Any time I felt nervous about the prospect of things going terribly, terribly, terribly wrong I would reassure myself that I am most likely the youngest and lightest person in the trial.
N and I had been talking (about weight loss, what else? No, no, I kid, sometimes we talk about law. Sometimes.) and I had told her I was considering lap band. Imagine multiple metaphors where I push enormous stones up hills or swim against the tide toward a beach and we can pretty well skip the rest of the conversation. I had gone so far as to sign up for top cover with a health insurer with a view to going ahead with the operation in 12 months time. I'd applied for a loan from my bank to see if it would be possible to go ahead sooner. My GP was willing to give me the referral but was encouraging me to wait the 12 months and to see an endocrinologist who specialised in weight loss in the meantime.
N msg'd me and told me to call a surgery about a clinical trial - she had already called them and made an appointment for the following week. At the time I was 109, 107 on a good day (read: dehydrated after drinks the night before). I was able to determine with some gentle prodding that I needed to have a BMI of 40 on the day of the first appointment or I would be excluded. I assumed at the time that it was going to be an efficacy study of lap band which was perhaps naive given how long the procedure has been about. I calculated my BMI to be 39.4 on that day.
There was no way I was letting an opportunity like this pass me by.
So I ate.
For the first time in my life I could eat anything, at any time, in any quantity with absolutely no regard for my weight. In fact, I was slightly nervous that I would not be heavy enough.
Irresponsible? Maybe. Fuck off, lol.
Ultimately I scraped through. At my first consult with the surgeon he asked me to confirm my BMI and weight. I didn't look 112kgs, he said. I keep it packed around my liver and in my tits, you see.
Getting bloods done to confirm our suitability for the trial we were able to identify other candidates in the waiting room from their telltale boxes of vials. There was something like 15 vials to fill. It would have been less than a normal blood donation but it looked enormous. Many of these other women (no men that day) were mothers with small children crawling over them, sticky and enthusiastic, others seemed to be late 40's, vibrant lipstick, booming voices and strong opinions. Scarf wearers. Fuck, if there is one sort of fat woman I don't want to be, it's one of those. This fat archetype sits second on my list of fat stereotypes I do not want to be, directly after Sweaty-Dim-No bra-No shoes: The Caboolture fatty.
This is when I realised my prospects of success were probably quite good, being young, healthy and relatively light. My willingness to abuse diet drugs helps too I guess.
Saturday I went shopping - I wanted sundresses for Germany. I noted that my larger scar was tender and puffy. It was a darker red, almost purple and I thought I could see pus under skin. I was basically shitting myself. I had been cocky and the universe was punishing me.
I went to the GP and waited for 2 hours. I reassured him that the opening at the end of the scar was standard, and had been viewed by my surgeon. He poked the scar, made thoughtful noises, and then prescribed me antibiotics "just in case". I went back to my strategy of feeding the scar with positive thoughts.
That night I spread out my dresses to show K and A. Going to my room to try one on to show the girls, I took off my hoodie and t shirt. As I pulled it over my head I felt cold dampness - there was pus all over the inside of my shirt. I was frozen in place with my shirt halfway over my head when A found me. She calmed me down and encouraged me to take a shower. Under warm water, gently pressing my stomach, more and more was coming out of the opening at the end. I was certain it was all over.
The literature they gave us to read over before consenting to go ahead with the study outlines risk. In an earlier trial they had concerns about the effectiveness of the method of attachment. A number of participants were operated on a second time to confirm the implant was still correctly attached. In all cases the implant was successfully reattached or it was confirmed the implant had been correctly attached all along. One participant developed an infection after the second surgery and ultimately her bowel was perforated and she had to use a colostomy. The implant was removed.
I was sure this all meant that I was destined to shit in a bag for the rest of my life.
On Sunday I realised that a second part of the scar had opened. Visions of the whole fucker undoing like a zip and my entrails unraveling into my bedsheets while I slept.
One of the receptionists from the surgery reassured me this was a good thing and all the shit inside had to get out and then it would close again. I was certain I was rotting from the inside out like a ripe avocado filled with black putrid flesh when you slice it in half. My organs were liquefying and would drip out of my scar. On this day I realised my dettol cream expired in 2007.
I've completed the course of antibiotics and I'm in Germany. S took me to the chemist to translate for me so I could get more dressings. The pharmacist encouraged me to see a doctor if the scar had opened.
In the shower, nothing more comes out of either openings. The skin around the scar is pink instead of red. The second opening as well as the first are shorter and don't gape. It's possible that there was an abscess in there the whole time waiting to let go. I prefer this scenario because I can reassure myself that it has done what it needs to do and it is resolving now. The circle of life. You know, for abscesses. Or whatever.
It's been a week since I weighed myself.
Start weight: 112.5
Current weight: 105
Weight lost: 7.5
LT goal weight: 75
ST goal weight: 99