This was the best
decision of my life


{slider So we just wanted to get some insights into how the gastric banding procedure has changed your life for the better hopefully.  Can you tell me a little bit what life was like before the procedure, what encounters you had and so on.}
Okay.  Well before I had the procedure I was quite fit in my early days, used to do a lot of surfing …

{slider So Stephen, could you tell us a little bit about what life was like before the procedure.}
My life before the procedure, there was nothing wrong with it.  I was really active when I was lot younger, early 20s, surfing and the whole bit, loved the Gold Coast lifestyle.  Started a career about 24 and got a pretty good job, put all my effort to work really, didn't focus on myself at all.  Long hours at work meant junk food for dinner.  Just in a really, really bad rut.  Just woke up to myself one day and said "no, this has go to stop".  Looking back now the extra weight I was carrying was the size of a 20 kilo bag I was putting on a plane this morning, I've lost 40 kilos, so that was two of those bags and I lugged that into the boot of my car and just thought "wow".  So life definitely wasn't bad but I'm enjoying it so much more now.

{slider So you've lost, can you tell me again the weight loss.}
46 kilos …
I've lost 46 kilos to date.  It's been just over 12 months but I decided early on that it wasn't gong to be a race.  So yeah, obviously I've got a bit more to go, I've got about 20ks more to go before I get to my goal but yeah, I'll get there.

{slider So what's the weight loss you've experienced?}
I've lost 46 kilos in the 12 months.  Obviously I've got another 20 to go but it was never going to be a race.  Just wanted to fit it in with my lifestyle and the procedure really has fitted in, it hasn't changed too much at all.  So yeah, it's definitely a lifelong decision, it wasn't anything that was going to happen overnight and yeah, don't regret anything.

{slider What about friends and family, interactions with other people or experiences before …}
Before, look to be honest friends and family they all cared but it was all opinions, why didn't I try this, why didn't I do that.  Nothing ever worked.  You'd end up on a cycle where you'd take five off and put six on.  It just didn't work for me.  So I really had to sort of step it up and change.

{slider You said that you woke up one day and said "no, this is enough, I've got to do something to change", what do you think it was that made you feel like that, what was the trigger?}
I think it was the birth of my niece.  I'm very close to my sister.

{slider Can I ask you to go back and say "the trigger was …}
The trigger for me to decide was probably the birth of my niece.  I'm very close to my sister, being that I travelled so much with work, yeah, I just needed to be around her to watch Tegan grow.  So that was the main kick, plus I was doing long hours at work, I was always exhausted.  I'd sleep a whole day on Sunday because I was just too exhausted to do anything.  So yeah, value for life, quality of life, had all this money couldn't enjoy it, spend it, couldn't travel, all of those sort of things, it was enough was enough.

{slider So you mentioned that you obviously made the decision to go for the gastric band, what made you decide that over other procedures and what research or findings did you have about other procedures before?}
Okay, when I realised that I needed to do something of course I got on the internet and spoke to a few people but there wasn't sort of much around on lap band or that sort of procedure where I could go and talk to.  So I went to an information session at Dr (6.09)'s clinic and it was probably another 12 months after that before I decided that really that's probably the option for me.  I wasn't, I've never been in hospital, I've never had surgery before, so that was a bit of a concern to start with.  So I thought I'd stick it out with the Tony Fergusons and all the other diets, Lite 'N Easy.

{slider So if you can go back you tried other things.}
Okay, so I've tried the diet shakes, all the packaged foods, the home delivery to the house, trying to make it easier for me but it just wasn't working.  I think I was doing really well one week, go out on a weekend and yeah, I'd never catch up.  So I suppose the real turning point was I saw an information brochure, it was actually left on a plane and I read that and consequently that afternoon I got on another plane and I actually had to ask for an extender belt for the seat belt and that sort of put the … so that really started it and then I called up the clinic and got an appointment and it all happened in a matter of weeks, it was so easy.

{slider Can we redo that about the extender belt because I think that's a really good piece that a lot of people must experience and feel the same.  So if we could just go back and you could say "a turning point for me was taking a flight needing an extension belt and I realised I needed to (8.08)".}
Okay, because I was travelling a lot for work it involved travelling with groups of people to and from Melbourne where our head office and one afternoon I sat with the guys like we always do but ( and) the seat that I was in I couldn't d up the belt.  So I didn't know what to do so I had to whisper in a flight attendant's ear and she was really accommodating and she got me an extender belt and that was probably the longest trip, my mates of course didn't say anything but for me that was two hours of just constant turning over in my head "what have I done, why am I doing it, I've got to stop this".  So I said from then on that I would never wear an extender belt again and now I can even get in a chair, I can get on the plane and just do up the belt as it is and don't even have to think about it.  The first time that it actually happened that recurred for weeks and weeks after thinking "oh my God I've got to go away for work, I'm going to have to sit in a plane, is the seat going to fit, do I need to fly premium economy, do I need to do this, do I need to do that".  So it was always in the back of my head the night before I'd travel "am I going to suffer the same experience".

{slider "Since the gastric band procedure I now find I've got no issues travelling", take it from that place.}
Since the gastric banding procedure I never even think about it now.  I've just flown internationally, I've got another flight for New Zealand, it's not even an issue.  I just jump on a plane and go.

{slider So you mentioned that's obviously a big part of your day to day life flying and travelling and the challenge, your weight before.  What other kind of challenges did you find before that you don't have now, how have you seen an improvement?}
One of the biggest challenges was probably shopping for clothes.  I like clothes, I like branded clothes and they just don't come in 48 plus.  So buying something 122 centimetres around your waist just doesn't happen.  So now I don't have to do that, I can take stuff off the rack, whether it be 38, whether it be 40, it's not down to a 36 where I will be but I can even shop on eBay now and pick up all the bargains for $5.

