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Graduate’s life changing weight loss following rare brain condition

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Published on 03 January 2020

Danielle Puttick's weight loss between her two UoS graduations
Danielle Puttick's weight loss between her two UoS graduations

University of Sunderland student Danielle Puttick was studying Animation when she began to feel unwell.

Suffering an increasing number of migraines in the summer of 2016, she would later go for eye tests, where opticians found blood at the back of her eye.

The problems escalated when, after being sent to Sunderland Eye Infirmary, the student was told by experts that she was suffering from a suspected brain haemorrhage.

Transferred to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary on October 25, Danielle, from Silksworth, underwent a CT scan which confirmed it wasn’t a brain haemorrhage.

Instead, doctors diagnosed Danielle with a rare brain condition called Idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH) on October 26. The condition is associated with raised fluid pressure around the brain.

Surgery followed, which saw the brave student undergo a lumbar puncture, as well as a lumbar stent placed in her back to control the flow of brain fluids.

As she recovered, Danielle was trying to juggle managing her health with studying for her degree.

She said: “I got a lot of help from Disability Support at the University during this difficult time.”

As part of her recovery, Danielle decided she was going to lose weight, right around the time she started her Masters in Design, also at Sunderland.

Danielle said: “I have been big my entire life, but decided I wanted to lose weight. My main motivation was that I wanted a nice photo of myself.

“After I became ill, I was told by doctors that they didn’t know what causes the condition.

“But the doctors said that it might have something to do with weight and said that I needed to lose some as could reverse in the effects of the condition.

“I joined Slimming World as soon as I was able to.”

Danielle signed up to the Slimming World group at Silksworth Methodist Church in Sunderland in November 2016 and managed to lose 6st 1lb.

Starting out at 18st 3lb and a size 22-20, Danielle – who is 5ft 10.5 inches – is now a size 10 and weighs 12st 2lb.

Official studies show that weight loss may be sufficient to reduce signs and symptoms of the condition – but Danielle feels that in her case her weight wasn’t linked to the condition.

Since treatment her health has improved, but Danielle says she still suffers from tiredness and migraines.

But Slimming World has helped and she is now running her own classes every Thursday at 5.30pm at Ryhope Community Centre.

The 26-year-old is also working as a freelance designer and is already building up a successful business for herself following her time at University.

She said: “I loved my time as a student and I made some friends for life despite everything I was going through.”

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