As a child I was plump, always encouraged to empty my plate. My love of food grew with me. It has been my best friend and my worst enemy over the years. By the age of 21, I was 13.5 stone and I lost 3 stone by doing the Cambridge diet. But from that point onwards my weight ballooned. By the age of 24, I was 17.5 stone and a size 24. I was unable to wear the clothes I would have liked to and my self-esteem was low. Being the butt of people’s jokes became the ‘norm’. I would make fun of myself before others had the chance to. People seem to think it is ok to be rude about your weight. Also I have encountered people thinking that you are ‘stupid’ and have no feelings. This became very wearing over the years.
Between then and now I have tried so many diets – Atkins, Cambridge and Lighter Life. I have attended Weight Watchers and Slimming World to name a few but always put the weight back on and more besides. I have tried many drugs prescribed by my doctor, seen countless dieticians and been a regular at the gym but nothing has worked long term.
It came to a head a couple of years ago when my doctor rang and informed me that I had a retinal embolism in my eye – a sign that a stroke was possible. With my diabetes and high blood pressure, this didn’t give me a good prognosis for a long life. I was 40, my daughter was 14 and my twins were only 3. The thought of leaving them motherless was heart-wrenching. I knew I had to do something more permanent. I had tried and failed so many times on my own. Besides the risk of dying was greater if I stayed morbidly obese than the tiny risk that surgery posed. I wanted to be happier with smaller portions of food and not feel compelled to finish my children’s leavings! This was my last chance.
I met Mr Jenkinson in December 2010. He put my mind at ease immediately and gave me the hope that I longed for. My operation was planned for 13 April 2011. I was nervous as I had never had an operation before. I needn’t have worried – Mr Jenkinson and his team were fantastic, putting me completely at ease. I had a gastric sleeve, the surgery was keyhole. I had a two night stay in hospital and absolutely no discomfort at all. The staff were wonderful and the aftercare second to none. I can honestly say it has been quite easy! I still go out to eat and socialise, there is nothing I can’t eat although my portions are small. I know when I have had enough (I call this my internal policeman)! Also because I only eat small amounts, I really enjoy the food that I eat – I am now eating to live, not living to eat!
I was 21 stone 2lbs in April when I had my operation. It is now 7 months since having my operation and I am 14.5stone. I know that I have a little way to go but I feel ‘normal’! My blood pressure is normal and my diabetes has gone.
The last 20 years of my life have dominated by unhappy times – my healthy relationships with food – my vicious cycle of dieting. All that is behind me now. This life changing operation has given me back control and is the decision that I have ever made. The list of benefits is endless to my health and wellbeing. I can kneel down, cross my legs, put tights on with ease, wear boots and get the zip done up! I no longer get hot and bothered at the slightest exertion, wearing lovely clothes and looking great – also receiving loads of compliments is a real bonus!
My only regret is not having the operation years ago. Mr Jenkinson has helped me on my journey to find the ‘old me’ that I lost 20 odd years ago! Many thanks to Mr Jenkinson and his staff.
- Gaynor Kemp-Moore
Having spent a life time from being an overweight teenager to becoming a morbidly obese adult, food had become my best friend and worst enemy. I had tried every diet and slimming club you could think of. I was able to lose weight but within a short time my weight would go back on.
I used to say that I never wanted to be fat in my 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, and now I was approaching my 50's. My health was suffering; I had high blood pressure, high cholesterol and arthritis in my knees. I had previously worked as a qualified nurse so knew all about how my weight was affecting me. As my weight increased “I lived to eat” instead of “eating to live”. As I was now 23 stone I felt that I would never be able to feel “normal” again. Strangers would make remarks within earshot. This would hurt but still I carried on eating.
I realised that I would not be able to carry on like this so I thoroughly began my research on weight loss surgery. I made my initial appointment to see Mr Jenkinson in January 2010.
At first my husband was reluctant and frightened at the thought of surgical intervention. He was also worried about the impact that surgery would have on both of us in the long term.
During the consultation, Mr Jenkinson fully explained the gastric bypass procedure to me. He explained that surgery was a tool and that I had to work with it - this was the best weight loss option for my own personal requirements as I had a very sweet tooth.
Mr Jenkinson put both of our minds at ease. We were fully informed of the before and after requirements and the benefits to my health. My husband and I felt much more relieved and were given peace of mind.
There was also a full aftercare package, consisting of regular check ups with Mr Jenkinson, dietitian and support group.
