I could hear my phone ringing, I jumped to my desk and checked the number. Wasn't a number I recognize, but wasn't a silent number either, so I answered. "hi, it's the clinic. Just wondering if you would like an appointment for tomorrow, we've had a cancellation."
Tomorrow! Lots of things where going though my mind still as it was only a few days ago I went to the information session. It's all so quick, but it also might mean that I could get a surgery date before Christmas... Now there is a positive!
"Thanks, yes I will take that appointment, see you tomorrow". So soon... I had all those thoughts go through my mind: is this the right thing to do, is it too soon, are you sure your gonna cope with the changes? Best to sleep on it I think.
The next day I had the morning off work to attend the session at 10am. By this stage I had my 'just do it' attitude back. I got myself ready and hopped into my ute and headed on down to the clinic. Still had no real thoughts about going.
I parked my ute and went inside. When I sat down I realized that this would be the first time I met the actual surgeon that was going to perform the procedure. What if I don't like him? I suppose there was his off-sider who gave the information session, but I had already not taken a shining to him either.
"David?". That was me, I looked up and there he was, the person I was entrusting my life. We went into his office and started to talk about the procedure, what I wanted to achieve, what was realistic and some of the expected results and risks. By about five minutes we'd come to the decision that banding would be the best thing for me at this stage.
The next twenty minutes we spent discussing the world financial markets, my self managed super fund, gold and silver and how best to hedge your super to prevent the fat cats of the worlds largest banks from stripping away your life savings when the next bigger Global Financial Crisis hits.
This gave me a lot of confidence in my surgeon, having a social chat just reassured me that I was in capable hands. I was relaxed and confident that he was the one for the job.
"So, when would you like me to band you? I have the 23rd, 30th November or 7th December". Gees the 23rd is only three weeks away and I would have to get things organized very quickly, I don't think that would be enough time... "Better make it the 7th" I said.
So time to see the dietitian! I had back to back appointments, makes the process much easier in thought. While not as important to like the dietitian, unlike the person opening you up, I still dreaded having to talk in depth about what I use to eat, half the time my friends didn't even know what I really did eat.
While I know I'm not the worst, I still had an aversion to talking about it. However after a few minutes I started to feel more comfortable and relaxed. He was really nice, understanding and not judgmental. He didn't make me feel bad at all, we even shared a few jokes along the way. So he told me what was required and went through all the different stages. After the session I thought this is going to be tough, I can do it!
So many thing to do, so little time... While my health fund is covering the most part, there still is the little problem of the gap. Gap.. Why the hell do we pay for private heath and still have to pay even more... I really do not get it. While I could wait for a heart attack or two to get onto the public waiting list, private health does serve its purpose to some degree.
My gap was as expected, around the $6000 mark and I didn't have the cash to fork over. Some research online even before I went to the information session brought my attention to a little fact that you could possibly have your super fund pay the gap under a program called the Early Release of Super on Medical Grounds.
Initially APRA,Â Australian Prudential Regulation Authority handled the applications for early release of super, however with the latest machinery of government changes to departments and agencies, this was transferred to the Department of Human Services which now is the umbrella for Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support.
From the new Centrelink page I downloaded the application form and began to fill in the particulars. The key to the process is that you needed to have a letter from your surgeon stating that this was a life threatening condition and that it was not provided for under the general Medicare arrangements. I had this, so I put the final touches on the application, attached all the paperwork required and submitted it online.
The next day I followed up with a phone call, which the lovely computer generated assistant mentioned that it would take approximately 10 working days to process the application and be notified of the outcome. Sweet, leaving me an extra two weeks up my sleeve in case of any delays. When my call was answered I confirmed that they had indeed received the applications and hung up.
Looks like everything is setup ready for the 7th, or is it...
â€œTake a seat, shouldnâ€™t be too much longer.â€ I sat down in the clinic, waiting for the start of the free information session. Yes I was a little nervous as I would be finding out a lot about what I am about to go through, but also I will be sharing something that has been a very private subject with all the other people in the room.
Others stared to arrive and I began to question if I should even be here. It just seemed that everyone else was bigger than I, so I began to think is this something I should be doing because I donâ€™t seem to fit that profile?
The surgeon was running late, caught in theatre so the dietician started the session in hope that the surgeon would make it later on. She explained the basics of the procedure and what to expect. Explained about how this procedure will change our lives and some of the bad things you can do.
It ended up being a really good session; people were sharing what they knew or heard, asking questions and clarifying wives tales. It was very refreshing to be amongst a group of people that were looking to start on the same journey as yourself.
The surgeon had just arrived at the end of the session and gave a brief presentation on the risks and expectations of what we might be in for if we chose to continue. Again everyone was engaged and the information from our questions was valuable indeed. I would highly recommend attending these kind of free information sessions as there are a lot of questions you can get answers to before you even fork out the initial consultation fee.
Walking out of the session I was even more confident that this was the right thing for me, now just to convince the surgeonâ€¦
There are a lot of things you hear about weight loss. Some good, some consider miracles and some that are just so bad you just want to ignore them. I think its just for the best to stay away from things with the word celebrity linked with them!
I was at home recently, off work with the flu and I said to myself that why not! Why not take this opportunity to ask my doctor about banding, I was already going for a medical certificate anyway, may as well make the most of it.
