New Year, New Me!

It’s one of the biggest cliches in the world along with the “it’s not you, it’s me” but the whole “New Year, New Me” thing is something we see every single year, especially on social media. But this was it, it really had to be a new me. I needed to up the weight loss and get my life back. 

So on the 1st of Jan I was at the gym first thing and I decided I was going to go on the treadmill. I would go easy as I struggle with walking anyway but I would just see how I get on. 

1, 3, 5, 7 minutes in and I was exhausted. I’d hardly walked any distance but this was a lot harder than swimming. I was sweating like I’d ran a marathon. I felt good but at the same time, kind of embarrassed as the gym was busy and I assumed people would be looking and thinking “who’s that daft sod on the treadmill” again, I was dead wrong. One person came up and said “just last longer than the New Years resolutions and you’ll be sound mate” I went back to the pool and swam my lengths and went home. I told Newts I’d been on the treadmill. And that I was determined to keep at it. 

The next day my ankles were in bits. It felt good going on the treadmill but my joints didn’t appreciate it. So it was back to swimming until I could cope with the walking again. About a week later I was back. This time the aim was to get to 10 mins and then try for further next time.. 

10 minutes done and to my amazement I’d walked nearly 1/3 of a mile. Now for a bloke that less than 12 months previously couldn’t walk more than 50 yards I was feeling pretty accomplished! But yet again my joints were not happy and I was unable to walk the following day. 

Over the next few weeks I was trying to walk as often as I could. I managed to build up to half a mile in about 12 mins. Having to rest in between days so my ankles could heal. One morning I decided I was going to walk a mile, even if it took me an hour it would be done.. 

I started at a fairly slow place. Gradually picked it up. And I finally managed to get to a mile in 22:56 which is slow but it felt like I’d walked up Everest! I felt a sense of achievement. Not a massive one granted but still. I had decided that in 2017 I was going to lose 50kg. It was going to be a lot of hard work and determination, but not impossible if I keep on working hard. I took. A selfie in the mirror that New Years Day Morning, it would serve as a guide in some ways to see how much change there would be in the coming months. 


Little did I know just how much change would happen and the strides I’d make. 
Next time I’ll go into the first night out with a few of my mates in years, going to a boxing show and how I became a fully fledged member of the gymrat club.. 

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First proper Christmas in years. 

So with each passing day I was feeling better and getting mentally stronger. 

For the past few Christmas’s I was dependant on people bringing me my Christmas dinner etc. But this year was going to be different, I was able to leave my home and finally spend it with my dad and step mum.  My dad picked me up early doors on Christmas Day and we had a great day. 

My step mum played up a lovely dinner and she was surprised with how little I ate, by now that had become normal. Even though I was home by 6pm I loved it. Actually being out of my house on Christmas Day and not being a prisoner in my own home felt absolutely amazing. 

Boxing Day morning the gym was open so I decided I was going to go for a swim and have a relaxing day. That night we went to the lodge for a drink with a few members of staff from the gym. And a few of us headed into town. It was the first time I’d been in town at night in about 10 years. My anxiety had begun to kick in and I felt uncomfortable. Trev could see I was uneasy. I decided to head home but left the others to party into the night. 

Now I can reflect on it, despite not really enjoying the night (and feeling incredibly old) it was a huge step in the right direction of becoming used to crowds, people and normality.. 

Over the Christmas period the only day the gym was closed was Christmas Day, I was there every day, swimming and getting fitter. On New Years Eve, a friend of mine had a party at his house and invited me. I tend not to drink any more so I took some fruit juice up with me and seen the new year in with his friends and family.. 

At the stroke of midnight I sat and thought of the people who were not around any more and also sat in amazement at how far I’d come in under 2 years. From someone who was a housebound recluse, to a person who had come through a life changing operation, spent Christmas with his family and was now a member of a gym, all huge steps into getting my life back, even if it was taking its time, I was feeling pretty good. 

Next time I’ll go into how it was now time to up the effort into getting the weight off. 

