Lisa admits that food is her go-to. It’s her comfort, and it makes her feel better on hard days. And she often has hard days. Along with what she considers her food-addiction, Lisa also suffers from anxiety and depression – and she’s not afraid to talk about it. “I’m terrified of the surgery,” Lisa admits, “but if there’s even the smallest chance it will help my mental health, I’ll do it.” It will be a battle, but Lisa has faced many battles before, including post-natal depression and the death of her first husband. Lisa likens depression to a stalker, catching her and bringing her down. But she’s determined to beat it. I just want to be a normal, healthy woman, who feels good about how she looks at the same time.”
Jackson has always been a big boy, so big in fact that he’s been on the surgery list since he was 15. Now the doctors deem him old enough for surgery, and Jackson openly admits he probably hasn’t been mature enough until now. Jackson agrees. “It’s time to tend to myself now. I want to be like the other 21 year olds, living it up, I don’t want to be stuck on my arse.” Jackson is studying for a freight forwarding licence, and he wants to get his driver’s licence through his local marae. Jackson is impatient, and frustrated at having to wait. Accepting help through the process is going to be a big part of the battle for Jackson, as well as the process itself. But he’s determined to do it.
Melissa is bubbly, and articulate, she’s also incredibly well-versed in all things bariatric. After working at a surgeon’s office for some years, Melissa was convinced to have gastric band surgery, and has been struggling with it for some time. Melissa is dedicated to her family and her friends. She’s sick of feeling exhausted all the time, barely being able to eat, then binging when she can.”It’s surgical bulimia,” she says. “I’ll eat, and then go to the bathroom and get rid of it. But you can’t not eat, the world revolves around food.” She says if she can cheat something, she will. Her only hope is to be completely, psychically restricted once and for all.
“I used to be quite fashionable. Jeans, cowboy boots, that kind of thing. Now I’m restricted to this.” says William. “I’d love to get into a pair of jeans again,” he says, breaking into a big smile, “and go dancing.” William’s been given a goal for surgery. He needs to lose 10 kgs, and he’s going at it with gusto. Whatever happens, William is determined to make the most of the rest of his life. In 2000, his wife was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Looking after her, William would cook all the meals. She would eat two spoonfuls, and he would finish the rest. He wants to lose the weight he gained over that time, and continue on the road to health.
At just 18 years old, Lauren’s natural confidence is often overshadowed by the reality of her weight. She dreams of going shopping with her friends, and buying clothes they can share. Lauren goes to boot-camp weekly, and on her Mum’s day off, they walk together in the mornings. Lauren loves food, and has dreams of being a chef. She does all the householdmeal planning, grocery shopping and cooking. She’s the only obese member of her family, and has been large from a young age. With a determination and maturity surprising for someone her age, Lauren is pulling out all the stops to get there.
Elizabeth loves people, loves life and loves food. A shift-worker at Middlemore Hospital, she comes home and helps her daughter look after her four children. Elizabeth wants to be a role model for her family. She doesn’t want to be the next one of them to die from obesity-related illness. At the moment it’s hard for her to walk because of her arthritic joints. As far as Elizabeth is concerned – it’s about living the best life you can, and making your own legacy.
Lifelong emotional eating has seen Josephine’s weight climb to 165 kilos. Food has been her constant companion since childhood, and her comfort for the years that acute agoraphobia saw her holed up indoors. Her determination to complete her Bachelors degree and become a nurse spurs her on to reach the weight she needs to get surgery. Her love for her family and desire to not leave her Mum alone after her Dad’s early death continue to motivate her towards her goal – as well as her dream of comfortably riding a bike again.
The youngest of our patients is a proud Samoan – Maori law student. Her enquiry about the bariatric surgery was triggered following a serious car accident, the cause of which her family believe may have been weight related. Kimiora has a family history of obesity and has made numerous attempts over the years to reach her goal weight herself, but with little success. Once considered for the surgery, Kimiora embarked upon a strict training regime, fully supported by her family and friends. With her 21st birthday approaching, Kimiora dreams of celebrating the special occasion in what she hopes will be a transformed body and new found outlook on life.
Weighing in at 140 kilos, Maria longs to look good in what she wears and feel confident again. She suffers from a limp when she walks, as a result of pain in her damaged hip joints. Sleep Apnoea robs Maria daily of a comfortable night’s sleep, and she has to wear a gas-like mask to regulate her breathing. With the support of her son Vincent, Maria wants to stop her secret binge-eating habit and embrace her weight-loss journey so she can enjoy the freedom of swimming in the sea without shame and walking her beloved dogs in the bush.
Nat dreams of the day he can get back to a healthy weight and compete in a showcase wrestling match again. Working night shifts and long hours has meant reaching for regular meals of fatty foods and he’s watched his weight balloon to over 180 kilos. Years of rapid weight gain after he broke his neck, left the former Junior Wrestling Champ depressed and sofa bound. He’s on a mission now to lose the weight, kick the Sleep Apnoea that plagues him and to get back into the ring for himself and his family.
After hearing he’s headed for certain death, 180kg Pasione knows he needs to turn his life around. Already diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes and in pain from slipped spinal discs, the stay-at-home Dad of one knows he owes it to himself and his family to lose the weight that’s crept up on him after a back injury. The former Lifesaver can see the day he hits the water again and wants to show his 3-year-old and partner that he has it in him to achieve his goals of getting back to work and sharing his physical passions with his family again.
Veronica has spent years turning to food and drink to help ease the pain of her depression, anxiety and loneliness, but it’s seen her weight climb slowly to 148 kilos. The local primary school PA wants nothing more than to take the trip of a lifetime to Europe with her teenage daughter, carrying no excess baggage. In an effort to reach her goal and ease the Osteo-arthritis suffered in her knees and hips, Veronica is now replacing alcohol and food with exercise, hoping to inspire her daughter and others towards a healthier future.