Loretta Pritchard, 45,Wiltshire, explains how her size almost killed her...
‘It’s just an eye infection,’ I sighed.
But my mum Wendy, 71, wasn’t convinced.
‘You’ve had it for weeks!’ she protested.
She was right. It was September 2012, and my left eye was giving me hell.
It was itchy, red and crusty.My GP prescribed antibiotics, but it just got worse.
Finally, I took myself to the A&E department at Royal United Hospital, Bath.
After tests, doctors referred me to an eye specialist.
‘It looks like a viral infection,’ he confirmed, after an examination. ‘But I’m worried about the mole on the back of your left iris.’
The tests had shown that it was huge – about the size of a fingernail.
I needed to get the mole checked out. So, 10 days later, I made the 200-mile journey to Liverpool to meet a specialist.
He took pictures of my eye using a special machine. But, after the bulb flashed, his expression became serious.
‘It’s a tumour,’ he said. ‘It could be ocular melanoma.’
Cancer? I nearly vomited.
The surgeon warned me that, if it was malignant, the melanoma could be life-threatening.
Surgeons would have to take out my eyeball to remove the tumour. But I could be left blind in that eye.
In any case, there was no guarantee that the surgery would cure me.
Overwhelmed, I felt numb.
At 8am the next day, I was booked in for surgery. Except I couldn’t fit on the bed…
This is ridiculous, I thought.
A size-30, I was huge, and I knew it. But now I couldn’t even cram myself onto the bed for the surgery that could potentially save my life.
Eventually, I managed to squeeze myself onto it – but the problems didn’t end there.
Since I was so overweight, the operation needed to be done differently because of the risk that my lungs and heart could stop working during the op.
‘You need to be awake when we put breathing tubes down your throat,’ the surgeon said.
As a drip was fed into my arm, I started panicking.
What if I died?
Unable to get the tube in, they had to inject my throat twice with anaesthetic.
Suddenly, I couldn’t breathe. It was like someone was strangling me.
Then everything went black…
I woke up in a white room. Where was I?
I’d a patch over my eye, so my vision was hazy. But then I spotted Mum in the corner.
‘You’re awake!’ she gasped.
She explained that I was in Intensive Care. Then a doctor came to see me.
‘You died on the operating table,’ he told me.
Surgeons had had to call for the crash team to revive me. Thankfully, I’d started breathing after a few minutes, and the eye surgery had been performed.
I knew what had caused it all – my size.
I’d died, and it was my fault.
The eye surgery was successful, and I had sight in both my eyes.
Discharged three days later, I had to wait four weeks to find out if the mole was malignant or not.
I pushed my weight to the back of my mind while I waited to learn my fate. And, when I got the news the tumour wasn’t malignant, I was flooded with relief to have my health again!
Except I didn’t… Not really.
I was still huge, still ate rubbish and never exercised.
Then, in December 2014, a friend took a picture of me, and I looked enormous.
My fat had nearly killed me – so why hadn’t I changed?
In January 2015, I went along to my local Slimming World group. Weighing in at 24st 9lb,
I vowed I’d never see that number again.
So, instead of family-sized portions of pizza and crisps, I began to cook healthy meals from scratch. And I started exercising, going for long cycles.
Within a year, I’d lost 5st 7lb – and, over the last 12 months, I’ve lost another stone.
I’ve still got a long way to go, but I’ll get there.
My fat nearly cost me my life. Now I’m fit and fighting.