When my fiance had gastric surgery I was jolted into drastic action too. Then I got a huge shock…
By Claire Reid, 27, South Shields, Tyne and Wear
“Can you pass me another slice please love?”
I grinned at my fiance Karl, 25, as I pushed the greasy takeaway box towards him. A typical evening for us was ordering a large pizza to share, complete with all the trimmings. When we were finished, we’d often settle down to watch a film and share a huge tub of ice cream.
Karl and I knew each other while we were growing up, but got together properly in August 2011. We got on brilliantly, and the one big thing we had in common was our love of food.
We’d often go out for a three course meal, or order in a takeaway to eat in front of the television. Neither of us really knew how to cook, and as a result we both had bulging waistlines.
I was a hulking size 28 and weighed in at a whopping 21st, but despite my size, Karl and I had a great relationship and an even better sex life. We were at it at least three times a week, and I felt so comfortable with Karl that my size never bothered me in the bedroom.
Around other people though, it was a different story. Whenever I had to leave the house, I’d look in the mirror and frown at the person staring back at me.
I lived in baggy, shapeless clothes in an attempt to cover up my wobbily figure, and as a result my confidence had hit rock bottom. Every time I left the house, I was convinced that people were staring at me.
The pounds had starting piling on when I was a just a child – at school I was bullied mercilessly, all because I was bigger than the other kids. Teenage shopping trips would always end in tears as nothing ever looked nice on me, and I was useless with boys.
When I left school, life didn’t get much easier. I had a few boyfriends during my late teens but they were often controlling and cruel about my appearance, leaving deep emotional scars.
As I grew older, a diet filled with unhealthy junk food, did nothing to help matters. A typical day for me would start with a pile of toast dripping with butter, followed by mayonnaise-filled sandwiches and a takeaway for dinner.
Then after having my two children, Chloe, nine and Connor, five, my weight soon got out of control.
I tried and failed at countless diets, repeatedly falling at the very first hurdle, and my weight meant I struggled with diabetes.
I was so unfit, I got out of breath just climbing a few stairs. I pretended not to care that nothing ever fitted me in clothes shops, but inside I was miserable.
“I feel really frumpy,” I moaned to Karl, as I smoothed a baggy t-shirt over my flabby frame.
“You always look amazing to me,” he soothed, kissing my forehead.
At least I knew that Karl loved me for me. Karl was thoughtful and genuine, and most importantly, he treated me with complete respect.
After a string of unhealthy relationships, it felt amazing to fall for someone who was so incredible. The kids loved him, too. I knew I was very lucky to have a man like Karl in my life.
He knew all too well what it was like to struggle with his weight – he weighed 23st and like me, he hated dieting.
We were both as bad as each other – when one of us was trying to eat healthily, the other one would coax the other to indulge in something naughty. We were terrible at eating the right foods, and as a result we just got bigger and bigger.
But everything changed one night, when Karl came home with an announcement.
“My doctor’s offered me gastric surgery on the NHS,” he said. “He’s put me forward for a gastric bypass for the sake of my health.”
“That’s amazing,” I replied, but I felt a twinge of jealousy. Over the next few days, I couldn’t stop thinking about what life would be like after Karl had his operation. With a new slim and sexy look, would he still want me?
“Will you still want to be with me when you’re thin?” I asked him one night as we were lying in bed.
“Of course I will!” he replied giving me a squeeze. “Don’t be silly. I love you, nothing is ever going to change that.”
But I couldn’t shake off the worry that Karl was going to have a brand new life once he had lost weight, and that I was going to be left behind.
“Perhaps I should speak to my doctor about getting help too,” I suggested.
Because of my diabetes, I had previously discussed weight loss surgery with my doctor but I had never taken it any further.
But Karl getting the go-ahead for an op was all the motivation I needed. I booked an appointment and I was over the moon when my doctor referred me straight away.
A few weeks later, I heard I was going to have the operation. I was thrilled – I couldn’t wait to shed the pounds to become a slimmer, sexier version of me.
I had my gastric bypass in June 2015 – four months after Karl had his. Karl’s operation had been hailed a great success and he was already losing loads of weight.
“I’ll soon catch you up!” I grinned at him, after my surgeon informed me that my surgery had also been successful.
When I lost two stone in the first three months. I was already feeling sexier – in and out of the bedroom. But in September 2015 I got up from the sofa and felt a sudden, sharp pain in my stomach.
“Ouch!” I gasped, clutching my midriff. When the pain became so bad I couldn’t even stand or walk, I collapsed in agony. I grabbed my phone and managed to call for an ambulance.
I was rushed into hospital, where doctors explained there was a hole in my bowel and poison was slowly leaking into my body.
“We need to act fast,” a doctor told me grimly. “You need urgent surgery so we can fix your bowel and you also have a huge abscess we need to treat.”
Karl rushed to my bedside, and we listened in shock as medics told me that if anything went wrong, I could be left with a colostomy bag.
After the surgery, I lay recovering in intensive care for three weeks. Luckily, I didn’t need a bag but I had to be fed through a tube and doctors said I was lucky to be alive.
I couldn’t help but wish that I’d never had the bypass. Karl was healthy and happy, while I almost died. It wasn’t fair.
Now, a year on, Karl has lost a staggering 11st and I’ve lost 5st. Karl looks absolutely amazing, and while I’ve lost a bit of weight it has come off much slower than I thought it would.
The ordeal has left me needing strong painkillers, and although Karl has been an absolute rock, it’s had a devastating effect on our sex life.
Almost every night, Karl jumps into bed and slides an arm around me suggestively, but I’m still in so much pain I can’t bear for him to come anywhere near me.
“Don’t you want me anymore?” he asked one night, sounding hurt.
“Of course I do, but I’m in too much pain,” I replied, pulling the covers tightly around me. Our evenings are now a far cry from the nights of passion we used to enjoy.
I hate rejecting him, but now I can’t even bring myself to undress in front of him. I know he doesn’t care what I look like but I’ve got a big, ugly scar across my stomach which has left me more insecure than ever.
I hate that he gets upset when I reject his advances in the bedroom, but I can’t bring myself to enjoy getting intimate anymore, I’m far too self conscious.
All I ever wanted was to be slim and sexy – instead my gastric bypass left me in agony and stole my sex life. The truth is, I felt sexier and happier when I was fat.
Karl says: “Our sex life was really good before we had our operations and to be honest, I expected it to get even better afterwards. I had my operation first and it was a great success – I lost weight quickly and felt better than ever. But Claire wasn’t so lucky and suffered quite an ordeal after hers. I helped to nurse her back to health, took care of the kids while she was recovering, and now I’m her full-time carer. Unfortunately after everything she’s been through, our sex life is practically non-existent. We’ve gone from having sex a few times a week to just once or twice a month. I still think she’s gorgeous and want her more than ever, but I understand her reasons. Whatever happens, she means the world to me, and I’ll stand by her side no matter what.”