Tackling weight-loss surgery – Part Two

If you haven’t read part 1 yet, click on THIS link first.

It’s been three and a half months since my husband Alan and I flew out to Istanbul on a cold January morning for our Gastric Bypasses. It’s been exactly 106 days since the day of both our surgeries, and how are we doing? Amazing so far!

Let’s break this down a bit…

Surgery date: 14th January 2021
Starting weight for Tiffany: 139.3kg
Tiffany’s BMI: 48.2 (Morbidly Obese)
Starting weight for Alan: 200.1kg
Alan’s BMI: 57.8 (Super obese)

Today’s date: 1st May 2021
Tiffany’s weight: 107.3kg
Tiffany’s BMI: 37.1 (Severely Obese)
Alan’s weight: 151.6kg
Alan’s BMI: 43.8 (Morbidly obese)

Are we there yet? Not even half way there yet.

Will we ever get there? Of course we will.

So how did the recovery go you might be asking?

I’m not gonna lie, the first 2 weeks were tough and the first 2 days especially were hard, but we’re not even at the end of the road yet, and I can already say it was all worth it. If you asked me on January 15th however, I would have said that this wasn’t worth the pain I was going through that day. If you asked me a week later, I also would have said it wasn’t worth the pain and complete lifestyle changeover, however now that the pain has subsided, and the intake is food again and not just liquids, I don’t just see the light at the end of the tunnel, but I’m already out of the tunnel heading towards the ultimate destination.

Since this is a laparoscopic surgery, part of it is that they put a substantial amount of gas inside your stomach area so it can swell up so the surgeon will have more room to work within. This gas isn’t extracted in the end, so you need to either pass it or burn it through walking and exercise. This seems an easy enough task to do – but you don’t control the gas. It can travel to wherever it wants to. For me, that meant all over my back and shoulder which was already painful having it there, when you felt it actually moving from one side to the other it felt so much worse. Alan’s gas pain on the other hand stayed within his stomach and left-side areas but were just as painful.

Because of the fact that my gas was causing a lot of pain in my back, I was asked to get out of bed within 45 minutes of me getting out of surgery. I was still a bit woozy form the anaesthesia of course, which meant my stability and coordination was too far gone for me to take even two steps alone, however even standing up and walking a couple centi meters meant that pressure was not put on my back anymore and felt better than being laid down in bed facing up.

About half an hour after I was walking around in my room, I heard a lot of commotion coming from the corridor and me being the curious self I went to check what was going on, only to find Alan being wheeled back to his room. I would never forget his face the minute he saw me standing there by the door and realised we both made it out alive. It was a happier, much more relieved face than when I saw 4 years earlier walking down the aisle.

Alan just as he arrived back in his room after the operation. (PS. He only found out that such a photo exists today!)

Then came the abundance of questions from Alan! – Whether I was fine, if my surgery went well, if his surgery went well, if I could inform his mother that he’s out of surgery as he couldn’t even remember where he put his phone before, how come I was up and walking unaided already and most of all he kept saying that he kept asking for me ever since they woke him up in the operating theater but no one would answer him or give him any information about how my surgery went (Now for those of you asking yourselves why the hospital wouldn’t rest his mind that I was fine and already in my room walking around since they knew we were there together and married, well that’s because he kept asking them in Maltese and obviously no one was even understanding what he’s saying – probably he forgot he was in Turkey for a minute until the anaesthesia wore off a bit!

Alan on the other hand was eager to get up and walk after a couple of hours, however he had to lay down flat on his back, which was uncomfortable for him, because his anaesthesia took longer to wear off and it wasn’t safe for neither him nor the nurses to help him up since he was over 200kg back then. Imagine if he was about to fall over whilst walking, no nurse would be able to hold him up not to injure either of them. So he had to wait till the anaesthesia completely wore off, then night-time was approaching and we had to stay in bed with our legs wrapped around a vibration device to combat any possible signs of DVT (deep vein thrombosis). Which meant that the next morning as soon as they took off this device, Alan wanted nothing more than to simply stand up and take a couple of steps.

You’re encouraged to walk as much as you can – so within the hospital ward itself you see a lot of people walking up and down the corridor. This allows your body to burn the gas from the surgery, as well as keep your mental health in check since you’re confined to a closed space for about five days.

No description available.
Few minutes before surgery

Last time, when I published the first part of this blog, a lot of you were asking me where we got our Gastric Bypass at, and our answer to that is at the amazing Irmet Hospital in Turkey. We landed in Istanbul, they picked us up at the arrivals at the airport, drove us the 45 minute car ride to the hospital, and took us back to the airport on our last day.

