AN OVERWEIGHT Alexandria man who thought his obesity would kill him is looking forward to Christmas with friends and loved ones after shedding close to a stone a month over the past year.

Mark Casey, 44, from Ladyton, has suffered a “nightmare” battle with his weight and other health problems, but is confident the worst has passed and his condition will improve in the New Year.

This is despite still suffering from a range complex issues, including liver problems, which require constant medication and hospital check-ups.

Mark says his weight loss began in earnest last New Year when he was horrified to see he was tipping the scales at 31 stones.

He said: “I had to do something drastic. The weight was having a very serious impact on my life and that, along with other health problems, made me think I was going to die. I was a 72 inch chest and had to buy 8X extra large clothing.

“My mum Kathleen even took out funeral insurance for me, that’s how bad it was. So last New Year I was determined to get my life back in shape.

“Now through a lot of effort and support I am down to 23 stones and have lost 10 inches off my chest measurement and can now wear 3x extra large clothes. It is a phenomenal amount to lose. It’s worked out about a stone every month.”

Mark suffers from non-alcohol related cirrhosis of the liver, which if not controlled, could kill him.

This means he is undergoing a strict regime of weight monitoring through a liver shrinkage diet supervised by medics at Yorkhill Hospital.

He said: “It’s a matter of life or death. I have stage four liver disease which is deemed to be ‘terminal’. It’s as serious as that.”

Mark says his weight loss would not have been possible without the help of a long-time family friend, Caroline Smith.

He said: “Caroline has been like a daughter to me. I have known her for a long time, since she was aged three. She realised my need and that I had to take drastic action to get my weight down.

“She looks after my diet and portion control and that was the key to my weight loss. She introduced me to things like fruit and vegetables which I wouldn’t have touched without her encouragement.

“Without Caroline’s help I would be in a box.

“I have her to thank for giving me hope and determination to get back on track with my life.

“Now with Christmas and New Year coming up I am determined to make even more improvements.”

Mark intends nominating Caroline for a West Dunbartonshire Council community hero award.

He said: “She deserves it so much as she has been a Godsend to me.”

Mark says his health and weight problems began when he was working within the private security business.

He said: “I was working weird and wonderful shifts which could be anything from 15-and-a-half to 17 hours.

“It was not good. I was eating fast foods and the weight started to pile on.”

However, other health issues have complicated matters for Mark, and he says being given the wrong medicine made things worse.

He suffers from type 2 diabetes, chronic circulation inefficiency, an under active thyroid, and a fall in his house broke his kneecap which means he walks with a limp.

He has also experienced a series of mini-strokes.

However, in a further complication, surgeons discovered that Mark also suffers from portal hypertension which means that enlarged blood vessels might rupture during surgery.

He said: “I was due to have four major operations but they can’t go ahead because of the hypertension. So I just have to be very careful and doctors want me to lose more weight.”

Despite these difficulties, Mark is confident for the future.

He said: “I am not 100 per cent yet but I am sure things will improve.”

And he has issued a salutory lesson to others about healthy eating.

“I know where I went wrong with my weight and diet.

“Fast food outlets are everywhere. There is a lifestyle and culture around take-away shops which encourages unhealthy eating.

“People have to look after their health and lifestyle to avoid the kind of problems I have experienced.”