Reflections, and a learning curve…

So there we are. Into year two. A whole full year on from the operation, and now the other side of the second Christmas and new year since it was done.

Unexpectedly i have realised that last year at christmas/new year was actually easier than this year, and I honestly thought it would be the other way around. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t “hard”, hard, it was just annoying. Only to me – haha. Although I guess some folk will say I was also annoying…

Why was it hard? Because our deeply-ingrained routines and expectations of Christmas, which lets face it for most folk are centered around food and drink, are difficult to alter. How often do you hear people say, or see them post, “diet starts January”, or “dry january” or “work clothes have shrunk” when they go back in January?

Three times this holiday I have overloaded my plate (for me, now), and been thoroughly pissed off with myself that I haven’t even made a dent in the food and it has then had to go to the dog or the bin. I even consciously watched myself, thinking that I was only getting a small amount of food, and yes on a side plate, yet for some reason getting twice the amount I realistically know I can eat. Why? Because I LOVE my roast dinners, and I suppose it was the old psychological expectation of stuffing my face at Christmas the way the rest of the world does.

But. The difference this year, is that I physically could not eat it. Once I am full, that is it. There’s no “one more potato”, or another spoon of pudding. You’d think I’d know by now, after a whole year. Clearly not.

I can’t eat meat reheated any more. It doesn’t go down. Therefore I guess theres a bit of me that wants to eat it first time round because I then can’t have any more of it, or the leftovers. No idea why I can’t digest it once it has been warmed up again – anyone? I can only think that the molecular structure of the protein alters and then I cannot absorb it. Whatever the reason is, it’s a pain. Haha, physically and mentally!

Then I did it again on NYD at a gorgeous Thai buffet place. They were really nice, only charged me the child’s price, but again its the whole “eat all you can” aspect. Ridiculous really because I have managed for 12 months to not overface myself, then I do it three times in a fortnight. Oh, and by “overfacing”, I simply mean a side plate with one layer of food on it – not piled up or a dinner plate or a second helping or anything.

So the moral of the story – habits are deeply ingrained, they are buried deep inside and sometimes you have no idea WHY you have a certain behaviour trait. But if it is a trait that bothers you, as difficult as it is, you have to work on it and stop yourself from repeating the same mistakes.

I’d like to think that this time next year, I’ve cracked it. We’ll see.




12 months on…

A year ago today, I had my operation.  Today shouldn’t really be a huge milestone, after all it was elective surgery, something I chose to do to myself. Dates and diaries then meant I missed out on Christmas last year, out annual trip on the 24th, my family on the 26th, alllllllll the food on the 25th.

When we arrived at the hospital we sat for hours in the “pre-op” ward, waiting for a bed…I had to have a bed on intensive care afterwards, because of the severity of the surgery and the risks involved. That became available at about 11am, and was “booked” for me. Theatre became free at around 1pm, and I was taken down at 1:30. My husband was working that night so after saying goodbye at the theatre doors, he went to grab a couple of hours sleep in the car, with both of us thinking he would be able to see me on the ward before he left for his night shift.

However, I didn’t actually get up to ICU until around 9pm, and he had had to leave at 6 to get to work on time. One of the surgeons rang him at around 6:30 to say that the operation was finished, and that I was ok. He then rang ICU at about 10 and was able to speak to me himself.

I vividly remember going into the theatre and how cold it felt, holding the mask over my face myself, then the next memory being of intense pain and noise in the recovery area. Yes, I was in a lot of pain, and the staff were fantastic.

You read all kinds of things when you are researching a procedure you either want, or need, to have. You look into statistics, risks, before and after photos, videos of the surgery being done (if you’re a bit odd, like me!)

What I discovered on my three years from initial referral to operation, were many things. Firstly, that I’d lose weight. Seems obvious really, but actually after nearly 40 years of NOT losing weight, that’s rather a strange thing to get your head around – that this WILL work.

Secondly. I’ll have scars. 5 or 6, depending on how the surgeon chooses to do the operation. I have 5 but to be honest a year on only one is still visible. The biggest one, on the left just below my ribs. About 1.5 inches long.  The others are virtually invisible now. Am I bothered? No, not really.

Thirdly, people will treat you differently. Either through concern, or jealousy, or derision. Concern I’m fine with, I’ve answered just about every question I could have had I think. Absolutely no issue with that. Jealousy, I sort of understand but I think THOSE people want to think they are, in some way, better than me because they haven’t needed to “resort” to “taking the easy way out”. Or maybe they want to do this, but are scared to. And then the ones who openly tell me I HAVE done it the easy way…they don’t seem keen to swap places with me though!

