Testimonial - Events Leading Up To

Events leading to weight loss surgery – John Catterall

During my childhood and adolescence, I never had a problem with my weight. I always had a normal weight for my height. Although, on reflection, there may have been some eating issues concerning anxiety at school. At primary school age I started to go to a relatives for lunch.

When I left school, I began an apprenticeship in joinery and was introduced to unhealthy eating, and drinking alcohol, at a young age. That was in the early 70’s, when diets were not the norm, especially in the male population. I never worried about what I was eating or drinking. The job was physical which helped to keep my weight down. I basically ate what I wanted.


In my middle twenties, my weight started to increase, but nothing too drastic. Nonetheless, my drinking habits, and poor diet continued. I married at the age of 29 years. I had the same job, and further developed a taste for spicy food such as curries, and my drinking habits changed to wine and spirits, but I still drank beer. I had a busy social life that included playing in a brass band and snooker, which again usually meant drinking alcohol and eating out after concerts and matches. I never did any exercise.

Later on I left the joinery profession and started work in a factory. The work was near home and paid better money. The work was tedious, and involved long shifts. I was working, sleeping and eating at unsociable times. I was drinking spirits after my night shift ended, and eating far too much. The job included heavy lifting but by the age of 50 I weighed 18 stone. I did nothing about it. Therefore, over the next 5 years, my weight increased to 30 stone.

I struggled to do my job because of my size, and retired on health grounds. Everything in my life was a struggle and there were problems in my marriage. I had type II diabetes, hypertension and arthritis in my joints. I had to take a cocktail of medicines to control all my medical problems. I had to buy my clothes from specialist shops, which were very expensive. I lived in very large jogging pants and t-shirts just for comfort not style.

I went to see my doctor and he referred me to a dietician and a specialist at my local hospital. They carried out some tests; with all my problems and a BMI of 50, I was a candidate for bariatric surgery. I needed funding from my PCT. I waited a long time, but eventually was granted funding. There are only a few hospitals in my area that could perform the surgery. So I decided on the Alexandra Hospital for my first choice. This turned out to be a very good choice. Soon after, an appointment was arranged for me to see Mr. Akhtar. At the consultation, I was informed that I needed to lose some weight before surgery could be considered. I cut out alcohol and counted the calories and did manage to lose the required 15kgs by my next appointment, which was approximately 2 months.

Mr. Akhtar stated that he could now perform the surgery but possibly only a sleeve gastrectomy, depending on my condition on the day of the operation. I received my appointment to go into hospital, which was the 16 August 2011. It was hard to believe my life was at last going to change. I had to go on a special diet designed to shrink the liver, to make the surgery easier. This was not a problem as I was so determined to make it work.


On the day, my family drove me to the hospital. I was taken to my room; it was like a 5 star hotel- very comfortable. Mr. Akhtar and the anaesthetist came to see me and explained everything very well. I was taken to theatre in a couple of hours and the next thing I was recovering from the surgery. I spent the night in ICU and was well looked after. Mr. Akhtar came to see me and explained he had been able to do the full gastric bypass. I could not thank him enough. All the team were fantastic, friendly and helpful.

It is now 18 months since my surgery. I weigh 106 kg; I was previously 190 kg. I joined the local gym, had a personal trainer to help me with an exercise programme and now have the confidence to go alone. I exercise about 4-5 times a week. I love it and have made new friends. I can buy large size clothes instead of 5XL. I can enjoy my grandchildren. My wife and children have been very supportive since day one, and are proud of my achievements.

I still do not drink alcohol and enjoy a healthy diet. If I do eat the wrong foods, it makes me feel nauseous so it is not worth it. My blood pressure and diabetes medication have been stopped as a direct result of the surgery. Diabetes is often resolved following the operation. The surgery has worked for me and turned my life around.

Many thanks to Mr. Akhtar and his team, especially Helen and Louise for the care prior to surgery and the two year follow up. I attended my last appointment this month.

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