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. 

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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.. 

Part 9…. 

So the first night came and went in what was my new surroundings. 

On the Saturday my dad and stepmum came to visit again, with my dads own ailments I was to soon realise I wouldn’t be seeing him as often as I needed to or would have liked.. 

The mad thing about hospitals is how quiet they become on a weekend, time almost certainly goes slower. I’ll fast forward to Sunday evening when my mates came to visit. Newts, Trev, Beesla and Rueben come to see me and I’ll be honest, it was probably needed more than the operation at that point. They arrived after going to Costa Coffee and said they didn’t know if I was allowed one. Being on the VLCD I wasn’t but what stood out was how gutted Rueben was at paying for everyone’s drink 😂. 

We had a few laughs and with me being in a side room, they stayed a little after visiting had finished. Once they left it was back to normality, stuck in a mental and physical prison, only this time it was a different location. I’d only been on the ward for 3 days and I was already craving the security of home. The mental safety net I had created myself, somewhere I could feel comfortable and at ease. 

But it was a case of this or be at a high risk of losing my life, with my size I’d sometimes fall at home and let me tell you, trying to lift 40st+ off the floor is a lot harder than you’d ever imagine. 

Monday came and the physio’s came to see me and asked if I’d like to go for a walk. It became apparent pretty quickly I’d form a bond with these 2 ladies, we’d have a laugh and giggle, they’d follow me with my wheelchair as they understood I’d only be able to walk so far and then they’d have to push me back.. Being completely honest, I probably managed to walk about 40 yards the first time we went. 

Looking back 15 months later I’m not only shocked but completely ashamed as to how bad it became. I was once a lad who played football literally every day, played cricket, worked etc.. I’d gone from that to a man who couldn’t walk 50 yards without feeling he was going to collapse.. 

After that first walk with the physio’s I knew how much had to be done. So I set about walking to and from the lifts as much as possible each day.. 

I was starting to remember the names of the staff on the ward and by the end of the first week it was starting to feel a bit more like home.

Next time I’ll discuss the first weigh in and the dreaded pre op…  

Part 8….

So after discussions with Dr Awad, a plan was put in place. I was to be admitted to hospital on April 8th with a 4 week pre op stay on a vlcd (very low calorie diet) with my operation taking place on May 5th.

The reason for the VLCD was to shift as much weight as possible to be as safe as possible for the operation. Now I’m not too sure as to how much I weighed on admission. But I’d estimate it being in the region of 275kg (43.3st, 606lbs). 

The day of my admission, Kyle offered to take me to hospital as there was a problem with the bariatric ambulance. It was my first time in approx 5 years of leaving the street where I live. Kyle took me on a bit of a tour of Derby, showing me how much the place had changed. It became abundantly clear to me that I’d missed out on so much. 

We drove through Breadsall where I spent the early years of my life. Drove past the house I was born in, the same house where I grew up. And through the city till I was met by a couple of porters who took me up to Ward 313 of the Derby Royal Hospital. 

When I got to the ward I was wheeled (my walking was still really bad) to my room, side room 5 and was greeted by the sister on duty at the time. 

The first couple of hours were a bit of a blur. So many people introducing themselves, making me feel welcome. After a while I was asked what I’d like for lunch. I said chicken soup. The lady serving meals came in with 2 bowls. Which I thought was very odd as I was on a VLCD. I had my chicken soup and it was lovely (but more on the soup and how I came to hate it later).

I took the lid off the 2nd bowl and there was Jam Roly Pudding and custard.. now I love me a pudding but I couldn’t believe this was sent to me.. I sniffed it, it smelled amazing. But I called for the nurse and I told her that she had better take it away before I inhaled it. 🤣.

In the afternoon my dad and step mum came and made sure I was settled in ok.. they stayed for a short while and then that was it. I was alone, something I’d became used to after being housebound for so long. But this was different. My anxiety was really at its peak that first night on the ward with being away from my prison, my sanctuary. The hospital internet was really poor (to be expected really given the amount of people using it). And the selection of TV stations was just as bad. I had to pay for both which despite that, it would be a time consuming thing to help pass the hours.. 

The staff that night were amazing, checking in on me. But to be perfectly honest I was trying so hard not to lose it and leave for home I probably came across really ungrateful and ignorant. Little did I know the bond and love I have for these people that work on 313…

Next time I’ll go a bit further into the mental torture I put myself through whilst having the surgery that would change everything. 

Part 7….

So now my weight is coming down steadily and Dr Gillespie (Psychologist) had mentioned in Feb 2016 about being able to get a Dr Awad come to see me, he is the surgeon who would operate on me. 

Now having surgeons come to a patients home and assess is extremely rare. But as my case was so severe it was almost a necessity. 

Dr Awad came out and he was really helpful, he explained that the plan would be to get me into hospital for a 4 week pre op stay to put me on a VLCD (very low calorie diet) to get my weight down. 

He asked if he could take some picture of me to see if surgery could be done, pictures from the side, front and also some of my stomach and panus area. 