Part 15. Back on my feet…

So the problem with the gout was slowly but surely clearing up. I was able to hobble around the house and I was getting back to some sort of routine. 

By mid September, I still hadn’t left my home since my op back in May. Kyle asked me if I fancied going somewhere. I told him I’d never been to a B&M and would like to go sometime. Next day he came and told me to put on my coat. We went for a carvery (a roast dinner to those of you who aren’t from the uk) we also went to B&M and followed that with a trip to feed some ducks. 

I’ve never told him or anyone but that day I was an absolute bag of nerves but as always with me I feel I hid it well. I owe Kyle so much. He’s given me advice on how to cope with my op and he was the person who made me get out and about again. For that I’ll always be thankful. 

The following day Trev called and told me to get ready as we were going to the pub. We went to “The Lodge” a local place and a pub I’ve not been to since the late 90’s. Trev was meant to have his girls that afternoon, but sacrificed that time to get me out of my flat. My friends, although I don’t thank them enough have done so much for me, not that they realise it. There’s been people who I’ve never met on social media that have been so supportive in my recovery, they don’t owe me a thing but are always there and are so kind.. 

So now, I was going out pretty regular, my fitness was still absolutely terrible. Trev was nagging me to join the health club where he works. I told him I’d come down for a look around wth Kyle as I knew he wanted to sign up to a gym as well.. We had a look around and Kyle wanted to think about it. I knew I’d be signing up anyway as I was determined now to get the ball rolling properly. I went back down a couple of days later and signed up. 

Because of the sheer size of me (34.5st/485lbs) I wasn’t going to go into the gym but decided that swimming would be a great start. The anxiety I felt the first time I walked into the pool area was horrible. My head was full of stuff like this, “they’re all looking at you” “you have no place here” “you’re too fat”. I did my best to fight the demons again. And I managed it. I never knew swimming could be so tiring! I managed to swim for about 30 mins with a couple of breaks thrown in. 

Slowly but surely I managed to swim for longer and with less breaks. The faces I thought were staring at me started to become more and more familiar. And some have been so good to me. Paying me compliments as to how well I’m doing etc. 

Next time I’ll talk about the Christmas build up and how I spent my first Christmas free of my physical and mental prison.. 

Post Op Diet

The one thing I was fully aware of but not really prepared for was the post op diet. 

I was told all about it and how not to rush myself into eating properly. Basically the diet goes as follows….

  • First 2 weeks is completely liquid based. 
  • Then you move to what is basically mush food, mashed potatoes seriously over cooked pasta (bearing in mind you’re never hungry and can literally only eat a couple of spoons and be full).
  • Then after that (approx 4 weeks post op)  you can be eating soft foods and stuff that isn’t too tough to eat
  • Then finally you can go back to eating normal textures etc. 

Now during the recovery period the help and support from the carers and Emma was fantastic. The first “proper meal” I told the nurses in the hospital I was going to have was fish and chips.

My mate went to the chip shop and brought me a tray of chips. After 4 chips I was sick, vomiting everywhere. I knew eating stuff like his wasn’t going to be easy and I knew I shouldn’t have had them. But when you’ve had food for over 10 weeks that you don’t like or enjoy you’ve got to try your luck haven’t you. 

Since then the most I can eat is a small plate of food. And even then I don’t always finish it. I didn’t think I’d get used to that. But I am fine with it now. I can pretty much eat what I want to eat but just not in the ginormous portion sizes I used to. 

Now my diet is far from perfect. I still love chocolate and all the foods that are bad. I just don’t have them often at all. I mainly eat chicken, lean meats, peas (I love them now) mushrooms and cooked onions, amongst other things.. 

The one thing that still astounds me is how little I feel hunger now. I literally have to remind myself to eat a lot of the time. Not that it’s a bad thing. 

Looking back on how far I’ve come in such a short space of time (under 3 years) it scares me. It scares me to think what would’ve happened if I didn’t get help when I did. 

I set myself targets, targets that I feel are realistic for me. Ideally by this time next year (September 2018) I’ll be in a job, be taking my driving lessons and be a fully functioning member of society again. 

