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.

The Timaru Herald - - Weekend -

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.

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