Lesley van Greunen – Bariatric surgery reversed my Type 2 diabetes

Lesley van Greunen tells us why she decided to have bariatric surgery six years ago and the great benefits that followed afterwards.

Lesley van Greunen (56) lives in Eastern Cape with her husband. She has a daughter and a deceased son.

Drastic change needed

For years, my weight went up and down and my health was deteriorating. At my heaviest I weighed 147kg. I had a number of health issues, such as Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure amongst others, and was taking a lot of medication, so I really wanted to reduce that, especially the insulin. For many years I was taking two oral tablets mornings and at night, 85 units of insulin.

I was given an estimate of two years to live unless I did something drastically. When hearing this, I made the decision to do something about my weight as I wanted to see my grandchildren one day.

Choosing bariatric surgery

After looking into my choices of how to lose weight, I decided to have bariatric surgery. I had to lose a minimum of 10kg before the surgery to prove that I was committed and serious about my weight loss journey. I think this was also to show that I could follow procedures and diet.

A diet was designed for me. I had to weigh in weekly, and after surgery I still needed to weigh in and adjust my diet. The weight loss is not instant.

The time frame of losing the 10kg varies from person to person. From start to finish, it took me four months.

Bariatric surgery is something you must really want and must really work hard for it. I believe you have to be ready psychologically as your mindset is imperative for this to be a success.

Roux-en-Y bypass 

After I had lost the 10kg, my surgery was planned for October 2015. I had the Roux-en-Y bypass. It’s done via keyhole surgery but is a big surgery. Thankfully my family were very excited for me and supported me 100% through the transformation.

Recovery and adjustment

Straight after surgery, my relationship with food changed. I battled to eat at first. I started by having teaspoon amounts at first. It took about three weeks to get into a routine and knowing what I can tolerate as my taste changed.

Meal size is so important after surgery and mindset. I still wanted to eat the same size meal, but it’s impossible. It took me a while to get used to it and this is why I believe you have to be ready psychologically. A month after surgery, I weighed 80 kg.

My diet changed drastically and my taste in foods. Some foods affected my taste and others the smell. I can only eat tiny amounts very often. If I eat or drink too much, I become very nauseous. It’s better to eat and drink separately not together.

I must say I miss sitting down and eating a big roast dinner or Christmas lunch. I still do that but in much, much smaller quantities. Sometimes I miss it.

Every day I have to think about what I can eat. I can never just eat what I want to, as gaining weight is very possible, even after the operation. This is a whole different way of living forever, if I don’t want to go back to what I looked like before. But so worth it.

Exercise afterwards took a few weeks to get into as I was still tender around the operation site. I found walking was the best for me.

Type 2 diabetes reversed

I had high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes among other health issues before the surgery. But in hospital all my diabetes medication was stopped and I haven’t used anything for six years. My blood glucose level never goes over 5. My blood pressure medication has also stopped and I have had no problems with it either.


My medical aid only paid for 80% of the procedure as it is elected, and classed as cosmetic. But, I’m feeling great and feel as if I have been given a new chance at life. I just wish I had done it years before.

Before bariatric surgery

Bariatric surgery reversed my Type 2 diabetes

After bariatric surgery

Bariatric surgery reversed my Type 2 diabetes