Next post will be back to my journey. But I felt I’d missed the diet side of things post op. 

Part 14…. Home! 

So my day of discharge had arrived Friday 13th (what could go wrong right?)

The nurse told me that they would have my meds ready before lunch and yet again, Kyle came to the rescue because the ambulance still wasn’t available. I owe Dr Gillespie a debt introducing me to Kyle. Everything I’ve been through he’s already done it so it gives me a pretty honest perspective of what’s to come..

So whilst I was in hospital I decided to have my living room decorated, a new room for a new start of my life. My friend Paul who has been such a great friend did it for me with his dad. They did a fantastic job, when I got home I just sat in the room for about an hour and then my friend Emma came round. She’d been cleaning for me before I went to hospital and helped prepare me some meals. 

After Emma left I went to bed as I wasn’t feeling the best, the following morning the district nurse came out and hanged the dressings over the staples I had from my wounds. Despite being as gentle as she could it still killed. But the main thing was, I was at home and in my own bed. After 5 weeks in hospital their beds do not get any comfier as time goes by. Saturday evening, Trev came to see me. We stood outside by my trusty wheelie bin and had a chat. It was great to see him, even if it was only a quick visit. 

The next morning I woke up. Stood up to go to the toilet and felt the agony in both my ankles.. my old foe Gout had come back to say hello….

Now unless you’ve suffered with gout, you really cannot begin to understand the pain of it. It’s the most excruciating pain I can describe. You can’t put any kind of pressure on it. Even a bed sheet hurt too much to touch my ankles. 

I’d suffered attacks of gout for a few years so I knew what I had to do, plenty of fluids, rest it as much as humanly possible and wait for it to pass…

Sadly my body had other ideas, this wasn’t shifting, after 6 days (attacks normally clear in 2-3 days). I rang the doctors and spoke to the brilliant Dr Gould. He prescribed me some tablets that will help clear it and keep it at bay. Sadly they didn’t work either. 

A week after coming home I was still laid up and the nurse came out to remove the staples. This was a really weird feeling. I always thought it would be so painful. But not at all. One of my wounds was still not healed properly it was where they put the drain in my chest.. 

But the main thing was, I was in my safe place of home and despite the Gout, I was starting to heal from surgery well.. 

Next time I’ll go further into how long the gout attack lasted and my foray into a “normal” way of life so to speak. 

Part 13… Recovery 

So the first night back on the ward was the worst. In pain, feeling like the world was going to end and basically feeling sorry for myself. 

I must have slept 2hrs at the most. The following day was mainly being pricked, prodded and having the people on the ward checking in on me. I’m not completely certain but I don’t think I managed to get out of the bed that first day post op. 

The biggest concern was that they were giving me plenty of fluids through a drip but nothing was passing out he other end. As much as I tried I just couldn’t bring myself to go. I was told that if I didn’t pass urine soon, they’d have to put a catheter in. Now unless you’re an old man or just extremely unlucky you won’t know how much these suck. It’s the most uncomfortable thing ever. 

But within minutes of them getting it in, it was almost a release of pressure being let go. Over the next day or so, I started walking with the Zimmer frame, not very far as I was still in a lot of pain. I knew that it was a massive operation but nothing quite prepares you for the post op recovery process. 

I know that a lot of people were concerned about me, especially as I was so out of it that first night I couldn’t reply or contact anyone. My friends and family could ring the ward. But the friends I’d made online in the group “Lets shrink obesity” were inboxing me and the fact people I’ve never met in person were concerned was very heartwarming. 

So my recovery, although slow and arduous was getting there.

On the Wednesday, 6 days post op. I was messaged by Katrina that Larry Evans, the man who inspired the group “Lets shrink obesity” had sadly passed away.
 I came across Larry’s story by chance. He was a man who weighed over 800lbs and with his own determination and with the help of his friend Chris Booth was changing his life for the better. I’ve spoken on my Facebook page how much he inspired me to get my life back. His legacy will live on for many years and I can’t even begin to imagine how many lives the man has saved, just by having the strength to be honest and get out there and do something.. 

