Teresa, 57, from Billericay, Essex came to Spire Hartswood Hospital in September 2011 to have gastric band surgery helping her lose over three and a half stone and shrinking from a size 20 to a size 14 in five months.
“You don’t have to give up your love of food if you have a gastric band. My band acts like a little person inside me who tells me when I have had enough"
Diets and disappointment
Teresa says she has always been “big”. Once she married and had her two children she continued to fill her days with food either as a distraction or just for the pleasure of it and the weight started to creep on. Teresa tells more: “Once the children grew up and left I was on my own a lot. Food was company and a comforter and a habit. I did notice my weight and tried to deal with it. I joined and left slimming groups, tried most diets with some initial success but I was never someone who lost four pounds a week so it was disheartening. I’d see other people doing so well and I remember wondering why it wasn’t working for me.
“To make matters worse I have a heart condition and have undergone several operations over the years to correct it. This meant that I could not be as active as I would have liked, but I knew deep down I was also using that as a bit of an excuse.”
Teresa realised that her relationship with food was becoming unhealthy. She had a BMI of over 40, was lacking confidence and had lost interest in going out and socialising: “It was a vicious cycle. I didn’t want to go out because I’d be paranoid that people were looking at me. I stopped being social, I couldn’t find clothes to fit me so I didn’t feel confident and this made me emotional. I felt out of control. Food was my addiction but it was also my friend. Because food is essential, it was always in my life and I didn’t know how to take control.”
A turning point
Teresa continued this way until her grandson was born. This was the turning point that Teresa had been waiting for. “I just remember looking at my grandson and knowing that I might not live long enough to see him grow up. All of a sudden I decided that it had gone far enough and I went online to find a solution.”
Teresa had also seen what weight loss surgery had done for her close friend and considered it for herself: “He had lost about 15 stone and looked amazing. He was still the same person but his face showed that he was actually enjoying his life now and that is what I wanted.”
The right choice
Teresa researched online and found consultant weight loss surgeon Mr Farrukh Khan. She told her GP about her decision to see a weight loss surgeon and was pleased when he supported her and also recommended Mr Khan: “I now knew Mr Khan had a good reputation so I researched online to find out where he worked privately. I phoned Spire Hartswood Hospital and was so impressed by the reception I had on the phone that I knew The Hartswood was the place for me.
“I was so nervous about going private but the adviser on the phone put me at ease. I felt like she was someone I could phone up and have a chat with, she just made it so easy.”
Teresa booked her consultation with Mr Khan and met him and Wendy Jones, the weight loss nurse adviser, to talk through her options: “When I walked into reception I was greeted by friendly staff who were professional, approachable and discreet and I knew I was in the right place.”
Teresa discussed her options and expectations with Mr Khan and decided that a gastric band was her best option. She booked her surgery and started her three week pre-surgery restricted calorie diet. She explains more: “The diet is not fun and you have to be 100% dedicated to it, but I knew it was worth the great prize at the end and so the day after my consultation I started it.”
Surgery and recovery
After three weeks Teresa came into Spire Hartswood for her surgery and went home the next day. “I was so excited. I felt very calm and happy. I had my own private room where I could have visitors with me as and when I wanted. The staff all came and checked on me and everyone knew what they were doing. I was visited by the anaesthetist before surgery so he could answer my questions and to assure me that they were aware of my heart condition. I felt I was in good hands and the whole experience was a really positive one.”
A new life
“Weight loss surgery is not an ‘easy option’. I was well advised by The Hartswood’s dietician about what I could or could not eat and did suffer with reflux when I got complacent. However, most of the time I have no problem with eating as long as I follow the advice given by the weight loss team including the weight loss nurse, Wendy, who has been on hand whenever I’ve needed her.”
Five months on and Teresa is very happy about her decision: “I would advise anyone to budget for a new wardrobe because this works and you will lose weight. I have lost approximately three and a half stones in five months. My joints don’t swell up anymore, my body shape has completely changed and my heart condition has improved. I wish I had done this years ago. All my friends and my family have been really supportive which has been great.”
Teresa has had a few band fills since her surgery to adjust the size of the band and how much food she can take it, but says they are nothing to worry about: “The entry valve (also known as ‘port’) that sits under my skin and allows the band to be inflated or deflated sits near my rib cage which makes it easier to find. The first band fill felt strange but not painful and takes seconds to do. There is an adjustment period after each one where you may need to go back to pureed food for a few days and then it settles down.”
Teresa is now exercising on her rowing machine, eating out with friends and family and enjoying her new found confidence.
“You don’t have to give up your love of food if you have a gastric band. My band acts like a little person inside me who tells me when I have had enough. My portion sizes are small but I am never hungry and as long as I plan my meals in advance it doesn’t get in the way of enjoying a good restaurant. I finally have control and am so happy, it’s been life changing.
“I have a holiday booked which will be the first one in a couple of years and in June I have the christening of my grandson. I now love shopping, so I’m planning to buy myself a fabulous outfit for the day and look forward to not being restricted to where I can buy.”