Number 4. I’ll never eat a normal meal again. That’s a strange one. You read about folk who say they eat a “small” dinner and you think, oh, ok, that’s fine. What you don’t realise is that actually, you’ll never eat a normal meal again. No, not 12 months out. Or 2 years. No, not even 5 years. NEVER. I’m lucky – my husband, and my friends, are amazing, and they happily share with me – my 18 year old is thrilled to eat his meal and finish mine off too if I am out with him! Protein first – always. So meat/fish/eggs/beans. Nuts work too. Basically, I can manage an amount that’s about the size of the palm of my hand, and that’s it. Oh, and I never get hungry. So if you’re around me you’ll often hear my phone alarm going off, to tell me to eat something.

5. % weight loss. After 2 years (so 12 months from now), the operation will have caused you to lose around 70% of your excess weight. Excess as determined by the BMI criteria and getting you into the “normal” weight range. By their calculations I had around 11 stones to lose to get to that stage. Today, 12 months on, I’ve lost 86.2% of my excess weight.

Eighty six point two percent of my excess weight in one year.

6. Loose skin. I knew I’d have loose skin but nothing quite made me realise just how MUCH there would be, in the strangest of places…no, I’m not going to reveal all here. However, it’s not good, and sometimes you do think you looked “better” with the skin full, rather than looking like ET on a bad day…

7. Pain and healing. This is major surgery. It totally replumbs you inside and cuts off around 90/95% of your stomach. You have a LOT of internal stitches and staples and an awful lot of “joins” in your intestines. I didn’t really believe them when they said it takes 2 years to fully heal internally from this, but actually it is only in the last couple of weeks that I can finally say that I am no longer in any pain. The pain hasn’t been bad, just niggly , and all of it in the same place – where, as the surgeon so politely put it, they had put the staple gun in and it was a big one! In the beginning the pain was quite bad, but over the days, then weeks, it did ease off and improve.

8. Tablets and injections. Every day, for life. Around 22-25 tablets a day, and injections every 8 weeks. Yes you could not bother taking them, but then all the side effects of the malnourishment will kick in, you run the very big risk of an ulcer in your tiny tummy, and becoming very, very sick. Bear in mind that if you self-fund this surgery, your GP is under no obligtion to give you the stuff you need afterwards on an NHS prescription, and often won’t. These tablets are NOT cheap nor are they available OTC in this country.

But what is very difficult to understand is the was you change yourself, inside…I don’t really have time very often to sit and think, to look back at myself and how I used to feel. I’ve forgotten how hard it was to move sometimes, to climb the stairs, to walk anywhere. My breathing was awful, the intense pain in my knees and feet and back. Even getting in and out of the car was a massive struggle. What do I miss the most? Wearing my wedding rings, I hate that I’ve had to take them off a few months ago.

This surgery is one of the best things I have EVER done, and yes, I would do it again. I’d take longer off work if I did – 10 days was absolutely not enough. I think that’s the only thing I would change.

Bring on the next 12 months!!!

The fastest year…

It is nearly 12 months since the day i had my surgery, and around 4 years since the GP finally agreed to refer me for it.


This year has, as the previous few also have, flown by. I am shocked every year about how much time has speeded up, about how we seem to simply blink and another month/year has gone. I look back at myself last December, and cannot quite believe the changes.

Yes, I’m thinner. Goes without saying really. I’m healthier too. I can breathe without struggling, I can walk up stairs, I can chase around my nanny babies and toddlers. I work around 60/70 hours a week, every week. I have the energy to still go on regular date nights with my husband. I can run our home even with working the hours I do.

It’s amazing.It is also a total head f*ck. who is this person? Who is she, in the mirror? Who is she, heading for the stairs not the escalator? Who is she, asking to share a meal when out? Who is she, leaving – yes, LEAVING, food on her plate? Who is she, worrying still about what other people think? Who is SHE?

She is me. Nic. I’m still me. I was always in here, and now I’m slowly starting to believe that she, IS me. She’s also the same bad tempered grumpy moo on occasion, as I am, but hey…can’t have it all, right?

Or can we? Because, whilst there is she, there is also he. And HE has been my biggest and best support throughout all of this. Absolute, unfailing, unflinching support. I could not have done this alone, without him. It is the hardest thing i’ve Ever done, yet in some ways it now feels like it was easy.

There are lifelong changes that have been made, and they are not easy. I read about folk having the surgery I have had who are complaining now that they can’t eat the same, can’t drink fizzy pop, have to take tablets forever…still ordering 3 course meals and eating the wrong stuff. Why do it? Why go through irreversible surgery that has such a massive impact on your life and body, to only carry on the way you always were? That must be soul destroying for them and their families too.

