A bank counselor with painful spine syndrome had life-changing weight loss surgery after she was shamed when she swore the MRI machine had shrunk during a routine checkup – when she had actually gained weight.
Mother of three, Lucy Lloyd, 36, had two spinal surgeries in 2012. Suffering from excruciatingly painful cauda equina syndrome, in which all of the nerves in the lower back are suddenly and severely compressed, she admits that the pain has been too comforting for her.
During an MRI scan in late 2020, 5ft 4in Lucy, from Alltwen, Pontardawe, struggling with training, she really thought the machine was smaller before realizing it got bigger at 19.7kg and a height of 22 .
Lucy said, “When I realized that I had gotten bigger – not the MRI machine that was shrinking – I knew I had to do something.
“I signed up for weight loss surgery and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.”
Lucy – mother of Chloe, 15, Ollie, 11, and Louis, 7 – worked in a high street bank and is happily married to Matthew, 42, who was recently fired from his job as a machine worker on the spine shortly after giving birth her eldest son in 2010.
Initially prescribed injections for pain relief, in late 2012, when she was only 25 years old, a disc in her spine began to push into her spinal cord – and she was admitted for surgery.
“The disc slipped into the cable and I couldn’t even pee because of the pressure,” said Lucy.
“I had emergency surgery in November 2012, but had to go back a few months later because fragments of the intervertebral disc were left in it. It wasn’t very nice – it took a year to recover.
“From then on I had persistent back problems.”
And just two months after her second operation, she found out she was pregnant with her youngest son, Louis.
She said, “I was really scared, but my surgeon was glad I was able to continue with the pregnancy.
“He’s my little wonder baby.”
Exercising was difficult for Lucy due to the pain, and she began comfort food to help manage the stress of parenting and managing her condition.
“It’s a terrible pain,” she said. “That can be heartbreaking at times. I cannot move and the children must see me in agony.
“As I gained weight, I also got into depression and anxiety. It was a vicious circle. “
Trapped in a cycle of hunger and overeating, Lucy’s metabolism couldn’t calm down.
She confessed, “I would eat.
“I went out without food because I thought I was fine and then came the night I would eat emotionally as my back worsened as the day went on.
“If I look back now, I would have had three packs of chips in one evening. I didn’t have a good relationship with food. “
Given the annual MRI scans to measure her progress in December 2020 when she struggled into the machine at Morriston Hospital, it seemed a lot tighter than she remembered.
Lucy said, “I’ve had an MRI every year since my surgery. I had one last year and just thought, ‘Oh my god, the machine got smaller.’ But obviously I got bigger.
“I felt good in the machine. It was much tighter than before.
“I didn’t tell the technicians anything, but I was a little embarrassed!
“They did the scan and I came back knowing I had to do something for my weight.”
When Lucy and Matthew completed the purchase of their new home in February 2021, they realized it was now or never and began researching their options.
“I just thought, ‘I have to do something,’ and looked around for weight loss surgery,” she said.
“I thought the gastric band would be better for me. I booked it and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made – the MRI scan made the choice for me. “
Choosing Birmingham-based Transform Hospital Group, Lucy decided to pay for her surgery privately and spent £ 6,290 to have gastric banding by her surgeon Paul Super on May 12th.
The tube is wrapped around the stomach and filled with injections over time, gradually shrinking the patient’s stomach and limiting the amount of food they can eat.
She said, “My parents took me away and they stayed in a hotel and picked me up the next morning.
“The recovery went well and I was working from home on the fifth day, so I didn’t need much free time.
“For the first three days I only slept and drank fluids when I could. The rest helped my recovery and my family took care of the children. “
The surgery also requires liquid food for two weeks before and after, followed by two weeks of pureed food and one week of crispy food.
So far, Lucy has had two ligament tightening sessions, followed by a 24-hour liquid and a 24-hour mash diet, and is expecting a total of three more tightening sessions.
“Whenever I feel like I can eat more, I injected myself with a saline solution through an opening in my stomach, which will stretch and tighten the ligament,” she said. “I have had two lifts so far. I’m getting my third next month.
“The surgeon said he thinks my fifth tension will be the last.”
She already has a weight of 16 kg and is a size 16, she is overjoyed with the result and hopes to finally reach 10 kg on the first anniversary of her operation.
She said, “I feel so much more confident now than ever before.
“Back then, my portion sizes were so huge compared to what I eat today. I’m really exaggerating.
“My clothes fit a lot better. My husband compliments me and family and friends have said how proud they are of me.
“Looking at the comparison photos also helps me to carry on when I see how tall I was and how far I have come in a short time.
“Now that I’m slimmer, it helps with my pain and I can handle the workout like a gentle walk.”
And Lucy hopes that on her next MRI on September 29th, she will be three stones lighter than her last.
She said, “I’m really looking forward to going on vacation with Matthew and the kids – we’d love to go back to Greece – and putting on a bikini.
“But I can’t wait to get back into this MRI machine!”
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