Hairdresser, 40, who gained a staggering 27st due to severe sleep apnoea loses 15st to become slim size 12 (and she can finally get a decent night's kip)
Michelle Shufflebotham would stop breathing a shocking 666 times a nightThe mother-of-two would doze off up to 20 times a day – even when standing upMichelle, 40, had gastric surgery and as the weight dropped off, her apnoea subsided
11:09 GMT, 3 April 2012
A hairdresser has lost 15st after she discovered a sleep disorder which caused her to stop breathing hundreds of times a night was at the root of her massive weight gain.
Michelle Shufflebotham was forced to quit her job after her sleep apnoea led her to nod off while she was cutting a client’s hair.
Unaware the potentially deadly condition was depriving her of sleep every night, Michelle ballooned to 27st after the illness left her depressed and exhausted.
For 12 years, mother-of-two Michelle suffered from the sleep disorder which meant she would stop breathing in her sleep for up to ten seconds at a time.
Severe: Michelle's sleep deprivation made her depressed and exhausted, and saw her balloon from a size 14 to a size 34 in the space of ten years
When diagnosed, it was revealed she
fell short of breath a shocking 666 times in just four hours after she
ballooned from a size 14 to a size 34 in the space of just ten years.
Michelle, 40, from Stoke, Staffs., would doze off up to 20
times in a day and, as her weight crept, up her problems increased.
Eventually a doctor told her she had just one year left to live.
after 9,000 bariatric surgery to reduce the size of her stomach,
carried out on the NHS, Michelle, is a healthy 12st
and is finally able to enjoy a decent night’s sleep, thanks to the fact that her dramatic weight loss has helped prevent the collapse of the upper airways that causes the breathing stoppages.
Michelle said: 'I would just never sleep at night time, which meant I would doze off anywhere, anytime during the day.
'It started when we went on holiday over 10 years ago. I constantly felt tired, but didn’t think it was anything serious.
Suffocating: Michelle's sleep apnoea meant she stopped breathing for more than 10 seconds at a time up to 666 times a night
'But it got worse and worse, I had no energy and just piled on the weight.
'The scariest point was falling asleep cutting a customer’s hair. It was awful. It would also happen in front of my friends.
'Sometimes they would spray cold water in my face to wake me up. I was so embarrassed.'
would fall asleep whilst holding hot drinks or travelling on the bus
and would often fall off the sofa in front of her daughter’s friends.
The condition even caused her to drop the scissors she was holding and nod off while she was cutting a client’s hair.
Embarrassment forced her to give up work completely and the irregular rest saw her self esteem fall to an all time low.
Michelle ended up gorging on comfort foods, eventually tipping the scales at 171 kilos in 2008.
Medics discovered she had just 35 per cent of the the oxygen she required in her lungs meaning she struggled to walk and was forced to sit down to do any household chore.
With little energy and a body mass index of 59, she agreed to the life-saving weight loss surgery in 2009.
Sleep apnoea is a reduction or pause of breathing during sleep for 10 seconds or more.
Doctors at University Hospital of North Staffordshire said they had never seen a case of the condition as bad as Michelle’s.
She said: 'I also suffered from polycystic ovaries and was mentally and physically exhausted all the time.
'I became a prisoner in my own home. I was just a recluse by the end, I was so big I couldn’t do anything. My self esteem was just so low, I
would cry all the time.
'I would sit on a stool to do anything and didn’t go up the stairs at home for years. If I needed anything, I would get the kids to go.
'To do my washing I would wheel myself in a chair from the washing machine to the dryer. Walking a few paces was a nightmare.
'When they gave me a year to live I knew I had to have the operation.'
Now that she is 15 stone lighter, Michelle still keeps a pair of size 30 shorts in her wardrobe as a reminder of her former miserable existence.
She says her children Jade, 19, and Carl, 17, have enjoyed seeing her change her habit of calling out for takeaways most nights of the week – after she had no energy to cook.
Husband Carl, senior, 42, had also became overweight and was frustrated at having to do all of the family’s shopping.
After weighing 15 stone having given birth to her two kids, Michelle said the condition overtook her attempts to be slimmer.
Unhealthy: Michelle Shufflebotham's sleep apnoea affected her health so much that she gained 27st and fell asleep up to 20 times a day – even when standing up
She admits she was in denial about
her weight and by 2007 would just focus on what she would eat next to
ignore her tiredness and health problems.
She said: 'I was a bad yo-yo dieter. I would go to the slimming classes, lose a stone, then give up and gain three back on.
a family we’re all now a lot healthier than we used to be. But I was
just lazy. My friends never had the heart to say you need to do
'When my daughter’s friends saw me fall asleep and fall off the sofa they were in fits of laughter.
few times I went out I would get a taxi, sit on a stool for a few hours
where I had gone to and come home again extremely depressed.
'Getting clothes to fit me was expensive and I lost so much pride in my appearance that I would slob round the house in a big nightie most of the day.
'It was only when I went to my GP and burst into tears that we started to get the ball rolling to having the operation.'
Michelle now loves clothes shopping, going for nights out again and hitting the gym three times a week after the successful surgery.
She has also returned to her job cutting the hair of friends and family and hopes to return to full-time work at a salon soon.
Declined: As Michelle's weight crept, up her problems increased. Eventually a doctor told her she had just one year left to live – and she decided to go for gastric surgery to reduce the size of her stomach
But she is shocked she would now not qualify for the NHS procedure in the future if new rules are brought in because she does not suffer from a range of other illnesses.
She said: 'As this is such a life-saver I cannot believe the health bodies are thinking about reducing the number of people likely to have the procedure.
'I can’t believe that only two years ago I was always falling asleep on the bus and having to sit on a stool to cut someone’s hair.
'I owe my life to the bariatric surgery and all those at the hospital who treated me.
'If this rule change goes through then I will feel so sorry for those who will miss out because it was the best thing to happen to me.'