Caroline, weight loss surgery patient

Where did it all begin, well I was a happy baby, have marvelous photos of me sitting in my pram with sunglasses on and a dummy in my mouth lol.

Many other photos show me sitting on walls or some other place in the huff obviously didn’t get my way haha.

I was the second child in the family, had a big brother and then three sisters came along.

I couldn’t have asked for a better family life, it taught me so many of life’s experiences and I am sure I would have gained more if my mum had lived longer than she did.

I was the big sister and in having this role in the family I had my other sisters to look after. We used to go for long walks to the farm up the road from our family home and have picnics, I was a bit stingy with the food and drinks used to make them drink from the cap of the bottle and that was their ration lol and I could have as much as I liked, I was the big sister.

When I was of secondary school age my sister Gill and I had to go to a secondary school near to where my grandad lived so we could visit at lunch time and make sure he had had his lunch or make it for him. Gill and I used to travel on separate buses to school, we didn’t get along at that time, didn’t want to know each other lol.

When Gill started working I used to give her a lift to work but boy did she always make me wait for her, she was always running late, always had her tea and toast in the car on the way to work lol, mum was always looking for her cups and where were they, in my car.

We both had jobs in the cinema in Edinburgh as usherettes and Gill was a bit put out that I worked where she did until she realized that I was full of fun and mischief and we then started to get along very well and we went almost everywhere together when going out socially.

I had my own social life too and if mum and dad new half of what I got up to they would turn in their graves lol but I had lots of fun but that is for me to know and no-one else to find out lol.

I wanted to move into my own flat when I was 19 but was told that I was not leaving the family home until I got married. When I eventually met James I was 20 years old and I will always remember the day he asked my dad if he could marry me, my dad thought he wanted to buy my old Ford Cortina so he was quite taken aback when the question was “can I marry your daughter” lol. My father of course said yes and around six months later the day after I turned 21 we were married and set up home together.

At this stage in my life I was a size 20-22 in clothes.

I was happy with James, we had a good life, was content you could say and I suppose that’s when I started putting a little more weight on, trying to cook for 2 people when you were used to cooking for 7 the portions were slightly different lol it took a while to get used to making smaller portions but nothing went to waste and it took its toll on both James and I.

My pain and suffering all started when mum died of cancer when she was only 48, we all nursed her at home after surgery but alas it was to no avail she sadly passed away very shortly afterwards.

This was my first experience of a close death and I had hoped not to have to experience anything like that again for some time, but it happened again, it was a bit later perhaps about 10 years but it certainly wasn’t expected.

It all started on April 30th, my husband James had had trouble swallowing and eating and we had some tests, the results were through so quickly that I knew instantly that something very bad was about to be told to me. We went to the hospital in the morning for tests and the results were back with the Doctor by lunchtime when she called to tell me the news. It was hard to take in but I had to be strong to be able to tell him the news and unfortunately his mum was there too as it was her birthday, what a birthday present. After about 18mths – 2 years he sadly passed away at the age of 43 after a long period of suffering with cancer of the esophagus. He was a very strong man who loved me so much, sometimes I forgot how much. When he became ill he enlisted the help of my sister Gill to assist with purchasing my Christmas gifts so I still had a Christmas even though he would not be there with me.

His suffering was second to none, he had the strength of an ox, would not give in to the disease. It was exhausting looking after him but worth it, we had that extra time together. The medical staff who were involved in his care also thought he was a very strong person and they all had wished they had known him before the terrible disease took over. He was quite a character and well loved by all.

I lost 7 stone after losing James through the grieving process and decided to get two dogs, Mitzi and Mindy, they were Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and the most loving creatures I could ever have had, they sensed when I was low and they sensed when I was happy and I hope they were happy with the life I gave them.

After losing the weight I thought I could perhaps have some surgery to remove excess skin but alas it was not to be because according to statistics I was not eligible as even after losing 7 stone this was not enough for the NHS I did not meet the criteria required to have surgery I was as far as they were concerned still clinically obese.

Sadly about a year after James had died my best friend Fiona also died this was another great loss as we were very close. We were a threesome on a Friday night with a movie, beer and onion rings – yip every Friday. We always went ten pin bowling together along with other colleagues from British Gas where I worked, James was made so welcome and we all had some fun.

