YOU’RE NOT ALONE.
This phrase is the first thing to remember when you become a bandit (or indeed undergo any of these WLS procedures). This website should have reassured you by now that all the information you need is out there, and there is an international community ready and willing to tell you how getting yourself fitted with a lap band will help you and teach you how to use it to the best advantage.
I had a couple of pre-consultations, one with the surgeon, who told me that I should lose at least a stone (14 lbs, 6 kg) before surgery. This was not demanded as a gesture of faith, as many people seem to think, but because overweight people have an enlarged liver, and a crash diet seems to make it shrink sufficiently to make the laparoscopic intervention easier. However in order to comply with this instruction it was me who had to think of it as a gesture of faith. 6kg in 3 weeks requires a measure of willpower that was not my best feature, but I gritted my teeth and the weight came off. (“So why can’t you always do that?”, I was asked. Because – doh – it would have required this sort of effort sustained at this level for over a year, and few can do that, whether it’s food you’re trying to give up, cigarettes, television or biting your nails…)
Apart from being born in a hospital 55 years before, I had never been an in-patient and was very apprehensive. On the day, my partner saw me comfortably installed in a private room very early in the morning and then departed. Various clinicians asked me questions and checked and double checked that I was who I said I was, and about my insulin-dependent diabetes. The surgeon breezed in at one point with coat tails flapping, checking that I had lost the 6 kg and reassuring me that everything was going to be fine. I walked to the theatre in a strange gown and hat, and once on a stretcher, was surrounded by the anaesthetist’s team who kept me laughing so that I forgot to tell myself to be aware of when I was going under.
What felt like a minute later I heard a female voice a very long way off asking me if I wanted more morphine (yes please), and after another “minute” I was in bed in my room. I had been away from it for a couple of hours. My chest felt sore, but not agonisingly so. I dozed on and off during the afternoon, and people looked in on me frequently, persuading me to drink water. I was aware that they were concerned about my blood sugar levels, but I had been a diagnosed diabetic for some 10 years and knew how to control it. They noticed that the sugar levels were rising throughout the evening and wanted to administer their own insulin, but I was coming round by this time, and managed to persuade them to let me do it my way. I know what hypoglycaemic events feel like (sugar too low) and wasn’t keen to add that to the discomfort.
I drifted in an out of a light sleep through the night – I remember watching an episode of Cagney and Lacey (“Book ’em Mary Beth!”), but my overall sensation was nausea from the anaesthetic, at first strong enough to stop me even trying to sit up, but when I needed the toilet I had to force myself to do so, and had the unnerving experience of trying to go with a nurse standing over me (she was sure I was going to keel over).
My partner collected me the following day and I was grateful for all the pillows he had brought to cushion my midriff on the way home in the car. I examined myself at home, and marveled at the 6 tiny wounds – the only evidence of the experience. It was so astonishing to think that the whole procedure had been carried out by inserting implements through these small cavities, and manoeuvring inside by means of television.
The first night was not particularly comfortable, mainly because it’s difficult to sleep on your back with your head raised when there’s no alternative – but that was only the once. The following night I carefully moved onto first one side and then the other, and the slight discomfort was worth it to be able to lie horizontal and sleep better. The hospital had provided me with plenty of pain killers, but in the end I only ever took one pill. This is not because I’m spectacularly brave – I am in fact a wuss – just that it didn’t hurt enough to justify them after the first night. That’s how easy it was.
Over the next few days I didn’t move around very much, and slept a lot. As far as food was concerned I drank meal replacements and other non-fizzy, non-alcoholic drinks, but after the third day I got brave because I was fed up with the liquid diet. I made myself mashed potato, added some cheese and mixed liquidised broccoli into it. The consistency was like porridge, and I found it satisfying. At this stage I had no fill at all, and felt no restriction. So I got over-confident. Christmas was upon us a week later and I thought a little mince pie wouldn’t hurt…
And so I learned what painful restriction was all about, and what PB-ing really meant. Have you heard of that expression? It means “Productive Burp”, because you think you’re about to burp – in fact you long to because you’re convinced you’ll feel better. Only it’s not wind you bring up. Your gastric band has taught you your very first important lesson: “Respect!!”
I’ll tell you next time how I met some wonderful Bandit Bloggers (click here to subscribe to our RSS feed to be notified).
Lonicera the Bandit