One year on

September 2017

Hello and welcome back, it’s been a while 🙂

I cannot quite believe it has been a year already, and what a year! So much has happened where do I start? New job, new business, back to college (again),got married, modelled on live t.v, did a gig.

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Firstly, an update on the new body. During this last year my weight has stabilised at around the 12.4 stone mark (76 kg). The bariatric surgery has effectively done it’s job and as was explained to me by the surgeons is now just a ‘tool’ to help me maintain my weight loss. I admit is was a bit of a shock and a little difficult to deal with gaining a few pounds, but as was also explained to me, this is absolutely normal and expected due to the fact I can now eat better portions. So, whereas before I could only consume around 1000 calories a day, I can now eat the ‘normal’ amount recommended by the NHS of around 1800 calories. I am comfortable with this weight and my shape, I have a far from perfect body underneath my clothes, but as I am often told, who has a perfect body?. I have flabby bits, and wobbly bits and of course you could do dot to dot on me with all of my scars but it is all good.

I would have to be honest and say that it is always on my mind, the fear of what I refer to as ‘the fatness’. I am regularly told by friends and family that it is normal to be aware of and concerned with staying a healthy weight and that there are very few people in the world that do not worry, even if just a little, about their weight.

So as I was saying, during this last year I have appeared on This Morning as a ‘real women’ model twice. GREAT fun! I met loads of celebs including Trinny who was a force to be reckoned with and was very interested in my journey. She ended up doing my make-up for me so we had a long conversation about what I had been through and she mentioned it when she introduced me for my slot. Who would have thought it, me, a model!

I have also had an article published which was cool.

The biggest event of the year was my wedding on Christmas Eve. I will share something with you, my husband (still feels weird saying that) actually asked me to marry him the day after we got together, I said yes, but told him that I would only marry him when I was a size 14. Well, that kinda happened didn’t it, so I had to go through with it ha ha ha. Anyways, here’s me all dolled up:

I also got the old vocal chords out after 3 years without singing a note. I was great fun, and for the first time ever I did not mind people taking photo’s or filming me at all. The following day there was images and photo’s all over social media and I didn’t cringe once, well maybe just a little at some bum notes, but hey I am out of practice! In amongst all of this I started a new job at the very university I studied at. I worked in enterprise helping students start their own businesses and other cool stuff like delivering workshops and running events.

So what’s happening now? Well, the biggest news I guess is that we have moved back to Wales. A whole new chapter is about to begin and I am super excited. All of the hard work, pain and sheer determination has motivated me to really go for life now. The most exciting thing is the starting my new business. My personal experience has fuelled a passion in me to get involved with helping other people through the challenges they face when they feel ready to address their health. I am currently working with my partners to build a website offering a free support network. I am aiming for launch early 2018. My website will be online very soon for people to subscribe and then be notified of the launch. I will keep you updated 🙂

Thanks for all for reading my blog and for your continuing support.

Claire xx

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Home recovering and guess what?

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July 2016

Start weight: 25 stone, 6 pounds (161.4 kilos)

Final weight: 11 stone, 9 pounds (74kg)

Total loss: 13 stone 10 pounds (87.4 kilos)

Been a few weeks since surgery and things have gone pretty smoothly. I am a dab hand at the recovery stuff now. Got my routine down. Got some photos to show you though, please don’t be too shocked, I recovered quickly I promise. So here are my arms,

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After discussions I decided not to post a photo of my boobs in the flesh, I am sure you understand 🙂 However, here is a photo of them in my 36 B bra,

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Aren’t they fab? I’ve had a few stitches that decided to push out, it seems I heal faster than the time the stitches take to dissolve. Had some gross moments pulling them out and a course of anti-biotics for a little infection in my arm pit but all in all I have recovered very well. My surgeon and the nurses are very happy with me.

Now for my other news. You know that alongside the huge lifestyle and physical transformation I have been through these last few years that I have have been studying for a business degree? Well, I am extremely proud to announce that I graduated with First Class Honours. As I was still wrapped up like a mummy I decided to go for a suitable outfit, check me out!

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I also had a wonderful time shopping for my sister’s wedding, got me a gorgeous dress, and I bought my first ever pretty padded bra!

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So this is what I look like now. I feel fantastic, and though there have been really difficult and traumatic times, I am still very confident I made the right decision to have all of my surgeries. I have to stress here, that although my appearance has changed dramatically, and for the better, this was always about taking care of my health and my future. Yes, I have experienced side effects from the gastric by-pass and will always have to live with various associated issues such as the terrible fatigue, and forever have to take various supplements, personally, for me, it has been worth it. I understand it is not the path for everybody, but it has worked for me and I thank everyone that has been a part of my journey. I’d like to sincerely thank the Homerton hospital, the Oaks hospital, my GP and my family and friends.

