After struggling with her weight for years, a shock diagnosis changed her life. Fiona Turner, 36, from Greenock tells her story...
As my mum put a plate of beans on toast down in front of me, I slid it away from me.
‘I’m nog feeling very hungry,’ I lied.
‘You’ve got to eat something!’ she told me, exasperated.
But to be honest, I was actually ravenous. But as soon as I took a mouthful of food, I could hear the cruel bullies’ taunts ringing in my mind.
F.A.T! F.A.T! F.A.T!
See my name was Fiona Turner. And although my real middle name was Margaret, some cruel kids at school had decided it should be Angela.
‘So your initials spell our fat,’ one had said.
I’d always been plumper than the other kids in my class and an easy target for bullies. But refusing my dinner wasn’t going to help me in the long run. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to resist for long anyway. And that later, I’d only start bingeing on chocolate, ice cream and sugary, fizzy drinks.
I didn’t want to tell my mum Margaret, and my dad George, about the bullying. So I’d comfort eat instead. Then when I left school, although I was free of the taunts, my bad diet just got worse.
I got a job at a Chinese takeaway, so I’d always be able to enjoy a greasy meal at work, followed by my usual diet of junk food when I got home later.
By 27, I was a size 24-26 and I weighed 23st, which was big for my 5ft 5in frame.
Then, in February 2013, I was beginning to experience numbness in my legs.
Googling the symptoms, I was alarmed when I saw a match.
Multiple sclerosis – it’s a neurological condition which causes a wide range of symptoms, vision and movement problems. Surely not.
Then, in May 2014, my left eye had frozen, so I went with Mum and Dad to get myself checked out in Inverclyde Royal Hospital.
I had CT and MRI scans, as well as painful lumbarpuncture procedure.
Doctors found something on the MRI, and although they couldn’t yet tell what it was, I began to get in a panic.
Soon the neurologist returned with the news.
‘I’m afraid you have multiple sclerosis,’ he told me.
It was likely to be relapsing-remitting – which means that symptoms can come and go. But I was utterly devastated.
‘We will be able to help you,’ the doctor reassured me. ‘But if you want to fight the illness, losing weight can help with strength and if you have a healthy body, you’ll have a healthy mind.’
I thought back to the taunts at school and how I buried my head in the sand as my clothes had kept getting bigger.
Neither had inspired me to lose weight. But this was very different.
‘I’m taking back control of my life,’ I told my parents.
I found a local women’s gym called Curves.
‘I’ve never ever worked out,’ I told the coaches.
But everybody was so friendly and got stuck in. The coaches knew about my condition and they’d keep an eye on me, so I knew that I was always in safe hands.
I started eating a healthy diet, I began to see the difference.
In my first month alone, I lost half a stone, and now I’m weighing in at 13st. A size 12/14, I’ve only for 2st to go to reach my target.
I also entered the Curvette of the Year competition and I’m one of three finalists. I feel stronger, but I still suffer from fatigue and dysaesthesia – the numbness and pain associated with MS.
I know I’ve taken my health for granted for so long. Never again.
Despite my diagnosis, I’ve now gone from F.A.T to fit and I’m so proud of what I’ve achieved.