James, Isle of Man *
“The gastric bypass surgery is the most important thing I have ever done in my whole life.”
James, who runs a successful plant hire company in Ballasalla on the Isle of Man, used to weigh 23 stone 10lbs. He’d never been very successful at dieting and always put on more weight than he’d lost each time he came off a diet.
‘I’d been overweight since my late teens,’ says James, who had always thought of himself as being very active – starting work at 6.30am and not getting home again until after 6 in the evening. ‘I’d really only eat just one meal during the day so my metabolism never got going. I’d drink a fair bit, too – not beer, but shorts. That was my lifestyle.’
James found the only diet that worked for him was the Atkins diet – but he was concerned about eating so much meat. Although it worked, and he lost two stones, he decided to abandon it.
‘I’d never really suffered from health problems, despite being overweight. I had four children at the time and one of the main reasons I opted for surgery was because they wanted me to play football with them and go for walks. I did have a bad back because of my weight problem though. People used to try and encourage me to walk more, but they didn’t realise just how hard I found it.’
The turning point for James came in September 2007 when he saw several programmes on television about obesity and weight-loss surgery. He decided surgery was the best option for him.
‘There was a man on the Isle of Man who’d had weight loss surgery. I met up with him. He’d been operated on by specialist weight-loss surgeon Professor David Kerrigan.’
‘I arranged a consultation with Professor Kerrigan, who talked to me about the different options available. After discussion, we agreed the gastric bypass surgery was probably the best route for me.’
Professor Kerrigan, now CEO of Phoenix Health, advised James to lose 10lbs before the operation. ‘I actually lost 6lb. I was about 23 stone 4lb then.’
James realised that his unhealthy lifestyle was slowly killing him. ‘Before my op I’d eat nothing before I left the house in the morning. I only ate two meals a day – typically a plate of chips or a bacon and sausage bap, and I’d drink the odd bottle of pop. What I ate wasn’t exceptional. I’d have a meal when I got home. And if I went out for a drink in the evening I’d have more to eat when I got back. But it’s not good to eat late at night.’
When he told his friends he was going to have weight-loss surgery, many told him he shouldn’t get it done. ‘The mates I’d grown up with thought it was over the top. They tried to encourage me to exercise more, go walking with them, but I knew it wasn’t going to work.’
On 28 January 2008 James was admitted to hospital for gastric bypass surgery. His wife and four children went along with him, booking into a hotel close by.
The operation went perfectly, with no problems. After the op, the weight began to drop off James. ‘I was a bit sore for the first couple of days, but every day was a new day. Everyone said don’t come back to work too soon, but as I’m the boss I could choose my own pace. I was back to work within seven days, built up a couple of hours more each week, and was back at full strength within six weeks.’
After weight loss surgery, James changed his eating habits. ‘I eat little and often these days. I’m scared of overeating – it makes me feel dreadful.’
Before the operation his waist was between 42 and 44 inches. Now it’s down to a respectable 32 to 34, and he weighs a healthy 13 to 14 stone. ‘I lost approximately 10 stone in 10 months,’ says James proudly. ‘Professor Kerrigan told me he could get me down to 14 stone – but where I took it from there was up to me, the ball was in my court.’
By the time he was down to 18 stone James’ clothes were hanging off him. When he reached the weight he is now, he went out and bought a whole new wardrobe. The last thing James gave away from his wardrobe clearout was his prized leather jacket that had cost him £200. Before he gave it away – to a friend who weighed 24 stone – he put on the jacket and got his wife to pose inside it with him for a photograph.
‘Now I can ride a push bike and play football with the children, and it’s much easier than it ever was before. Hopefully I’ve given the kids ten more years of my life. Money’s not everything. I’ve been lucky, I run a successful business and the children are in a better position than I was at their age. Yes, they’ll inherit, but I’d rather they had me with them for longer, than gone at 50.’
‘The gastric bypass surgery is the most important thing I have ever done in my whole life. The surgeons were second to none, unbelievable. I couldn’t have asked for better.’