{slider What would you say to somebody who was considering a gastric ban procedure or lap band?  Part of the reason that people don't go for it or hold back is … One of the things we hear a lot is patients are put off by the idea of surgery.  I know you mentioned that that was the case for you.  How would you say you overcame that and the reality of experience afterwards, was it better than you had expected with the recovery, good etc, was it quick?}
Okay, the biggest hurdle with the surgery for me was actually getting …

{slider So I was asking you about the effects of the fact that it's surgery, your impressions before versus the reality and how was the experience?}
Before I had the surgery I spent some time at the clinic and they explained the whole procedure but that really didn't make me, I'm not going to say that that sealed my confidence.  What I decided to do was to do it as quick as possible because I realised that nothing was going to get better if I kept going.  So I booked the date and of course I had all the nerves going into the surgery.  After it was all over and honestly it was all over in a matter of hours.  The longest part of the whole experience was going down to theatre, being my first experience, the team were awesome, never had a concern or a problem and woke up a few hours later and it was all over.  The next two weeks I'm not going to say were easy, it was a bit of a struggle but it was surgery but after that your whole, after the surgery was finished it probably took about two weeks and my mind sort of adjusted in that time.  There was very little time I needed to be off work, only a day really and I could function as normally.  Of course you've got stitches so you have to sort of take care of those but yeah, whether it was the implant, the surgery or what but something changed up here and it was the start of something new for me and it was all just part of the ride, but if surgery is anyone's biggest concern about this procedure it's only one two weeks of what could be a better part of your life.  So it really has to be one of the smallest issues, the smallest concerns because the team that I had, whether I was lucky or not were absolutely awesome.

{slider One of the things I'm asking everybody today is about food and one of the big fear factors with respect to patients is that they're never going to be able to enjoy food ever again, I'm not going to be able to eat anything and all my favourite things I'm not going to enjoy anymore.  So what would you say, what kind of foods you enjoyed before but you can still enjoy now?}
With work and a busy schedule, always away eating a lot of junk food and eating at a lot of restaurants, I thought that was the first thing that was going to have to stop but once I experienced it week after week it just got a bit easier.  The biggest thing and the easiest or the simplest thing I can say to anybody is that your food choices don't really change, I have McDonald's, if I want McDonalds but I'll only have two chips and a few bits of a hamburger and I'm totally satisfied.  If I want ice cream, instead of having half a litre I have two spoons, totally satisfied.  Because I've been on so many diets before and so many prepared things and shakes and all of that sort of stuff I suppose that's why I'm probably so positive about this is because nothing really has changed.  You do have to watch some foods, steak doesn't really go too well with me, never puts me in any risk or anything like that but it is a bit hard to chew and digest but to accommodate that if I'm having steak, I usually have steak when I'm out I make sure I'm with a group of people, make sure that the conversation is flowing, so to eat a steak might take 10 minutes at home by yourself but with your mates it might take half an hour and that seems to work for me.

{slider One of the things I'm interested in is how you feel in yourself after the gastric banding procedure and the results that you've managed to get from it.  How does it change how you feel in yourself and how does that reflect in your daily life?}
After the surgery and like I said I'm about 12 months into it now.  You'd think that I'd walk past a mirror and go "wow, everything looks fantastic" but for me it's not really about that, like I haven't weighed myself except through appointments.  I just don't do that, I can tell by the size of clothes and how things are fitting if I'd doing well or if I'm not doing well.  To me I suppose the biggest thing that's changed is my sense of being, my health.  I can do much, much more, I can run around the park with the dog, I can go out for dinner and end up at a casino and a club until 2.00 or 3.00am in the morning and still front up for work the next day.  Whereas before the surgery it would have taken me two or three days to get over a 10 hour trip.  Before the surgery it would have taken me a lot longer to get over my week's work and now I can fit my week's work, all the socialising I need to do and go away for the weekend and just take it in my stride.

{slider So in terms of health how has your health improved from before?}
One of the considerations before having the surgery was that I did have high blood pressure.  My mother had a slight case of high sugar so she being concerned talked me into going to the doctor and he said "yeah, well if things continued I would be in a high risk category".  I think I went back to the doctor, it would have been no more than four weeks after the surgery and everything had returned to normal bands, so everything was fine.  I started probably a year before the surgery taking blood pressure tablets because I was getting a lot of headaches.  Two weeks after the surgery I haven't had one since.  I don't even think I've had a Panadol since I've had the experience, since I've had the procedure.

{slider And one of the things I'm interested in which I've asked everybody is their awareness of other procedures apart from the gastric band.  I know you said you went to an information session (20.15).  What research or awareness did you have on other procedures and what did you consider?}
The other procedures I considered was a sleeve, being that it was permanent and not that I had a phobia about doctors but I just didn't want to continually go back to the doctor for adjustments and I thought that would have sort of impacted my new life but that was a permanent procedure and you've got to have a bit of willpower to get this and realise your accomplishments.  So I didn't think the sleeve was the right thing to do.  Staples, I looked into staples but just the word staple, something really foreign and metal or whatever the staple is made of inside altering your body permanently was something that I didn't really want to do and I just thought after I spent some time with the clinic I thought that the lap band procedure would be less evasive, minimal scarring, it would be in and out of hospital in a day and for me that was the best option.

{slider What would you say to anyone that was thinking about having a lap band?  Would you say you recommend it?  What would be your sort of one line statement about what it's done for you?}
Just do it, don't even think about it, just go straight ahead and do it.

{For anyone that's thinking of having the lap band procedure …}
For anybody who's thinking of having lap band procedure don't even think twice, just go ahead and do it.  The benefits far outweigh any minor struggles you have in the beginning.


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