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Lara’s search for a weight loss solution

Having been bullied at school for her weight, which continued to fluctuate as an adult, Lara turned to Springfield Hospital for help. Here she shares her monthly diary.


Lara before weight loss surgery
Lara before weight loss surgery

Hi. My name is Lara and I am a 44-year-old working mum of three. My story begins with my earliest memories of being different from my friends, because I was “the fat kid”.School was a challenge because of being bullied and in those days the only help that could be offered was “sticks and stones”. But it did hurt – a lot – and was a very formative factor in the development of my personality and character as I grew older.


My poor mum, who was probably fed up of the tears and misery on the return from school every day, tried her best by making me packed lunches of Ryvita and Dairylea triangles. I looked on with envy at my friends’ packed lunches with crisps and cake and longed to be the same as them.


But later, when the tears subsided and the emptiness set in, I would take to the kitchen cupboards and salve the feelings with toast, biscuits, even marzipan and jelly I would find in mum’s cake-making box. The weight gradually increased over the years and I remember, with mortification, having to be weighed for a pony trekking holiday at age 13. The scales registered a horrifying 13 stone and I will never

forget the look of sadness on mum and dad’s faces. I felt a failure and a disappointment, but seemed unable to address the issue and so it went on.


As I approached 16, I went off to college to study nursery nursing. This coincided with meeting my husband-to be, who’s acceptance of me being me, gave me the unconditional love I craved, but also almost the permission to go on and get even bigger. I managed to diet for our wedding, but I was never a healthy weight or the girl I longed to be.


"I suddenly realised the best solution for me would be a Gastric Band as it could be a permanent solution"

My twenties brought me two wonderful children, but also saw my weight balloon after the birth of my son to 23st 9lb. I was wretched as I could barely make it up the stairs without becoming exhausted. So many hopes for my life and future remained on hold as my confidence was poor and physical abilities even worse. I met a wonderful lady around that time, who had also experienced serious weight issues and she and I joined together to get the weight off. In the space of 12 months I had reduced my weight by 13 stone and finally believed I had “arrived”.


Having vowed to myself that I would never let the weight creep back on, over the next 10 years I battled with myself, see-sawing between 13 and 19 stone. Although my career flourished during this period, my self-esteem and how I felt about the way I looked had a profound

effect on my mood and happiness and sadly my marriage ended during that time.


By this stage of my life, I had tried counselling, cognitive behavioural

therapy, a range of slimming clubs and diets. I had tried slimming tablets, which made me feel ill, and seen my GP to be told that “we all have a cross to bear” and had been offered anti-depressants to

help suppress my appetite.


It seemed that there was nowhere to go and no one to help me. Unless you had a recognised eating disorder there was nothing anyone could do to help.I felt so angry, especially as the news kept telling me about the UK obesity epidemic, knowing that here I was, a reasonably educated, nutritionally aware woman, who was desperate to loose weight once and for all and nothing could be done to help me. I was aware of surgical interventions for weight loss, but because I knew little about it, I was scared about taking a step in this direction.


One day, about seven weeks ago, I was at Springfield Hospital in Chelmsford on an un-related matter and got talking to one of the outpatient nurses, Janet, who has a special interest in weight loss surgery. She explained about the different options available and the various implications. I suddenly realised that the best solution for me would be a Gastric Band as it could be a permanent solution as  opposed to something that would be removed after six months or so.


I felt enormously encouraged after my conversation with the nurse and decided to make an appointment to see Mr Harvey (the consultant) and Hayley (the nutritionist). I had some literature to read following these visits, but I was fairly convinced that this is what I needed, and wanted, to do.


My wonderful fiancé was very supportive and we agreed that I would have the operation as soon as I had completed the two-week diet required before surgery. Leading up to the big day, I was not at all nervous as I had an overwhelming feeling that this would be the beginning of a new lease life for me. The day came and I arrived at Springfield Hospital and was settled into my room. I went to theatre early in the afternoon and found myself back in my room later on that day. I was very sleepy and a little uncomfortable, but the lovely nurses looked after me and I was ready to return home first thing the following morning.


Lara before weight loss surgery

Lara one month post op

The first few days I mainly sipped on small glasses of milk, squash, tea and coffee and then moved on over the next two weeks to thin soups, thin homemade smoothies and fat-free yoghurts made to a liquid with a little milk or water. All along the process, Hayley, my nutritionist, was available at the end of the phone or email to help and advise if I needed it. After 10 days I had lost one stone and three pounds and this just encouraged me further. In the third and fourth weeks I moved on to thicker soups and smoothies and gradually started to settle down to a routine of eating and exercise prescribed by Hayley.


My two dogs have supplied the exercise factor with a brisk walk of 45 minutes to an hour a day. As the weight has come off, the walk has got faster and I can really feel the benefits of a lighter body in all my physical endeavours.


As I complete my first month after surgery, my general impressions are very positive. I have lost almost two stone since commencing the liver diet prior to surgery up to today. The food I am eating is satisfying in the main, although until I have my first band fill and start eating proper solid foods, I will be inclined to feel hungry from time to time. I have some discomfort now and again as my abdomen recovers from the surgery, but all in all I am very excited about what the next month holds for me and how I shall be looking as Christmas is upon us!


I’ll keep you posted!


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