Being perfectly honest I felt ok when taking the pictures until we got to the point where I’d have to get my stomach out and the panus area which is near my groin. It was so embarrassing but Dr Awad was fantastic. He was also very up front. He warned me of the potential risks such surgery carries, and also said that if he was unable to complete the surgery he was planning (a sleeve gastrectomy) he would put in a gastric balloon. 

He did say that the aim would to be admitted to hospital late April/ early May. He shook my hand and said I’d hear from him soon. 

It all suddenly became very real. Dr Gillespie put me in touch with a chap called Kyle. He, like me was a former doorman who had been given a gastric sleeve and would be such a huge help in the months to come. Kyle has since become a good friend who has been a constant source of support and knowledge. His journey, like mine has been ongoing for a long time and he’s nearly completed the process as a whole.

I’m my next post, I’ll go through the admission to the Derby Royal Hospital and my time on the ward. 

These are a couple of pictures Dr Awad took of me the first time I met him. 

The mental battle

Ever since I was about 12 I’ve struggled mentally. It all began when my mum was diagnosed with M.S.

Back then in the early 90’s there was no internet to research it like there is now. I didn’t fully understand the devastation it can cause like I do now. When mum got diagnosed it hit me hard. Really hard. Mainly because I knew she didn’t know what was going to happen. Being 12/13 years old at the time, you not only feel useless but lost too. My mum was poorly.. 

School were really good about it and gave me councelling sessions to help me get my head around the massive change all of our lives were going to experience. 

We managed to keep a relatively normal life with mums illness. It became normal for us to help her walk, and if we went anywhere of distance we took her wheelchair. In September 1997, things took a massive turn for the worse. We were on our way to my cousins wedding in Bolton when we were involved in a car crash. 

Looking back now, we really didn’t know how much effect that crash would have on my mum. 
Although not seriously injured her illness excellerated so, so fast. She spent most of her time in that wheelchair, and couldn’t walk more than a few steps. The woman who I’d seen work 2 jobs at a time was now confined to a chair. Her mental capacity also started to dwindle. When we moved from the family home in 1999 her speech and communicating abilities were also starting to decline.

When we were told by her specialist in November 1999 that we were looking at “months and not years” it hit me like a truck. My mum, even though I knew she was ill was dying. And there was literally nothing we could do. She was refusing to eat and seeing the turmoil my dad was going through killed me. He didn’t want to say goodbye to the love of his life and made the decision that mum would have a “peg” fitted into her stomach to make sure she was getting some form of nourishment. 

I’ve never said it before but for a while I hated him for that. I think she was more than prepared to leave us on her own terms. She had no quality of life bar the love we had for her. Those last 9 months of seeing her go through it was horrible. Mentally it destroyed me. But as always I tried to function, go to work, try and help where I could. My sisters were both in relationships, my brother had his girlfriend at the time too and my dad had his parents to confide in. And I felt so alone, I couldn’t go to my dad as he was being torn apart by it all too. 

So in the typical way I buried my head in the sand. By the end of June 2000 mum had become so poorly she was in respite care up at Staunton Harold. A facility for families to have their loved ones go to give us at home a break. I was at work when I got the call to tell me mum had become really poorly and that she didn’t have long left. Dad pretty much stayed up there with her until I got the call. July 4th 2000 shortly after 11am, my queen had decided this world wasn’t for her now and had left us. As harsh as it sounds I didn’t cry. I told the carer that I’d let family and friends know (this was before the days of social media) I must’ve spent an hour ringing people up telling them that she had passed away. 

I just felt numb. My mum had gone. I didn’t know how to function. Lost, alone and so upset I couldn’t bring myself to cry. I didn’t know what to do. 
Even on the day of the funeral I felt so numb. And to be completely truthful I didn’t truly grieve for my mum. I spent so long trying to be strong for my dad I didn’t really care about anything else. By the time mum passed away I was the only one out of the 4 of us kids at home. I was constantly surrounded by her. I think that hurt more than anything else. I don’t know how my brother and sisters felt and I’m sure it was just as hard for them.. 

Not grieving properly has had the biggest impact on my life. Mentally I’ve been so bad that I just ignored signs of my ill health for years. Until 2007 when again I asked for help. Antidepressants and councelling sessions were arranged by my GP. Again they helped. But they would only allow me to have 6 sessions. I cried at every single one, like I’m crying now writing this. It helps, a good cry. Even if you feel silly doing it, it’s good for the soul. 

So that’s pretty much where my battle with depression stems from. Anxiety and everything else came with me getting bigger and bigger. But the depression started way, way earlier than that. 

The best picture of my mum, our queen. Before all the pain and suffering came into our lives.  And one of me and her in Skeggy when I was a toddler. I love and miss her so, so much… x

Part 6….

So with the scales now carrying me, my weight began to steadily come down. By the time Christmas arrived my weight had dropped to 290kg (45st). I was feeling more and more positive each time the scale said I’d lost weight.

