A WOMAN with a rare condition which caused her to gain 22 stones has said her own doctors did not believe her size was not her fault.
Naomi Benton, 34, from Haddington, who ballooned from ten to 32 stone, says the dramatic weight gain first began when she became pregnant at the age of 20.
Despite expert advice, a specialist diet and a gastric bypass, she was unable to shift the weight – until a junior doctor finally diagnosed her condition.
Ms Benton, who now has two children, said: “Just after my first pregnancy I managed to put on over five stone despite not changing my diet and just couldn’t drop the weight.”
Desperate for help, she approached her doctor but found the response less than helpful.
“No-one believed that my weight wasn’t just down to an unhealthy diet. It was so frustrating, no-one was listening to me.”
Ms Benton was then referred to a diet specialist, but nothing seemed to make a difference.
“They helped monitor my 800-calories-a-day diet. Every day I was weak and tired, but still hadn’t lost any weight. Even my friends and family were convinced I was eating in secret.”
In 2008, Ms Benton decided to take drastic action and signed up for a gastric bypass, but again the results were disappointing.
Eventually it was the actions of one observant junior doctor that finally vindicated Ms Benton, and helped her get her life – and her weight – back on track.
“I was laid up in hospital for eight months in 2009 after breaking both arms and legs in a nasty fall. A junior doctor stopped by and asked if he could run some new tests which finally showed what was wrong.
“The tests revealed I had Cushings syndrome and a tumour the size of an orange on the adrenal gland above my right kidney.”
Cushings, also known as hypercortisolism, is a collection of symptoms, including weight gain, that develop due to very high levels of a hormone called cortisol.
“I went in for emergency surgery and within weeks the weight was dropping off me.”
Ms Benton, who is now 14 stone and a size 16, is now awaiting plastic surgery to remove four stone in excess skin.
She said: “I’m a work in progress. But I’m taking it in baby steps. I can’t wait to look and feel like my old self again.”