After a life-threatening scare with thyroid cancer in 2013, interstate truckie Sonja White wasn’t about to push her luck and ignore the warning signs.
With her weight hovering around an uncomfortable 90kg, her cholesterol levels off the charts and her blood sugar markers fast pointing to diabetes and a life on insulin, White jumped at the chance to undergo a gastric bypass procedure.
Just under four months later the 51-year-old is adamant that the simple operation – an increasingly popular one with many mid-life truckies – has not only restored her quality of life, but also saved it.
In the first seven weeks alone after going under the knife she lost an impressive 11kg, and today is a relatively svelte 74kg, and closing fast on her goal weight of 53kg.
White said she now has more energy than ever before, is sleeping better and can manoeuvre around the K.S. Easter Transport cab she shares with two-up, and life partner, Craig Brumpton, with ease.
“I was going downhill real quick, but this has saved my life,” beamed White, who wanted to share her story to inspire others to follow suit.
She’s even started a Facebook support page with fellow driver Janette Spero called Sleeve Food For Truck Drivers to help others stay on track.
“I know a lot of truck drivers who have had the operation, either a sleeve or a bypass, and the amount of weight they’ve lost is really good, but I also know some drivers who have had the sleeve and put weight back on.
“Only because they’ve either given up smoking and started nit-picking on food, which is shit. If you have this operation, you’ve got to work with it and retrain your brain.”
For White that’s meant ditching her biggest weaknesses, such as iced coffees and other sugary treats, and replacing them with healthier options, like watermelon pieces, crackers and cheese, and slices of turkey.
She does feel fuller after just a few mouthfuls but is still getting used to having to take smaller bites and chew for longer.
“If you don’t it feels like you’re having a heart attack! The pain in the chest is unbearable.”
White said some roadhouses have been supportive of her new regime, but wishes there were more healthier choices for truckies.
“They don’t help, they really don’t. They need to play their part more and give us healthier choices.”
So what about the cost of a gastric bypass?
White paid for hers using her private health fund and offset the $7000 gap using the early release of super option available to those who qualify.
If you have no health fund and can’t get on a public hospital list, White said the procedure can cost as much as $18,000.
White recommends going the private health fund way but cautions that you must have the weight-loss policy going for at least 12 months before you can use it.
Even if you’re not considering following her lead and going under the knife, White implores truckies to consider making their health a priority in 2021.
“As everyone knows the main key is to eat right,” she said.
“Stay away from the deep-fried and fizzy shit, and drink more water. Everyone knows the right from the wrong.
“If you can just get up and walk around your truck a couple of times a day; just any sort of exercise all helps and will help the circulation in the legs.
“You hear of so many drivers passing away in truck from some sort of health condition. Get yourself checked out, and if you’re overweight, go and get help.”
What is a gastric bypass
Gastric bypass is a surgical procedure – usually performed by way of keyhole surgery – that can help people with obesity to lose weight and improve their health, according to healthdirect.gov.au.
It decreases the size of the stomach and changes the way the stomach and small intestine absorb food, making it easier to lose weight.
During the procedure, staples are used to create a small pouch in the top part of your stomach.
The pouch is attached by stitches to the lower part of your small intestine so food that you eat will bypass most of the stomach and the first part of the small intestine.
Less food will be absorbed into the body and you will feel full after eating only a small amount, adds healthdirect.