After James died I wandered all over the place, bought a new house in Kirkliston, didn’t like that so moved a wee bit further down the road to Broxburn, stayed there for a while but got restless again and decided it was time to find premises that I could buy and do up to the style in which I liked and open it up as a Bed and Breakfast. This I done in a little village called Ecclefechan just outside Lockerbie in Dumfries-shire and was very happy for a while but again there was something/somebody missing.

I had some great times there my nieces and nephews came to visit and we had parties obviously no guests allowed when my family were visiting lol but the kids made the weekend, they put together little shows like dancing or acrobatics that they had all thought about together, what a laugh we all had, what memories were made then. Sadly this came to an end about three years later I was unable to sustain a decent living even although I also worked 30 hours a week, it all took its toll and had to give it all up. I then moved on to Dumfries where I bought a small house and worked in a private nursing home in the office and I also did care work, looking after the frail and elderly which gave me so much joy and a feeling of fulfilment but still there was something/somebody missing and eventually came home to Scotland to be with my family.

I bought a house in Cowdenbeath across the water so to speak as property prices were too high in Edinburgh. It was a lovely flat which I shared with my two little dogs Mitzi and Mindy. Not long after moving home my father died so no parents left, no grandparents either I felt quite alone but with the help and strength of my sisters, nieces and nephews I enjoyed life the best I could, but it did not end there …..

Mitzi became ill, she had broken her back, had no option other than to put her to sleep, I did not want her suffering.

I moved again but stayed in Cowdenbeath but to a more modern flat and got a job in Gallagher Bassett where I was for six years, during that time I had to get Mindy put to sleep she had cancer, losing both my best companions in such a short period of time hurt so much but had to get up and get on once again. How many knocks can someone take and be able to bounce back every time?

Whilst working with Gallagher Bassett I moved over to South Queensferry which was more convenient for work didn’t have the bridge to contend with nor did I have my little dogs anymore so it was time to move on albeit on my own.

After a while in South Queensferry I decided it was time to find myself another man 13 years on my own was enough and I went on line. Met a few characters I may add some nice some absolutely ghastly but had a real good laugh and made me feel human once again lol. I came across a chap called Michael and we started chatting then eventually we met up and we hit it off. We started dating but it was a long distance relationship, he lived in Leeds. After about a year I decided I would give up everything here, my home, my family but not my job was able to get a transfer to the Leeds Office and move down to Leeds to be with him.

It was then that it all started to go wrong, in my mind anyway but I decided to keep going thinking to myself perhaps this is the best I am going to do in life, have had one super man in my life, perhaps this is what is meant for me. As time went by things were not right, he thought the world of me but we were from different upbringings I liked to work hard to earn a crust and pay my way but he was content to live on benefits. This caused problems between us, he said because I was working it was stopping us from getting a reduction in rent and council tax etc. That didn’t matter to me as I am a very proud person and have worked all my life to achieve what I have and was not prepared to give that up to live on benefits.

After a while I found out that he had lied to me from the very beginning of our relationship, all the things he had promised did not come true, he was a liar and I only found out through a friend of his not from him, when I asked him about it all he said it was none of his friends business and they should not have told me anything but obviously his friend cared for me more than he did, when I found out all about this it hurt so much, I trusted him thought he was going to give me all the things I had missed for a long time as he said he would but it was not going to be, we even had an argument on my 50th birthday about where we were going for a meal, my workmates treated me better than he did on that day. I had given up everything for this man and all he did was let me down.

I decided to come back to Scotland again but remain friends but when his father died (I really liked his mother and father) Michael called and I went to the funeral and it was then that we still felt there still something between us and we started in a relationship again. In hindsight this was a very silly thing to do but I honestly thought that this was what my future was didn’t think for a moment that there was anyone else out there that I could love or fall in love with.

