Double the struggle

I lost a whole person...twice!

Published by: Polly Taylor
Published on: 23rd November 2010

My mouth watered as I pored over the dessert menu. Apple pie, cheesecake, chocolate gateaux… ‘I fancy the profiteroles!’ my partner Sue beamed. ‘What are you having?’
‘Nothing for me,’ I sighed, closing the menu with a snap.
It wasn’t that I wasn’t tempted, far from it, but I must’ve gained at least 3st since I’d started seeing Sue six months ago.
‘Are you worrying about your figure again?’ Sue rolled her eyes. ‘You’re only a size 16 for goodness sake – the average UK woman is a size 16!’
True, but the thing was, when I’d been 24, I’d weighed a whopping 23st. I’d thought no one would ever love me like that so, with the help of diet pills and exercise, I’d shed 13st in as many months, shrinking to a svelte size 10.
Losing the weight of a man was some achievement, and I’d kept it off for years. But then I’d met Sue and everything changed.
Sweating it out in the gym had been ousted by slobbing out on the sofa. Low-fat home-cooking had been replaced by high-fat meals out.
I had a wardrobe full of slinky outfits I could no longer fit into, and now here I was sitting in a posh restaurant with my gut spilling out of my size 16 jeans.
But Sue loved me. If my size didn’t bother her, why should it bother me? ‘Fine!’ I laughed, giving in. ‘I’ll have the cheesecake!’
‘That’s the spirit,’ Sue chuckled, squeezing my hand across the table.
I’d get my diet on track tomorrow… But the next night, too tired to cook, we ordered a curry with all the trimmings. And the night after, friends took us out for an Italian. There was always something getting in the way of me getting back in shape.
Before long, I’d ballooned to a size 22. Almost back where I’d started. I was furious with myself.
Still, at least I had Sue. We’d been together for a year now and, to celebrate our anniversary, she’d treated me to theatre tickets.
Maltesers in one hand, ice cream in the other, I puffed my way to my seat.
Sinking into the chair… Oh my God!
Rolls of my fat were spilling out over the sides. Grunting and wriggling, I realised I was well and truly wedged in, practically sitting on the person next to me!
‘Sorry,’ I breathed, as he huffed and moved his coat. With pleading eyes, I turned to Sue.
‘I’m too fat for the seat,’ I mouthed pathetically.
Without a word, Sue approached one of the ushers. He took pity on us – or rather me – and helped me lift my bulk from the tiny chair, and moved us to one of the boxes.
‘Wow! Best seats in the house,’ Sue chuckled, kindly.
‘Yeah… great.’ I tried to smile. But all I felt was shame…
How had I let myself get this big… again?! The tight squeezes, the rude comments as I walked down the street, the chafing thighs… I’d thought it was in the past, but the unhappiness I’d felt when I was 24 was flooding back.
The next day, I stepped on the scales and closed my eyes, bracing for the truth. I opened them and… Argh! The needle hit 25st!
I nearly passed out from shock. I’d got back every single pound I’d worked so hard to lose – and gained 2st interest!
I went straight to my GP, and told him everything. He put me back on the slimming pills that’d worked so well before.
But this time, no amount of slimming pills, healthy eating and light exercise seemed to shift the weight. Angry and upset, I gave up on the diet and ate myself further into a hole.
Sue stuck by me, I didn’t have love to worry about this time. But a fresh fear hampered me, though – my health.
The strain on my joints meant that my ankles and knees ached constantly and I had to walk with a stick. I’d gone from a slinky size 10 to a planet-sized invalid.
‘…and I’ve got no one to blame but myself…’ I sobbed to Sue.
‘Come on,’ she smiled. ‘I’ve run you a nice hot bath to help with that joint pain.’
After stripping off, though, I realised there was no way I could lower myself in.
‘C-can you help me?’ I begged Sue. It was so humiliating. In that moment, I realised she’d gone from my partner to my carer.
‘I’m sorry,’ I sobbed, as she soaped my bulging arms.
‘Don’t be, I’ll always love you,’ Sue whispered. ‘But Laura, I’m frightened I’m going to lose you.’
My heart broke. I’d always been so reassured by Sue’s love, known she’d want me no matter what size I was. It’d never occurred to me how much I was hurting her.
Time to do something about this, once and for all.
I’d read about gastric bands in the newspaper, and begged my doctor to put me on the waiting list to have one fitted on the NHS. It took a while but, finally, he agreed.
Within weeks of the operation, the weight started to fall off. In a month, I’d lost a stone. And in 18 months, I’d dropped 13st and was back to a size 10!
Pulling all my favourite clothes out of the wardrobe, I put on a little fashion show for Sue.
‘Oh, you wore that on our first date!’ she grinned, as I pulled on my favourite black jeans and a tight-fitting t-shirt. ‘We danced all night, do you remember?’
‘We haven’t done that for a while…’
I sighed, sadly.
‘No, but there’s nothing stopping us now,’ she grinned.
With my new slim, healthy body, I feel sexy again and ready to take on the world. No more joint pain and sponge baths for me!
There is a downside – I still love my food, but all I can eat are little mouthfuls. Still, that’s a small price to pay for getting my life back.
I might’ve had to lose weight more than once but, after everything I’ve been through, being slim again feels twice as nice!
Laura Brown, 37, Whiteinch, Glasgow