Of course there are downsides to this, and they are something that you have to accept long before the surgeon does his/her bit.

A life of medication, injections, loose skin, never eating some things again, small portions forever…it takes two years to heal inside, and I still have pain from where the biggest incision was made, even 11+ months on.

But even a small bit of research will tell you this. So please, if you have made this choice and been as lucky as I was to have it on the NHS, don’t moan about the changes you’ve had to accept.

One of our very good friends, a very well-respected medical person, when he found out I had had this done told me “that is the BEST thing you could EVER have done for yourself. You’ve added 20 years to your life. I am so pleased for you’

I’m pleased too…

What have you done today to make you feel proud?



So all of a sudden, it’s November. All of a sudden I’m 10.5 months out from my surgery, and life has got bigger, and better, and far more busy than I ever anticipated.

I have yet more nanny families, and children. Year-round ones as well as holiday ones. I have a couple of long-term foster kids here too, and more that are holidays only. We’ve made ourselves a 5 year plan, and are on target for it. Actually, we are currently around 6 months ahead with that so we are crossing everything that we get to our goal!

I’ve had a couple of negative responses recently – along the lines of “well, you’ve done it the easy way” – one overheard, one to my face. Other “friends” have simply ignored me/it/the elephant in the room, totally. Never said a single word to me.

Some of that ^ is absolutely fine. I don’t expect or need people to say anything to me, or to gush about it, or even to notice. However, to tell me you think I’ve taken the easy way out? If you’re going to bitch about me behind my back, do it so I don’t hear you. You’re entitled to your opinion. Of course, if you bothered to actually speak to me to my face you’d be able to ask me directly about the oprtation, side effects, issues, problems, upsides, bonuses, good stuff.

Anyway. No, this isn’t the easy way out. It is the hardest thing I have EVER done and it always will be.

It is irreversible, painful, scary. Exhilarating, exciting, amazing. Tough, but easy, in some ways. You need support. Someone who has got your back. To help, listen, eat the stuff you leave…haha. I’d like to say it saves you money, but sadly while I eat less, I buy more clothes… oops!

But. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. However, please, take the help that is offered to you with the counselling and psychiatrist appointments. Please, don’t just think “oh I’ll pay £11000 and do it in a fortnight”. Because from everything I have seen and read, without the help to get yourself prepared for this surgery mentally, you will not succeed.

I can walk. Uphill and down dale. I can swim. Gym. Do stuff with my family, days out with my husband, run round after the nanny children and work 15/18h days sometimes.

I have a life. And I LOVE it.



“Fair game”? Or – sod off!!

Hello!!!! So we’re into September, and the rain, and cold – ohhh, the cold!!! ~yes, I have the heating on and no, I don’t care!!

Back to work with a vengeance, nannying, fostering, babysitting, another child heading off to Uni soon…you get the picture.

So on Sunday I decided I’d book for my youngest and a foster kid to go trampolining. I could sit happily with a coffee and wifi while they exhausted themselves, I earned brownie points and it meant the house was quiet while my husband slept (he was on nights the previous night).

All good, right? Yeah. No.

Do you assume if someone isn’t wearing a wedding ring that they’re fair game? Even if they’re in a place full of kids, clearly taking no notice of anyone around them, that they’re just waiting to be chatted up? I’ve no problem with speaking to anyone really who talks to me, but my nose was buried in my ipad, I had my coffee and was oblivious to anything but the two teenagers I’d brought with me.

Can you sit there? Sure you can. No problem. It’s busy.

You’re “offloading” your kid at 1. Oh, ok. Clearly doing your ‘fatherly’ duties then.

<nose back into ipad>

Do i fancy doing something this afternoon? Ah, erm, shit, right, ok…how do I answer that?

“I’m going home to my husband”

Husband?? Oh. <pointed look at hand holding coffee cup – I’m a leftie>

“Yes. Husband. But thanks for the offer.”

You don’t look married.

Hmm. So I have the choice. Go into a long-winded explanation about weight loss, rings not fitting, too expensive to lose, put them away to be safe, no I DON’T want a cheapie to see me through…

or just smile and say. “Yes. Husband.”

Oh. And “offloading” your kid at 1? No wonder you’re divorced.

huh. Next time I’ll sit in the car <my car has wifi. I’m antisocial>

So. Being hit on. HOW do you cope with that when actually, if you were 9 + stones heavier as you’ve always been, they wouldn’t have looked once, never mind twice???




Two in two days – or, helpful places!