I was gutted. In fact I cried. I was meant to be going home and had been told I wasn’t and then hearing a man who despite his own health problems had inspired so many had lost his life, it got too much for me. At some point in the future I will do a full post about Larry and Chris. 

On the Thursday I was meant to be going home (again) but was told that the bariatric ambulance wasn’t fixed (again) so I made it abundantly clear that I was going home the next day. Even if I had to get a mates transit van and put a pillow in the back. I’d been in the hospital for 5 weeks now. I wanted my own bed and my own home. The people on the ward right up till the minute I left on the Friday were absolutely first class. They do a thankless task in that job. But they’re heaven sent. And I’ve made some great friends from my time there. 

Next time I’ll go into how the recovery wasn’t as easy as I’d have hoped… 

Part 12…. Operation

So the week of my operation had arrived. I was warned about all the pitfalls of the procedure and even though I knew the risks I just wanted it done.

The final weigh in went well. In the 4 weeks pre op in hospital I had lost just over 3st. Everyone was pleased. Myself I was kind of gutted as I was aiming for 4st but it’s not to be sniffed at..

The day of the operation came. My nerves began to kick in. As you will be able to see in the pictures I post with this part of my story….

The porters came and collected me just after lunch. The staff on the ward all wished me well and told me I’d be seeing them soon.. 

One of the student nurses, Bex asked if she could come into theatre with me, which after her being there on the ward for the 4 weeks I was delighted there would be a familiar face there with me till I was under.. 

I got to the reception of the theatre and my heart began to race. Dr Awad and a couple of the team came to greet me and told me I’d be walked down to the theatre shortly. 

It was only 5/10 mins but it literally felt like hours.. 

We got to the room before the operation theatre and the team was there waiting. They were all brilliant. A friends sister in law was part of the surgical team and she also made me feel at ease. 

The team got me on the operating table and wired me up so to speak. I was given the anesthetic and the operation began. After this I was told it really was touch and go as to wether Dr Awad could pull it off, after all I was the biggest patient he’s ever operated on. But the team he has with him are the best and the man really is a genius. 

It turns out that a sleeve gastrectomy usually takes between 60-90 mins. Mine actually took between 3.5-4hrs such was the magnitude and effort required. I was sent to recovery.

When I woke up it felt like someone had stabbed me in my lower back with a hot iron brand (like they use on cows). The pain was excruciating all along my shoulders, back and arms. I was so drowsy and disorientated.. 

I was taken back up to the ward and I can vaguely remember staff coming in to see me but it’s still a real blur. Now what a lot of people do t know is that after bariatric surgery, they have you up on your feet within a few hours of being back on your ward. It’s to help with the blood flow in your legs etc. 

Now bearing in mind I was still around 40st at this point and the nurses aren’t exactly powerlifters. I was in so much pain that they managed to get me on my feet and they then had to sit me in my chair next to the bed. My hands felt so strange, I couldn’t even grab the button to call a nurse.. 

I hated this. I wanted to die. I couldn’t do this. The pain was too much. I asked a nurse for enough morphine to end it. Thankfully she just smiled and said that wasn’t happening. 

The next thing I can remember is looking down to my left and seeing a pool of blood on my bag. The first thought was that my staples had come away (all kinds of thoughts went through my mind then) fortunately my cannula’s had come out. Still incredibly painful but at least my insides were staying put. 

I barely slept that night. I couldn’t lie flat due to the staples and I was in way too much pain. 

Next time I’ll go into the process of getting back on my feet post operation. I know I’ve said how bad it was after the op and how hard I found it in the hospital but it’s literally saved my life and I’d do it again tomorrow if the circumstances were the same. 

Part 11….

Sorry for the delay in this post. I’ve been without a phone so it’s been a while…

I was coming to the end of the 2nd week of my stay. The staff had become easier to remember, and the diet had started to get to me. There’s only so much chicken soup a grown man can handle. I was weighed on the Friday and I had lost another stone! I couldn’t believe how quickly the weight was coming off..

