My name is Jennie Larsson and I’m 46 years old. I live in Malmö and have three children. I am work as a social worker in a small municipality outside Malmö.
I think I’ve been overweight all my adult life and tried to lose weight with various weight lose methods, done proper efforts at the gym with more or less successful results. However, all the attempts have resulted in me regaining weight after some time.
A relative of mine decided to do a sleeve gastrectomy and that’s how I started wondering about whether this could be something for me. My body was so tired and exhausted. I was constantly tired. As the maximum I weighted 144 kg to my 174 cm. I slept badly because I snored a lot and often woke up in the morning with a headache.
I wrote a self-referral and was invited to a group meeting in Kristianstad in May 2019. The meeting became extremely important to me in many ways. I realized things about myself that I haven’t been aware of before. When I was at the group meeting and I was waiting for it to start, I looked around. Everyone in the room were bigger models and I didn’t stand out in any way at all. To my surprise I discovered that it was quite nice, not to stand out. That everyone looked like me more or less. This is not something I have thought about in any context before, but I became aware of this at the meeting, that I apparently somewhere deep inside felt that I was ashamed and embarrassed because of my size.
At the meeting they also said some wise words that I have carried with me ever since, including that a person suffering from obesity is not a bad and characterless person. I was surprised about how big of an impact this had on me. I then became aware of how much guilt and shame I felt because of my overweight. Furthermore, I was told “go into the surgery room, proud and with a straight back …”and I have taken that with me!
I’m proud that I’m taking responsibility for my health! I have also stopped apologizing and being ashamed of myself.
I had the surgery on August 28th, 2019 and then I was on sick leave and stayed home from work for a month. I felt very good after the surgery and have not had any complications at all.
However, I was a little concerned the first time I was eating after the surgery. 1 cup yoghurt that I ate with a teaspoon. I never thought I’d be able to eat that deciliter of yoghurt! Slowly, slowly controlled, with patience and by following the instructions I received, it soon got better and better. The time I was on sick leave, I needed to get into the routines of how to drink and eat. At first I felt like I had barely stopped eating when it was time for the next meal. In the beginning I also had to set an alarm on the phone so I wouldn’t forget. I also taught myself to eat breakfast, something I haven’t done since my teens.
Now a year after the surgery, the routines are stabile and now I get hungry in the morning and relatively evenly throughout the day too. I can sometimes forget to drink as I should, which results in me getting a reminder pretty quickly as my mouth gets dry as paper and I get hungry if I don’t drink in the way I should. It also makes me start snacking. That’s why I bring my water bottle everywhere.
I try not to focus so much on what foods I cannot eat after the surgery or on what is hard. The benefits have been huge for me. But of cource there are some disadvantages (although the benefits outweigh them). Bread is one thing that I can’t eat after surgery. I really like bread for breakfast. I solved this by baking my own little mini graham rolls that I put in the freezer. The rest of the family are wrinkling their noses and claims it’s both dry and terrible, but I like my oven-warm mini rolls in the morning! I’m careful with eating eggs too, because it does not feel good in the stomach. There are some other things that I cannot eat after the surgery either, but I just note that this is the way it is. (And maybe I have already eaten by part of those things over the years….)
I’ve experienced dumping a few times, which is good (but terrible in the moment) because then I’ve got to realize that “you can’t eat this” or “maybe you shouldn’t eat so much of this.” It’s about learning and learning what is right when it comes to the food. For example, I always eat on an assiette and I never take more than one portion.
Nowadays I have dumping extremely rarely because I now know pretty well what I can and can not eat. I don’t eat sugar if I can avoid it. I usually choose light products of things. Cakes, chocolates and sweets are no longer good (!!!!) That I would never have believed if anyone had told me this a year ago. The taste has changed a lot and I don’t think things that taste too sweet taste good anymore. I compose my meals in a completely different way today and I am much more aware of what I eat and what I choose not to eat. I have become aware of my body and how it feels in a completely different way than before I had the surgery. I have realized that I will always have to keep a little track of my diet, but I do not feel that I can not treat myself with something good. I can and do eat it, but not every day.
I work out at the gym a couple of times a week, but not to lose weight, but because I have an office job and sit down so much during the day, so it feels good to a little active.
One thing that has been challenging is the mental journey. Someone who hasn’t done a surgery like this might think it’s just a physical journey. No longer recognizing yourself when you look in the mirror is harder than you think. The surroundings might also start treating one differently after a large weight loss. It is important not to lose yourself, so I believe it is as a big inner mental journey as it is a physical one that I have been on.
Today, just over a year after my gastric bypass surgery, my weigh is 88 kg. I’m lively, sleep well at night and I no longer have trouble moving. The most important and sometimes toughest change has been that I have had to deal with my emotions in a different way than stuffing my head. Not eating when I’m sad, happy, angry, bored but instead fill my life with other things and learn how to handle life in a different way. I feel great and am so happy and not the least grateful that I got this opportunity to change my life. Besides my children, this is the best thing I’ve ever done.