Feb 04, 2019
So I decided to meet a surgeon. In Belgium, where I live, you can either book an appointment with a ‘Specialist’, a doctor reserved specifically for a certain type of operation, via a General Practitioner, which inevitably means that they feel you genuinely need surgery, or else you can book on your own. The only real difference is that you pay the GP to send you and then pay a reduced fee at the Specialist, as the insurance will subsidise the visit. You go yourself, you pay the specialist full whack. In the end, doing the maths, it amounts to the same.
How did I reach the decision?
After about 8-9 months, my trainer had basically given up on me. He didn’t say as much, but our sessions involved more faffing about than they had at the beginning, he stopped looking me in the eye, he’d started smoking (whether that was my fault or not, I couldn’t tell), he’d plonk me on a machine and then run off to either chat up new clients, or more often, hang out with the other members of staff and friends he’d made of the regulars. In the end, in September, he quit and joined the hospitality field of work. The Irony. Either way, he palmed me off on another trainer, who turned out to be much better (so far).
I felt, and saw, my physique, which in all honesty hadn’t been fabulous since the beginning, deteriorating as well, which didn’t make any sense to me as I was putting in the effort. It was soul destroying.
Thirdly, my mother. We have a strange relationship. The love we have for each other is unconditional. There’s no question about it. She’s a good person, and I strive to not be a bad one. We are both, however, exceedingly flawed. She feels her filter and the respect she shows her friends and people outside the house do not apply to family and therefore she can just say what she thinks and everyone else has to lap it up, while I see everything she says as a direct attack and I can’t handle it and meltdown. Sometimes it means I break down and cry, sometimes I shout at her and a large fight blows up out of nothing, a lot of the time, we ignore the other until we’re ready to just ignore what happened. Throughout my timeline, our arguments were (in reverse order):
If I’m on a diet, our relationship is far better and supportive than anything, and there have been many times where I have pretended to be on a diet just to keep the peace. And cue everyone telling me we have a toxic relationship. I don’t care, quite frankly.
Meeting the surgeon, it was clear what motivated him: the cash. Gastric surgery, up until recently, has been mostly reserved for the rich in Belgium, but now, the health insurance companies have cottoned on to the fact that if they prevent obesity levels sooner rather than later, they don’t have to cover the cost of diabetes treatments and visits, cancers, and everything else linked with the condition. Similarly, they’ve started a free ‘how to quit smoking’ helpline to avoid the bills for illnesses that inevitably stem from the habit. He will receive a nice fat pay check and it’s clear that this is where his priority lies.
He asks me a few questions: what’s my weight? Height? Weight loss goals? Reasons? All with a self-satisfied smile on his face. He’s not a young doctor, forties, fifties maybe. Full head of hair, silver with streaks of dark brown. Face slightly lined. Clearly someone whose line of work is not so stressful that he has to pull grimaces, nor to cause a receding hairline. Actually, he’s the second of his kind that I have met: the first, a Lasik surgeon, a surgery that has changed my life for good a million times over.
The doctor asked me what I was thinking of opting for on the buffet of weight loss surgery options.
"The Gastric Sleeve," I replied.
"Because I know a few people who’d had it and swear by it."
"Actually," said the doctor, "I feel you would be a perfect candidate for a mini bypass, it’s safer, less strain on the body and, if need be, it is reversible or changeable: it can become a full bypass, a sleeve operation, or any other of the bigger surgeries."
Given that his name had been given to me by another family friend who had undergone a mini bypass at his hands, this was not surprising news. He proceeded to show me the difference between the sleeve, mini and full bypass surgeries. I was quite convinced.
So he booked me in for the preoperation tests.