How I decided to have gastric bypass surgery

I have battled my weight for my whole life, forget just as an adult, I’ve been overweight for a long as I can remember. Having a weight loss goal was just another annoying part of life that never seemed like it was going to go away. I had seen lots of things on TV about gastric bypass surgery but did not honestly believe I would be big enough to qualify for a gastric bypass.

In my head weight loss surgery became this idealised, perfect solution to my weight problem since I had tried and failed at pretty much every diet, eating plan and new exercise regime you can think of. I would initially lose weight, that wasn’t the problem, it was after the weight loss phase or when the weight loss started to slow down that I would either try to maintain or just give up because of life getting in the way.

Many people think the equation is simple, if you eat less and exercise more them you will lose weight. For many, many people it’s just not that simple. Especially once you get to the point of being morbidly obese the likelihood of you being able to lose 50+ kgs and then maintain that for the rest of your life through diet and exercise alone are slim to none.

I was starting to feel a sense of desperation around my never-ending battle with my weight and started to seriously investigate gastric bypass surgery. The moment I worked out my BMI and discovered that not only did I meet the criteria for surgery, a BMI of 40 but exceeded it with a BMI of 48 was the most confronting part of this whole process. Yes I knew I was big but I guess I was hoping for confirmation that I wasn’t that big by not meeting the criteria.

Realising that this was a realistic option for me was eye-opening. My original perception of the surgery was I would have it done, lose heaps of weight and that’s it weight problem sorted. Because I like to know everything I can about things I’m interested in I started to research gastric bypass and started a quest to really get to know what it was all about.

At first it was scary seeing how much work went into it and how much you have to give up. I thought about it a lot and reached the point where I was so determined to get my weight to a healthy point that I began to be okay with how my life would change. I had tried literally everything and I saw this as my last hope in terms of finding something that would work.

I looked at the positive sides of weight loss surgery and for me a large part of it were the physical limits that my body would have and the fact that I would have to respect them. The restriction in terms of stomach size and limits in terms of what my body could handle really appealed to me because I knew from previous attempts at losing weight I needed very clearly defined boundaries to be successful and able to maintain the weight loss.

One thing that helped me decide it could be an option for me was finding out you can have babies and (if you want to) breastfeed after having bariatric surgery (after waiting for a little bit after for obvious reasons). One of my main reasons I wanted to do this was for my son and any more children we may have in the future.

People tell me now that I’m brave for doing what I did and I think in some ways now I’m beginning to understand what they mean. For me though, ultimately, the decision to have gastric bypass surgery was one made out of pure desperation to try and reduce my weight and improve my health before it was too late. To me this was the absolute end of the line, my one final chance at being able to reach and maintain a healthy weight. I was desperate to live a long and healthy life and I wanted to try and avoid the many co-morbidities that come with being morbidly obese.

One big plus side of going through the public system and having to wait what seemed at the time like an eternity was how much time it gave me to think, really think, about this and become comfortable with the idea and know it was right for me. Bariatric surgery is not for everyone it takes a huge amount of dedication, putting yourself first and long-term lifestyle change for it to be successful.

My gastric bypass is ultimately a tool. This tool is amazing and helped me to reach my goal weight only nine months after surgery and there is nothing like it in terms of getting the excess weight off fast. While the tool and its efficacy in certain functions changes over time I am still left with a huge advantage in being able to maintain my healthy weight.

Comment below and let me know what helped you make a decision to have weight loss surgery. It’s a huge step to take and I’m interested to know what convinced you it was the right thing for you.

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There are 6 comments for this article
    • Melissa Peaks Author at 1:03 am

      Hey it took about 10 months from my GP referral until I had my surgery. I chose a bypass over a sleeve because I already suffer with reflux and in most cases a sleeve will make it worse.

  1. Jenny Nelson at 1:38 pm

    Hi Melissa, I’ve found your blog from Twitter! I have a BMI of 49 and have been told that the public health system will only consider me for surgery if I have diabetes. Was that true for you? I’d love to go private but it’s not cheap….:(. You have done incredibly well and you are looking very well!

    • Melissa Peaks Author at 12:37 pm

      Hi Jenny, I’m pleased you found it! That wasn’t true for me but I went through Waitemata DHB 7 years ago. The different DHB’s have slightly different criteria so that could be true in your area. The criteria do change from time to time and maybe then you would fall in the eligible group. I would give the public system a go though. My GP thought there was no way I would get it through the public system and I asked her to refer me anyway, she did and the rest is history. If you can’t get it through the public system but can (without putting yourself and your family into hardship) manage it then see if you make private work. Some health insurance companies will fund a portion of it so if you have health insurance it’s worth looking into. Knowing what I know now and how much my gastric bypass has given me I would have had no problem with my decision if I’d had to go private and fund it. Many of the private practices have incredible wrap-around services, much more than you get from the DHB so if you think weight loss surgery is a good option absolutely consider it. Best of luck!

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