After losing an incredible 70kg – or 140 blocks of butter – Pauline Wilson-Boyd should have been celebrating. Sure, she was healthier, but there was one final barrier stopping the Christchurch mum from becoming the person she’d dreamed of – excess skin, and the $14,000 price tag to get rid of it.
Pauline (49) hoped for the best but expected the worst when she entered a radio competition to win the money to have the procedure to remove the skin that hung off her slimmed-down frame.
The hefty cost of the operation was far beyond what Pauline could afford, especially after she had shelled out for gastric sleeve surgery after a year of dieting and exercise.
So Pauline put her name forward for Lana and Jase’s $10,000 Jury on More FM, a contest where five contestants had to persuade each other to unanimously vote for one person’s cause instead of their own.
“And you know, humans are humans,” Pauline sighs. “I knew I wasn’t going to win because I gave up my vote to someone else.”
Pauline lost and the $10,000 went to a listener instead. “I just thought, ‘Oh well, I’ll just have to save and maybe look at getting it done sometime in the future.’”
But after hearing Pauline’s plight, a kind-hearted listener came to her rescue. She explains, “More FM called and said they were doing a follow-up and could I come in?
“So I went in and they said to put headphones on, and then… I was just blown away.”
The team at V Plast Plastic and Aesthetic Surgery Centre had heard Pauline’s plea, and offered a medical tourism trip to Thailand with her husband Trevor (58), where her flights, hotel and surgery would be all paid for.
Pauline was stunned. “I had to get Lana and Jase to write it down!” she laughs. A high school food technician, Pauline says she had always been on the heavier side throughout her life. Weighing in at 151kg three years ago, Pauline was tired of her routine and knew she was neglecting her health.
“The big life change for me was at the age of 48, my mother had a massive stroke, which left her 95% paralysed,” she tells. “I was getting close to that age and that was always in the back of my mind.
“At work, I’d be tired by 2pm and still have another two hours to go. Then I’d have to come home and run a house, and I thought, ‘I’m young, but I don’t feel young!’”
Bad habits had haunted Pauline – her weaknesses were portion sizes that were too large, snacking and a daily addiction to fizzy drinks. The weight piled on and her energy levels decreased while she tried to work, be a wife and a mother.
But eventually, she thought enough was enough. “You have to become selfish. You have to start thinking, ‘Hey, I’ve got to do this for me instead of running after everyone else.’
“The big turning point for me was the fact my son [Ethan, 19] got his restricted licence, which meant I wouldn’t need to take him to BMX training two to three times a week,” she says.
So in January 2015, after a year of working on her diet and exercising, Pauline had gastric sleeve surgery, where three-quarters of her stomach was removed. From then, the weight began to drop off.
Pauline laughs as she describes how her life has changed for the better. She says the surgery was like an “instant weight pill” because it provided instant weight loss but the challenge was being able to keep it off.
“But I have this extra energy, so now I go to work, come home, I’ll prep tea, go to the gym for an hour, and then come back, finish tea or my husband will and I feel so much better for it!” she exclaims.
Despite her achievement, the excess skin left behind on her body still hindered the full life Pauline wanted to live, which is where the surgery in June this year – a tummy tuck and arm lift – helped a great deal.
“At first it didn’t worry me but when I started to realise I could buy all these new clothes, it was wonderful. I would try things on and I was struggling to find stuff to fit, especially around the arms because my arms were huge.”
Surgeons removed 5kg of excess skin from Pauline’s stomach and she then was able to recover in what she describes as “absolute luxury” in Thailand. “Before I began this journey, I was 151kg. I now weigh 75kg,” she says.
“I never thought I’d see those numbers,” she says. “To be honest, I’d always been a large person. Even at 13, I was 90kg.
“At the end of the day, it makes you a better person. Even my family has noticed that, because I’m doing something for myself, I come home happier and as my husband says, happy wife, happy life,” she giggles.
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