We left Amsterdam on 22 October. Most of the forums I had been reading required people to do 2–3 weeks of liquid diet before the surgery. I felt very lucky to have a surgeon who did not require that. I never wanted to post that on the forum because I didn’t want others to do something different from what their doctor required.
I just know that I would not have been able to do it, and I was so impressed with those who did. My body mass index (BMI) was 35, which is lower than most weight loss surgery candidates, but because I had these feet/hip/knee problems (and was also a self-pay) they accepted me.
But I did decide to do three days of liquids ahead of time, and that was hard enough. I was cranky and hungry, and when we got ourselves situated into a very small, funky apartment where my husband would stay while I was in the hospital, I had a bit of a meltdown. I guess mood swings are all part of this, and my husband has been extraordinarily patient, understanding, and supportive.
I had never had surgery before so didn’t know what to expect, but it’s clear they do things a bit differently in Europe than in the U.S. The admissions process left a lot to be desired, mainly because I was in unfamiliar territory – a hospital in a foreign country. (The advance information I received was not very good; I had to beg for nearly everything I got.)
The first thing I noticed was that the waiting room was filling up with very large people who made very little eye contact. I felt positively tiny among the group, but we were all there for the same reason: to become less fat and healthier. I tried to envision what most of them would look like and how they would feel this time next year, hoping they would not walk around anymore with their eyes downcast, ashamed of their size.
So we’re all sitting there and periodically our names get called and they take us away. We never know for what. (How long will this take? Should my husband wait? Are we coming back?) Turns out, this was just boilerplate office procedures. First, they weighed me. (What? With my clothes and shoes on? Come on, I never weigh with anything more than earrings! But that’s what they did.) I weighed 93.7 kilos which means 205 lbs, so I rounded it down to 203 as my starting weight because of my clothes.
Then I had what I guess is called my psychiatric evaluation. Basically, one of the doctors said, “You don’t look like you need this surgery! You have a very harmonic body!” Well, even though no one had ever said my body was harmonic, and it sounded nice, it wasn’t enough to make me say, “Okay, I’ll go then.” I told her I had a wonderful adult life, but that I was having major joint problems and I needed to do something to continue having a good life. And that was it. Now, from what I’ve read, the upfront evaluations for most people are involved and intense, and include counseling and a lot more time than this took. I breezed through this part, but I think counseling for many people would be really helpful.
So, back I go to the waiting room, and when they call my name again, this time it’s for the endoscopy (although I didn’t know that’s what would happen when they called my name). I go into a room and get up on the gurney, fully clothed. They ask if I am allergic to anything, and after I say “No,” they put a mask on me and say “Okay, bye bye,” and I’m out cold in five seconds! (A week or so after this I was thinking, geez, they could have taken body parts and sold them on the black market!)
An hour or so later, I’m in my hospital room, still with my street clothes on, and this is where I will spend the night before my surgery tomorrow.
Here we go!