It is time for a new journey and I am both nervous and excited. With new confidence I feel I can take on anything! I have a lot of exciting things happening including a new venture in which I plan to offer help and support to people who are considering making changes too. Watch this space 🙂

Huge thanks for reading my blog, please do share.

Comments very welcome

Lots of love and light

Claire xxx

Surgery day is here

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June 2016

I have finished university HURRAY 🙂 I have to say that was quite simply the most stressful and difficult couple of months EVER. Four years of study and assignments and exams over. My last exam was just last week, now the wait for my final results. Am I nervous? Ha ha, just a teeny bit, but now there was my surgery to prepare for. I kept myself busy in the week leading up to my surgery and to be honest my brain had run out of petrol and I was exhausted anyway so it was a bit of a blur thankfully.

So, here I was once more, same hospital, same room. I knew most of the staff and they recognised me from last year. Having been back and forth to the hospital for over a year now it almost felt like home from home which was quite comforting and certainly calmed the nerves, I felt in good hands. After settling in it was time to undress and put on the socks AGAIN, I own quite a few pairs now! First the anaesthetist arrived to talk to me about the procedure, though I am a seasoned professional by now I listened to all the information, it is still quite scary when you you consider the possible dangers. Soon after in comes my surgeon to prepare me for surgery. Look at the pretty drawings…

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The circles are where my nipples are supposed to be and where he was going to put them. I know, it is unbelievable. He measured 12cm distance. He explained that due to the excess there was a chance that he would not be able to keep the nipples attached to the blood flow and that they may have to be grafted back on afterwards but that he would do his best. He also marked up my arms and I was ready to go. I said my prayers, said goodbye to Tony and was taken to theatre.

I am a mummy! Wrapped up like a Christmas present ha ha. Came round in recovery room and had a lovely chat with the nurse. I wasn’t in any pain just a fuzzy head and very stiff. First thing I did was look down and to my delight, even with a surgical bra on I could see the difference. Couldn’t really see my arms as they were all bandaged up, but I could feel they were different too. After about 30 minutes I was taken back to my room. All I could think about was FOOD. I was very hungry as I had hadn’t eaten for almost 24 hours. I had a cup of tea and a sandwich and felt much better.

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As expected I got very sleep the first night in hospital. It is hard to get comfortable attached to 4 drains and the anti-DVT suction pads inflating and deflating constantly. I was also woken at regular intervals for various injections of pain killer and anti-biotics through my I.V. Apart from all that I felt fine. In the morning my surgeon came to see me and I got to see my breasts for the first time. WOW, I was in love. Soooo cute and pert and in the RIGHT PLACE!!! Woooo hoooo I had nice boobs, well, sort of, they were in a right state and swollen and hard, but they were fab. My arms were also very swollen and feeling very tight, but were so slim, they were amazing. So, my nipples. The surgeon was able to save my left nipple and keep it attached to my blood flow and so it was just stitched back into place, however he had had to remove my right one completely and graft it back on. Only time would tell if it would survive or not.

I thought I might get away with it this time, but alas no. I felt fine in the morning and managed breakfast and some lunch but in the afternoon the dreaded post anaesthetic sickness arrived to say hello. After 2 doses of anti-sickness drugs and about 2 hours I finally recovered. I slept a little better the second night and woke up feeling fine, luckily I was not experiencing any pain as such, just discomfort. One by one the drains were removed and this time they all came out without too much trouble and I was able to go home. Before I left I was measured for my surgical bra, 36 C. I’m sorry, I have to say that again, 36 C. Before I lost weight I was a 48 L and before surgery I was a 38 GG. I put on the 36 C, and was given a 36 B for when the swelling reduced, yes I did say 36 B HA! Packed off with my goody bag of dressings, creams and surgical bras I was off home.

 Thank you for reading my blog, see you next time

Claire x

Here we go again, final surgery coming

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Weight – 74 kg

Can you believe that I have lost 112% of my body weight? It seems quite unbelievable. And now I am about to lose another kilo or two by having my last surgery. Back off to the surgeon to discuss sorting out my breasts and arms. Now, some people have asked me why I am considering more surgery and told me that my boobs look great.  I get that, in a bra my boobs look fine and you don’t see anything out of the ordinary. However, I promise you they are not in good shape at all. I have absolutely no structure and they literally hang down to my knees! OK, so I will show you, as much as this pains me it will hopefully convince you that this surgery is very necessary.

