Stomach surgery lightens a heavy load
A Timaru woman has battled her weight for years but things have changed since she had gastric surgery. Esther AshbyCoventry reports.
Claireabelle Burt has struggled with maintaining weight loss for decades but says she has a whole new lease of life since undergoing gastric sleeve surgery.
The Timaru woman has battled bulimia and binge eating disorder (BED) since primary school, regularly losing weight then gaining more than she had lost.
At her heaviest she was 170.3 kilograms, depressed and did not care what she looked like – now she is 62kg lighter at 108.3kg and is taking pride in what she wears and has more confidence.
‘‘Everything is better,’’ Burt said. ‘‘I have more energy and don’t think about food.
‘‘My brain is at peace.’’ A decision to put her health first prompted Burt to see a psychologist privately last year which helped her work through some emotional issues and practise mindfulness but was not quite enough to help her keep the weight off.
In six months she lost 38kg but then put it back on again plus more – a familiar pattern in her life.
‘‘I was physically and mentally done. I could hardly function.
‘‘I could hardly get dressed and it was hard to clean myself because I was so big.’’
This year she decided the last resort was gastric sleeve surgery.
A date was set for March 30 but cancelled due to lockdown and she put on another 20kg over that period.
Walking up the path was a struggle and the seatbelt in her new car was so tight it was hard for her to breathe.
Finally, she got the call for a
‘‘I would rather have the surgery than buy a house. It has changed my life and stopped me eating myself to death.’’ Claireabelle Burt
new surgery date of April 28.
Three weeks after the surgery at a private hospital in Christchurch she was readmitted with rare complications caused by a twisted stomach.
Despite the setback, she does not regret the operation which took out 80 per cent of her stomach, reducing her appetite significantly.
Because her stomach size has been reduced her digestive system cannot process pasta or bread, and sugar will make her sick.
Burt has to reduce her salt intake and will be on multivitamin tablets for the rest of her life.
‘‘I am loving every moment and accepting my body as it is.’’
She does not have a particular dress size she aspires to fit, quite happy going from a size 28 to a size 16-18.
The surgery cost $21,700, of which Burt used her KiwiSaver and health insurance to pay for most of it and had to find another $3000.
‘‘I would rather have the surgery than buy a house.
‘‘It has changed my life and stopped me eating myself to death.’’
Burt, who works as a nanny, would like to work at a gym and help other people with their weight problems.
She has set up an Instagram platform to raise awareness of BED and has shared her weight story over the past year with 27,200 followers.
She had her first public speaking engagement on her weight loss battles several weeks ago and hopes to be an inspirational speaker at high schools.
Left, Claireabelle Burt today; above, before her gastric sleeve surgery.