I thought I’d do a quick post for folk like me, who can never eat a normal meal again. That’s right, NEVER. Not in a year or when I’ve lost enough weight, or in a few years, or maybe it could be reversed. No. This cannot be reversed, and it can’t be undone, and I can never eat a normal meal again.

So, what about eating out? I guess thats not possible too, right? Wrong. My husband and I have eaten out at least once a week since I’ve had this done. We’ve been to loads of different restaurants and cafe’s, some basic places, other upper class posh ones. I’ve met friends regularly for “coffee n cake” type things, or for lunch or dinner.

One thing I do have is a little card from the hospital, that discretely explains I’ve had major surgery and therefore cannot eat much, and would they be so accommodating as to allow me to simply have a starter or a childs portion. Problem being, I can’t finish them either! The other thing I am lucky enough to have is a husband who happily hands me the menu, and will share with me whatever I want to order.

Some places have been absolutely fantastic – top of the list being Zizzi’s at Birstall, where the waiter sorted everyone elses order then came and sat with me, asked what I “can” eat (as nothing on the menu worked), then went off to see the chef, they made me salmon with peas, potatoes and a sauce, and didn’t charge me a penny.

Bibi’s in Leeds too, we go occasionally for one of their ‘dinner shows” with friends. It is NOT a cheap place, and the menu is a set price per head. Yet when I rang them and explained, they immediately said there would be no charge for me and they were more than happy for me to share what my husband was eating.

Aagrah, at Pudsey, they’re a buffet place and our kids love it – so do we! Speak to the manager when I arrive and they only charge me the child’s price for the buffet, and they don’t hover over me to see what I’m eating to make sure it isn’t too much either.

Everybody’s in Guiseley, I go often with a lovely friend for brunch and they do me a kids breakfast to share with my nanny toddler (who eats more than me!), or if I go at lunchtime they’ll do me a kids portion of anything on the menu, or happily let me and my husband share a meal.

Multiplex places will often have a jacket potato type place, and they let me order the “half a spud” kids option but with an adult topping on.

Curry restaurants happily box up what I can’t eat to take home – I’m never lucky enough to get my leftovers though, as my husband always gets there first!

Other pizza and buffet chains have been more than happy for me to just order a starter, and little local places are simply happy for someone who’ll have a couple of coffees to go along with their “bit of something” they might order to eat.

I was worried I’d have issues asking places, and sometimes they have refused initially – until i go have a discreet word with the manager and show my card, at which point they are 99% of the time more than happy for me to order from the childrens menu. I’ve read online about people having problems, having to spend £15/20 on a meal they can only eat 1/8th of, being refused just one course – of course, some folk WANT to order and have a little bit off all the food, then happily have the rest thrown away by the restaurant but that makes me want to cry – cannot stand food waste.

Don’t get me wrong. Some stuff I simply cannot eat, it won’t go down, and at this stage it is doublful it ever will do. Some days are “eating” days, and some are absolutely not – it used to be that I could eat one day, then not for the next two. Now, it’s probably about 50/50. There’s no knowing what the day will bring though. Some days my tablets won’t even go down, and they ARE my priority. I take about 18/20 a day, and will for life. Do I care? No.

I was asked the other day, “don’t you care that you can’t eat properly?” The only answer to that is that now, I DO eat properly. Better than I’ve ever done. Quality protein, gorgeous sauces, decent restaurants. Yes, the odd bit of processed stuff when I’m in a rush or tired.

My biggest help with all of this? My husband. He has been 100% by my side through it all. Never once complained that he cannot eat what HE wants on a certain day. Never complained at having to stop more frequently so I can eat something. Never complained that I’m costing us money for underwear and clothes…

After him? My friends. My lovely friends who all are happy to go to places where I can eat off the menu that’s there, they’re happy to share or finish what I can’t have, happy just to sit and chat. Bearing in mind it has to be gluten free for me too, sometimes thats quite an ask.

Please, don’t think there are only upsides to this surgery. There are many downsides too, there are folk I thought would share, and they’ve refused. There are folk I thought would “have my back” and be interested, and they have totally ignored all of  it. Some people are jealous, other’s are rude.

The people who matter? They’re amazing, and without them, this would be a damn site harder than it has been.


It’s been a while…

Hello there.  It’s been a while, in all honesty I have been run off my feet with working, celebrating my husband’s 50th, going out, working, going on holiday, working, running the house, oh, and did I mention working?

So I’m not really sure where I left things at the end of the last entry, so I’ll just ramble a bit about what’s gone on recently. My husband turned 50 in June, and we had a fab month of celebrations. Posh lunches, posh dinners, family visiting, a fantastic weekend in London, theatre shows, concerts etc. Then the icing on the cake for Mr M was his new baby – a little dachshund puppy!