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There we go world, my boobies. I had already discussed the breast surgery with my surgeon, but as yet I had not mentioned getting my arms done too. After long discussions with family and friends I decided I would go for it. After all, I wanted to get the job finished. The sheer amount of lose hanging skin made it impossible for me to wear sleeveless tops and with my new boobs I felt they would be even more noticeable. My surgeon explained that arm surgery is actually more severe than breasts and can be problematic in regards to healing. I did a bit of research and saw some images and I was happy to go ahead. Surgery was booked for just after my final exams in June 2016. Now all I had to do was work my arse off finishing my degree.

Thank you for reading my blog, see you next time.

Claire xx

First time shopping :-)

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August 2015

Weight – 78kg

I cannot tell you the sheer joy and elation I felt on my first shopping trip for new clothes after my surgery. I had already donated all of my plus size clothes to charity shops during my weight loss so far and now was the last of them. Here is a pick of a jumper I kept, a bit of fun, but also shows just how big my clothes were before.

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I didn’t have a clue what size I would need, but for the first time I wasn’t worried about finding clothes to fit me. In truth it was a bit overwhelming. Thankfully Tony was with me and he is very patient and also has great taste in clothes so he helped me choose a few items. I started with just a few tops, I got size 16. OMG! Size 28-30 to size 16. I tried on a dress and I was like a kid in a sweet shop in the changing room. I danced around like a loon and was admiring my reflection for the first time in my life “looking hot Claire” ha ha ha. I phoned my mum, “I fitted into size 16 mum (screaming) SIZE 16”.

A few weeks later, when I was able to drive again, we went on a special shopping trip to acquire an item of clothing that was a real milestone moment for me. I had always wanted a pair of Levi 501’s. I had never been able to get a pair to fit me before and it was on my bucket list. I tried on a few pairs and found a pair I liked. With a great big smile on my face I bought them, even got 20% student discount, result!. That night we went out in my new outfit (top photo) and I felt great. I also bought the most amazing dress for my brothers wedding shown below. Lots of my family didn’t even recognise me and had to check it was actually me. I felt a million dollars that day, me in a dress that was a first!

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I was still wearing my corset, and would need to keep wearing it for at least 3 months but I was healing well and was now using bio-oil to help with the scarring. After 6 weeks I didn’t need to go back to hospital for anymore check ups and I wasn’t to see the surgeon again for 6 weeks. I was always able to call the hospital should I have any problems, fortunately I didn’t need to. My mobility was improving daily and I was out walking lots. My strength was returning. There was one incident though that was a bit upsetting. Now that my wounds had all healed over I wanted to go for a swim. I bought a new swimming costume and off I went. I got into the pool and attempted to set off with a breast stroke only to find I literally could not do it. I am not exaggerating when I say I had absolutely no strength at all and couldn’t even do one stroke. It was horrible. I have always been a fairly strong swimmer and I felt like I couldn’t swim. I was also conscious that I was being watched by the other swimmers. I must have looked ridiculous. I fought the urge to get straight out and instead just went to the side and tread water for a little while. I eventually got out. Wouldn’t be doing that again for a while!

Apart from that little incident all was well and it was time to start preparing myself for my final year at university. It was going to be the toughest year yet and I needed to be focused and well.

Thank you for reading my blog, see you next time.

Claire x

Back Home

 

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July 2015

Weight before surgery – 88kg

Weight after surgery – 81kg

Returning home was a welcome but scary prospect. On the one hand it is better to be out of hospital and back in your own familiar environment with the home comforts, on the other hand you are now on your own. I was sent home with a bag full of various dressings which I was now responsible for changing every day and a list of do’s and don’ts to stick to. No hoovering or other housework, not a bad thing ! Plenty of rest, and short walks at first building up to longer ones.

I wouldn’t say I was experiencing pain as such, just discomfort. The surgical corset really helped. It is the weirdest feeling, sometimes it literally felt like I was going to actually fall apart and the corset was the only thing keeping me together. Before my surgery the surgeon has explained that though 6kg was removed (yes, 6 kilo’s!), that would not mean I would actually lose 6kg in weight, however, that is exactly what I lost which was amazing. Almost 1 stone in a matter of hours.

The day after my return home it was time for a shower. My journey so far had presented a number of challenges and some traumatic situations, but this can be counted as one of the worst. Not only for me, but more so for Tony. He had not yet seen the extent of my wound incisions and this would be the first time. I tried to prepare him as best I could, but honestly I don’t think anything could have prepared him, or me for the shock. I took off my corset slowly and revealed what can only be described as looking like I had been eaten by a shark. We both got upset and I really cried. After the initial shock we just got on with things and very carefully had a shower. Instantly I felt better. After a surgery like this it is a bit of a military operation showering and then changing dressings, applying creams and so on but you get used to it quickly. After a week or so I had it down to a T.

