Eating even a crust of bread became so painful for Margaret O’Sullivan that she preferred starving herself to taking another mouthful of food.
“It got so bad I didn’t care if I lived,” said the mother of four who suffered severe stomach pains bought on by a ‘sackfull of gall and bile stones.’
Margaret, 83, was first diagnosed with gallstones - hard pea-sized balls of cholesterol - 20 years ago but they didn’t trouble her until last year.
She subsequently lost nearly three stone in weight.
The mother of four said: “I only had to eat a mouthful of food and I’d get the most excruciating pain in my stomach that would last for days on end.
“I stopped eating just to avoid the pain. It got so bad at one stage that I couldn’t even drink a cup of soup and the bouts would last round-the-clock several days at a time.
Thankfully, the 83 year-old from south Harrow is now pain free after undergoing a high tech surgical procedure Northwick Park.
The hospital is now the leading exponent of Laser Assisted Bile Duct Exploration (LABEL) in the UK which sees the stones shattered into smaller pieces which can then be removed.
Consultant Alberto Martinez-Isla carries out more than 50 procedures a year and says the one hour procedure saves patients’ undergoing two separate procedures as well as reducing hospital admissions and costs.
Mr Martinez-Isla said: “The gallbladder sits under the liver and when gallstones get into something called the bile duct it can cause patients real discomfort and poses a great danger.
“It’s easily treated with surgery and I’m just glad we could help. We are one of the few places in the UK using this single stage procedure.”
So, what’s Margaret doing with her newfound appetite?
“I’m just tucking into all those things that I couldn’t eat before like pate and salmon. It’s heaven.”