As I stare into the toilet bowl, retching for perhaps the fifthtieth time today, I wonder if all this is worth it.
It is 2012, I had my gastric band fitted on the 30th of December 2011. What’s annoying about a gastric band is it doesn’t just work straight away and, if you’re anything like me, we all want instant gratification. Even as I write this I can see my Dad looking at me, nodding his head and saying “deferred gratification Tamzyn, deferred gratification…” Well if we are all honest who bloody wants anything deferred, we don’t want to wait for results, I would like them right here, right now, thank you very much. But no, the band has to be gradually tightened by saline injection into my stomach. This is done (ideally in very small increments, or if you’re like me and push the nurse, probably done too quickly.)
The idea is to take it slowly, to maybe fill the band by 1-2mls at a time, but if you’re poor and paying for these band fills, or impatient, you might ask for more. My band is a 14ml one (which means it can have 14mls of saline injected into it before it is full, or as tightened as it can go.) If you are having fills every month or so, in my experience I didn’t feel any difference until perhaps 6mls had been injected. Any overweight person who is addicted to food will tell you that all you can think about is food….so when you have spent nine thousand English pounds on something that is supposed to help that….well it can be frustrating.
However…once I had reached a point where the band was fairly tightened, boy did I know it. Once I was around 9mls full, I would be fine on the way home from the clinic, then once home I wouldn’t even be able to swallow water. Up it would come, like an old friend that wanted to say hello. It is an extremely strange feeling being so thirsty yet being unable to quench it. The liquid would just sit there, feeling as though it was stuck somewhere in my chest, in between my breasts. I would try to ignore the urge to regurgitate, hoping it would slip down but it is a very nagging feeling and by the end of the day, when you have ingested neither food nor water, you are most likely to want to sleep. It is, as I was to discover, IMPOSSIBLE to sleep when the minute you lie down you have liquid running up and down your oesophegus, making little squeaking noises, like a lullaby that is taunting the fact you cannot sleep. Your only option at this point is to throw that goddamn liquid up and have peace for the night!
If the tightness was still so apparent the next day I would have to head back to Harley Street with my tail between my legs and tell the nurse that my band was too tight….nicely she never said “I told you so.”
Finally after months of this back and forth malarkey, I finally found a good place, or so I thought. This was a lovely place where I no longer felt hungry and a place where it once took me an hour to eat a quarter of a cheese sandwich! Any Gastric Band doctor will tell you that probably isn’t normal.
So with the jolly knowledge everyday that I wasn’t hungry, I was ecstatic. BUT when I did
eat, I would throw up everything. It’s not actually throwing up in the traditional sense. The food doesn’t have that vomit smell, because it hasn’t managed to make it into your stomach to start the digestive process, it is just simply food that has no where to go, that cannot get through the band. In my naivety and desperation for it to work, I just kind of assumed this was the way it worked.
Lots of discussions I had read online, told of persistent vomiting as if it was normal, and as long as I was losing weight, I was happy!
And so, as time went on, the weight came off…. I was happily vomiting my way through life, content that I was losing weight. With every pound that fell off, I convinced myself that the vomiting was worth it and then the pain began…