Keith’s Success Story – Clare House
Born in Thurso, near Inverness, Keith, a tall, confident and articulate man of 44, vividly recalls arriving with some apprehension to live at Clare House, a specialist Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS) service in Dunblane run by Consensus. It was late September 2017 and Keith weighed a life threatening 172kg, or just over 27 stone.
“I wasn’t very fit at all,” he says. “I found it very difficult to walk up the Doune Road hill to Clare House when I was out for my daily walks.”
Keith was diagnosed as a baby with PWS – a genetic condition characterised by a lack of satiety cues, meaning individuals always feel hungry and overeat, which can lead to morbid obesity if not properly managed. Individuals with PWS may also live with a range of physical, learning and behavioural challenges.
Keith recalls it was his nan who first spotted something ‘wasn’t quite right’ and encouraged his mother to take him to see a doctor. He recalls how difficult it was growing up as neither he nor his family received any support with his condition. “We were left to get on with it,” says Keith. “But my mother was adamant that there was nothing wrong.”
A turning point
Keith left the family home when he was 16 and lived in various foster and residential placements throughout Scotland most of his adult life. He arrived at Clare House just after turning 40 and he has never looked back.
Moving to Clare House was a turning point for Keith. The team at the Consensus service worked with him to identify his goals and began to support him to put these into practice, particularly around his weight, health and wellbeing. As a result of their support and with a structured, focused person-centred plan in place Keith has shed an astonishing – and life-changing – 96.7kg, or 15st 2lb. Even during lockdown, when so many millions of people in the UK were gaining weight, Keith was determined to keep exercising. He has found exercise he enjoys, which is key. While he’s not a fan of swimming or the gym, he loves walking and walks every day. This is enabling him to continue to lose weight and feel well.
“Today I look at myself and the first thing I notice is my shape and how good my face looks. I’m fitter, healthier, more mobile and, although I’m still asthmatic, I have less and less use for my inhaler,” he says. Losing weight also enabled him to have a great time at the Consensus ‘Party in the Park’ in November 2019 which was a celebratory event at a caravan park in Lincolnshire for people supported nationally by Consensus, and where Keith spent most of the time on the dance floor.
Enjoying every day
Keith is now living life to the full. An avid train traveller, he regularly walks to Dunblane train station and heads east to explore Glasgow and Edinburgh, and occasionally Dundee. One of his favourite TV programmes is Michael Portillo’s ‘Great Train Journeys’ which he watches regularly and a goal of his is to take the Flying Scotsman train from York to Skegness.
Keith loves history and reading books by the likes of Stephen King and Dan Brown. He watches football and cricket and is looking forward to watching his beloved Scotland in this year’s Euros football tournament. His dream is to one day travel to Australia and swim on the Great Barrier Reef.
For now, he’s happy with what he sees as his biggest achievement – losing such a huge amount of weight. “I never thought I could achieve this kind of weight loss. I do occasionally still struggle with my condition, but it certainly helps me to be living with other people with the same challenges as me. The Consensus team at Clare House has helped me to come to terms with having PWS. With their support I now have so much more to look forward to.”