This brings me to January 2012 – The point where my life was to change

I fell and broke my arm in January 2012 and from then on my life was to change but it was pretty miserable. I had also been diagnosed with Severe Osteoarthritis in my hip and knee my mobility was crap, my blood pressure was very high. My weight had also crept up to 24 stone and gradually during that year crept up again to 26 stone. All in all with all this I was on the verge of becoming seriously depressed what with not being able to use my dominant arm as I had fractured my humerus, having to have people in to look after me which I found quite degrading until I got to know the girls who were all very nice but I was mortified to say the least having to have people wash and assist me with personal care this was something I did for people not them for me not being able to get around much etc. etc. it was a crap year. My sister Helen kept me strong as much as she could as she also had a family to look after and a job but she looked after me as much as she could until it all became too much for her.

I continued like this until June of that year when I discovered I had private medical cover in place through my employer and that I could have my arm sorted quicker than on the NHS. I hadn’t realized that I had this in place and was waiting on the NHS sorting me out but in all honesty I think they were scared because I was so large 26 stone, no surgery was offered in the beginning and it wasn’t until about 6 months down the road that they suggested I see a surgeon.

I spoke with my GP and he referred me to the Spire Hospital and I managed to get an appointment with the surgeon very quickly and advised the NHS of this so I was no longer in their care.

I was very frightened, I had never had surgery in all my 53 years of being on this earth and was also very overweight (26stone that was June 2013). I made the appointment, met the surgeon Mr Sharma who was absolutely fantastic, he reckoned it was going to be a challenge given it was six months down the line but he put me at my ease, I then met the anesthetist who also put me at my ease but also warned me of all the dangers involved in having a general anesthetic being so heavy but the outcome outweighed the dangers as far as I was concerned. I had the surgery on the Friday and was discharged on the Saturday, I survived, woke up crying thinking hoorah I came through it all.

During my short stay I chatted with one of the nurses looking after me and she contacted Lorna the Bariatric Nurse Specialist who came to have a chat with me about the weight etc., she was lovely, we had a long talk and I went away with something to think about.

I didn’t have anything other than time on my hands whilst at home and recuperating from my operation on my arm so you can imagine how much thought I gave to considering surgery as a last resort to lose the weight and keep it off for good. I decided to find out if I could finance the operation firstly and when they said I could have the money I pushed to get the surgery done as quickly as I possibly could before I changed my mind.


I couldn’t have this surgery through the NHS as NHS Fife do not fund these kinds of operations. It is what you call a postcode lottery. I even wrote to my local MP who in turn wrote to Nicola Sturgeon at Downing Street to find out why it was not funded in Fife but was in other Regions but to no avail.

After giving up smoking some three years earlier, I thought this was the next step to take to improve my life and give myself a better life and boy was I glad that I decided to go ahead with it all and what do you know I came through that surgery too with only minor glitches hoorah.

During the period of time when I was at home recovering from my arm surgery and also my weight loss surgery, I began to see that Michael, my partner of six years had been content with me when I was at my lowest and he was not at all enthusiastic when I started to lose the weight. I told him I would change and get back to what I used to be many years ago (the life and soul of the party lol), I don’t think he particularly liked the change, nor fact that I had spent that kind of money on myself, and that I was gaining more energy as the days went by and was not content to just sit around the house. I also had to spend money on new clothes regularly because as you can imagine I was losing around 14lbs a month. I took up swimming again and was trying to get back into shape. I personally felt this was when we started drifting apart and I decided it was time to call it a day and broke up with him. No feelings of sadness or of missing my right arm so to speak did I feel so I knew it was the best thing I could have done. I need positivity in my life not negativity.

Going back to work after 11 months was quite a traumatic experience for me but I am glad I went back when I did, if I had not returned at this time I do not think I would have went back at all and I would never have seen how my colleagues respected me and actually liked me as a person. I had always felt that I didn’t quite fit in but this time I was made so welcome when I returned and the encouragement I have had since with the weight loss etc. is absolutely tremendous. Lots of positivity.

They are all now what I would call friends rather than colleagues.

It is now September and have had a sunshine holiday with my niece to Benidorm, I had looked forward to going away with my niece so much as we haven’t had quality time like I have had with my other nieces and nephews and I must say I was not disappointed, we chilled by the pool, drank a few beers whilst sunbathing and generally just chilled out which was absolutely fantastic, I even got a bit of colour. My sister Gill and Danielle’s friend Nic joined us at the weekend and it turned out to be a lovely week’s holiday. I could never have imagined I would be going on holiday to hot places again as I used to shy away from the heat as it was too much for me to cope with being so heavy.

