A man who became so tired and slow he was on the brink of death has told how he at first put his exhaustion down to his office lifestyle.
Stuart Walters became so poorly he barely recognises himself from photographs taken just a year ago.
Pictured slumped in an office chair wearing a woolly hat and tinted glasses, Stuart looks like a different man to the one he is now, reports the Manchester Evening News.
The 47-year-old recruitment consultant, who is based in Stockport, at first put his permanent exhaustion down to age and working in an office.
But the transformation had been so gradual, he came close to missing the warning signs that he had a serious health condition it almost proved fatal.
“Something had been up for a while,” he said.
“I had been slowing down, my speech was slurred and I had puffiness all around my eyes.
“I was in my 40s and for a long time I put it down to ageing and office life.
“I didn’t feel ill, I just felt tired. My eyes were so sore I would wear yellow welding glasses all of the time.
“It’s strange because at no point did I feel that I couldn’t perform at work.
“I just carried on, gradually becoming slower and slower.”
It turned out that for years, Stuart had been living with hypothyroidism – an extreme case of an under-active thyroid.
“I didn’t know this at the time but there was no thyroid hormone going around my body,” he explains.
“My family in South Wales had noticed a change in me.
“I was walking funny and I looked terrible. They were concerned about me.”
It was in February earlier this year when his condition took a dangerous turn.
Stuart had become hyper-sensitive to the cold. It was the norm for him to wear a woolly hat indoors at work and at home.
His boiler had broken and a gas engineer wasn’t available to fix it for two days.
“My son Finn rang me to see if I needed anything and he said ‘you don’t sound right, dad’, he recalls.
“He came round to check on me and when he arrived he found me collapsed on the floor.”
Stuart was suffering with hypothermia and a slow heart rate, and was rushed to the intensive care unit at Stepping Hill Hospital.
Stuart doesn’t remember anything until six days later, when he woke up from a myxedema coma – a rare life-threatening condition caused by hypothyroidism
“My family had come up from South Wales and were basically saying their goodbyes,” says Stuart.
“I remember waking up and asking my son the time.
“He said 6.30pm and I replied ‘oh great, we can get a take-away on the way home’.
“My son had to tell me I had been a coma for six days and nearly died.”
It would be another three weeks before Stuart would be allowed to go home following his ordeal.
“It’s a very strange thing being in a coma.
“You lose a lot of oxygen and they were concerned I would have brain damage.
“Coming back from that, I was very disorientated.”
Doctors explained that he had nearly died and would need medication and monitoring for the rest of his life.
But thanks to his treatment, Stuart is now out of hospital and back at work.
The dad-of-one believes that his close brush with death has given him a second chance.
“Physically, I now feel like I have been given back the keys to my life,” says Stuart.
“My family have noticed a massive difference in me.
“It’s no exaggeration to say I feel 20 years younger.
“Like most men of my generation, you tend to brush off going to the doctors and obvious symptoms.
“You get so caught up in your day-to-day life of work and home, you don’t stop and look at yourself.
“Now I can see how many years I wasted being ill.
“Part of the getting well process for me is not being afraid of doctors or blood tests.
“There are times like Christmas where I think, wow, that was close.
“But mainly I just appreciate my life and I think I’m a nicer person for it.”
Stuart says his condition has made him rethink his lifestyle choices.
He now goes to the gym and swims regularly while also following a healthy diet.
“Mainly I feel incredibly lucky to be here,” he adds.
Stuart’s colleagues at Akton Recruitment are to climb Mount Snowdon in aid of the British Thyroid Foundation.