By Harry Walsh
A LETTERKENNY father told he had to lose ‘at least’ three stone in weight before he could be considered for hip replacement surgery has been given a new lease of life.
On Holy Thursday, Mickey Blake (56) from Ashbrook limped into Letterkenny General Hospital and he was back home in time for his dinner on Easter Sunday – complete with a new titanium hip joint.
“For the first time in more than three years I’m pain free and much of the credit has to go to Sandra Wylie and Slimming World. It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change. You can still eat a pile of stuff so long as it’s the right kind of stuff,” he laughed.
A former full-back with both Letterkenny Rovers and Finn Harps, Mickey’s weight soared from 13 stone to more than 22 stone in recent years.
“When I played football I ate plenty, but I also trained three times a week, with a game on the Sunday, so I was burning off fat as I went along but even when I stopped playing, and training, the eating habits continued.
“At the time I was a taxi driver and before too long I knew where you could get the best sausage supper in the county before coming home and eating my tea! I didn’t really notice myself getting heavier and, if truth be told, it wasn’t until I saw the before and after pictures that I realised how heavy I had become,” he said.
A chef by profession, Mickey went back to work in a kitchen but the work was tough.
“I lost a stone through the pressure of it all,” he explained.
Mickey’s wife Jeanette suggested that he should do something about keeping that stone off so he joined Slimming World. That was five years ago.
“I was doing rightly – a few pound off here and there – but, to be fair, I was only going through the motions and maintaining my weight,” he said.
As time went by, though, the pain in his right hip got progressively worse, so much so that by the time he had taken up employment in the FAS kitchen, it was becoming difficult to walk pain free.
Two years ago he had to give up swimming and walking such was the pain.
“I was referred to Mr Thomas in Letterkenny and x-rays confirmed that I had bad arthritis in my hip and he told me that I would have to lose a bit of weight.
“I lost a wee bit but when I went back to him in November last he said that while I was doing alright I would need to lose another three stone. It was a month before Christmas and I spoke with Sandra and she put me on a new SP plan – Speed and Protein – which basically cuts out carbohydrates.
“There were no more biscuits. He told me that I had to lose the weight so I put my head down,” he explained.
Fast forward four months and Mickey, three and a half stone lighter, was admitted to hospital for his procedure.
“I was like Our Lord. I went in on Holy Thursday and out again on Easter Sunday. The following day (Easter Monday) I went for a little walk outside the house and, for the first time in more than three years, I was pain free,” he said.
Further x-rays show that there’s damage to the left hip also.
“If I need the other one done I won’t have the hassle of getting the weight off. I’ll keep going to Slimming World where Sandra will keep me right. It teaches you what to eat and there’s back up with support groups and recipes,” he said.
Married to Jeanette, the couple have three children, Shane, Aisling and Grainne and three grandchildren Aaron, Luca and baby Ruby who was born on April 9.
“That’s my birthday so whatever chance I had of being spoiled that day has now gone with Ruby. On a more serious note though, the operation has given me a new lease of life and, hopefully, I can look forward to playing with the grandkids. I might even be able to pass on a few of my silky football skills,” he joked.
Meanwhile, it’s back to work at FAS this month while he also hopes to resume his part-time role as a driver for local undertaker, Paschal Blake.
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