SANDRA`S STORY by Sandra W of the UK

back to

I was getting pressure from work and at home about my weight, and like every other fat person at some point or another, I just wanted to be slim and therefore 'acceptable'. I'd tried various diets where I'd lost weight and put it all back on again plus some, so it was suggested to me that maybe a VBG would finally solve things.
I never even gave any thought to any health implications, as I was assured by the consultant that it was all, a straightforward procedure, and that if there were any problems it could 'easily be reversed'. I was also told that my health would improve in leaps and bounds (there was nothing wrong with me!) and I was 'saving my own life'.  It didn't occur to me that I was already fit and healthy, just fat too. I got swept up in that desperation and despair that all fat people go through sometimes, thinking that ALL MY PROBLEMS WOULD BE SOLVED IF I WAS THIN. I got caught up in the euphoria of a 'cure' for my weight.
No side effects were ever mentioned, no long term results were shown or quoted to me, and I never asked. I had tunnel vision, I think. I did meet up with one girl who'd had it done a year before, all she told me was how great life was for her now, no mention of any downsides or problems, although she must have known. She was obviously wheeled out as a 'trophy success case'.
The only comments I heard were positive ones, so within 3 weeks of seeing the consultant I had the vbg done. Sometimes it feels like that's where my life ended. From a healthy energetic 23 yr old I turned almost overnight, into a puking wreck. I couldn't even eat ice cream or drink water some days.
At check ups I was told I was 'losing weight and doing well' - but I was losing weight because I was starving, surviving by sucking jelly babies. And every time I tried to mention the difficulties I was having, I was told  'people only throw up because they're not doing it properly', implying that my suffering was all my fault. I'd been given 6 weeks of multivitamins to take, with no further nutritional advice. It was like the surgeon had 'done his bit' and that was the end of it. I felt so ashamed and embarrassed of throwing up 10-15 times a day, thinking it must be me, that I stopped saying anything.
Over time I developed pains in my stomach and bowels; my teeth were starting to rot, my hair and nails in poor condition. I began to take my own multi vitamins (I'd been told I wouldn't need to take them after 6 weeks because I'd be eating 'properly by then') and drinking gaviscon straight from the bottle because I had so much stomach acid coming up into my mouth. I ached all over, and felt weak and tired. It was like I'd aged 100 years in a few months.
I managed to get to work through all of this, but ended up having to leave. During this 6 years of H/ell, my original consultant died, and I was then passed from one doctor to another, all telling me my problems were psychological. I started to have panic attacks, thinking I was going mad because I felt so ill, and all I heard was "You're fine. It's all in your head. Just start eating properly". ..but I couldn't. I began to be afraid to go out. The weight loss had stopped because I was sucking on sweets all day, just trying to keep going and to get a bit of energy because I felt so weak. 
Eventually a consultant found that the staple line had been disrupted for what looked like a long time, and had made a mess of my stomach. He wanted to do a gastric bypass so badly!! but I refused. All they seem to care about is your weight, not your health or the quality of your life. I thought if I could eat properly again I'd get healthy again, and go back to how I was. After all I was only 29. He reluctantly performed a 'reversal', but could not remove the staples, as I would have bled to death, so they only removed the band. That was in 1995.
Now I am riddled with arthritis, my hair is grey, my nails awful, ulcers, hernias under my scars, adhesions clinging to other organs (causing other problems all of their own), my sugar levels continue to fluctuate. I've lost an immense amount of muscle tissue and a lot of teeth, due to acid eroding the enamel, and have peripheral neuropathy due to undiagnosed limited B12 absorption for a few years.
I am agoraphobic and still have panic attacks, due to so many years of feeling close to collapse with no-one taking any notice of my problems. I have multiple food intolerances and still cannot digest certain foods properly, and IBS.
No-one will take any responsibility for what they've done to me. I'm old before my time, and ironically all the weight has piled back on anyway. Part of me wishes I'd died during that first operation, because it feels as though a lot of my life has gone anyway. I'm waiting to see yet another consultant, because I'm still having problems. Luckily I have good friends, and despite how it may seem after reading my story, a wicked sense of humour! What can I do after everything that's happened to me, except laugh? A good laugh chases the blues away.  But don't ever confuse surgical weightloss with health. All it is, is surgically induced starvation, and how can that be good for anyone?
Sandra W of the UK