Linda Pearson’s future looked uncertain. At 27 stone she was at risk of developing weight-related health problems such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease as well as a shortened life expectancy. Then she had gastric bypass surgery and everything changed.
Before undergoing bariatric surgery at Spire Leeds Hospital, Linda, 62, a married mum of two and grandmother of four, struggled to climb even a small flight of stairs without becoming breathless. After surgery she lost an amazing 16 stone and developed a love of hiking. This summer she climbed to the summit of Mount Snowdon with her daughter raising £500 for WLS info charity.*
“Climbing Mount Snowdon was both hard and exhilarating,” said Linda. “Going from somebody who could barely walk, to climbing a mountain just blows me away. I still find it hard to believe I actually did it.” said Linda. “It took four hours to get to the top and two hours to come down.”
After a lifetime of struggling with her weight and spending most of her time on a diet, she managed to lose 12 stone but put it back on over the next two years. Linda became so big she was almost immobile and hardly left the house.
“All my family had issues with their weight. My brother had a gastric bypass, both my parents and my grandparents were overweight. After my parents split up when I was a child, I started to comfort eat. My problem was in controlling quantity and my downfall was my love of chocolate. I could eat five bars at once when I had a craving.”
The turning point for her was on a holiday in Cyprus. “I got off that plane with sore and bruised knees from the pressure of the seat on front. I never left the apartment during the day for the whole two weeks we were there; I only went out to eat when it was dark. I felt so down and guilty because my husband was off sightseeing on his own. I vowed then that I would never go on holiday again as a super morbidly obese person.”
On her return, she booked an appointment with her GP. “I thought if I didn’t do something my life would be very short. I felt that surgery was the only long term option so that I could enjoy my life with my daughters and grandchildren.”
Linda had bariatric surgery in June 2010 at Spire Leeds Hospital under the care of Mr Stephen Pollard, consultant weight loss surgeon. Prior to her operation she weighed 27 stone. At 5ft 6 inches her Body Mass Index (BMI) was approximately 59 (healthy BMI is 18.5 to 24.9) and her dress size was 38.
Mr Pollard, who has performed more than 3,000 gastric bypass procedures, said, “Linda was at risk of a shortened life expectancy and of developing type 2 diabetes and other weight-related health problems. She could not control her weight with dieting - it had to be a lifestyle change.
"A gastric bypass was the best option for her as she was too heavy for a gastric band and could have expected to lose only a quarter of her body weight. After the gastric bypass procedure she was able to lose 40% of her total body weight and she has a 90% chance of keeping it off.
Mr Pollard said, “This procedure works in two ways; it reduces the amount you can eat and it also reduces the amount of food that is absorbed. Another benefit is that it creates an aversion to sugary foods such as chocolate, unlike the gastric band making it easier to make the right dietary choices. It works long-term as long as a patient continues to make the right choices in their diet.
“Typically 100% of patients lose weight with this procedure and 90% keep it off by making dietary changes, avoiding high calorie drinks and doing regular exercise. Linda has done better than predicted and has lost more than half her body weight through her determination. She has reclaimed what she might have lost in life expectancy,” said Mr. Pollard.
Losing the majority of the weight in the first year and the remaining two stone in the second year, Linda is now a dress size 12-14 and her BMI is a healthy 24.3. “It took real determination and a drastic change in diet to lose the weight and I’m determined to keep it off. I only ever wanted to be normal,” she said.
Linda now describes her life as “absolutely marvellous". She loves clothes shopping and goes for long hikes every weekend with her youngest daughter Melanie. “I used to have to lean on a trolley when I went to the supermarket as I could hardly walk. Now we walk nine to ten miles at a time and I really enjoy it.”
“It is now just over four years since my surgery and I am a much happier and more outgoing person," says Linda. "I live a life I only ever dreamed of and have so much to look forward to. I have to work hard to stay where I am but the changes it has brought to my life make the hard work worthwhile. I love life and would do it all again in a heartbeat. It saved my life. It changed my life.”
* www.wlsinfo.org.uk (Weight Loss Surgery info)