Pre-op appointments and stress

If you’re looking at trying to get bariatric surgery in New Zealand on the public health system it’s going to be a bit of a process. The process and acceptance criteria for each District Health Board differ and I only know the process I went through in the Waitemata DHB a couple of years ago. I know that the process has changed since then for that DHB too. I’ll try and make this as general as possible.

After my doctor sent my referral through to the hospital the first hoop to get through was being sent an appointment with the surgical team. I first got a letter back saying I didn’t meet the criteria but after a little bit of back and forth I finally got an appointment with the team. In the lead up to this appointment I was really nervous and had no idea what to expect.

The first appointment was just a general meeting talking about my journey through life and my weight up until that point. We talked about what my diet was like and if there were any things that could be changed. Then I was set a weight loss goal and told I had two months to achieve it. If I wasn’t able to reach the weight loss goal they had set it was unlikely I was going to get on the surgical list.

I worked hard and worried the whole eight weeks about what was going to happen and if I could meet the weight loss goal they had sent me. I also, during this time, had to attend some group seminars with other possible surgery candidates and I found them really beneficial. I used the Weight Watchers App throughout the eight weeks to track my food and exercise. I needed the help of the points system to help me moderate my food intake.

The group seminars gave me quite a bit of insight to what the reality of the process was going to be and it was nice to see the others each week to see how we were all going trying to reach our weight loss goals. Not all DHBs do these and not all patients who go for surgery have to attend these in the DHBs that run them. I am really thankful I had to attend these seminars because I really think they set me up well and gave me some realistic expectations.

Then the nervewracking bit came and my second appointment was coming up quickly. Because you have been set a very specific weight loss goal and if you don’t meet it you’re not going to get on the surgical list the run up to these appointments can be stressful. You have to stay on track, stay motivated and keep your eyes on your goal weight (and goal of getting bariatric surgery) and do everything you can to try not to worry too much in the lead up to your appointments.

It’s easy to get lost in the stress of the appointments but you need to remember that the team only want the best for you. The process is there to make sure they pick the right candidates for surgery who they think will be successful with it. It’s a really good time to start practising new ways of dealing with stress without using food to distract yourself or help yourself feel better. Now is the time to really start analysing your behaviour with and around food and find other ways to reward yourself that aren’t things like a giant piece of chocolate cake.

Once you have got on the surgical list Waitemata DHB need you to maintain your goal weight for a certain amount of time. This is important and if your weight goes up they will take you off the list. This can be stressful but you just need to maintain the changes you have made to meet your weight loss goal and you can do it. The lower your weight is on surgery day the less risk there is with having the procedure done generally so if you can continue to lose weight that’s only going to help you in the long run.

I was a mix of excitement and nerves throughout the process I had to go through to get my gastric bypass. I tend to deal with stress well but if you’re feeling overly anxious about your appointments then you might want to look at why and talk to someone about it. Good luck, may the force be with you and if you get on that list we’ll see you on the other side.

Did you handle the pre-op process well, did you get worried about the appointments or were you excited to get them out of the way and one more step further in the process? Comment below and let me know!

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There are 18 comments for this article
  1. Kerry at 7:07 pm

    That’s a good read, info is helpful. I was referred in waitemata dhb a few months ago. I call it waiting for my decline letter. Lol eventually I’m sure I’ll get something from them ?

  2. nirenire at 7:50 pm

    Thanks so much for this post Melissa – I am currently waiting for my second appointment with my surgeon, having lost my goal weight i should be reassured, but I am still a bundle of nerves!

    I have only just come across your blog but it has been amazing – thanks heaps!

    • Melissa Peaks Author at 12:21 pm

      I think it gets so nerve-wracking because you want it so much! I’m sure your appointment will go really well if you’ve met your goal weight, congrats it’s hard work and you’ve done so well to reach it. Thank you, I love hearing that it’s useful to others!

