My name is Beca, 35 from North Wales. So where do I start…. As a child I unfortunately had a heart condition which resulted in heart surgery. The impact of this was I was not an active child, and I was constantly told that I couldn’t do this, or I couldn’t do that. This is where the weight gain and reliance on food began.
I was the fat funny one, I would take the mick out of myself, crack jokes to make people laugh. Phoenix has since helped me understand that this was a technique I did to reduce the chance of others making negative comments about my weight.
I remember being in high school and wanting to get my school shirts and skirts from Tammy Girl like all my friends, but I couldn’t as none of them fitted. I spent my high school years in the most unflattering, unfashionable clothes. So being the funny one helped me get through high school pretty much unscathed. I was aged 11 and 11stone, 12 and 12 stone and on it went. Tipping the scales at just 21 stone in May 2017.
My first recollection of being on a diet was Slimfast at age 11…. From then on, I have tried and failed at every detox and diet ever created. I failed them all and must have spent thousands upon thousands of pounds over the years. Imagine how many handbags I could have bought….
I met my husband in 2008 and very quickly we were engaged, living together and planning our future. Again, my health decided to have its say. Further medical issues meant that we would need to undergo fertility treatment to start a family. So, I needed a BMI of under 30 and mine was 50….
Again, I tried all the diets and couldn’t lose the weight I needed to. I wanted to be a mother more than anything but food seemed to be my issue. One by one my friends and our siblings were having babies, they kept coming, I thought at one point no one had TV’s apart from us. I love all of them so much, I would just like one of our own. One we don’t have to give back. Hopefully this will happen one day soon.
I went for a consultation privately as I live in Wales and there is hardly any funding for bariatric surgery. I was advised due to my size the best and most suitable option would be the by-pass. I went home feeling deflated as I wanted a quick cheap fix.
I spent that night online, searching for a solution. I found a company who could offer me a discount on a gastric band, not the by-pass I had been advised to have, as they had a cancellation. Within 2 weeks I was on my way to Birmingham to have the operation.
I lost 5 stone, then started to put weight on. The company I had the band with did not want to know, unless I paid them further money. You guessed it, I ended up putting the weight back on and more.
Bizarrely the turning point was a trip to A & E with an unrelated issue to the band. However, the doctors assumed it was the gastric band, then removed all the fluid out of it. This meant that I was referred to see Professor David Kerrigan. From this point my life changed and I had hope for the future.
It transpired that I had a slow leak in my band and was given the options to remove it, replace it or revise to another surgery. Luckily my husband supported me and said whatever I needed to do he would be behind me all the way.
I booked an appointment to discuss my options and from the word go Professor Kerrigan saw me as a woman in her 30’s, wanting a child. Not a sale or a number. He advised on the surgery that would be suitable for me, and answered all my queries and concerns. This was not a pressurised sales pitch, this was a surgeon wanting the best for his patient.
By-pass booked – Operation Day
I was met by Barbara, Professor Kerrigan’s PA, who put me at ease right from the off. All the staff at the Nuffield hospital in Chester and with Phoenix were and are amazing. The surgery went well. I woke up a new me. Start of the next chapter. By-pass completed.
After 2 nights in hospital I was back home recovering, puree food to start and then on to soft food, and finally solid. Little discomfort, very manageable. I had lots of contact with the Phoenix team, appointments, phone calls and emails. Any query I had they answered quickly and I never felt like I was wasting anyone’s time.
Special mention to Charli my dietitian, she is fantastic. Supportive when needed and has a wealth of advice and knowledge. Even when I am struggling she is always there whether it be over the phone, email or face to face. She is an asset to the team.
The next step was the counselling with Dr Denise Radcliffe, another member of the Phoenix team. I was unsure how the counselling would help, how wrong I was, this has been the most important part for me. Realising my triggers and changing my reactions, I am now able to cope without food. On the off chance I do have a slip up, I have the skills to be able to pull myself out of the black hole that is the fridge.
So, I am one year on from surgery and 7 stone lost. 19lbs to go will we can start our next chapter to become parents.
The small silly achievements keep me going. Being able to paint my own toe nails, being able to do my own shoes, getting on a plane and not asking for a seatbelt extension, and my tray come down with ease, no more vodkas on an angle for me.
Recently people have spotted me in the street or the supermarket and come over to say how well I look, someone even said they saw me a few days before and didn’t actually recognise me. It is very bizarre, and something I will have to get used to.
So, this has definitely changed my health for the better. I was pre- diabetic, with chronic asthma, unable to walk 1 flight of stairs without being out of breath and my mental state was not the best.
Now I hardly use an inhaler, I am mentally stronger, being pre-diabetic is a thing of the past and I enjoy walking, gym, swimming and I own a bike of which my husband and I enjoy going on bike rides together.
Some people have a negative opinion of bariatric surgery, even many health experts don’t seem to understand that for some it’s not as easy as “Eat Less, Move More”. Also, that there is a stigma that it is an “easy way out” … These points of view upset and frustrate me.
Whilst a bypass is quite extensive surgery, it’s not a magic bullet. I have had to make a good many changes to my lifestyle and diet in order to succeed, it’s been very hard to do but my change in attitude is just as important as the surgery itself.
Thank you, Phoenix, you have changed my life, I could not have done it without any of you!