18th September, 2018
My brain injury has not helped when it comes to me being a healthy and suitable weight in respect to my height. A combination of steroid treatment, hospital admissions and subsequent recoveries have all been contributory factors in my putting on weight.
For whatever the reason, I was almost mute to the increasing amount of weight I gained post brain surgery, particularly following the recurrence of further treatment in 2014, after a ten-year gap. I had got to a point where the clothes I wore had to be bought from stores specialising in clothes for the ‘oversized’ be that tall, fat or for some folk both! I was using a sleep apnoea device every night because of significant problems sleeping from being overweight.
If it had not been for the help and support of my family then I am likely to have remained ignorant to this significant weight gain. I suffered a stroke post-surgery in 2014 and with their help and guidance the ball was set rolling in me trying to lose weight. We asked for a referral, from the Endocrine Team, to the Obesity Clinic at Addenbrooke’s Hospital.
Initially I didn't feel that I needed to be at an obesity clinic. Yes, I knew needed to lose weight, but even then, I could not see that I was so much more than slightly overweight. I suppose my grip on the reality of my weight/appearance was warped.
At the appointment, I was measured for weight and height and subsequently told that my BMI was high enough to put me into the very obese category. Being told that my weight now meant I had surpassed the threshold of “overweight” into obese was not a nice thing to hear. The fact that someone else (from an objective view point) other than my family, especially a consultant in obesity medicine and a dietician, made me realise the predicament I was in and hence, the ‘wake-up call’ I needed to take serious action to tackle my weight.
I started my diet with an initial period of a milk only diet. That is a diet consisting of exclusively four pints of milk a day and a stock cube with a cup of boiling water – oh and a multivitamin tablet thrown in for good measure! The aim of which [with effect] was to kick start an initial drastic weight loss. Most importantly it provided the positive reinforcement I needed to motivate myself to carry on losing weight.
I attended the Obesity Clinic on a weekly basis, was weighed and my food diary assessed by the dietician. Food was gradually added to the milk only diet over a six-month period. The staff were all very supportive but I must admit the Obesity Clinic was a pretty awful place to attend each week and a good motivator to lose the weight.
With my family’s support, I maintained a much healthier diet/lifestyle and to date have lost ten stone. This has resulted in many positives. Mentally I feel more together and confident, physically I am at less at risk of developing the diseases/disorders associated with obesity. I also have far more choice in relation to what I wear!
To avoid portraying myself as the finished article, I have now been my current weight for over a year and still have a stone to lose. The hardship of going through the weight loss programme are made more than worthwhile by the positive benefits such as improved physical health and mental well-being. I no longer have sleep apnoea and enjoy the benefits of a good night’s sleep. Importantly, I am not so fatigued during the day, which is one of the side effects of brain injury anyway, hence losing weight has certainly helped lessen my fatigue.
I really look forward to my twice weekly gym sessions at Headway with Veer – although he can be cruel! Being less tired also allows me to keep busy and avoid thinking about food through boredom, it doesn’t however stop the temptation of eating the foods I now avoid!
I am also hopeful that losing weight might have given me a better chance of achieving some of my wider life goals such as employment and eventually living a safe and independently life.
To summarise, losing weight has helped:
“ The Hospital Brain Injury Co-ordinator became someone who absolutely understood how I felt, I didn’t need to explain. I could talk about my fears and worries. She was such a great support through the difficult days, but could also celebrate the small step successes, which was important to me. ”