Making the decision
Suzie’s 60th birthday was fast approaching, and she had started to think about what she wanted to achieve in advance of the next chapter in her life. She recalls, “I’d been heavier than I’d wanted to be for a long time, but when the doctor diagnosed me with a fatty liver, that really gave me the push I needed to look into more long-term weight loss solutions.
“I have a 2 year old granddaughter, who I adore. Even at her young an age, her little legs could outrun me, so I knew my fitness levels needed work! To be honest, a really important motivation for me to lose weight was making sure that I’d be around to watch her grow up.”
Suzie looked at a few different options, including whether she’d be eligible for bariatric surgery through the NHS. Whilst this was potentially an option, she didn’t want to risk her overall health while she was on a long waiting list.
During 2020 - a year like no other - Suzie had the opportunity to look into the cost of having weight loss surgery privately. “Lockdown helped me make the final decision to have the surgery. I took redundancy during the year, which meant that I had the time and money to make a gastric bypass work for me.”
After carefully researching a number of weight loss surgery providers, Suzie chose The Hospital Group because, she says, “They weren’t pushy at all. They allowed me the time I needed to think long and hard about my decision.”
Suzie was booked in for a gastric bypass on 6th December, a date which had a special meaning for her. “It’s my mum’s birthday, and she had passed away aged 90 at the beginning of the year. It gave the surgery special significance to me – I’m sure she would have been right there with me, holding my hand, if she was still with us.
“I used some of my inheritance to pay for the procedure. It felt like, even when she wasn’t here, she was helping me get the chance to live longer – perhaps even reach 90 like she did!”
The bariatric surgeon who carried out Suzie’s gastric bypass was Mr Nijjar, who has many years’ experience in weight loss procedures. She has nothing but positive things to say about her experience with him. “Mr Nijjar was marvellous. He always gave me the time I needed to ask questions – even the ones that probably sounded silly. He is a brilliant man. He’s also very patient and had a calming influence on me – which is always helpful when you’re undergoing life changing surgery!”
Suzie was also delighted with Burcot Hall Hospital. Set in the beautiful countryside near Bromsgrove, she found it to be like going to a ‘posh hotel’. She says, “The staff couldn’t do enough for me. They were all so friendly and polite, and looked after me from start to finish.”
3 months later
In just 3 months, Suzie has already managed to drop 4 stone and she is absolutely thrilled. “I feel amazing! I levelled out at around 2lb a week, which is great for me – slow and steady wins the race, after all.”
She is a firm advocate of the recommended post-surgery diet. “I have been eating much smaller portions – I have a special plate and small bowl, and I bought a measurer too. These have all helped me focus on eating the right amount of the right food. The 20-20-20 rule is also really important, and I easily got to grips with it. You eat 20 mouthfuls of food for each meal, over a 20 minute period, and you chew each mouthful 20 times.
“I haven’t suffered with any hunger pangs, or ‘dumping syndrome’ which can happen if you eat too much or too fast. My problem always used to be that I would eat too big a portion and not really enjoy what I had. Now, I really love the food I eat, and I make sure I savour each mouthful – it’s like having a gastro pub meal every day!”
Suzie has also noticed that her weight related health concerns have decreased. “I suffered with arthritis in my knees and feet for quite a while before surgery,” Suzie remembers. “But I feel a lot better now, and I’m sure it’ll only continue improving. I was also pre-diabetic, so I’m sure I won’t suffer with that any more, either.”
Following weight loss surgery, patients are advised to exercise to enhance their losses. Suzie has embraced this as much as she can. “During lockdown, it’s been hard to exercise as much as I’d like. I’ll go on regular walks, which are easier now that my arthritis has improved. Once everything starts opening up again, I can’t wait to go to my local pool for aqua aerobics and swimming to tone my body up.”
Suzie says that she’s still got about another 5 stone to go, but she’s well on her way to achieving that and is now a firm advocate of weight loss surgery. “My advice for anyone thinking about bariatric surgery is to not wait too long like I did. It took me 10 years to finally admit I had an eating problem due to my portion control, but I’m glad I finally did. Don’t delay – life is too short. Just go for it.”
We’ll keep you up to date with Suzie’s weight loss journey by checking in again at 6 months post-op. For now, here are some pictures of the amazing progress she’s made so far.