Terry's story: Gastric sleeve

Before weight loss surgery Terry Baker was a young man who shied away from socialising because he was self-conscious about his weight marked the 30th birthday he thought he might not live to celebrate at a fabulous party with family and friends.

Terry would never have contemplated being the centre of attention at a birthday party if he had still tipped the scales at 28 stone – his heaviest weight before receiving treatment from the Spire Weight Loss Surgery service.

But after undergoing a gastric sleeve procedure at Spire Manchester Hospital – where the stomach is permanently reduced to around 25 per cent of its original size – he now weighs less than 17 stone and is feeling fitter, healthier and more confident.

It meant when he marked his 30th birthday he was happy to organise the party welcoming family, friends and colleagues.

Life before weight loss surgery

Terry, from Altrincham, Cheshire, said: “When I was heavier I was not in a good place – I was anti-social, I didn’t feel confident.

“I didn’t feel comfortable going out with friends or meeting new people. I just wanted to stay at home on my own.

“Having a big party with all the attention on me is something I never would have even thought about before I lost the weight. But I got everyone together and we had a brilliant night. There were people there who hadn’t seen me for a long time and they couldn’t believe it was me. When people look at the photos of me from before the operation they’re gob smacked at the difference!”

Along with his new-found confidence, Terry is also reaping the health rewards of losing more than 11 stone - three stone while waiting for the surgery, followed by a further eight stone after undergoing the operation at Spire Manchester Hospital in August 2011.

The situation is a vast improvement on his situation three and a half years ago, when he ended up in hospital believing he could be having a heart attack.

“In the end the doctors told me it was only a panic attack,” he explained.

“But I’d got myself so worked up I’d convinced myself of the worst case scenario. Even when I found out it wasn’t as serious as I first thought, I sat there in the hospital bed and said to myself: ‘What are you doing to yourself? You’re going to be dead by the time you’re 30 at this rate’. My granddad had died young after suffering a heart attack, so this only made me more worried.”

A ‘full and frank’ conversation with his GP followed and Terry decided to go ahead with weight loss surgery. 

“In the meantime I was trying everything to kick-start my weight loss,” Terry said.

“I went to slimming clubs and exercised more regularly – but activity was harder because of my size. I did manage to lose three stone which gave me a great start. I understood the gastric sleeve wouldn’t be a magic wand which was going to get rid of all my problems and miraculously make me thin.

“But I saw it as a vital tool which – when put together with willpower and a determination to succeed – would help flip that switch in my head and give me back the important thing I had lost when it came to food: control.”

Life after weight loss surgery

Since the procedure at Spire Manchester Hospital – where he praised the care and expertise of staff for a ‘start to finish journey’ which includes pre-operative consultations and the aftercare including diet and nutrition advice, as well as regular support group meetings – his eating habits and appetite have changed drastically.

Now instead of fry up breakfasts, big bowls of pasta with creamy sauces and takeaway Chinese or Indian dinners –he opts for small portions of cereal, soups, salads and risottos, while the odd glass of wine or biscuit with his cup of tea are treats.

Although Terry had success with diets before he had continued to be trapped in a vicious circle of losing weight only to gain it back.

“My weight was always up and down,” Terry said.

“I’d lose the weight but then gain it back– and more. Over the years, when things were tough in my life – I’ve experienced money troubles, problems in the family, deaths of loved ones – food was always the thing I’d seek comfort in.

“Then you’d beat yourself up about putting the weight on – you’d be feeling guilty and trapped in this dark place, which then made the whole problem even worse and caused you to put even more weight on. I recognised I needed another tool to help me take back control of my own decisions, and that’s what the bariatric surgery gave me.”

Health problems are now much improved

Terry, who was taking medication for type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol before his operation – both conditions linked to obesity – now no longer needs the medication.

He also attends the gym to take part in cardio and muscle strengthening exercises three to four times a week, which is helping to combat the effects of loose and excess skin following the surgery.

“I actually like exercising and going to the gym now,” Terry said.

“It boosts my energy levels, helps me deal with stress better, and I’ve not really been ill since the procedure either, so I think it’s boosted my immune system too. It feels so good to be there, working out alongside people who are skinny or muscly, and not feeling completely out of place.”

A new lease of life

Now, thanks to the gastric sleeve procedure – which is performed by key-hole surgery and involves removing a large portion of the stomach, before the open edges are attached together to form a ‘sleeve’ shape – he is enjoying ‘a whole new lease of life’.

“Sadly people do still have pre-conceived ideas about people who are overweight or obese and it’s this that made we want to hide out at home all those years,” Terry said.

“Friends tell me now that they eventually stopped ringing me to invite me out, because I would always just say no.

“Now I’m out all the time – seeing old friends, and making new ones. I feel so much more comfortable in a social setting now. Even though I’m not with anyone at the moment, it’s also making that side of my life easier, since I actually have the confidence to approach people and talk to them now – something I never would have done before.

"I’m much more confident at work these days.

"I’m more comfortable doing presentations in front of a large audience, something I would have hated before. Another great positive is that I can buy clothes that fit from the high street – rather than relying on specialist shops or supermarket ranges.

“I’d recommend bariatric surgery and Spire Weight Loss Surgery to anyone who is struggling with their weight – one of my friends has already followed in my footsteps.

“It really does have the power to change your life for the better.”

Terry’ diet before the gastric sleeve procedure

Bacon and egg sandwich.

Three course canteen meal of soup with bread, pasta carbonara and stodgy pudding.
Indian or Chinese take-away

Rounds of toast and butter.
Pork pie.

Terry’s diet after the gastric sleeve

Bowl of cornflakes with semi-skimmed milk.
Glass of orange juice.

Bowl of soup or salad.

Mushroom risotto or fish with vegetables.

Cup of tea and a biscuit.