‘Gastric band surgery wasn’t a quick fix- I spent my twenties obese and unhappy’ - Irish mum (35) on losing nine stone after weight loss surgery
An Irish woman who underwent gastric band surgery after exhausting every option to lose weight has said people are ignorant about the complexities of the surgery and often tell her it was a “quick fix”.
Dublin mum Audrey Greene (35) made the decision to undergo the procedure after struggling with her weight throughout her twenties. At her heaviest, Audrey weighed 18.5 stone (117kg).
“The majority of people think that gastric band surgery is a quick fix and they say it to me too. It makes me want to kill them.
“The reality is that going under aesthetic as an obese person is quite a big risk. There are complications that can occur that can result in death. I don’t think that can be described as ‘the easy way out’ or ‘a quick fix’. People don’t understand what it entails, and they also don’t understand that you’ve exhausted every other option trying to lose this weight. It drives me mad,” said Audrey.
In 2008, six months after she welcomed her second child Timmie (8), Audrey borrowed the €10,000 she needed to have the surgery in Birmingham. The procedure involves placing a silicon band around the upper part of the stomach, making its capacity significantly smaller.
“I had heard of people having bypasses and gastric bands before, but they were all celebrities. I thought it was something that mostly the rich and famous do.
“I almost died when I saw the price, €10,000, and I thought I’d never be able to afford it. It was weighing on my mind but I was getting so sick of being fat and struggling," she said.
Audrey, who is mum to Charlie (10) and Timmie (8), admitted that while the surgery was painful, it was the mental aftermath that was the toughest part of the process.
“It was a very short, simple procedure really but I wasn’t prepared for what came after it. It was quite painful but I what I found more difficult was changing my mindset. My portions had to go down dramatically, I could no longer physically fit them in my stomach.
“My brain still was in the mindset of ‘I want to eat everything’ and it was hard. Before the surgery I honestly never felt full. I could eat and eat and still want more and it was a big change to go from that to having such small portions,” she said.
For the past five years, the picture framer has maintained her nine stone (57kg) weight loss but admitted she is more self conscious now, than when she was almost 19 stone.
“I’m actually a bit more self-conscious now than I was when I was heavy. I feel like I always have to maintain this weight and people will judge me if I don’t. It’s a pressure I feel, even though in reality nobody is watching my weight but me.
“It’s my biggest fear to go back to the size I was. You have these dreams where you wake up and you’re fat again, they’re terrible,” said Audrey.
The mum, who lives in Kiltegan in Wicklow with her young family, feels as though she “wasted” and important decade of her life being unhappy about her size.
“I remember there was a time I was in the park in Baltinglass with my new baby and I got stuck on the slide just a few inches from the top. There were a fair few people in the park, and I could not wedge myself out while holding him. I called out to my friends to take the baby and this older women said ‘I’ll hold him for you’. I pulled myself out eventually but it was ridiculous.
“The gastric band surgery was the last option, the last chance. I regret not doing it sooner because I wasted most of my twenties being fat and unhappy.”