In the weeks following surgery I had to go back to the hospital weekly for check ups. The nurses and my surgeon were very happy with my healing process and I didn’t experience any issues thankfully. I was warned that due to the extent of my surgery, I may have some problems with fluid build up and possible infections but I was lucky and I did not. My surgeon was actually very chuffed and admitted he was surprised at how well I was healing. Go me!!!  Here is a photo about 2 weeks post op.

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Next time, my first shopping trip 🙂

Thank you for reading my blog, see you next time

Claire xxx

 

After surgery

Hello and welcome back to my blog.

Thursday July 9th 2015

Before I start I want to just let you know that I will be adding some photo’s of surgery, they are not that graphic or horrible, but I just wanted to warn you in advance.

After a restless night I was feeling exhausted and emotional. Thankfully I was still not experiencing a pain due to the lovely drugs I was receiving. As some of you that have had operations will know recovering from anesthetic takes a little while, I call it fuzzy head. I was a bit tearful and wanted my mum. I called her and had a talk and then felt a bit better. If you remember, I did the same thing after my gastric by-pass surgery. I had some breakfast and tea and started to feel a bit better.

My memory of the day after surgery is a bit of a blur. I was in and out of sleep, woken up regularly for obs and drugs and to have lunch. Tony visited and we watched some t.v but I was pretty useless. The surgeon came at some point and checked me over, I didn’t actually look at this point as I was not quite ready to see the surgery yet.

Friday July 10th 2015

I had another restless night but I did start to feel a bit more like myself the following day. I was told that today they would take the catheter out and I would be able to get out of bed and move to the chair. I thought, ok, that sounds like a good plan. I was a relief to have the catheter out, it is very uncomfortable, convenient, but uncomfortable. The nurses came in accompanied by two physio therapists. I remember thinking, why all the people? I soon realised why. Sitting me up and moving me from the bed to the chair next to the bed took ten minutes!  It felt like none of the muscles in my body were working at all, It didn’t hurt but it was hard work. The nurses said I did very well, but I felt useless. I had been warned that it would be like this but it was worse than I had expected. Because the surgery cuts through the core muscles you literally lose all your strength. Even just moving an arm is an effort. Going to the toilet was a military operation. I had a bag containing my vacuum drain which went over my shoulder and the four other drains to carry. It gave another meaning to bag lady, I was bottle lady! Tony visited and was pleased to see me up and looking better. We had dinner together, the food at the hospital really was very nice indeed.

Saturday July 11th 2015

Today I was more mobile, it was easier to get up for the loo, and I was encouraged to walk around the ward. I some visitors which was nice and chatted away to the nurses. I did do something very silly though. I spilled boiling hot water over my leg, it hurt, a lot! I called the nurses who came rushing in and gave me cream to help the burn. I also has an awful hour of sickness and terrible heartburn. It was all the drugs I think, I had some medicine and it got better. Had a bit of a nightmare this afternoon. The doctor came to administer my antibiotic through my I.V  but my veins had collapsed to only 15% so it would not go through properly and it bloody hurt. He had to sit for 30 minutes until it had all finally gone. He kept on apologising bless him. (Between me and you though, he was pretty hot stuff so I didn’t mind at all that he had to stay ;-)). Tomorrow is the day the surgeon will remove my vacuum drain and stitch me back together. It should be ok I think.

Sunday July 12th 2015

There are no words to describe. I was given morphine at 7am. My surgeon arrived at 7-30am. He removed the vacuum drain which was not too bad, then he proceeded to stitch me back together. The stitches had been put in place during surgery and just needed to be pulled together to seal the wound. Now, this sounds ok doesn’t it? That is exactly what I thought, however, it was the single most painful 3 minutes of my life. The morphine had no effect, and with no anesthetic I felt everything. As you can imagine it was already pretty swollen and sore. I actually screamed. Afterwards I was traumatised so I called my mum and I cried like a baby. The reason the procedure was done without anesthetic was because it was so quick and they didn’t want to give me anymore as I had enough body trauma already. I understand the logic, but I still would have preferred not to had to go through that! Anyway, it was done. One drain out, four to go.  The first two were taken out later that morning and came out without a hitch. The next two were to come out the following day, something to look forward to. Here is a photo taken the day after the drain was removed.

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You can see the 6 stitches below the bottom incision. I always think I look like a shark has taken a big bite out of me!

Monday July 13th 2015

Feeling so much better today. Now that heavy drain is out I feel lighter already. The nurses came in the morning to remove the last two drains. The left one came out easily but we had issues with the right one. Because I simply could not leave without another episode of pain, because that is just what I needed, I had so more! The tube inside had become stuck as tissue had started to form around it, I know, it sounds gross. Anyway, with a lot of pulling and tugging and moving into various positions the nurse eventually managed to pull it free but oh dear me, it stung like acid. Thankfully, now all the drains were out I could go home. Hurray 🙂

Thank you for reading my blog, see you next time.

Claire x