Soon after we had just under a fortnight in Cyprus with friends – our first proper summer holiday for ten years, in the sun, with lovely company, food, the sea, the pool, a great apartment too. None of us wanted to come home at all!

In the meantime, I’ve lost more weight, seem to have gained more skin, and have just as many hang-ups about my appearance as i always did, only different ones to before.

Perhaps one day I’ll be happy with what I see in the mirror – but I’d better not hold my breath!



Wrinkles, crinkles and 6 months later…

So on Wednesday of this week it was a massive occasion in our house. We had visitors, cake, lunch out, dinner out, beer, wine and cake. It was six months since I had my bypass!!! Woohoo! Oh, and it was my husband’s 50th birthday too…maybe that’s what the celebrations were about…haha.

There again, along with all his gifts, meal, money, vouchers, tattoo, weekend away, 2018 Download ticket AND a new puppy, he, in effect, also has a new wife. Same name, same attitude, sounds the same but looks rather different – and it hasn’t even cost him 50% of his assets. Lucky chap!! Seriously though, I’ve lost around 7 stones, I look vastly different, I’ve a ton more energy and he is reaping all the benefits.

I’m getting more self conscious though – my arms are driving me mad, and my thighs. Not to mention my stomach and the fact that when I am naked, I seem to move in several separate parts – I’m hoping I start to all join back together again eventually!!

I never expected to be so different in such a short space of time. I think subconsciously I thought I’d be no different, look the same, feel the same. It’s only now that I remember the way I was, that I realise how far I’ve come. My feet, knees, hips and back hurt so much less now. I can breathe. I have energy, most days…

Happy Birthday to the man who completes me. I love you.



It’s been a while. Life gets in the way – combined with fostering, working, my children, my eldest getting married, university, and trying to maintain the focus on our marriage, means sometimes stuff for “me” takes a back seat.

But, most of the above is also for “me”. I work so we can have a lifestyle we want – well, try to – we foster/host students because we have a big house and it’s pointless it being empty, plus we love the multi-cultural world it brings into our childrens lives. Uni is something I’m loving, despite it being blinking hard work – I’m nearly at the end of Y1 and I’ve signed up for Y2 already. The wedding was amazing, and all our hard work paid off. My husband and I have always tried to make time just for us, we have date nights, and we put our relationship first – we have seen far too many friends who put their relationship last and it suffers badly, usually terminally. We have “YAM” days, nights and weekends – YAM being You and Me.

Bloody hell I sound smug. I’m really not though. I’m struggling with te changes going on on the inside and the outside right now. Heading for 7 stones off in under 6 months, and thats huge. I’m still huge too, but I can’t pick up anything that weighs that much, yet I’ve spent 30+ years carrying it round.

Skin is an issue. A huge issue. I go from thinking “I cannot EVER be seen by ANYONE looking like this, including my husband” to thinking “f*ck it, it’s who I am and I’m bloody proud of myself” and I’ve bought a bikini to wear on holiday this year. Haha, as if THAT will have the tags taken off it!!!

But why, when I look in the mirror, do I 99% of the time see the size 24 me? Why do I still see myself as being morbidly obese? Why don’t I see the changes? We take photos and on those I see two different people when I put them side by side, but in everyday life I look no different to me.

I’m at the stage where people who haven’t seen me for a while walk past me, or look puzzled when I smile and say “hello”. Then there’s the shock, then the awkward stage where they make small talk and you can see they want to ask but don’t like to.  But, I’m me. Just me. No different on the inside – still grumpy, awkward, kind, caring, bit of a bitch, and gobby. Just me.

So, yunno, if you see me and I say hi, just say hi back to me. Don’t feel awkward, ASK me. I’ll happily tell you how I’ve lost weight – but woe betide you if you then decide to say it’s been the easy option. This is the HARDEST thing I’ve EVER done. I thought getting to the surgery date was the difficult bit, but it really isn’t. And no, I don’t care that I’ll never eat a normal meal again. I don’t care that I can’t eat bread/pasta. I don’t care that I’m needing new clothes every month.

I care that people treat me differently. They think I’ve changed on the inside. Or are they jealous? Or worried? Or pleased? I was told by a doctor friend, when he heard what I’ve had done, “that’s the best thing you could ever have done. You’ve added 20 years to your life”. That was rather a strange thought process to digest that…I’m heading for my half century in a couple of years, so if I’ve now added on 20-ish, was my life nearly over?

In all honesty, I’m just me. The me I’ve always been, only I’ll be around a lot longer now…