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The private clinic that Pauline chose for her operation claims a 99 per cent success rate and celebrities among its clients. The band – an inflatable silicone ring – is placed around the upper part of the stomach via keyhole surgery, creating a small pouch about the size of a golf ball.The pouch fills with food, leaving the larger part of the stomach empty.Then, in her late 30s and early 40s, a series of turning points made her re-evaluate her life. Then she was made redundant from the bank where she had worked for 23 years.Although she had no family of her own, Pauline had always wanted to work with children.Her doctor told her that she would be eligible for a gastric band on the NHS if she was prepared to wait a year.‘But in 12 months, I might have put on another three stone, and I didn’t want to risk that,’ she says.She decided to use her payoff to retrain as a nursery nurse.Before settling into a new job, however, she travelled to India and spent five months working with a rescue organisation in Calcutta – ‘a mind-blowing experience’.
‘I had gone down to a size 16, and for the first time in my life I was able to buy clothes from normal shops rather than the outsize chains.’ She worked with a personal trainer and took up running as well as gym work-outs.
Pauline’s elderly father was suffering from Alzheimer’s and she became heavily involved in his care.
Gradually her weight crept back up, but instead of being able to shrug it off as she had in the past, her confidence plunged.
‘Every so often, when my clothes got really tight or I was going on holiday, I would make the effort to diet.
But whatever weight I lost, I regained as soon as the diet stopped.‘I was eating too much and I felt ashamed for being so out of control.