring, mature, sensitive and totally understanding (maybe she too used to be fatty). She weighed me, measured me, chatted and took my obbs (blood pressure and pulse). She had no disapproving looks, no comments, just 100% professional.
Once it was my turn to see Mr. McHenry, Carol came and took me in; again very professional, I felt at ease. Mr. McHenry was fabulous, not stuffy, not looking down his nose at me like most doctors and G.P’s I have seen over the years, we chatted about several procedures that Lapsurgery Aust. (he and his colleagues) perform, but most importantly he made me feel good, he made me feel like I just didn’t want to burst into tears talking about my hundreds of attempts at weight loss, where I will do really well and get 20-25 kilos off, then my body plateaus, I change my calorie/carb/protein intakes because I know how it works, I know it’s all about energy in versus energy out, I am very well educated on the topic of dieting! I should have a masters in it. But for some reason my body just stops, its says what the hell are you doing to me! you are starving me! I will hold onto anything I put in. So motivation is lost, no results are seen, so I eventually stop. My body says “OMG thank YOU!!” and again holds onto anything I give it, just in case, just in case I decide to put it through that hell again, so it stockpiles, like squirrels for winter stockpiling nuts. I end up putting all the weight lost, plus an additional 10kg or more. After all, my body thinks that the world is ending and needs to be prepared and have all the nuts stock pilled.
I have tried many many diets so you can do the math of how many times I have gained back plus that little bit extra more and may start to realise how when I stood on the scales 10 months ago, Carol told me I weighed 146kg. I was in disbelief! that can’t be right! surely not… that’s not what my scales at home say! well apparently very commonly once you weigh over 110 kg scales of any brand, type start to become inaccurate.
I wasn’t a fat kid, I was really fit and very active. It’s only as a late teen and early twenty something that things started to change for a few reasons.
As a teen I always had an obsession with my weight, I had a journal that I would write in and write it to a somewhat imaginary person — George; “Dear George…” I would write, I still have it and at some stage of this journey I will share some entries, I do remember being disgusted at myself for being around 60 or 65 kg I think it was at the time.
Disclaimer: I have never really said anything to others about this before other than George my journal – I don’t think my parents or foster parents would have known, I know parents snoop, but the book didn’t look like a diary and it was never left out and mainly stayed with me at all times, there is really only one person who I have shared bits of this with.
If I was unhappy with my weight I would punish myself, and only allow myself to have an apple and water for the day, or just water and this would go on for days and days until I started seeing results on the scales, and if I did give in and eat a meal, I would immediately punish myself by going out to the back toilet, have the TV out there playing loud and make myself vomit. This continued for years and years. George would only be written to if I was extremely angry about putting on weight… I would list off everything I ate all the activity I would do and if I wasn’t happy with the results decrease my food and supplement it with water. So this is really where my story began.
For now I must end this entry to my blog or what is really the modern version of George, I am excited to have dates for my surgery now, so will share that with you all next.