Michelle, 41 *
Mother of ten Michelle used to be a slim size 10 and weighed just 8½ stone before the first of her children was born in 1988.
But with each child came an extra stone. And by the time she was 40, Michelle, 5’6″, weighed in at a hefty 21½ stone and had a body mass index (BMI) of 50.3, putting her in the morbidly obese category.
“The heavier I got, the more difficult it became for me to do anything,” says Michelle, now 41. “I really struggled to get about and couldn’t find clothes that fitted. I loved playing netball but had to pack it in. If I took the children to mothers and toddlers, I had to check the chairs wouldn’t break before I sat on them.”
Simple family pleasures like going to the funfair became difficult too. “I always had to stand and watch because I was too big to go on any of the rides,” says Michelle. “My husband did everything. He was the one who had to take the children swimming.”
Michelle’s weight was taking its toll on her health too, which particularly worried her.
“A family member was overweight and had a stroke,” says Michelle. “I was so scared I was going the same way. I had high blood pressure, gestational diabetes and was borderline diabetic.”
“I was constantly monitoring my blood sugar. I thought diabetes might come on at any moment. I was really frightened that I wasn’t going to be around for my children.”
It was seeing how much weight a friend had lost following gastric bypass surgery that prompted Michelle to wonder whether it might be the best option for her too.
“Ironically when my friend first told me she was having a gastric bypass, I tried to talk her out of it,” says Michelle. “I told her it wasn’t the way to go. But when I saw how much weight she was losing, and how happy she was, I became increasingly convinced that surgery might be the way forward for me too.”
Having discussed the options with her GP, Michelle was referred for gastric bypass surgery with Phoenix Health.
“Phoenix were absolutely brilliant, really wonderful, the whole team was,” says Michelle, who had tried ‘every diet going’ before surgery. “The pre and post-operative care was fantastic too.”
Since the operation, Michelle has lost nearly nine stone, dropped 12 dress sizes and is still losing weight. “The difference is amazing,” says Michelle, whose children range in age from three to 23.
“I ride my bike every day, go swimming each week and am back playing and coaching netball – in fact, three of my children play netball with me now. They think it’s absolutely amazing. We have three dogs and I love walking them. It’s lovely going shopping too. Everything fits better, I choose more colourful clothes.”
Michelle is now down to 12st 9lbs and has set herself a target weight of 10st 12lb but says she isn’t ‘unduly bothered’ by how much more weight she loses.
“What’s most important is being around for my children, and for their children,” says Michelle, who has just become a grandmother for the first time.”
“There is so much I want to do with my life – that I want to be here for. If I’d carried on putting on weight the way I was, I probably wouldn’t have been around for much longer.”
“What I really wanted was to be happier and healthier, and now I am. All my health problems have completely gone. I haven’t had a blood pressure tablet since the day of the operation. I used to get so tired but now I have far more energy.”
“I am more confident and love going out. In fact I’ve just been to a funfair and gone on the rides for the first time in ages. My husband thinks it’s wonderful – he’s over the moon.”
“When you’re obese you go through tough times but this surgery changes your life altogether. It’s absolutely brilliant.”