The staff there has been nothing but amazing. The nurses all speak a little bit of English, but they are also quick to whip out their phones and use google translate if you can’t understand them. You will also have the services of your coordinator who is the person that follows your process from your first contact with the hospital, all the way till the end, even after the surgery is done and you return home and months passed, that person will ask you how your journey is doing, etc. You will also have a translator during the day and this translator will be there every time the surgeon comes in to checks on you. Our surgeon, Dr. Ali Tardu used to come to visit us at least once a day, even on his days off he came in just to check on us and his post-op patients.

No description available.
Alan & I, the day after surgery

The hospital also has its own in-house nutritionist that specialises in nutritionist after weight loss surgery. You will also get a one on one session with this nutritionist.

Their driver is also available, and we know of people who were taken to a nearby shopping mall when they felt good enough to go out and wanted to go to the mall.  We didn’t, however we did go down to their yard for some fresh air, and the nurse assigned to us on that day came with us in case we need any assistance since both of us were 3 days post-op by then, and if one of us slips on the snow covered ground, it’ll be difficult for the other to help out as our stitches were still healing of course.

We also didn’t feel like we were in a hospital.  It felt more like a hotel.  Our rooms included a wardrobe, a mini-fridge, a private bathroom with a walk-in shower, linen and towel change twice a day, a comfortable sofa that pulls out as a sofa-bed (Alan’s room was slightly smaller so instead of a sofa like I had, he had a recliner chair which he found much more comfortable).  Each room is also equipped with high speed internet as well as a TV with Netflix on it.  Check out the video below to see how my room looked like;

When it came to choosing Irmet Hospital, this didn’t come naturally of course as we didn’t know anything about this hospital before. We were only seeing their website and hearing both the good and the bad from this hospital online, so naturally we were looking at a variety of different hospitals from a year before. At one point we had a list of around 60 hospitals and clinics which were highly rated in Turkey and were narrowing them down one by one.

We first eliminated the ones who were expensive enough to not be worth doing it in Turkey when compared to the price in Malta. We then eliminated the ones too far out from Istanbul as we wanted to keep it to one flight only and within a 2-hour drive of the airport. Then we eliminated the ones that were way too cheap that they seemed like they’ll skimp on something essential. We also eliminated those clinics who will keep you overnight for one night, then transfer you to a nearby hotel as we weren’t too keen on that. We then eliminated the couple of clinics/hospitals who’s coordinator wasn’t that fluent in English as we felt that at least this person should be our main point of contact if staff at the hospital didn’t speak English. Then we even eliminated one hospital who seemed a bit dodgy. The coordinator from this hospital kept messaging me and pressuring me to book and it looked like he was in a hurry to close a sale, he even went as far as to find me (and try to add me) on Facebook. When that happened, I deleted the hospital he represented from our list straight away.

We were then left with 5 hospitals and clinics from this list, and we had chosen one of them, which wasn’t Irmet. Then tragedy struck, and we heard that a Maltese person died in one of the obesity clinics in Turkey. We’re not sure what happened, but the story was that he gulped down water a few hours after surgery which perforated his stomach and the clinic couldn’t find a hospital that had an Intensive Care Unit to take him in which resulted in this poor soul to die. When that happened, we cancelled our plan for the clinic we had chosen and eliminated 4 out of the 5 left on our list simply because they did not have an ICU available in-house and we didn’t want to take that risk with our lives. So we were down to one hospital- IRMET.

We did a bit more digging around about this hospital to address the negative feedback which we have seen (although I must say, this was in the minority), we quickly learnt that the complaints we saw about this hospital were about one particular bariatric surgeon and Irmet had already tackled this by firing this surgeon for not following the hospital’s surgical guidelines and standards. The fact that they took these complaints which we had seen from others seriously, within a very short time-frame and has addressed them in a way to never risk the hospital’s reputation or the patient’s health was exactly the kind of hospital we wanted to be in.

We still weren’t convinced, so we asked around on the Maltese bariatric support group on Facebook and to our surprise, one of Alan’s old friends reached out and told us that she had done the Mini Gastric Bypass a few months before at Irmet and couldn’t recommend them enough.  She graciously agreed to meet us for a coffee and we both bombarded her with questions for around two hours, to which she answered each and every one of them with her own experience.  We were so grateful and so impressed with her experience that we paid our deposit for the surgeries and booked our flights that same evening.

Do we regret choosing Irmet? Definitely not.

Would we choose Irmet again? Hell Yeah!

Tiffany