Zena Hassan made a life-changing decision to have bariatric surgery in a record five days. This happened during one of her routine check-ups with the doctor. “My doctor was concerned that my health was deteriorating as a result of being obese, which came with a myriad of health issues,” says Zena. “I was hypertensive and had hyperacidity, both of which were not getting better with drugs. Besides, I also suffered from sleep apnea and needed an oxygen machine called a continuous positive airway pressure to help me breathe while sleeping,” she explains.
Zena a mother of two and a caterer by profession wasn’t quite bothered by her weight and had resigned to her ‘fate’ like most people do when their efforts to shed off the extra kilos bear no fruit. “I had tried losing weight but it hadn’t worked for me. I had tried everything ranging from diet fads to exercise to injections to slimming pills in vain. When I was lucky, I would lose a few kilos only for them to come back with a vengeance,” explains Zena, who oscillated between 123kg to 130kg. Obesity is like a disease, we love food and we just keep eating, she says.
A visit to the doctor was the wake-up call that I needed, she says. “When the doctor told me I needed to do something urgently or else I would die, I chose life. I was tired of the endless hospital visits and all the pills I had to take to stay alive. And by the fifth day after our conversation, I was in India. I was lucky that I did not have to worry about the right medical center that I needed to go to or worry about the doctors who would be attending to me as Viva Serenity took that burden off my shoulders. They booked my flights and it was seamless from beginning to end. The counseling session was the most important for me and the only thing I now needed to think about during the entire process was getting better after my procedure,” says a content Zena.
“When I landed in India they received me so well. There were also many other people including children and senior citizens and I felt safe. The number of tests they do before the surgery is also reassuring,” explains Zena. “Theatre wasn’t a totally new experience for me as I had had two Caesarian Sections (CS) before,” she notes. When Zena came to, she found her husband by her side and assumed they had not carried out the procedure as she did not feel any pain. “Like my previous surgeries, I had expected to wake up in pain but this time was different. I did not have any pain,” explains Zena.
“I started losing the kilos immediately and by the time we left India, I was 15kg lighter!” she exclaimed. Her recovery was fast and in about two weeks after arriving back home, Zena was back to work. Her diet like those who undergo the procedure consisted of liquid foods.
Zena says she feels more confident now. “I feel like people treat you better when you are smaller,” she says. “There are those from my Muslim faith who were against it and said that I had ‘corrected’ God, not knowing my story. Majority, however, are supportive and I could not be happier,” says a happy Zena. “My health started looking up almost immediately and after about one and a half months after I came back, I would check my blood pressure every morning religiously and thankfully it kept getting better. The cardiologist got me off the hypertension drugs since my blood pressure had normalised,” explains Zena.
“I no longer needed the oxygen machine when sleeping. I also noticed my feet, which would swell when I was obese stopped swelling and the frequent headaches I experienced are now a thing of the past,” she says. “I have no regrets and the cost of bariatric surgery does not compare to the mental anguish and all the money I spent seeing doctor after doctor, the money I spent on drugs, not to mention all the different ways and methods I had to pay for in an attempt to lose weight,” she says. Two years after her procedure, at 83kg, Zena has achieved her optimal weight.