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Left: Me at 46st. Right: After my first op 1was left with massive folds of saggy skin

akingwith ashudd~r: anagomsmg pain seared through my swollen belly. Yanking back the bedcovers, I screamed. A river of blood was cascading from between my legs, turning my cream nightdress crimson.


Fear galloped through me. How muld I call an ambulance and/ace the shame 0/ paramedicsjinding all6jt and 46st0/ me like this?

But I couldn't just bleed to 21 death. It was June 2001and I was g only 35- too young to die ... ~ Finally, calling an ambulance, .~ I gasped, 'I'm haemorrhaging!' "E Then I collapsed into my pillows, 8 sobbing in despair ... ~ Being fat had ruined my life. ~ At seven, I'd worn clothes for ~ 12-year-<>lds.'Here comes fatty!' ui kids would yell ~ It hurt, but not enough to stop Z me tucking in to fried chicken ~ and macaroni cheese. Washing &- down chips with a 2ltr bottle ~ of cola in bed, I'd feel elated. (5 But afterwards, deep, dark if. shame set in - feelings that could

only be eased by more food. And so the vicious circle continued ... My mum, Faye, now 73,and dad, James, were big, too. So was my sister, Marcia, until she stopped bingeing at 14,determined not to be fat any more. Meanwhile, my weight had destroyed everything - my love life, my career and my body. Flattered when my fIrst boyfriend told me I was beautiful at 18,I'd let him move in. Making love felt wonderfuluntil he started disappearing at night 'to be with a woman who isn't fat', he told me. After that, my confIdence hit rock-bottom and I fell into abusive relationships. Meanwhile, I began training as a nurse, but my size-26 bulk made being on my feet all day too hard, so I had to leave . Instead, I became a carer to the elderly, who didn't mind me being fat A fry-up for breakfast, fried chicken and steak sandwiches for lunch, roast dinner and more sandwiches, all washed down with litres of cola became the norm. My food bills were astronomic! But at 27, my doctor warned me to lose weight after tests revealed I had

early-<>nset heart failure and diabetes. I tried every diet going - from Atkins to the cabbage soup diet - to no avail. My hormones were all over the place, and I hadn't had a period for three years. And now, as six paramedics levered me onto a specially made stretcher, I knew it was serious ... At hospital, I was rushed straight to theatre. When I came round, hooked up to tubes, wires and machines, doctors told me my absence of periods had caused internal bleeding. They'd had to seal up my Fallopian tubes and give me a hysterectomy. 'I'm sorry, but you won't be able to have children,' they told me. Tears rolled down my cheeks. Something had to change...

Leaving hospital two days later, I was determined to lose weight. Browsing the internet, I came across something called a duodenal switch. It would mean removing threequarters of my stomach, drastically reducing the amount I could eat. Next, I found a surgeon willing to perform the ÂŁ9,000 op.It'd take all my savings and, because of the strain to the heart, the risk was very high. 'I'm dying a slow, miserable death now,' I told the surgeon. 'This is my last chance. So, in September 2001, I had my last meal - crispy chicken, a loaf of bread with butter, pasta with creamy tomato sauce and a cheesecake. The following morning, six men ' heaved me across two hospital trolleys so I could be wheeled into theatre. When I woke up after the six-hour op, hooked up to a heart monitor and morphine drip, Ifeltlike I'd been run over by

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UK story, feature story of weight loss success of Connie Jackson Barbour