Jacky from Scotland
At 17 stone, I decided I couldn’t go on. I just knew I couldn’t face yet another diet and go through the same thing all over again. I was embarrassed by my size and the way it had started to impact on my life because it stopped me from being able to do the things I really wanted to do, such as skiing, with my son.
After surgery I lost 7 stone and 2 pounds in about 11 months. I went from a size 26 to a 12 on the top and from a 20 to an 8 in my trouser size. What a difference! I had discovered I was pre-diabetic, but having the surgery has meant I’ve staved off diabetes. I also feel so much better. I don’t feel people are staring at me and judging me. I love being able to go into a store and ask for clothes in a smaller size and I love having choices.As a child I thought I was overweight but looking back I was just a normal sized kid (by the time I got into my teens, I was about a size 12). I think I thought that because I had a sister who was 17 months younger than me and I kept comparing myself to her. I suppose I was a “chunky tomboy” and to be honest that didn’t really bother me, as I saw it in a matter-of-fact kind of way, and didn’t let myself get bothered by it.
In terms of our attitude to food, however, I grew up with bad eating habits. Our parents worked very hard in the pub trade and this meant, certainly as teenagers, we just helped ourselves to whatever we fancied. I had a very emotional relationship with food. I ate when I was happy and when I was sad. Food became a treat for when things were going well and a comfort when they weren’t.
It was only when I got to my late teens that my weight really changed though. I split up with my boyfriend and lost a stone or so. I went down from a size 12/14 to a size 8/10 but things didn’t stay that way. We got back together and got married when I was 20. We both loved our food. We loved going out for meals and ate well. This meant that the weight gradually crept up about half a stone a year. I was never really one for weighing myself but I suppose I weighed about 14 stone and I am 5 ft 2inches tall.
At around the age of 27 I started dieting and this became a pattern that ruled my life for many years afterwards. For instance, when I got to 30 years old, my husband and I planned a skiing holiday. I was determined to lose weight before we went and once I set my mind to something I tend to achieve it. So I lost three stone and got back down to a size 12 but a little later I became pregnant with my son and I put the weight back on.
At my heaviest I weighed around 17 stone and was even prescribed diet pills, in my case Xenical, by my GP. I was, I suppose, what is called a yo yo dieter. Eating, for me, was all about oral gratification. Just the very act of chewing food comforted me; it had nothing to do with hunger.
When I hit 37 years old, my husband and I split up and I lost a huge amount of weight very quickly. During that year I went out and had fun but yet again the weight crept back on. I got bored when I stayed in on my own and I suppose there was no one there to say: “Are you going to eat another bag of crisps?”
It was then, at 17 stone, I decided I couldn’t go on. I just knew I couldn’t face yet another diet and go through the same thing all over again. I was embarrassed by my size and the way it had started to impact on my life because it stopped me from being able to do the things I really wanted to, such as skiing.
So, I started to look into the idea of having weight loss surgery. I began to research the internet to find the right treatment for me. I looked at all the different types of surgery that were available, such as a Roux-en-Y, but in the end I decided a gastric band would be best. I then hunted for the most appropriate surgeon to do the operation. I was so thorough that I now look back a the time I spent and call them the “lost weekends” – that’s because all I ever seemed to do was sit at my computer and find out what was available to me. I have always been legendary for doing my research and this was not going to be any different!
It didn’t take me long to work out that the NHS wasn’t going to be of any use to me; the waiting lists were long and the surgeons just didn’t seem suitable for my needs. In the end I found Dr Chris De Bruyne, who works in Belgium. He has operated on over 3000 patients in the last ten years – fitting them with adjustable gastric bands and I felt confident he was the surgeon for me. I did go and check with my own GP – expecting him to try and put me off. He didn’t, in fact, he said: “I used to think we had the best Health Service in the world but the care you will get in Belgium will be as good if not better!”
His comments convinced me that I was definitely making the right decision and so I went off to Belgium with my son and my mum and on
April 4th 2006
Weighing 16 stone 11 pounds, I had keyhole surgery to put in a gastric band. It took the surgeon about 20 minutes to perform the operation and I left the hospital 24 hours later and flew home to Scotland on the Friday.
Within 11 months, I had lost 7 stone and 2 pounds. I went from a size 26 to a 12 on the top and from a 20 to an 8 in my trouser size. What a difference! I had discovered I was pre- diabetic, but having the surgery has meant I’ve staved off diabetes. I also feel so much better. I don’t feel people are staring at me and judging me. I love being able to go into a store and ask for clothes in a smaller size and I love having choices. The surgery has also helped me change my attitude to food. Because I physically can’t eat as much I really have to think about exactly what it is I am putting into my body. So, for example, I still eat chocolate but I will have a Crunchie instead of a Dairy Milk because it is less fattening. In terms of the gastric band itself, I had it de-filled at Christmas because I’d reached my ideal weight. The great thing is, though, I can have it filled again if I start to put weight back on – but I don’t think that will happen.
I have also made some fantastic friends through WLSinfo website. It’s given me a different social life. Best of all though, I never wanted my son to have a “fat mum” and now he doesn’t anymore. He just sees me as a normal, and that’s fantastic.