The gastric bypass diaries: part one

Karen Duckworth

Every once in a while, you walk past a mirror and think “Yeah, I could possibly lose a few kilos” or, “Oh hey, that gym swipecard is getting mighty dusty. In fact… where is it?”

Maybe even, “Damn, I do have QUITE the Macca’s Monopoly ticket collection.”

This is me, Karen. It was hard to find photos of me at this size because I was a professional camera-dodger. Source: Supplied

That’s when you realise it.

You aren’t just a "little bit tubby"’ any more, not even "seasonally plump" (and in July I might add), but you’re morbidly obese, and getting rapidly less social, severely depressed and turning into a shell of your former self.

So, I decided to do what thousands of overweight and obese Australians are doing.

I’m taking back control over my life and more importantly my health and I’m opting for weight loss surgery – specifically, laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery.

That is a napkin on my head. It was a heatwave, ok! Source: Supplied

It’s not just the fact that I’m reducing my obviously large stomach to roughly the size of a golf ball, and quite literally bypassing an organ, but it’s the mental and physical preparation for the "golf ball".

I’m not one for wasting a good walk playing golf. Actually, I’m not even one for walking... especially on a golf course.

So allow me to introduce myself. My name is Karen. I’m 27, I live in Adelaide, South Australia and in January 2017 I weighed 147.9 kilos.

For anyone who thinks that by having gastric bypass surgery I’m taking the easy way out, I ask you to exit stage right, because it’s absolutely the hardest thing – emotionally, physically and mentally – I’ve ever done.

Clearly another stealth shot. Source: Supplied

Or better yet, stick around and I’ll show you how “easy” this really is.

My whole adult life I’ve always been the “funny one” or the “loudest” in the group. I’ve always made sure I’m dressed impeccably, have the best make-up application and always smell like the David Jones perfume counter.

I tried way too hard to take away from the fact that I was, let’s be honest, huge.

I needed to be someone else. “She always smells nice” “Your make up looks so nice!” “Oh, that top is pretty” rather than, “Did you see that girl? She’s huge. Poor thing.”

You have to admit the make-up is flawless. Source: Supplied

So for years I was in denial, much like many people in my position. I didn’t have a serious problem. I watch My 600lb Life and I’m nowhere near that big, right?? I can still buy clothes online! I don’t even need to sew clothes together to make them fit… yet.

I always had the best intentions to lose weight, and don’t we all? "Monday!" I’d say. “I’m going to start on Monday!”. And I had several Mondays. I just never really acted on them.

Please look at my lashes, not the rest of me. Source: Supplied

I always had an excuse and I became quite a good liar when it came to my weight problem. I could talk my way out of anything.

But I wasn’t anywhere near rock bottom yet.

In May of 2015 I travelled from my home town of Adelaide to Sydney to surprise my cousin and best friend, Amy, for her 25th birthday. I was so excited. I hadn’t been to Sydney much and I was really looking forward to spending some time with her.

I had to see family I hadn’t seen in 10 years. Then, the scariest part of all, I had to face Amy and she would see how much I had let myself go – you can’t tell my size by speaking on the phone.

I knew she wouldn’t care if I were three times my size, but the anxiety behind something as simple as seeing my best friend became my idea of hell.

I had to find an outfit, and get on the plane. I’m not afraid of flying – I was afraid of the airline seats!

I made it. That's Amy on the far right. Source: Supplied

By that December I took out private health insurance. In March 2016 I bit the bullet (and didn’t eat it…) and made an appointment with a surgeon in Adelaide.

I took my mum with me and while I was sitting in the waiting room, I was sweating, I was nervous – I was sure I had made a mistake, and I was seriously overwhelmed.

In a little over four months’ time I would go into Flinders Private Hospital and have laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery.

Before that, though, I had some serious pre-op work to do...

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