Bariatric Surgery Patient
48-year-old Expat (United Arab Emirates)
Born in the UAE and having lived most of my life as a British expat in the Gulf, I was always very active and quite sporty as a kid. However, it was obvious from a young age that if my natural equilibrium was affected, I tended to overindulge and gain weight, but up until a young adult it was never an issue because my active lifestyle kept things in check.
As I got older, the sports became more erratic, and from about 25yrs old my work, stress and general poor lifestyle habits took over. I got married at 30 and then our first child arrived when I was 35. Always close to my parents I was heavily involved in a family business, which took its toll in terms of a more balanced approach to life. I've always been an all or nothing person, which certainly applied to my eating and general consumption habits. As the years ticked by the weight gain seemed to get faster and faster to the point in 2013 when we finally sold the family business and I was moving on, I decided to take my family on a long and adventurous holiday to Australia. That was when I finally realised my weight had become a real impediment to my life.
Not being a self-conscious person, or having any emotional hang-ups about my weight, it had never been a real issue for me up until then. With a young family I just about got away with the things we had planned, such as kayaking, diving etc, but I returned to Dubai determined to sort things out. As a non-believer in fad diets and knowing myself too well, in terms of sticking to strict gym routines etc I knew I had to find a life changing and 'permanent' solution. So, I did my research on bariatric surgery and opted for a gastric band. I had the surgery through a reputable company in the UK, however they did advise me that I would still have to commit to a strict regime for it to work successfully.
I came back full of good intentions, but again lifestyle, and my general inability to effectively coordinate the band adjustments made the intervention ineffective. Aside from the excessive cost of minor adjustments it just never seemed to work for me, as I carried on overeating. Then my mother got very sick after a long battle with breast cancer, and I threw myself into looking after the family as my father suffered a debilitating stroke around the same time. As ever it was an all or nothing situation, instead of the business my parents now became the priority, as my understanding wife held things together at home.
Mum passed away in Sept 2016, and by Dec I was washed out. So, I decided to take the family on a safari holiday over Christmas, I had to take some travel jabs before going so I got weighed at the clinic and couldn’t believe I had reached 151kgs!!! Already suffering with chronic sleep apnoea, I returned to work in January wondering what to do next, but knowing I needed a quick solution? Already on blood pressure meds and being advised that I was pre-diabetic the clock was ticking…plus the sleep apnoea was rapidly getting worse…and prolonged sleep deprivation is not a pleasant thing to experience!!!
I've always been a practical person and a great believer in science and technology, so I turned to bariatric surgery once again with no hesitations, realising that when they 'repaired the car last time, they simply used the wrong parts'. Not wanting to head off to Europe again, I was lucky to find an outstanding French surgeon in Dubai, whom I was able to get references for through my French wife's family back in France. I had a combined gastric band removal and gastric sleeve operation in March 2017. The op went smoothly, and I was out of hospital the next day. I followed a few simple instructions for a couple of months and have never looked back.
I’m now at my target weight of 85kgs, which has been stable for at least 6 months and recently had a full health check with everything appearing normal (inshallah). I've done this with minimal exercise, the only real change is I'm forced to eat considerably less. I've adjusted to this with relative ease, with absolutely no need for counselling or over complicated psychobabble from anyone. I simply had an issue of consuming more food than my body could cope with. I was fortunate that I found an excellent surgeon that suited my character, along with his equally impressive colleague. What I really appreciated about their approach was whilst their communication was always clear, they kept things very simple. They ‘did their talking, on the surgeons table’.
I know we're not all wired the same way, but thankfully I've not knowingly had any of the extreme emotional or potential mental challenges associated with obesity. Whilst undoubtedly, I experienced some frustrations and obvious health related issues at times, I only ever felt that it was my responsibility to get the issue resolved one way or the other and pointing fingers at anything else was simply looking for excuses.
In summary, if people are in a similar position and need to make such a life changing decision, do not be put off by bariatric surgery if it makes sense for you, but please do your homework first. Of course, I would prefer that it never came to this, but in the end, it was the right practical solution for me.