#DailyLife | Blog 069 | Mental Health & Bariatric Surgery Project

February 16, 2020  •  1 Comment

My wife and I are embarking on a small joint project together, where I'll be tracking the progress of her bariatric sleeve surgery this month. I'm not only a wedding photographer, obviously, as you have probably noticed, for those who know me personally, you'll know I also dabble in the odd small film project too. This one, however, is a little closer to home.

We're currently sitting in Dublin airport waiting for our flights to Istanbul. This is the second time this week we've been in this airport, last week was to see Lewis Capaldi with our daughters, this week it's just me and Mrs Mark. Just like last week, we had to deal with a storm (Ciara), and this week we're dealing with Storm Dennis, as our first flight out to Frankfurt has been diverted away from Dublin and has instead gone on to Birmingham. With the power of technology, I was able to book us on to the next flight a full hour before any of my fellow passengers realised what was going on using the Lufthansa App and also the Flight Radar App. I could see the plane coming in from Germany had done a sharp u-turn back towards GB, that's when I hit the apps. I'll never let myself be at the mercy of the service desks, there's always going to be someone with less baggage than you who gets there faster. Work smarter, not harder, as I did. Sitting at the departure gate, watching the screen steadily increase our "Delayed by" time I got on with the process of securing the limited seats that would be available to get us to Frankfurt for our connecting flight to Turkey.

Why Turkey?

In short, it's just cheaper to get the surgery there. A growing number of medical centres offer the surgery that my wife is going for, plus with plenty of options to choose from when it comes to dealing with weight issues, Istanbul was an easy choice to make. The most common form of treatment that most people have heard of is the Gastric Band. This restricts the size of the stomach and reduces the amount of food you can take in, however, the long term issue with these is that they eventually expand and you can end up back where you began. My wife has chosen a more permanent option, the Gastric Sleeve. The procedure will cut away (and staple closed) 75% of her stomach so that it's essentially the size of a banana. The process also removes a lot of the chemicals involved in transmitting signals to the brain that tell you you're hungry, people have had to remind themselves to eat!

My wife is doing this as she feels that she's in a slow spiral of low self-esteem and her confidence is starting to gradually chip away due to her increasing weight. Having been at the point of wanting to take her own life a few years ago, she has been prescribed medication to help with her mental state and tackle that anxiety and depression, as well as insomnia. Some of the side effects of these medications are weight gain and thyroid issues, which also increases your weight. Not once have I ever made any negative comment about her weight, I'm her husband and I will gladly have her by my side no matter her size, than not have her at all. I saw what her mental state did to her, and it's frightening to witness, that the person you love the most in the world thinks that you'd be better off without them? That is the power of the mind, especially when it's ill.

Kathy (let's start using her name) opened up to her mental anguish on our first interview a few weeks ago, and we're going to be updating this on a weekly basis (where time permits). Below you can see what she's had to deal with:

https://youtu.be/YVxSneHr2PE

When someone you love is battling a demon you can't see, it can be really frustrating in working out how best to help in this situation, which is why we're doing this project together, to give not only those who are going through it some tools and information on how to get help but also the family members who are at a loss as to what to do for the best. 

In my dealings with Kathy, I simply had to listen, to let her know she wasn't alone in this, and that no matter how low she felt that she was not a burden, that life would definitely not be better without her. Imagine being a Mummy to two little girls and still thinking everyone would be better off without you being there? That's how anxiety and depression can mess with your reality. I wrote the 'Story' section of Kathy's Facebook page, which we're debating whether or not to change the name of, making it less targeted to one regional area and expanding it out globally. More on that over the next few days I guess.

UPDATE

We're now safely in Frankfurt, the rebooked flight managed to get off the ground before the worst of the storm hit Dublin. The weather in Germany is amazing and I couldn't be happier, as it looks extremely likely that we'll make it to Istanbul on time to meet our driver who has been tasked with picking us up. Not entirely sure where they're taking us, could be the hotel, or it could be the medical centre. But hey-ho, life's an adventure, isn't it?

In light of what's happening over this coming week, I'll be posting a blog update for those who want to know more about this surgery, and I'll discuss how my wife is coping with the nerves, the surgery itself, and the post-operative info as it transpires. Obviously this is a topic away from the norm, but I want to let you into what goes on behind the business, an insight to my life I guess? Feel free to comment and share, you don't know who might need to see this.

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Leanne Hughes(non-registered)
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