Retired Police Sergeant Stuart Prosser joined the South Wales Police force when he was just 17 years old as a police cadet and a year later became a Constable. He was 6 foot four and a fit 19 stone when he started with the police. He led an active life enjoying rugby and outdoor pursuits, but 31 years on he saw his weight escalate to more than 50 stone.
The 54-year-old, who lives with his three children in Tonteg, undertook varying roles in his police career and worked within the communities of Merthyr and Rhondda Cynon Taf.
Stuart said: “I loved working in the police force, but having gained so much weight over the years it was impossible for me to carry on.
“I was struggling to get around at the end and started spending longer periods of time sitting at my desk. It soon became apparent I could no longer continue with my job, and so I retired.
“I have always struggled with my weight, it’s an ongoing battle, but I never thought I would get to the stage where I was house bound.”
Stuarts weight spiralled out of control, and in 2010 he was weighing 307kgs (49 stone). After consultation Stuart had a gastric band fitted, with the band in place he lost 7 stone, but the on-going process was not successful and a number of years on, the weight was regained, plus more.
Stuart retired from the police force in 2014, thinking life would get easier, but he found himself left with depression, and the weight was making life unbearable.
It was at this stage between weight gain and health issues Stuart retreated completely from life and made the decision to end his life through excessive eating and inactivity. He was house-bound for the next two years and he lived and slept in a chair in his front room, he was eating high calorie and convenience foods daily and in large quantities.
In 2015, concerned family members contacted the district nurse service and a nurse called to see him. As a result of that visit the doctor was called.
A specialist bed and other equipment to help Stuart was arranged and the district nurses started treating him at home. Stuart was not engaging with the nurses when they attended his home to treat him and he would pretend everything was fine, when clearly it wasn’t, and secretly he wished for his life to end.
In 2017 Stuart was at his worst and weighed around 55 stone.
He said: “I really wasn’t a nice person to be around, I was house-bound by this stage and I only got up to go to the toilet.”
He was eventually admitted to hospital with an infection from open sores on his abdomen, and unable to support his own body weight. It took twelve ambulance staff to put Stuart into the ambulance.
Stuart was taken by ambulance to ward 19 at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital for treatment. At this stage it took four nurses to wash Stuart and treat his sores and infection. Following months of rehabilitation Stuart was discharged from hospital having lost a considerable amount of weight and no open sores. At this time Stuart weighed 233kgs (36.9 stone).
While at hospital receiving medical treatment Stuart had counselling with a psychologist. During this process the psychologist informed Stuart that part of his behaviour with food was self-harming, and that it was connected to depression. It was at this stage during a meeting with doctors, nurses and his family that Stuart admitted what he had been doing in relation to ending his life and from that moment things became clearer.
In February 2018 Stuart was re-admitted to hospital with a chest infection, this time to ward 20 at Royal Glamorgan Hospital. Stuart was discharged after a two week hospital stay but suffered with vertigo. On arrival home, he went straight to bed.
By June 2018 Stuart was heavier than before, and on falling out of bed, failed to be able to get himself up. Again, it took twelve ambulance staff to rescue Stuart to put him in the ambulance, which he says he found very embarrassing.
Stuart was re-admitted to ward 20 at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital where he weighed 344kgs (54.2stone). His stay this time was for three months and he was being treated for various health conditions.
Stuart said: “With the new knowledge I gained from the psychologist on my previous visit, for the first time in a long time everything began to make sense. Why was I eating so much and making myself ill and miserable? It was all down to depression. Now I had taken this information in I felt like I was more in control.
“This admission was my opportunity to do something about it. I worked with the nursing staff for medical issues, catering staff for meal planning and physiotherapists for suitable and safe exercise. They were all so amazing in getting and encouraging.
“I lost 36 and a half stone in just over a year by calorie counting and exercise. I now weigh 17 and half stone, my wife has her husband back and my three children have their dad back. I am so grateful to all the staff that helped me get back to me.
“My health is good, many of the health issues I had, have either gone altogether or have vastly improved. I am now able to kayak down the river and walk the Brecon Beacons, these are activities I enjoyed in my younger years and considering I couldn’t walk 12 feet not so long ago, this is a huge achievement.
“I cannot thank the NHS staff enough, in particular those at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital for the support and patience they offered me during my horrendous journey. If I can offer advice to anyone, it would be to talk about your feelings. I had a lot of built up thoughts and feelings that I never talked about, and my way of dealing with them was to lock myself away and eat food wishing the life I had would end, something I came very close to achieving.
“Men are not so good at sharing their feelings, I have learned the hard way that it’s really important to talk.
“If you need help ask for it and keep asking. The staff who have helped me have been outstanding and some really inspirational, they never gave up on me and as a result I have achieved things that I didn’t think possible. As little as 11 months ago I was asking social services to find somewhere I could be cared for as I could not go home.
“I have been treated by many health professionals all of whom have tried their best to help me. My last word is Thank You, which doesn’t seem enough for me getting my life back.”