I was living away from home for the first time in my early 20s when I met James. We became a couple, moved in together and quickly fell into terrible eating habits. There were a lot of takeaways near us and the temptation was just too much. All fruit and veg went out the window and we survived on fast food and junk. Id skip breakfast, then put away a fried egg sandwich for lunch, with two eggs and three thick pieces of bread.
For dinner Id gorge on curry, pizza or Chinese and Id also snack on four or five bags of crisps, a couple of cake bars and four or five bars of chocolate every day.
So it was no surprise that I managed to pile on 6 stone over just 18 months, ballooning from 12 to 18 stone, and going from a size 14 to a 24. As well as bad eating habits at home, I was in a bad cycle at work. Sat behind a desk and bored with my office job, I snacked out of boredom. I had no energy, but I was in love and happy. James put on weight too, but not as much as me.
James and I married in 2014 and I didnt care that I was a big bride; I had my man and I was content. The only thing that was dampening my spirit was the daily headaches Id started suffering. I went to the doctor every six months to ask for help, but every time I got the same response: Theyre tension headaches, take some paracetamol.
When I went for a routine eye check-up in 2015, instead of a new prescription, I unexpectedly started to get an answer as to why I was getting headaches. The optician told me there was something showing up behind one of my eyes. He didnt say what it was there was just a blur and sent me to hospital.
I was terrified. My mind automatically jumped to the worst-case scenario and I was convinced I had a brain tumour. I was sent to the neurology department, and after tests a consultant explained I had a condition called Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension (IIH). I listened in shock as I was told my weight had put far too much pressure on my brain.
The only way to stop it was to lose weight. If you carry on and get bigger, you will go blind, the consultant warned. The extra weight had been put on so quickly it was putting pressure around my brain. If it got worse, then the force on my cranial nerves could progress to enlargement of the blind spot, blurring of vision and ultimately a total loss of sight.
I was dumbstruck. I couldnt believe my weight could be responsible for my headaches and could be putting me at so much risk. Sure, I knew I was responsible for my weight gain and I knew about the common side effects of that but to lose my sight because of it? It was a massive shock and it took a while to get my head around it.
They couldnt put a timeframe on the risk to my sight, but I needed to stop piling on the weight or else Id end up blind. If I continued I would literally be eating my sight away. My vision had been declining for about three years, but Id had no idea this was why.
They carried out a lumbar puncture, which is a big injection to drain the excess fluid, to ease the pressure off my brain and give me a few weeks respite.
I was so big they couldnt find the spot they needed in my spine and had to perform a second one under an x-ray. That stopped the headaches for a couple of weeks and then it was down to me. If I didnt overhaul my lifestyle, the headaches were going to return and I would go blind. As motivation goes, that worked pretty well for me.
I managed to lose 3 stone through a mixture of Slimming World and Weight Watchers, but found I put weight back on as soon as I stopped going to the support meetings or following the plans religiously. Every time the pounds started creeping back on I would panic that I was going to end up back where I started and lose my sight. I needed to break the cycle.
By Christmas 2015 I was yo-yoing around 15-17 stone, which was good enough to keep the headaches at bay and I was discharged from the hospital as an outpatient on the promise Id continue to look after myself. The IIH wasnt gone, but I was in remission. If I put on weight quickly it would come back, and if I fell pregnant itd be high risk.
I was relieved to have saved my sight, but I knew I needed to do something once and for all to slim down and stop me falling into old habits again. Without the motivation of the regular weigh-ins at hospital I knew it would be easy to let the weight start creeping back on again. I was also fed up with having to change my wardrobe every few months as my dress size fluctuated with my weight.
I cut my portion sizes in half then halved them again, so I was eating a quarter of what I used to. I also made healthier choices, like swapping a fried egg sandwich for poached egg on toast. Then a few months later I changed jobs and started working as a health care assistant. I was on my feet all day, and I was so busy I didnt even have time to think about snacking; and thats when I really noticed the weight coming off.
I got to my goal weight of 10st 2lb in March 2017 going from a size 24 to a 10 where Ive always wanted to be. Its the first time Ive ever been a size 10 in my life and I sometimes forget I'm smaller than I used to be.
Sadly, I split up with James around the same time, as we realised we had drifted apart. Were better off as friends and well always stay that way, so I havent lost him completely.
Ive always been self-conscious and Im still not used to being a size 10, so now Im working on building my confidence and hoping to get the new me out there and on the dating scene again soon. And no longer having to worry that I might suffer the horror of going blind is such a relief. The future is looking bright.
IIH (Idiopathic intracranial hypertension) is a rare neurological condition defined by increased intracranial pressure around the brain without the presence of a tumour or disease.
It affects one in 100,000 people, which increases to 1-4 per 100,000 of women of childbearing age and to 19 per 100,000 with a BMI higher than 30.
Monre than 90% of patients diagnosed with IIH are overwight women and recent studies have shown weight loss is an effective treatment to reduce optic disc swelling and for curing IIH.
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'Lose weight or you'll turn blind' - Doctor's shock warning spurred woman's dramatic weight loss - Mirror.co.uk