So off I went. While it wasn't one of the worst conversations I have ever had to have, it certainly wasn't easy. I'm not one that knows what a real therapy session is like, I normally can handle making sense of my life just fine on my own; but to actually say to someone else that you have a problem and you need help was the biggest thing I have ever done in my life.
This coming from someone that is use to having to deal with his own problems and having to open up and to share what I and I'm sure so many you on this journey would consider, their darkest hour. It is hard to admit what you really eat.
My GP is very understanding, very supportive of my goal. After the blood tests came back ok, just a slightly fatty liver and nothing else to worry about. We discussed other options and after laying out my life story he sent me away with that next nail blighting task, a referral to a specialist!
It sat on the kitchen table for a few weeks, often I would just stare at it, thinking can I do this? Should I do this? It didn't help that some liked the idea and some thought it was a very drastic thing to undergo. But ultimately it is only you that can decide what is right for you, only you know the pain and the suffering that has brought you to this life changing decision.
"Hello this is Sue." a soft but welcoming voice came over the phone. "Hi Sue, this is David. I have a referral and I would like to make an appointment." By this time again I was starting to think 'should I just hang up, no be strong, you have to do this'. "Ok great, the earliest appointment I have is in about a month and half, how about Wednesday lunchtime?"
I was hoping to get in sooner, stop all that thinking and just get on with the action, now theres just more time to sit and ponder. Do I have a choice? Not really, coming so close to Christmas I just have to take what's available. Damn you referral, you sat there mocking me, making me question but eventually helped me to build up courage. "Oh really, he's that booked out, ok thanks, yes that should be fine." "Ok great I have booked you in with the specialist and the dietitian afterwards. We also have a group information session next week if your interested just to find out more about the procedures, would you be interested?"
I needed to know more than what Wikipedia says and some of the horror stories I've Googled! "Yes that sounds interesting, please sign me up!" There it's done, you can relax and stop thinking about it."Ok thanks David, see you soon!"
It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. Your friends still loved and supported you however as time went by it became harder and harder to find any clothes that fit, let alone any that looked any good. It was the simple things, the little things that broke the straw of my back. Not being able to tie a shoe lace easily, having to be careful to not put your back out getting out of the car, working up a sweat just walking up to the second floor. It is time.
Most of my life Iâ€™ve been a big guy, starting in Primary School and the lunches from the corner shop. Starting out as one sausage roll and small Big M to two sausage rolls and a large Big M in the later years. I was a fussy kid, my friends would argue that I still am. Although I think the closer ones would agree that I have spread my wings and started to vary my palate in recent years.
Before my school years I would live on frankfurts and mashed potato, hot chips and soft drink. My mother was also a big woman back then, while she did her best to keep me fed, I was too strong for her and she had no choice but to give in. Had I wished she stood firm, yes however I donâ€™t blame her for it, stubborn kids are not easy to deal with and she just wanted to make me happy at the time.
By 14 I remember that I was 80Kg, not sure of my height at the time so I canâ€™t give an indication of the BMI I was back then, but I was big; big enough to be singled out at school, high school especially. While I would like to say that I have fond memories of my childhood dreams, there were also the not so pleasant experiences. It was expected, every fat kid gets picked on at school and I usually took it on the cuff of my shirt. It did bother me, but back then there wasnâ€™t much I wanted to do about it and by the time I was a senior I was in a great group of friends that kind of shielded me from those that their only pass time was to barrage the emotional living daylights out of the venerable.
By the end of high school I was about 110-115kg, 175cm, giving me a BMI of approximately 37, the Very High Risk categoryâ€¦ By the time I finished University, living away from home I worked my way up to 122Kg and a BMI of 39.8, just a stoneâ€™s throw away from that life changing termâ€¦ Morbid Obesity.
Well at that point I made some sacrifices in my life and with the support of a very good friend of mine that played professionally in the NRL, supported and motivated me to make some changes. Well what a time in my life that was! Starting 4thMay 2009 I began a regimented routine of 6 small, relatively healthy meals a day along with around 2 physical boot camp style exercise sessions with my NRL buddy. On the 8th October 2009, just five months later I had lost 10.2Kg.
I was a new person! I experienced designer clothes for the first time. I remember the day I was in Sydney and visited my first Industry store. I purchased a pair of size 40 (the largest they make) jeans. That was the best day of my life. I wore those jeans like a badge of honour.
Sadly that was to come to a crashing halt and like all good things, they come to an end. I lost my focus and my motivation, but worst of all I lost my support. My buddy that was helping me got contract to play elsewhere and had to move away. I tried to keep up my motivation and determination however I feel that with a combination of not having any more one-on-one support, that someone to keep you motivated and focused, I lost mine.
I tried to keep off the bad foods, keep riding to work but it all just fell apart and here I am, 12Kg heavier than when I started, thatâ€™s right folks, 134Kg with a BMI of 44, Morbidly Obese. While this is a sad time in my life, like the phoenix is reborn out of the ashes of its demise, I too will be reborn and starting now I have begun the mission of taking back my body, my life, my soul.
Please join me while I take this journey of rediscovery and new heath through the miracle that is gastric banding and the transformation that is about to take place. Fighting the food fight, one band at a time.