This is how my life has changed as a result of my stomach surgery.

Praxedis Lämmle Nallaseth's weight had been a burden on her body and soul for a long time. That is why, at the age of 59, she chose to get stomach surgery. Did that make things simpler for her?

She recalls the first meal she ate after her gastric bypass surgery. The dinner was presented in four miniature bowls, each about the size of an egg cup. Risotto, broccoli, ground beef with brown gravy, and additional sauce on the inside. She was urged to set aside at least 20 minutes for this and to chew slowly. "It was delicious. And here's what astonished me: each bowl had a little bit leftover, and I didn't manage to finish it despite being completely full "According to Praxedis Lämmle,

Eating habits as a result of behavioral tendencies

Previously, such a portion would have acted as a "welcome from the kitchen" to her before the main meal. Because this is how the Zurich-based Swiss woman characterizes her eating habits: "too much, too oily, too sweet, too heavy in calories." "Tupperware was unnecessary for me. I was the Tupperware, and I was in charge of the leftover storage "According to the 66-year-old. "I realized why I was obese as I stood in front of the refrigerator late at night. Food served as a source of energy and relaxation for me." She believes it was the result of ingrained childhood tendencies. She ate when she was upset, such as when the neighborhood kids were bothering her.

In her late 30s, the mother of two and co-manager of the family business was obese, morbidly overweight. Her maximum weight was 113 kilograms, distributed over a height of 1.67 meters. It fluctuated depending on whether or not she was going through a crash diet or nutrition program. "My body was like an accordion, sometimes more, sometimes less spread out." What remained constant, on the other hand, was her husband's support. "He never made me feel like my being overweight bothered him or that my diets were bugging him. He just went along with everything."

A load on both the body and the soul

Her weight becomes a burden on her body over time, placing strain on her joints, causing high blood pressure, and making her sweat even when doing simple tasks like putting on stockings. The dumb sayings, gawking, and laughter, however, become a burden on her soul. "When the seat next to you is the only one left empty on a full train and people prefer to stand motionless, it's a bad feeling. It's awful when there are three of you in the elevator and it won't start because it's overcrowded, and someone comes out shaking their head."

She acquires a repertoire of strategies to avoid embarrassing or unpleasant situations: She sits on chairs only if they don't have armrests, for fear of getting stuck. In group photos, she almost always poses sideways so that her full broadside isn't in the picture for comparison with others. She cuts the size labels out of new clothes after she buys them so that when she takes off her jacket, no one will spot the 56 in them and look stupid. If she has to pass through narrow turnstiles, she holds her bag in front of her stomach - if it gets stuck, she can pretend it's the bag's fault. "It's better than the embarrassing feeling of getting stuck because of your stomach," she says.

Praxedis Lämmle Nallaseth's family doctor merely put an information sheet with nutrition instructions into her hand when she went to see him for medical guidance on how to lose weight at the time. "It worked well at first, and I lost some weight. When I was anxious, however, I ate in excess more frequently." The doctor refers to her as a "hopeless case" at a follow-up consultation. She's scared he's correct, but she tries to laugh about it: "As a hopeless case, I had a doctor's explanation when a diet didn't work again."

When nutrition counseling and weight loss programs do not help

More years of sessions with nutritionists and new weight loss programs follow. In the long run, however, these only make for a lighter wallet. The fact that their eating behavior could also have psychological causes is not really addressed in any of the counseling sessions. "Everything revolved around food charts and control," she says.

Because she was stuck, Praxedis Lämmle Nallaseth went to a doctor who specializes in obesity in 2013. The specialist recommended stomach surgery. The Swiss woman declines. "At the time, I still thought surgery was a convenient solution, a sign of weakness. I wanted to prove to myself that I had enough willpower to lose weight on my own. Even though it had never worked until then." Another suggestion from the doctor: a drug for diabetic: ins, which Lämmle Nallaseth doesn't need, but which causes permanent mild nausea, which then affects eating behavior. "The very idea made me sick," she says.

A year later, she admits to herself that she really won't make it on her own. She opts for gastric bypass surgery. The then 59-year-old met all the requirements that exist in Switzerland for health insurance to cover the costs: no older than 65, a BMI greater than 35 plus concomitant diseases, at least two years of nutritional counseling under medical supervision.

This is how gastric bypass surgery works

During the surgical procedure, the stomach is cut off just behind the entrance to the stomach, leaving what is called a gastric pouch. This is connected directly to the middle part of the small intestine, bypassing the front part, hence the name bypass. The reduced stomach is only about the size of an espresso cup, little fits inside. In addition, the shortened intestine reduces the intake of calories as well as nutrients. After the operation, it is, therefore, necessary to take regular dietary supplements such as calcium, vitamin D3, and vitamin B12 to prevent deficiency symptoms - for the rest of one's life.

Lämmle Nallaseth's first thought after waking from anesthesia: "I let myself be mutilated." But shortly after, relief set in and the thought, "I'm finally going to lose weight permanently." She stresses, however, that gastric bypass surgery is not a cure-all. "Before the procedure, I was told that the psyche is not operated on as well. If you keep stuffing everything down your throat afterward until you feel sick, you won't lose weight permanently either. You have to be willing to listen to your body."

She did so, and within a year, she had lost 44 kg. However, there are a few snags. One probable side effect of the procedure is stenosis, which is a narrowing of the gastrointestinal channel due to scarring, which happened three times in Lämmle Nallaseth's instance. "I couldn't stop gagging, and I couldn't even swallow my spit at times." A tube was implanted under anesthesia to expand the confined region, providing relief.

A fresh perspective on life

Not only can the number of kilograms change as a result of the surgery, but so can one's outlook on life. Praxedis Lämmle Nallaseth has heard of women leaving their husbands when they become attracted to someone else. According to a Swedish study, the divorce rate of gastric bypass surgery patients is 41% three years following the procedure. Lämmle Nallaseth, on the other hand, is still married to her husband, who has been there for her through thick and thin.

But, in her view, something has changed "When I eat, I'm no longer embarrassed. I can finally enjoy it; it has transformed into something lovely." She also claims that she is no longer focused on food; formerly, her thoughts would continuously revolve around the next meal. She now focuses on what's on her plate in front of her, letting each bite melt on her tongue - partially because she has to chew them thoroughly.

The meals have grown larger over time, compared to the little bowls she was given following surgery; she can now eat a child's portion and maybe two spoonfuls of dessert. Her current weight is 64 kg, and she wears a size 38 or 40. She enjoys looking in the mirror since she is pleased with her appearance. She is unconcerned about the loose skin on her stomach, arms, and thighs that has resulted from her weight loss. "That's OK. My ambition was never to win a beauty pageant. I needed to lose weight, and I was determined to do it "she explains. It was about the same weight as 176 packages of butter. That was once calculated by her.

She doesn't regret the surgery, but she does regret that it took her so long to get around to it. "It's not a sign of weakness to get help - on the contrary. I wish I had realized this earlier."

Praxedis Lämmle Nallaseth gives talks about her personal path to gastric bypass surgery and the time afterward, among other things, at obesity support groups or at information days held by bariatric surgery clinics. 

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