Sue's story: Gastric band surgery

49-year-old Sue Baxter from Warrington underwent a Gastric Band procedure at The Spire Regency Hospital in Macclesfield. Two years later she is confident, happy and looks amazing.

I have always been a big girl and I’ve yo-yo dieted throughout my life. As a child I wasn’t fat, just ‘well covered’. The weight started to creep on during puberty. I’ve used food in all the wrong ways like when I was down to cheer myself up, to celebrate with and to mark any significant changes in my life. When stressed I have always comfort eaten and gained weight.

When I lost a little weight, I exercised to keep the weight off, but stress or upset to my routine would start the over-eating. It was a constant battle.

A good example of this was when I had my son (he is now 19). Motherhood didn’t come naturally to me and I struggled during the first year.  I lost five stone before I got pregnant, but the weight soon piled back on as I struggled to cope with motherhood.

Life took a turn for the worse five years ago when my husband was diagnosed with a serious illness. The shock was a lot to take in and we dealt with it by comfort eating. I went from fat to just ridiculous.

I went to my GP for a routine blood pressure check when she suggested weight loss surgery. I was taken aback initially and it took me a year before I decided to be referred. I was frightened but I realised I was being given a chance to change my life for the better. My biggest fear was not coming out of the operation.

Why Sue chose weight loss surgery

I didn’t decide to go ahead with the procedure out of vanity: it was purely for health reasons. I wanted to improve my own health so that I was there for my son, and be well enough to support my husband through his illness.

My GP secured funding and I was advised that the procedure would be carried out at The Spire Regency Hospital in Macclesfield, which is known as one of the North West’s expert weight loss surgery providers so I was delighted with this option.

My consultant, Mr Agwunobi, was fantastic! He is such a nice man and easy to talk to with no airs and graces. He was professional, encouraging, positive and confident the operation would be a success. Everyone that I encountered at the Spire Regency was very approachable.

Going to the hospital

On my first visit to the hospital I knew that I was in the hands of professionals who understood obesity. I was treated with respect and gentle consideration and I knew that I had made the right decision.  I waited just four weeks from when I had my consultation to have the operation. I felt fear and excitement but mainly a sense of relief.

The operation was carried out by keyhole surgery and I was in hospital for 24hours. I was frightened when I went into theatre but the medical team couldn’t have been more supportive. I was in the hands of true professionals. I was only off work for two weeks!

Adjusting to her new diet

For two weeks after the operation you can only eat small amounts of liquid food such as yoghurt, custard and soup, slowly advancing to mash and vegetables with gravy and perhaps fish. You can add other things into your diet slowly. My advice is to eat slowly and chew everything well (if you don’t do this you will vomit)!  I still can’t eat bread, pastry, fried and spicy food but that’s ok as these are foods that are particularly bad for you.

My new diet consisted of cereal, a salad for lunch and a low calorie ready meal for my evening meal. I controlled my eating and really tried hard. I had been given a gift to lose the weight finally. Some people think bariatric surgery is an easy option. It absolutely isn’t. You have to work with it; commit to eating the right things and respect the gastric band otherwise you will encounter problems that could lead to further surgery.

Losing weight

The weight soon started to drop off and I was delighted. The confidence boost I got every time I weighed-in was amazing. Soon people were starting to notice my reducing figure and pay me compliments which spurred me on even more. When the weight loss slowed down, I had a simple procedure to tighten the band.

In two years I have lost a total of 14 stone and I am now a size 14.

I am absolutely over-the-moon. I am finally in proportion and could not be happier.

I’m fitter and healthier than I have ever been in my life. I use the gym four times a week and do circuit training three times a week. I am an exercise nut and I never thought I would say that! I’ve toned up and kept any problems with excess skin to a minimum. 

Since the operation my confidence has increased greatly although I still can’t get used to compliments!  My new found confidence enabled me to apply for a promotion at work and I got the job. I have a whole new lease of life…..and don’t even start me on the pleasures of going clothes shopping!  I am like a kid in a sweet shop!

I no longer need to take blood pressure pills. My mum had a heart attack at 57, so having my blood pressure under control is of great importance to me. My cholesterol reading is normal. I sleep better (no snoring!) and my skin is in better condition. I am generally healthier all round. I was starting to experience mobility problems before the operation and these have disappeared now.

Enjoying her new life

I’m starting to live my life to the full and experience the things I’ve missed out on over the years like going on rides at theme parks, riding a jet ski on holiday and joining in activities instead of looking after the bags and coats whilst everyone else has fun! I’m first on the dance floor instead of hiding at the back of the room. Life is generally just much more fun.

Going on holiday slimmer was much more fun and enjoyable. I could fit comfortably into the plane seat. I didn’t hide when I was on the beach and I actually walked down the beach without a sarong on. Wearing strappy tops at night was a real treat. I’ve wasted too much time hiding away.

Bariatric surgery is an amazing option for people with obesity but it is a tool, not a magic wand.

You have to work with it otherwise your results will not be as good as you might hope for. I can eat chocolate, I can drink wine and I can eat crisps but there still has to be an element of control over what you put in your mouth. I think anybody who then carries on eating unhealthily after bariatric surgery is crazy. You have to embrace the changes in your life and don’t waste the opportunity to finally get slim and healthy.

I am now looking forward to the future with my lovely family, continuing living life to the full and grasping every opportunity that comes my way.