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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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