“I had a gastric bypass and lost 11 stone”
Since childhood Melisa Morrison, 37, has struggled with an addiction to food. Here she tells new! how she shrunk from a size 34 to a size 14-16 after having a £10,000 operation to reduce the size of her stomach…
” it’s hard to believe, but 14 months ago I was living a nightmare. I weighed 27st, was a size 34 and I was pretty much housebound. I was So depressed I refused to go outside. I’d had enough of people jeering and staring at me in the street and just getting about was physically difficult.”
But when Melisa, of Cuminestown, Aberdeenshire, saw the drastic results of her own mother’s stomach bypass two years ago, she decided to undergo the same surgical procedure as Roseanne Barr and Sharon Osbourne. Now, as she tells new!, the pounds are still dropping off.
In love with food
“I’ve loved eating for as long as I can remember. I was a chubby child growing up in Michigan, USA, and always hungry,” Melisa explains. “My parents, who were also big (my mum, Cheryl, used to be 20st), tried to control my snacking by putting locks on the fridge and cupboards! Money was tight so we ate lots of economical foods like pasta, bread, potatoes, cheese and fatty meats.”
By the time Melisa was 20, her weight had reached 16st after she binged on junk food at university, but her size didn’t bother her or put off men. “I changed boyfriends as often as my clothes! In Michigan there are a lot of curvy African and Latino women. Big was beautiful and I was confident with the way I looked ”
But by the age of 32, single Melisa had nearly given up on finding Mr Right. So she turned to an Internet chat site, where she met her future husband Charlie. a Scottish engineer, now 42. “We just clicked. He was shy and reserved while I’m really loud and outspoken. I was a bit nervous about sending him my photo because of my size. I was about 23st then, but he thought I was beautiful.”
Eight months later the couple had married and Melisa moved to Aberdeenshire to live with Charlie. It was only when she moved to Scotland that Melisa’s weight started to get her down. She explains, “People would shout mean thing’s like, ‘Hey here comes an earthquake.’ It upset and angered me and made me comfort eat more. My weight shot up to 25st by 2002. It got to the point where I had to use disabled toilets, as I couldn’t fit into regular cubicles. I had tried so many diets like Atkins in the past and none worked long term I lost weight but couldn’t keep it off.”
And the extra weight was taking its toll on Melisa’s health, too. “I developed awful back and joint pain, and my blood pressure was also hitting the roof. I’d try and get exercise by walking to the shops, taking the dogs out and cycling, but I got stared at so much I didn’t like gong out, even to college.”
Melisa knew she had to do something. And, after seeing her mum at Christmas 2002, who had got down to just 8st after a having a Roux-en-Y gastric bypass operation, she knew it was the way forward.
Going under the knife
“I made an appointment with Leeds specialist Mr Pollard in January 2003.” says Melisa.
“He talked me through the procedure, which would involve surgically reducing my stomach in size and bypassing a portion of the small intestine. This would mean I could only eat a tiny amount of food at a time. It would cost £10,000. “The op had its risks, just like any other especially because of my size. But had I not had it, I’d have died young anyway. I already had the warning signs of possible diabetes. So it was a risk worth taking.”
Melisa booked the op in March 2003, by which time she weighed just over 27st. After the six-hour procedure in St James Hospital in Leeds, Melisa emerged from theatre complete with her new tiny stomach and a whopping 12-inch scar.
She recalls, “The pain was like nothing I’ve ever felt. I’d just had ten titanium staples put into my stomach, and I was told that I screamed for an hour after I came round, but I can t remember.
I wasn’t able to eat for two days, and when I did I could only manage two tablespoons of mashed potato!”
A whole new life
Within a week, Melisa was back home and on eight painkillers a day. “I was losing on average a stone every month,” she says. “I had to get all my old clothes taken in. Charlie works overseas a lot and each time he came home, I’d be a size smaller! He’ll always say how great I look but he’s just glad I’m getting fitter and healthier.”
Fifteen months on and Melisa is a size 14-16 and weighs 15st 11lbs. Now, she says, her life has changed beyond belief “I feel fantastic and I have energy now like I never had before and I feel so much sexier. I’ve taken up swimming, t’ai chi and belly dancing – things I could never have dreamed of doing a year ago. My bank balance has taken a battering, too, as I’ve spent around £2500 on alterations and buying new clothes in the last year alone!
“I never wanted to be stick thin, but I’m hoping to lose another stone and reach my target size 14, then I’ll be really happy, but I feel like a different person and my confidence has been boosted so much.
Even though she has a little way to go, and has developed an ‘apron’ of loose skin around her tummy from the rapid weight loss which will need further surgery to correct it, it hasn’t stopped her living her life to the full.
“I’ve done a course in Indian Head Massage and am now training to be a lifeguard. I’m running my own holistic centre from home.
“Now Charlie and I can look forward to a long, happy and healthy life together, and we have our three dogs – Tessa, Prue and Abbey – and each other, which is more than enough for us right now”.
What is a Roux-en-Y gastric bypass?
The surgeon uses a band of staples to make a small pouch in the top part of your stomach. This divides the stomach into two separate parts.
The small intestine, which carries food from the stomach, is cut away from the lower part of the stomach. The small intestine, now a bit shorter, is then attached to the pouch and the rest of the stomach is closed off.
When you eat, the small pouch quickly fills with food, so you feel full after only a small amount of food. And because your small intestine is shorter, your body takes in less of the food as it passes through to the lower intestine.
The Roux-en-Y (pronounced Roo-in-Y) procedure is simply A Y-shaped connection of the small bowel and is named after a 19th century French surgeon. Dr Phillibert Roux.
Who’s eligible, and is it available on the NHS?
Each case is different, but the average bypass patient has a Body Mass Index of 40+ (Normal BMI is between18.5 – 24.9). However there is currently a minimum two-year waiting list on the NHS and the operation costs around £10,000 to have it done privately
Rapid weight loss after the operation, with most patients losing a stone a month.
You feel fuller quicker and therefore eat less.
Mortality rate during surgery is low – under 0.3 per cent and complication rate under 10 per cent.
Sustained weight loss.
Eating too many foods that move through the intestine too quickly will cause dizziness, nausea and in some cases, diarrhea.
If you eat more than your stomach can hold It can cause vomiting.
Surplus of loose skin from the rapid weight loss
For further Info
Contact Mr Pollard at St James Hospital, Leeds on 0113 206 4608, or visit Melisa’s website, www.morrison.uk.net. For advice on obesity, contact The Obesity Awareness & Solutions Trust on 01279 866010