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Making the right decision for me - Part two
Friday 27 January 2017

Preparing for Surgery

In the second of a series of articles, Danielle Tofts, Choose and Book NHS Co-ordintor at Duchy Hospital, share her amazing weight loss surgery journey. Read Danielle’s first article here.

“Having weight-loss surgery is not quite as easy as just rocking up to the hospital for your operation.

Of course, the usual safety aspects have to be considered; going through a thorough pre-assessment check to ensure you are well enough to physically cope with the strain that any surgery puts on your body. You also need to consider the period of time off work to recover and I believe, most importantly, the mental preparation. This is major surgery, with a lifelong commitment and a LOT of change in your day-to-day life.

As I have mentioned before, I spent hours trawling through the internet for real-life experiences of someone who had been through this. I spoke to people on my Facebook support page. I also had some counselling prior to booking my first consultation.  This is something I undertook, to ensure that I made the right decision.  It's so important that you know and accept that your life will change a lot and there will be a hell of a lot of hard work to come.

With time off work organised (recommended time off is at least 2 weeks, I had 3 weeks), my pre-assessment check completed and any current medications changed to a liquid form, the only thing I had left to tackle before surgery was the LRD (liver-reduction diet). This is a temporary and extremely strict diet, which you commence prior to your surgery date (approximately two weeks before). This diet reduces the size of your liver to make surgery safer. Different organisations supply information for different diets - Mr Finlay suggested that I carry out the yoghurt diet. I will be honest and say this was probably the toughest element for me, but it didn't last long and I knew how important it was.

During the time on the pre-op diet, I had regular contact with my dietician from Ramsay, who phoned and emailed me to make sure I was okay on the diet as well as preparing and advising me for life after surgery. I ended up losing 11lbs on the LRD, which was a nice little head start!

I had my last yogurt and drink of water on the evening of 12th April and packed my bag ready for my two night stay at the Duchy Hospital. The most important thing I did for myself just before surgery was strip down to my underwear and take photos of my ‘before surgery’ body.  This was hugely important for me; I react better to visual reminders and progress. I had decided to take photos from all angles every 4 weeks after surgery. I also didn’t want to become obsessed with jumping on the scales every morning! Looking back now, I am so glad I took these photos, as I now have a visual story to my weight-loss journey to look back on and it’s great to see how I have changed.

I arrived at 7am and was escorted to my lovely room.  A nurse completed some last checks and weighed me again and got into my very fetching hospital gown!

Mr Finlay came to see me, we went through exactly what was going to happen and I signed the consent form, I think I felt more relaxed and content than I had in weeks. I had a couple of hours before my theatre slot so I watched some TV and had a chat with the anaesthetist who again, made sure I was happy with the procedure. Some lovely friends & colleagues also came in to wish me luck, which was so nice of them.

At 10.30am I walked the long corridor down to the theatres and was welcomed by all the staff, my cannula was put in and I was ready to go! I was quite emotional at this point - it was so very real and my anxiety was making me really panic about going under general anaesthetic.  The theatre staff were incredible; reassuring and helped me relax. The last thing I remember before I fell asleep was talking about my dog, Phil, and thinking 'when I wake up it will all be over and I can start my journey to a happy, healthier life.'"