ADELE GROENEWALD – MY STORY
For as long as I can remember I have always been the ‘odd one out’; always the heavier one. My weight really started going up after I had left school. Even though I took part in sport and did a lot of walking, my weight just kept increasing until I eventually weighed nearly 160kg. I tried different diets and exercise programmes but to no avail; nothing I did seemed to help.
As a qualified nursing sister I’ve always been well aware of the health risks I faced due to being so overweight. At the age of 19 I was diagnosed with high blood pressure. A few years later I was also diagnosed with high cholesterol. Finding clothes and uniforms to fit was a problem.
For a long time it felt as though my opinions were just not important. Any suggestions I made would be ignored. This made me believe that I wasn’t good enough and that nothing I had to say was of any importance to anyone. Yet, on many occasions, I was the one expected to make sacrifices for the comfort of others. One embarrassing moment happened on a plane: I was allocated a seat at the emergency exit but the stewardess told me that I was not allowed to sit there since I needed an extension for the seat belt. I was made to move to a smaller seat much to the inconvenience of the person sitting next to me. I felt so humiliated. It seems ironic to me that the bigger I got and the more visible I became physically, the less visible I became as a human being. People just saw me as an inconvenient object that got in the way; my thoughts and feelings just didn’t count.
MY DECISION TO HAVE BARIATRIC SURGERY
For a number of years now I have worked with a doctor who used to assist on bariatric surgery cases. One day we had a patient admitted to the trauma unit because of the problems caused by her being overweight. The doctor said that if she wanted her health problems to get better she needed to lose weight. Later that day I asked the doctor whether he thought I would qualify to have gastric bypass surgery. He asked me to work out my BMI and it was way above 40! He told me what I needed to do, so I went to all the doctors I needed to get motivation letters from and then made an appointment with Dr Du Toit. The doctor I work with had explained how the surgery is done but my medical aid initially declined my application saying they didn’t cover treatment/surgery for obesity. I knew I needed to do something; if I didn’t my weight would probably have kept on increasing. Although I was nervous at first about having the surgery, because I worked in the medical field it was very clear to me that the surgery worked and not only did people who’d had it lose a significant amount of weight, they also kept the weight off. It was a long journey but after 3 years of hard work by Dr Du Toit, Dr Augusta Dorning (hospital manager), and my line manager, Matron Lomax, motivating for me to have the surgery, the medical aid finally agreed to pay for it and I had my surgery in October 2012. The liquid diet before and after surgery was a bit of a challenge and I did experience some pain directly after surgery, mainly due to the gas in my abdomen.
Surgeon: Dr Gert du Toit