Mentally it was starting to get a lot harder. My dad had taken ill with his own issues. The lads visits were not as often as I’d have liked due to their own lives and work. So most of the time I stayed in my room with my own thoughts and doubts…

Unless you’ve suffered with anxiety it can be really hard to understand where I’m coming from. But being in the hospital, alone and knowing my safe haven (my flat) was empty made me long to be there. On the Thursday I packed my bags and was literally ready to go home. I knew it’s where I wanted to be as it was safe. 

Just as I went to pick up my bag, one of the ward staff came in and asked what I was doing…

I explained to her that I wasn’t strong enough to stay there and that I wanted to go home. She told me that if I walked now, there wouldn’t be another chance for this operation and realistically I’d be going home to die.. 

She told me to sleep on it and see how I felt in the morning. Whilst in the hospital I began to make friendships on Facebook with other members of a group called “Let’s Shrink Obesity” there were 2 people in particular I connected with. 1 was a woman called Katrina who was always there to listen to me moan or go on when I was down. We’ve since become good friends and she’s always there. 

The other was a chap called Gino. Now he’s seen a lot of loss in his life. We’re close in age and he’s one of the most brutally honest guys I’ve ever spoken to. He tells it how it is and doesn’t care who he offends or upsets.. He says I motivate him and in truth he motivates me. He’s lost a lot of family and friends along the way and continues to be the best version of himself that he can be. 

The following week I was told by Dr Awad that we’d be doing the dummy run. It was a run through of what would happen the day of my operation to make sure the aperatus would carry me etc.. Now this was a scary prospect for me. But it went ok and by the time the operation came around Dr Awad wanted me to lose another stone to make his and his teams life as easy as possible..

Next time I’ll talk about my final pre op weigh in and th surgery. 

Part 10…

So the day of my first weigh in at the hospital had arrived. 

The nutritionist came in with the scales and to my amazement I’d lost just under a stone in 7 days. Whilst I wasn’t enjoying the menu options, trying to do as much as I could was starting to work. 

By now, being poked, and injected became pretty normal.. The staff on ward 313 were absolutely amazing and felt more like friends than nurses HCA’s etc..

I’d try and be as happy as I could and as always with me it was easy to paint a picture over the cracks.. My dad was having mobility issues so I didn’t get to see him much. And with the lads working shifts, some days I wouldn’t have any visitors. Newt’s mum drives an ambulance with a lad I knew as a kid and they’d often poke their heads in to see how I was doing, as would the security lads Mark, Dean, Danny, Wayne & Malc. Looking back now, those visits helped so much. 

I also had a lot of help from my oldest mate Gaz, he came and collected my laundry because with me not being operated on for another 3 weeks, I didn’t need to be in slippers and pyjamas etc..
To help stem the boredom I was collecting football stickers which occupied the time nicely.. 

My friend Leanne was heavily pregnant when I went into hospital and she had given birth to a beautiful little boy, which she named Brax. She brought him in to see me and he was tiny. Literally sank into my chest when I held him.. Again, looking back that little lad has become a big part of my life. I love to see him and spend time with him. He brightens up the darkest of days. And I’d like to think he loves seeing me too. 

Another couple of friends who visited that week were Emma, and her 2 youngest girls Tori-Jane & Lucy. They made me a little decoration to hang in my room which was lovely. 
And also Elizabeth, someone who’s become a great friend over the years came with her 2 girls Holly & Freya. Having people like this in my life as a support is a true blessing and I and so thankful to them all, even if at times I don’t show it.. 

Over the next 7 days I kept trying to be as active as possible. Trev came and took me out in my wheelchair… He certainly drives a car better than he does a wheelchair but it was so good to be outside in some fresh air.. Every time I left the ward to walk or to go out with my mates I always joked I was going to the pub for a steak or the strip club… it’s my sense of humour and luckily the staff on the ward understood that.. 

In my next post I’ll write about the next weigh in and how I came close to walking away from it all.. 

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