 

Christmas arrived and it was an odd one. I kept on having small meals including a small Christmas.Dinner. Early January I saw the nutritionist and I’d actually lost weight over the Christmas period. I was told I was one of very few people that the nutritionist had seen that had a loss over that time.

I was also starting to spend more time outside at my wheelie bin and was trying to walk about my flat (apartment) as often as I could. My family and friends were as always first class. 
The Psychologist has told me that he had managed to get a surgeon to come out and visit to talk about the chances of surgery and what the plans would be. Little did I know at the time how uncomfortable I would feel when I met this man, but also the immeasurable effect he would have on my life. But in the mean time all I could do was keep making the effort and try and improve my life as much as possible.

My clothes although were never tight, were starting to feel a little bit bigger on me and with the help of the carers I was starting to get some kind of routine in my day to day life. 
Mentally I was slowly improving but I would still feel really anxious when it came to going outside. I know we live in a judgemental world and people will always stare and point at anyone or anything that’s different. 

And the fact is I am different. I don’t fit the moulding of what’s normal. I was 45st and I looked every pound of it. Even now, at 26st I still get stared at when going to the gym or walking down the street. 

The one thing I can not stop is the amount of loose skin I have and it is visible when I move even through my clothes. I can’t change that and being completely honest it kills me. But I know it won’t be like that forever and one day I’ll be able to walk anywhere and people will hopefully look and stare for a completely different reason..

Next time I’ll talk about my first meeting with the man who performed a miracle. 

The picture on this blog was taken in 2012. I got a lot bigger than that and it still shocks me as to how ill I look. 

Part 5…

So last time I had gotten to the point where the scales nearly carried me…
Over the following 3 weeks I was on a mission. I almost became obsessed with doing everything I could to make sure I ate within the 1,500 calorie a day limit. At the time I was so big that exercise was out of the question.

The day of the nutritionists visit came. We sat and talked how I’d been doing and how I felt in general, I was desperate to get on those damn scales..

So the time came. I kicked off my shoes and stood on them

100, 200, 300, 304.5kg it stopped!!!! It was reading a weight and it had stopped! I wanted to cheer, shout, scream!! After nearly 5 months of utter disappointment we finally had a weight to register! 

She could see how pleased I was. I could feel a lump in my throat. She told me to keep going as this was only the beginning and there was a lot of hard work to go. 
First thing I did was FaceTime my brother Steve. I told him that the scales finally carried me! His face lit up. He told me he was proud of me. I said my goodbyes and put the phone down and cried. 

I rang my dad. Again after the conversation I cried. Same with everyone. Newts, Betty, Gaz, Trev. I wanted to tell the world that at last the hardest thing I was facing in my life was finally starting to pay off. 

I spoke to the nutritionist and she estimated that my starting weight would’ve been in the region of 325kg (716lbs) or in English 51.17st… 

So now we had a registered weight the work really began. With Christmas on the horizon I knew it was going to be a tough one to maintain if I could. 

The psychiatrist came out and he asked me to step outside and stand by my wheelie bin with him for a few minutes. In the pic you can see how close it was to my front door. And I was panicking like mad being that far outside.. 

I could feel my heart racing and my anxiety kicked in. He asked how I felt. I told him that I wanted to be back inside where I felt normal. Being stuck inside a mental prison as much as a physical one (due to my size) it felt safe to be in my living room.. 

Again he was astounded to know that I could go from a happy go lucky man just 10 years before to a man so close to the edge of not being able to fight back. 

But fighting back was only just the beginning of it all….

Part 4…..

So now I’m going to fast forward a little to the September of 2015. 

Every time the nutritionist came out the scales still had the same message (ERROR). Although I was finding the changes easier to deal with, I still missed the foods that got me to this size. 

My friends had been excellent. Even going as far to offer to eat any takeaways in their cars rather than in my home in front of me. We are a strange bunch of lads. We make fun out of each other in the harshest of ways but it’s never meant in a bad way. And even though we argue, it’s forgotten as quickly as it starts. Even though we’re not blood, we’re family. During the darkest times my friends and family have been such a support it’s hard to explain the love I have for them all. The biggest thing anyone who is in the kind of position I was in, support is the most important. 

In mid September I had my usual 3 week visit with the nutritionist. She asked how I felt. She also said I didn’t have to try the scales if I didn’t want to. I told her that the whole point of her literally dragging them in to me (they’re that big) was that one day I’d get a reading.

So on I stepped. It started to count. 100kg, 200kg, 300kg,  ERROR!!! My heart sank. But then, it kicked in. 4 months of the effort was finally starting to show. The scales still didn’t carry me but they counted for the first time! 

It wasn’t much but it made me realise I was getting somewhere. “Next weigh in will finally give us a reading” she said. 

The Psychologist came to visit too. He gave me a booklet to write down goals I wanted to set myself it varied from standing outside for 10 minutes to walking to the nearest shop (approx 100-150 meters away) looking back these are all so small steps it makes me realise just how ill I had become.. 
Again, if you know someone who’s struggling, forward them these blogs to read. Show them that they’re not alone and nobody, absolutely nobody is beyond help. 

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