A Southport woman lost more than four stones after ending up on life support nine times in three years
4 weeks ago
Now Fiona Foulder’s gone from a wheelchair to walking – and she’s even started dancing!
A Southport woman lost more than four stones after being warned she could be dead within 12 months.
Mum-of-two Fiona Foulder had been on life support nine times in just three years as the brittle asthma she’d struggled with throughout her life got out of control.
Eventually Fiona was forced to act when her consultant warned her: “You can’t do anything about your illness, but if you do something about your weight you will see your boys grow up.
“If you don’t do anything, you might not even be here next year.”
Fiona was massively overweight and the condition she suffers with, brittle asthma, causes severe breathing problems which can take hold with devastating speed. The 39-year-old could be fine one minute – and fighting for her life the next.
As Fiona’s weight soared, her health was becoming critical – and doctors were unable to put her on the trial medication that was her only hope unless she shed stones.
“When the consultant told me I could be dead in 12 months, I was just devastated,” says Fiona. “At first I was in denial.
“But my husband, Mark, was ill around the same time and he was overweight, and I remember thinking, we have two gorgeous sons, – Jack and Duncan were about seven and six at the time – and we are killing ourselves because we’re overeating.
“I knew we had to do something.
“In fact, if it wasn’t for my consultant being so honest with me, I don’t think I’d be here now. I needed that shock.”
Fiona joined Slimming World and lost 4st 9 ½ lbs, going from 15st 9 ½lbs to 11st, a weight she has maintained for several years.
Although she had had brittle asthma all her life, Fiona had never had a problem with her weight until after the birth of Duncan, who’s now 18.
Fiona explains: “As a child I had constant access to the children’s ward because of my brittle asthma. You can go downhill very quickly, and it can be life threatening, going from being okay to being on life support an hour later.
“I had a bad pregnancy with Duncan and my asthma flared up and, unlike when I was a kid, when my mum says I could rest and get better, as an adult, and as a mum, I couldn’t because I had to get going again.
“I wasn’t well enough to cook or do anything, so I got into bad habits of eating convenience foods, and it became a vicious circle of putting weight on, which affected my lungs even more, and made it worse.
“I was in and out of hospital on a monthly basis, often ending up in intensive care. In one three-year period I ended up on life support nine times – and I was told my condition was so badly controlled they didn’t think my body could carry on coping with the strain it was being put under.”
Her only hope was trial medication that lung specialists at Manchester’s Wythenshawe Hospital wanted to put her on – but she didn’t qualify for the treatment because she was too heavy for the maximum dose needed, and it wouldn’t work because of her weight.
So Fiona changed her diet and swapped takeaways, fizzy drinks and chocolate for healthier foods, all cooked from scratch, and the weight disappeared.
It’s had a massive impact, she admits – not least saving the NHS thousands of pounds.
“I still go for regular check-ups and I can end up in hospital with my brittle asthma if I get an infection, but now it’s perhaps a couple of times a year instead of once a month. And I don’t end up in intensive care – which used to cost the NHS about £2,000 a day!
“I’ve gone from having to be pushed in a wheelchair to being able to walk and do what I want, and to live a normal life – I’ve even started Latin American and ballroom dancing which I really enjoy.
“And, having once been getting disabled living allowance and feeling worthless because I couldn’t work, I have now got a job I love, and which helps me to help others like me.”
Better than any of that though, Fiona says: “I have seen my boys grow up into happy, confident young men who no longer have to call an ambulance and watch me being resuscitated like they did when they were young.
“And I can look forward to the day when, maybe, they have families of their own.”
Fiona adds: “I’m no longer facing death and my lungs are stronger because I’m fitter, and I have a quality of life instead of an existence.
“It sounds a cliché, but losing weight has been life-changing and, literally, life-saving.
“My consultant retired two years ago and, though he helped many people, he said he had made a massive difference to five lives during his career. It’s a privilege to say I was one of them.”