  3. Kim at 9:43 pm

    Hi Melissa. I just want to say thank you. I am having gastric bypass surgery on the 22nd of August and having read your blogs I am feeling really calm. A friend of mine sent me your link and as I read them I found myself getting emotional as your comments about how others perceive you and treat you including medical professionals when you are obese has been my reality as well. I have put a lot of effort and research into getting ready for my surgery but I have to tell you your blog has been more helpful than anything I have read so thank you from the bottom of my heart and as I continue on my journey I will be following you for inspiration.

    • Melissa Peaks Author at 9:58 pm

      Thank you so much for your kind words Kim! I’m so glad that my blog has been helpful in getting yourself ready for surgery, I didn’t have anything like this when I was going through mine and I love hearing that I’ve created that for others. I wish you all the best in the lead up and for your surgery itself. Your surgery day is the first day of your new life and you have so many wonderful things to look forward to!

    • Lisa Collins at 7:39 pm

      Hi Kim I have just discovered Melissas blog and was reading through and see you also had your Gastric Bypass on 22 August!! I also had mine on that date and thought it would be good to compare and support each other. Its been 1 week today and I am feeling a lot better, initially quite tender but now seems to be easier. Hope things with you are going well Lisa

      • Kim at 8:42 am

        Hi Lisa I think it would be lovely to support each other. 1 week down My experience has been the same as yours so far. The tenderness is easing and being able to walk a bit further helps. The thing I am struggling with is keeping my water intake up. I’m not sure why. Lovely to hear from you. Kim

        • Lisa Collins at 8:51 am

          Hi Kim, Im just going in for my 1 week appt with the Practice Nurse today so looking forward to seeing what the scales say!! I had my surgery on the North Shore at Southern Cross Hospital with Michael Booth as my surgeon. I am also going to check out the Green Meadows beef mince today that Melissa mentioned in her last blog – so looking forward to having some pureed food next week!! Are you back at work yet? Ive decided to take this week off as well just to ensure Im a bit more recovered before returning next week. Have a great day and talk soon. Lisa 🙂

          • Melissa Peaks Author at 8:53 am

            Lisa and Kim if you ladies like I can email you each others email addresses if you’d like to be able to talk a bit more privately? I can see each of yours but of course they’re not made public when you comment. If you both are happy with that I’ll pass them on for you!

          • Kim at 9:31 am

            Hi Melissa I’m happy for you to pass on my email to Lisa. I have given your link to the Physio at Mercy Ascot and my Dietician and suggested that they might like to share it with other bariatric patients. Kim

          • Melissa Peaks Author at 10:14 am

            Thank you Kim I really, really appreciate that! I hope they see the value in what I’m doing here 😀

          • Lisa Collins at 10:24 pm

            So I have been to the clinic today and had my stitches out, all looking good. Was 101.3 day of surgery and down to 95.2 today so absolutely over the moon!!!
            I must say though i am looking forward to some food even if it is pureed next week I am not really enjoying the optifast at all.
            I went to Farro Fresh today and asked about the Green Meadows mince – they had plain mince there but are going to get the mince you suggested Melissa in so hoping that will be in by the weekend.
            If theres any other “easy tasty foods” you can recommend I would be grateful.
            Im happy for you to pass on my email address to Kim – be great to compare notes so to speak!!!
            Lisa

          • Melissa Peaks Author at 7:30 am

            Morning Lisa, I’m glad to hear all is looking well. That’s a great loss already too! You get a bit over Optifast don’t you, I really missed chewing too so even though puree doesn’t sound very appealing it’s really nice to get onto something different. As I find things that are good options I review them here, if you look in the Reviews category you will find the other things I’ve already reviewed. I’ve just sent an email to Kim and yourself, it will be great for you two to have a buddy!

          • Kim at 9:26 am

            Hi Lisa. Good luck with your appointment. Mine was done at Mercy Ascot Hospital and my Surgeon was Grant Beban. I don’t see him until the 13th of Sept. I had gastric bypass but he discovered a hiatus hernia so I had that repaired at the same time. I have taken 4 weeks off work just to make sure everything heals and I haven’t had leave since Feb so I can catch up on things. Have a great day. Kim

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