Dave's story is one of triumph over adversity. Of a man who, on many occasions found himself at the lowest point imaginable – yet has now managed to get his life back on track. He managed to find contentment and happiness with the help of several factors; his own character and determination, the love of his wife, and the brave decision to seek medical help.
He had become 36 stones in weight. But once he had made his mind up to seek expert help, he started on a path, helped by his loving wife, to achieve a sustainable lifestyle which has brought him a joy he never dreamed possible. Dave, who is from St Helen's, says he owes much to the Spire Regency Hospital, Macclesfield and their staff. To pay tribute to them and to guide others towards life-changing decisions, he wrote this account of his life.
“My story started after a really horrific road traffic accident while driving for a bakery in my local area. It was a miserable icy cold November morning around 6.30am in 1987. I sustained serious injuries, severe cuts to my legs, my abdomen had been crushed, my nose was flattened, my bones were severely twisted and broken in my face.
"I had numerous surgical procedures over a period of 12 months to rectify and rebuild my broken body. I was prescribed steroids for the pain but I remained on the same medication for too long – the steroids making me feel hungry and I got into the cycle of eating lots of food.
"This would quell my hunger and satisfy my need for food, which at that time I thoroughly enjoyed, but I was gaining more and more weight. I gained weight upon weight for five years, and got more depressed... Subsequently eating more and more. I developed a craving for chocolate. The bigger the bar the better I felt, and the more I ate the more I enjoyed my passion for chocolate.”
During his decline, Dave's personal relationship broke down and he felt alone and isolated. He felt nobody cared – so he ceased to take any pride in his appearance.
“I didn’t want to be bothered about how I looked or how big I had become. I was at my biggest at 36 stone 6lbs and had given up totally on life. Then one day I woke up and realised that I needed to do something and sort my life out, I couldn’t go on this way. I made my decision to live and gave up the steroids and decided to leave my relationship. If I didn’t make the move now and sort my life out, I would never do it. I moved to a different city and was very fortunate to meet and fall in love with my present wife Linda (Lyn) - my soul mate, my best friend, my life.
"After several months with my new life and partner I decided that I needed and wanted to do something about my weight. I visited my GP who discussed my options with me and referred me for weight management, and although they were brilliant my weight was not coming off as I had envisaged. I also suffered two great losses in my family (mum and daughter) which affected me very badly. Once again I turned to food and comfort ate. The depression got worse and I could feel myself falling into the same rut; but I wasn’t going to let this happen again.
"Then came the news I had been waiting for, the major turning point in my life. I was told that I could apply to my local P.C.T. for funding for obesity surgery with the support of the weight management team, my GP and the loving caring support of Lyn. It was the beginning of my life saving journey to my weight loss. Within two months I had secured funding and saw a bariatric surgeon at Spire to discuss what would meet my needs.”
In theatre, the surgeon discovered Dave had a large hiatus hernia which meant that a second operation was required. It was a blow, but the medical team promised the second stage would soon be underway.
“My surgeon was true to his word and on 26 June 2009 I had my surgery. I can honestly say that I have never looked back, the gastric bypass has suited me, in less than 12 months I am now down to 20 stone I am so full of energy.
"I do a lot of walking and have even been to the gym. I am no longer out of breath when I climb stairs - it’s so great to have a new healthier lifestyle, a new me. I had the gastric bypass for me - not for anybody else. I feel that the surgeon has saved and extended my lifespan. The only thing I suffer from now is loose skin, but that won’t be a problem. After two years post op I am hoping to have corrective surgery to rectify my loose skin. I cannot thank the Spire Regency in Macclesfield enough for the entire support pre- and post- op. The bariatric team are brilliant, my wife is my rock and is always there for me through thick and thin; she has been my utmost support throughout my journey of weight loss.
"I will never forget OWLSS (Obesity Weight Loss Surgery Support Group) for many reasons. Firstly for the opportunity of meeting Linda, my fellow group leader and also the support of the mentoring scheme. Thank you to all, especially the above for their help and support to guide me to becoming a new slimmer, fitter me with a new life to live to the full."
Dave is now one of the group leaders at OWLSS and supports the Cheshire patient support evenings which are held every other month at the Spire Regency Hospital in Macclesfield. If you are considering weight loss surgery or would like to know more about OWLSS you can email Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org.