Ann, Poulton-Le-Fylde *
“My advice to anyone thinking of having weight loss surgery? Go for it. Start living your life again. It’s amazing.”
Tipping the scales at 30 stone, Ann from Poulton-Le-Fylde felt she was hardly a good advertisement for the nails and beauty business she wanted to set up.
So after over 25 years of fruitless yoyo dieting and fed up with being exhausted all the time, Ann went to see her GP, who referred for weight loss surgery.
“In my early 20s, I only weighed about 8½ stone,” says Ann, now 47. “As I married young, I hadn’t really trained for anything. But we had a mortgage and bills to pay so I took a job in the civil service. I wasn’t brave enough to do anything else. But I didn’t enjoy it.”
“I was bored, deskbound and didn’t get any exercise. So the highlight of the day would be the tea trolleys.”
“It was a chance to leave your desk, have a chat with friends and buy sandwiches and cake. Mid-morning I’d have bacon baps and sausage baps – just a little snack to keep me going to lunchtime. After lunch we’d wait for the afternoon tea trolley and buy cream cakes or scones with jam and cream. Then I’d have a full meal when I got home.”
Suffering from post-natal depression after the birth of her daughter 18 years ago didn’t help matters either. “When I had Poppy, the weight just piled on,” she says. “Food was a comfort.”
By the time she was 46, Ann had a BMI of 69, putting her in the ‘super obese’ category. “Funnily enough it didn’t bother me unduly,” she says.
“I had such a good life – I didn’t let my weight stop me doing anything. I’d take my daughter swimming, wear a swimsuit, the lot. I didn’t have any weight related health problems, though had just been diagnosed with high blood pressure. And I was always tired.”
What made Ann really determined to lose weight once and for all though was the dream of having her own nails and beauty business. “After 25 years as a civil servant, I plucked up the courage to leave and set up on my own,” she says.
“I knew I wasn’t a good advertisement for my business the way I was. So I went to see my GP and asked if I could be referred for weight loss surgery. I’d seen a programme about it and was convinced a gastric bypass would help me.”
Ann was subsequently referred to Rob Macadam, a specialist bariatric (weight loss) surgeon at Phoenix Health.
“Although I was convinced a bypass would be right for me, Mr Macadam said I should have a sleeve gastrectomy first,” she says. “I wasn’t at all happy. In fact I cried. I really believed a bypass would be the best way forward.”
“But Mr Macadam said there was evidence that the laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy is safer as a first stage if you are really big or higher risk like I was, with a second stage bypass procedure later on, after you’ve lost weight.”
“The gastrectomy turned out to be the best thing I ever did. With a bypass, you’re restricted as to what you can eat. But I lost so much weight I didn’t need to have the bypass, so I can eat completely normally, which is fantastic.”
Since the op in August 2010, Ann has shed over 18st and dropped from a 34/36 dress size to a size 14. “I weigh 11½ stone now,” she says. “It’s absolutely unbelievable. I came across a picture in my purse the other day. It was a photo of me taken a few days before the operation – it’s hard to believe it’s actually me.
“When you think I used to weigh 8½ stone, shedding 18 stone is like losing two people. It’s amazing.”
Ann says she hasn’t had ‘a grain’ of sugar since the op. “I don’t eat cake or anything sweet any more – I just don’t want it,” she says. “I used to love lattes too – I’d have six a day. Now I just drink flavoured bottled water.”
“Before, I had no energy. Even putting make up on would make me tired. Lifting up my arms to brush my hair was difficult. And buying clothes was awful – I hated the lack of choice.”
“Now, I am a complete shopaholic!”
Last July, Ann decided to give up the nails and beauty business. Instead, she and her husband bought a post office and newsagents in Normoss.
“Life is so much better now – I have so much more energy,” says Ann. “Being able to eat normal foods is the best thing ever.”
“Phoenix surgeon Mr Macadam has been wonderful – he is so reassuring. He instantly makes you feel at ease – he’s very patient and understanding. You couldn’t meet a nicer man.”
Losing 18st has also made it safer for Ann to have an operation she needed to address a knee problem that may have been caused by carrying so much excess weight.
“What would my advice be to anyone considering having weight loss surgery? I’d say don’t waste any more time thinking about it. Find which operation is right for you and have the surgery. Go for it. Start living your life again. It’s amazing.”