So greedy I had weight-loss surgery TWICE!

Nicola cheated her gastric sleeve

Nicola Bowmer, 43, cheated her own gastric sleeve and had weight loss surgery TWICE. Here she shares her weight loss journey in her own words…

Flopping down onto the sofa after a hard afternoon at work, I heard the familiar sound of fabric ripping.

My trousers had split again.

I’d have to get my boss to order me a larger size – again.

I’d started working in a school kitchen after my marriage broke down.

Looking after my little girls Georgina and Demi on my own, the hours fitted around our new life perfectly.

But the nature of the job didn’t help with my ever-expanding waistline.

I was so big I struggled to walk. (Credit: Johanna Bell)

It was easy to pick at the food, and then in the evening once the kids were in bed I’d start eating again.

It’s because I’m bored and lonely, I thought. 

Really, I needed a hobby.

But the truth was, I was happier scoffing a Chinese takeaway alone, washed down with a family-sized chocolate cake.

As the scales started going up, I went into denial.

I stopped weighing myself when I reached 140 kilos.

But my work uniform was a constant reminder of the weight piling on.

‘They don’t make them any bigger,’ my boss told me as she handed me a pair of size-26 pants.

I was mortified. But I couldn’t stop eating. And when that pair ripped, I started wearing leggings to work.

Me at my biggest. (Credit: Johanna Bell.)

Of course, my health was suffering.

I went backwards and forwards to the hospital for help with my blood pressure, diabetes and boils, and I struggled to walk.

‘Let’s check your weight,’ the nurse said at one check-up.

Hopping on the scales, I couldn’t hide my shock – 190 kilos!

When the doctor recommended a gastric sleeve operation, I nodded glumly.

I had to do something drastic before my greediness killed me.

It took about a year to get a date for the op and in the meantime I learned I was suffering with sleep apnoea.

I was stopping breathing a terrifying 47 times an hour.

I got a machine to help me sleep properly but I still couldn’t stop eating.

When I went in for the operation, I was terrified I wouldn’t wake up from it.

The surgeon had told me to get my affairs in order beforehand, just in case the worst happened.

So, I’d written letters to my daughters and made sure my mum would look after them.

Afterwards, I was sore but so happy to be alive.

The first year was brilliant.

I lost 63 kilos and even started going to the gym.

That’s where I met Hayley Evans, 29.

‘I need friends and a hobby to keep me from comfort eating,’ I told her as we chatted on the cross-trainers.

We got on so well, she insisted on taking me for a drink for my birthday.

We had a great time and I was so happy to have found a friend.

But when we went to the cinema together I got the shock of my life.

As we sat laughing our way through the film, Hayley’s knee touched mine and it was like an electric current running through me.

I couldn’t concentrate on the film and I rushed over to an old friend’s place afterwards.

‘Drape your leg over mine,’ I ordered her.

After she’d stopped laughing, she complied.

‘I don’t feel anything,’ I sighed.

‘You’ve been single too long,’ she laughed, ‘you need a night with a man!’

But after 40 years as a straight woman, I realised I had a crush on my female gym buddy.

I struggled to accept it and started avoiding Hayley.

Then she went away for a week and I missed her so much I knew I had to act on my feelings.

‘I feel exactly the same!’ she cried.

From then on, we were joined at the hip.

But there was one thing ruining my joy my weight was creeping up again.

I’d had psychological help before the op, but it wasn’t enough.

I was still addicted to food. If you’re an alcoholic or drug addict you cut out the thing you’re addicted to but you just can’t do that with food.

Slowly, I was eating more and more. And I realised the more I ate, the more I was able to eat.

The sleeve was stretching!

I started putting weight back after my gastric sleeve. (Credit: Johanna Bell.)

I could still eat treats like pork pies and cakes, just in smaller portions.

It got to the point where I could devour two chocolate eclairs in one sitting.

Eighteen months after the op I’d put 25 kilos back on.

I was devastated.

My surgeon said the best thing to do was reverse the procedure and carry out a gastric bypass with a fobi ring to prevent stretching.

No-one wanted me to get
it done.

‘Why can’t you just stop eating and do it yourself?’ my family screamed at me.

I had to explain to them I had no control over food.

And if I kept getting bigger it could kill me.

Thankfully, the bypass was a success.

Me after gastric bypass. (Credit: Johanna Bell.)

It meant I couldn’t physically pig out anymore.

Ive also become gluten intolerant, which restricts my diet even further.

Now, I’m back on track and I’ve lost a total of 101 kilos.

Hayley and me. (Credit: Johanna Bell.)

Hayley has been a massive support.

We’ve been together four years now and she is so proud of me.

Surgery definitely isn’t the easy option it doesn’t change your head or address your addiction to food.

But I’m glad I’ve finally beaten mine.

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