I have met a very handsome chap who I have been chatting with since July. He is in the forces and is due to retire soon. We hope to meet up and see how things go but I can honestly say that I have fallen in love lol. I would love to be happy again both with myself and hopefully with someone in my life.

I have to date lost 11 stone in weight since October 2012 and am about to have my last appointment with my Dietician Fred, in October 2013. Fred thinks I am phenomenal lol. I have achieved so much in such a short time and it has changed my life completely and all for the better, my confidence and my “being the life and soul of the party” personality has come back to life.

The whole thing has been very hard work but if the professionals had not assisted me to be able to carry out what I wanted to do then I would not be in this position today. Changing your way of life, eating habits, outlook etc. etc. is not easy but the bonus for me is that I will not go back to what I was in 2012, 26 stone.

It hasn’t been easy adjusting to having only a quarter of a stomach, to eating so very little in the beginning and then trying to increase it to a child size portion now, there are still times when I do overdo things but I pay for this as it makes you feel quite ill but again it all takes time to adjust and learn. You have to know whether you are actually hungry or if you are in fact just thirsty, this was the hardest bit but it is all falling into place now. I have never once thought “I wish I had never had this operation”, food is no longer a major part of my life which it was before, there are so many other things that are now more important like sharing quality time with my great nieces and nephews playing with them, dancing with them, being able to go walking albeit not far but without puffing and panting, swimming, my life as I have said has changed so much and it has all been for the better.

The reason I have written these few words is that I would like everyone who like myself “Larger than Life” takes a good look at themselves, thinks about their lives what they have done, how they have coped with all the sadness, happiness and what they have done to help themselves become a better person.

I may or may not have had the same amount of sadness and knockdowns as other people but it made me realize that I was a very strong person and was able to cope with everything that life threw at me and I became stronger and more determined each time anything occurred.

It has only taken two steps to improve my health and life considerably

1. Stopping Smoking
2. Having weight loss surgery

If I can do it anyone can. I don’t have the best willpower in the world hence the help of the professionals. I no longer need to take blood pressure tablets, my blood pressure had reverted back to normal and I only take pain relief for my osteoarthritis occasionally now as being eleven stone lighter has made a remarkable difference/impact on my health and my life.

One day you will wake up and say heh what am I doing and you will know it is the right time for things to change. Give yourself a big kick up the behind and get on with it !!!!!!

The next stage in the journey is to achieve a better looking body. This can be done by having surgery to remove excess skin that the weight loss has left and be under no illusion that after losing eleven stone there is a considerable amount of excess flesh.

This is my next challenge. I am going to have to fight with the NHS to get even one procedure as again it is a postcode lottery and there are strict guidelines/criteria to meet, you have to have a BMI of approximately 28. I currently have a BMI of 38.

These guidelines have been in place for more than 20 years. I have been here before and been turned down due to my BMI, I was told I was still clinically obese not a nice thing to be told after you have worked so hard. Not everyone wants to be eleven stone and if I were to have the excess skin removed at this moment in time I am sure it would reduce my weight by another stone to a stone and a half which would take me to thirteen and a half stone which I would be extremely happy with. An individual has to be comfortable in their body and I personally feel that if I were to lose another four stone then have the excess skin removed I would be around nine and a half stone a weight I have never been and I would look absolutely horrendous.

I think it is time for these guidelines to be changed. You are not even given a chance to discuss surgery with anyone unless you meet the criteria as when I asked to be referred my GP advised that I did not meet the criteria. If someone has worked hard to achieve what they are happy with weight wise and have improved their health considerably then it should not matter what their BMI is, each case should be individually considered after all the health professionals are always trying to encourage the population to get fitter, healthier etc. but they don’t follow through with the help once a person has achieved a healthier lifestyle.

I am going to one way or another achieve my slimmer, healthier body by hook or by crook and if it means that I have to work extra hard to achieve this and pay for the surgery myself yet again then I will do. I haven’t come this far not to be completely happy with myself and my body.

I would just like to add for anyone out there who is considering weight loss surgery that in my personal opinion it has been the best journey I have ever taken and I have never looked back.

If you decide to go ahead and make yourself a better, healthier person Good Luck. I wish you all the success in the world.
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