I had my gastric bypass in March 2010 and I can honestly say that I felt no pain post operatively (I had key hole surgery). I was up and walking around the same day with a swollen stomach and wind pain in my shoulder.
Having a gastric bypass was the best decision that I have ever made. This has proved to be life changing; I have become the person that was always within. I see this as a new beginning having lost just over 11 stone in the last year. I feel great and have lots of energy. For the first time in my life I feel “normal”. I can easily put on a pair of tights, cross my legs and feel bones that I never felt before. The list is endless. Shopping is a new experience and I have a new wardrobe of clothes! I am now in control of my eating and I do not miss out at all, I have my life back.
I cannot thank Mr Jenkinson and all of the staff enough.
- Angela Exley
At my heaviest I was 26 stone. On joining a slimming club I lost 5 stone but within three years I was back to 25 stone. One day last summer I decided drastic action was needed if I was going to see 60!
Prior to my surgery my life was very restricted - I would get up in the morning to go to work, come home and sleep for a couple of hours, cook dinner and then sit down to watch TV.
One of the luckiest days of my life was finding Andrew Jenkinson - I saw him initially in July 2010 and was immediately put at ease. I knew I had found the right surgeon. From the beginning I have known exactly what to expect with the added benefit of knowing what was happening all the time.
I had my surgery on 23rd October 2010 weighing 22 stone 4lbs. It’s now March 2011 and in the intervening 5 months I have lost 6 stone. Apart from a little discomfort for a couple of days immediately following the bypass, I have been fine. A huge bonus is the support I have received from Andrew and his team - always there to answer questions and never made to feel a 'pest'!
What a difference the five months have made - prior to surgery, I very rarely went out and avoided seeing people as much as possible. Walking 200 metres was out of the question and I needed to sit down but now I walk my dog on average four miles every day and think nothing of it. The garden was something I only looked at - this week I cut the grass for the first time in years! We are going away in a couple of weeks and I can’t wait to be able to put down the tray on the aircraft instead of using my husbands!
I still have a long way to go but have no doubt in my mind - I will get there.
My only regret is not having the bypass years ago!
Understanding and giving your opinion on obesity are, in my opinion, two entirely different subject matters. I understood how it felt to be obese but it was all too apparent that the rest of the world was all to willing to judge my obesity and my lack of ability to deal with it. 15 years of the repetitive cycle of losing and gaining weight had become the norm for me and I was at a loss on how I was ever going to regain long term control. The day I went to my GP to ask for a referral was probably the hardest day of my life, admitting I had failed and the fear of being judged seemed so daunting. But I did and on the 5th October 2008 I walked very nervously in to hospital for a gastric bypass weighing 112kg. At 5ft 4inch the excess weight had finally taken its toll, aching joints, fatigue, low self esteem to name but a few were just some of the side effects. Then there is the social isolation, some of which I have to admit was down to a lack of self confidence, the other as a result of society's lack of understanding to obesity. This felt like the last chance, my only hope of regaining some kind of normality in a life that had become dominated by the vicious cycle of dieting and then comfort eating when I had failed yet another diet.
The operation itself went very smoothly but the realisation on opening my eyes afterwards that I no longer had food as a sole mate was truly petrifying. The day after the operation came the recognition that I no longer would be able to use food as a coping mechanism. I felt stripped bare, it was back to basics. The thoughts of how would I cope ran constantly through my mind. So how do you cope, well you just do, it's called survival and that wonderful human instinct to simply adapt. You initially grieve for your loss, and then eventually with time and support you pick yourself up and start living again.
2 years on and in weight terms I am within a healthy weight range, weighing 64kg with a BMI of 23. I can now eat most foods albeit in much smaller amounts. Real physical hunger is not an issue, although psychological hunger can be at times. But would I change anything, simply put, NO. There is no quick fix and to the critics who think obesity surgery is a quick fix, I would say try it and see for yourself. The road after the surgery can be testing, you have to be strong, you have good days and you have bad days but it does get easier and you learn to adapt your life to suit the surgery, rather than the food dominating your life.
The most common question, other than how much weight you have lost, is how does bariatric surgery change your life. Things that I could not do before the surgery include walking without being in extreme pain and gasping for breath, I enjoy activities that I could only dream of, such as hill climbing in the Lakes, skiing in Bulgaria, fitting in a plane seat where the table goes all the way down, and of course shopping for lots of new clothes.
I did not dare believe that it would work for me, nothing else had, but with a bit of determination and self belief I finally feel a sense of normality and a far better understanding of where I came from to where I am now.