Procedure of choice Gastric band
Starting weight 19st 12lb
Current weight 12st 5lb
Total weight loss 7st 7lb*
Trigger for weight loss Health
"This is better than winning the lottery - in fact I think I’ve won it!"
Hi, my name is Jan Ellis. I am 57 and live in Essex, married to my wonderful and supportive husband Hilton. For those considering gastric band obesity surgery I hope my story will give you the courage to take that extra step.
Before My Surgery
I've had a weight problem all my life, entering this world as an 8lb 15oz bouncing baby! I can remember my mother taking me to the doctor when I was 7 because I already weighed 7 stones. He said I wasn't allowed to eat sweets to which I replied “Can I still eat Maltesers because they have non-fattening centres?” Oh the power of advertising!
My school years were miserable because of the ridicule I suffered about my ever expanding body. During a history lesson I was likened to a barrage balloon. The whole class including the teacher was laughing at me, a situation that wouldn't be allowed today. I was dying inside.
During puberty I lost a couple of stone and weighed around 11 stones (154 lbs). I managed to maintain this weight until I married and gave birth to my three wonderful sons. After each pregnancy I went up the scales a little more and by the time my third son was born in 1978 I tipped the scales at 15 stones 7lbs (217 lbs).
For the past 35 years I have tried every diet under the sun from the F Plan Diet to Weight Watchers and from the Scarsdale Medical Diet to the Atkins Diet. I’ve even gone as far as having injections and taking tablets that made my heart race and had me walking around all night. I became the classic yo-yo dieter and, you guessed it, I lost some weight but put it all back on again and more!
Five years ago I was gravely ill and underwent life saving surgery for a serious bowel condition that left me with a colostomy. It was a tricky operation not only for my problem but also because of my weight which was 19 stones (266 lbs).
My children sent me to a general physician to assess my well-being as my general health had deteriorated and I developed diabetes, high blood pressure and dangerously raised cholesterol. After carrying out some tests he delivered the grim diagnosis that if I didn’t do something about my weight I would be dead in ten years. He referred me to an endocrinologist (a doctor who deals with thyroid and metabolism) who suggested I consider having a gastric band fitted to help me reduce weight. This was completely alien to me and I couldn’t think of anything worse. My reply was that I was sure I could get the weight off myself, but all I managed to do was gain another two stone over the next two years.
In January 2005 I weighed a massive 20 stones 12lbs (292 lbs). I could barely walk. I found it difficult to turn over in bed and could not bend over without great difficulty. I am 5’4” tall and I was wearing a size 30. I was so miserable. I dreaded meeting anyone for the first time because all I could think was that they were shocked at how fat I was. I was filled with such self loathing.
My Decision to Have a Gastric Band
I was feeling so low. My GP was negative saying that I had to lose weight before he could help me with any medication! I felt there was no one who believed in me or could help me. One evening I was watching the news and saw an item about a procedure being carried out a London hospital. My husband telephoned Carlton TV to find out details and that is how I discovered Healthier Weight.
A week later I was sitting in Dr Ashton’s consulting room. My first impression was how sympathetic and non-judgemental he was. He was the first person who had ever said that obesity was a disease. All through my life I had been given to believe that I was solely responsible for the state of my body. He very carefully assessed me asking me lots of questions about my health problems. In turn he patiently answered my numerous questions about gastric band surgery. I explained that a previous surgeon didn’t think a band would work for me. The whole time I was so scared that Dr Ashton would agree, but to my astonishment he said that he could see no reason why I couldn’t have a gastric band. What he said next has stayed in the forefront of my mind “If you make a friend of your band it will work for you”.
I went away to think over the details of the consultation and after discussions with the family I decided to go ahead. Obesity surgery is not something you enter into lightly. For me it was my last chance at saving my life and having the opportunity of seeing my beautiful granddaughter grow up. But I believe in the saying you have to crack eggs to make omelettes.
My gastric band surgery was arranged for Friday 20th January 2006. Two weeks before my surgery I met again with Dr Ashton and Mr John Rogers the surgeon who was going to operate on me. Mr Rogers carefully assessed me as he had to take into account my previous surgery and the future surgery I will have to have. Although I have had a lot of surgery I am quite a nervous patient but both Hilton and I were so impressed and confident after meeting Mr Rogers, we knew I was going to be in excellent hands.
The morning of my gastric band surgery dawned and I checked into The Princess Grace Hospital. At 10.30am my husband and eldest son waved me off as I was taken to theatre. At 1.00pm I was back in my room with my new friend “Bea the Band” now very much in residence. I spent two very comfortable nights in the hospital. The afternoon of my operation Dr Ashton came in to see me and Mr Rogers was also extremely attentive, I felt very spoilt!
After My Surgery
As I am writing this it is nine months to the day that I had my surgery. On the morning of my surgery I weighed 19 stones 12lbs (278lbs). Now I weigh 13 stones 6lbs (188 lbs)*.
The gastric band has been very successful for me and I believe this is because I have always remembered what Dr. Ashton said to me. Sometimes I’ve argued with “Bea” and she’s let me know about it! I still have a way to go to reach my goal but I think I can now see the finishing post on the horizon. Apart from the fact that the high street has opened up to me (Hilton’s credit card has ignited!), on a serious note my medical conditions have greatly improved. My GP has taken me off my blood pressure medication and my diabetes and cholesterol readings are normal. I have seen my bowel surgeon to discuss the possibility of a reversal of my colostomy and I am going into hospital next week for some tests. Previously he told me if I lost my excess weight we could be looking at a reversal - that was motive enough for me. This is better than winning the lottery - in fact I think I’ve won it!
I truly believe my key to success has been the fact that I have never lost sight of the fact that the gastric band is a powerful tool and not a miracle cure for weight loss. It is the ultimate in portion control – I eat small calorie controlled meals and I am never hungry. I still have an occasional treat but I do not make a habit of it. If you are considering a gastric band I do not believe you could receive better care than that which I have received from Dr Ashton and the staff of Healthier Weight. He truly cares about all his patients and everyone there rejoices with you in your success.
To finish I would like to thank some people, first of all Mr Rogers for his expertise, Dr Ashton for his continuing support and lastly for my three wonderful sons whose generosity is enabling me to achieve my dream. I also cannot wait to send the first surgeon a Christmas card with an up to-date photograph of me – I hope he doesn’t choke on his mince pie!!
Since writing her diary in November Janice has lost another stone and now weighs 12 stones 5 lbs (173 lbs). She has also been a tremendous inspiration to others at our patient support group meetings.*
Janice is featured in our new "Healthier Weight Guide to Obesity Surgery " booklet given to all Healthier Weight lap band patients.