By Josh Saunders
A former-51 stone man is hoping for skin removal surgery after losing over half his bodyweight left him looking like a ‘deflated balloon’.
Paul Stevenson, 36, from Alvaston, Derbyshire, used to gorge on 7,000 calories a day of giant meals big enough for two people and hadn’t left his home for nearly five years.
His weight began to soar in 2000 after the death of his mum, Valerie, 50, leaving him battling with depression and such severe anxiety that he suffered panic attacks opening his front door.
At his heaviest he claims to have been Derby’s fattest man, when weighing a whopping 51st 7 with a BMI of 106.5 and only able to fit into 12XL tops.
During a home-visit from his doctor two years ago, the former-bouncer was told he was ‘staring down the barrel of a gun’ and would ‘die’ if he didn’t change his ways.
He opted for a gastric sleeve on the NHS and since then thanks to a healthy, restricted diet and exercise has lost 29 stone – but was left with mounds of excess skin all over his body.
Now 22st 9, he’s fundraising for surgery to remove more than three stone of saggy skin that he says makes him look like a ‘deflated balloon’.
Paul said: “Before I was literally dying every day, thanks to the help I received, I’m able to start living again, I’m lucky they invested so much into me otherwise I’d have died two years ago.
“I was locked in my own flat for five-years, it was definitely an existence rather than a life and took a lot of courage to leave my house to get the op, from there I took it one day at a time.
“I would have a panic attack from just opening the front door, every day that went by I felt further and further detached from society, the thought of leaving my home crippled and petrified me.
“From there, I would eat stupidly large portions of the wrong foods at the worst times and was easily consuming two litres of coca cola a day which didn’t help either.
“When ordering Chinese food, I would a big plate of rice, chips, and chicken balls, I would have a large pizza with chips or a large chicken meat and chips enough for two people each time.
“I would order take-out food and then wouldn’t do anything to exercise it away, my laziness led me to get bigger and bigger.
“During a home visit from one of the doctors I was told, ‘You need to change or you will die’ and that I was ‘staring down the barrel of a gun’ at my current weight.
“He put me in touch with a brilliant clinical psychologist who fought tooth and nail to get me a community nutritionist and helped me to get weight loss surgery.
“I feel so lucky for all of the help I’ve received and the support from family and friends, but now my biggest battle is my loose skin which only worsens my depression.
“I look like a deflated balloon, because of all the wrinkled skin, I have a pouch of skin between my stomach that hangs low beneath my hips, so even struggle to find trousers
“I’m riddled with loose skin, my stomach is very saggy, I have bingo wings under my arms, nipples and boobs that hang, as well as other problem areas.
“This body isn’t what I should have as I know it isn’t nice, I want to look in the mirror and see what I’ve achieved rather than a sad reminder of who I used to be.”
Paul’s weight gain began at 19-years-old after his mother Valerie, 50, died of pneumonia, related to Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
As the pounds piled up, he became more depressed and anxious, refusing to leave the house for the fear of people judging him for his size.
Paul said: “I never dealt with my mum’s death and the bigger I got the more depressed I became.
“I bottled up my emotions and over time it ground me down, I went from being a regular outgoing guy to a recluse who never left the house for five years.
“I never even went to the shops or the doctors, it was so bad, even my friends would have to let themselves into my house to see me.
“My friends and family did all they could to try to help me, but it was all about my mindset, I could only make the change once I was ready.”
At his largest, Paul weighed a hefty 51st 7 giving him a body mass index of 106.5 – a healthy range is between 18.5 and 25
His excessive size led to health problems, with slight exercising exhausting him and skin infections that worsened his quality of life by leaving him bedbound.
Paul said: “I would do minimal physical activity – I needed help to get up and dressed, then would sit in the living room all day.
“The bigger I got the more issues I had with skin abscesses, if one got infected I would be bedridden for four or five days at a time.”
Paul left his home for the first-time last year while headed to receive life-changing weight loss surgery and was shocked by how much his surroundings had changed in nearly five years.
After four weeks on the hospital ward living off a mandatory 800 calorie a day diet he was able to be operated on by surgeons – who previously feared he would die during surgery.
Since then he’s completely changed his life with the help of medical staff, a nutritionist and DW Sport Fitness – who encouraged him to exercise in the gym and ignore strangers’ comments.
Paul said: “DW Sport Fitness in Derby have been incredible, they’ve supported me throughout this journey and helped me along.
“I reminded myself that people would look, stare, point and say things, but in reality, all of that doesn’t matter it isn’t important what they think.
“When people know what I’ve been through they are fantastic and now I don’t feel anxious about going outside any more.
“Before I felt I was beyond help, I was Derby’s fattest man and now I’m living, I don’t feel proud of myself yet, I just know I’m a very, very lucky man.”
Paul is now fundraising to have all of the loose skin removed that he described as looking like a ‘deflated balloon’ in the hopes he can be happy in the future.
He added: “I reckon I have at least three stone of excess skin on my body, it’s all over and is very hard to deal with.
“The NHS guidelines for skin removal surgery are so strict I’ve been left with little other choice than to start fundraising myself.
“If I was to have the surgery I could get back to football, boxing, ride a bike, running and do so much more with my life.”
You can donate by visiting HERE.
PAUL’S 7,000 CALORIE BEFORE DIET
BREAKFAST – casserole-bowl full of cereal and full fat milk
SNACK – chocolate, crisps or sweets
LUNCH –four cobs of chicken, bacon, mayo and cheese with three packets of crisps
SNACK – chocolate, crisps or sweets
DINNER – large pizza with large chips
PAUL’S DIET NOW
BREAKFAST – two Weetabix with semi skinned milk
LUNCH – chicken and lettuce sandwich
DINNER – tuna with salad leaves