A single father whose rare lymphatic illness left him with a severe hoarding problem was overcome with emotion after a ‘life-changing’ home transformation.
Bob, from Newport, was a lorry driver before he developed serious medical conditions as a result of lymphoedema in his legs, and 10 years ago he became housebound due to breathing difficulties and significant disabilities.
He lives with 29-year-old son Tom and admitted that he developed a compulsive shopping habit to cope with his underlying depression, filling entire rooms of their home with years full of junk.
On the latest episode of 5Star’s Filthy House SOS, which aired at 9pm last night, master cleaners Brennan and Richard were called in to meet with Bob and Tom to overhaul their house.
Master cleaners Brennan and Richard travelled to Newport to meet with Bob on 5Star’s Filthy House SOS, which aired at 9pm last night. Pictured: Bob’s bedroom before the clean
Bob lives with 29-year-old son Tom and admitted that he developed a compulsive shopping habit. Pictured, Bob’s kitchen before the clean
Introducing himself at the beginning of the show, Bob said: ‘I live with my son Thomas, he has some additional needs and I care for him and he cares for me and we get on great. We bond together and get on together.
‘I’ve been housebound now for 10 years because I have lymphedema in both legs. It’s very difficult for me to do any exercise, so I’ve put on weight which has brought on diabetes, which has brought on sleep apnoea.
‘My legs used to weep and even though I’d have two or three towels under my legs they would still soak through and the carpet is black and brown and horrible and stained and absolutely ruined.’
Bob’s home spiralled out of control when he and his ex-wife split up, and he has been unable to clean due to his medical conditions. As well as the lack of cleaning, Bob has spent years accumulating clutter.
Bob, from Newport, (pictured) was a lorry driver before he developed serious medical conditions as a result of lymphedema in his legs
Tom said: ‘I’ve spoken to my dad quite a lot of times saying, “You need to stop buying stuff now, you’re buying too much”. I’d like my house to be like a home again.’
Bob added: ‘I’ve outgrown my house with the amount of stuff I’ve been purchasing and collecting, and that’s why I’m asking for help and I appreciate any help I can get now.’
The father had been sleeping in his living room for over a decade, with experts Richard and Brennan fearing dog Ace could be the source of the fleas within the home.
The bedroom which was once so packed full of clutter Richard and Brennan could barely see the bed is pictured looking clean and tidy following the transformation
In the kitchen junk including electric scooters, car parts and garden equipment littered every inch of the room while heaps of flammable material sat on the cooker. Pictured, the kitchen after the transformation
In the kitchen, junk including electric scooters, car parts and garden equipment littered every inch of the room while heaps of flammable material sat on the cooker.
The cleaners discovered curry sauce that was nine years out of date and unopened spices purchased 20 years ago.
What is lymphoedema?
Primary lymphoedema is caused by alterations (mutations) in genes responsible for the development of the lymphatic system.
The faulty genes cause the parts of the lymphatic system responsible for draining fluid to not develop properly or not work as they should.
Primary lymphoedema often runs in families, although not every child born to someone with the condition will develop it themselves.
It’s a rare condition affecting an estimated one in 6,000 people.
Secondary lymphoedema, which is more common, develops in people who previously had a normal lymphatic system that then becomes damaged.
‘This has got hoarder written all over this kitchen, every conceivable surface is full of a mismatch of all sorts of stuff,’ Richard observed.
In the upstairs bathroom, walls and the ceiling were thick with dirt and mould, with a swab test measuring bacteria levels of 20,000; any reading over 60 is considered unhealthy.
The bedroom was also packed full of clutter, so much so that Richard and Brennan could barely see the bed. The room also had to be fumigated when the cleaners discovered fleas.
Revealing the source of his buying and hoarding, Bob told: ‘I comfort buy and that’s how things have kept me sane.
‘I put it down to sort of fighting a bit of depression, not going out, being stuck in all the time, I’m bit sad.’
Tearing up, he went on: ‘As a way of beating my depression, rather than saving my money, I’d rather spend it on things that, for me, I thought were practical at the time and it’s just got out of control. It’s time for change.’
Bob was left traumatised after an incident which left him afraid to leave his home – when he was mocked while waiting at his local doctor’s surgery because of his weeping legs.
Asked by Richard how often he leaves his home, Bob replied: ‘Very rarely, once you’re scarred psychologically and I have been, it’s hard to un-see that moment.
‘About eight years ago my legs were really weeping even through I was having the dressings changed every day.
‘I had to go to my doctors surgery to have them dressed and there were people nudging each other saying, “Look at the state of him, he looks like he’s wet himself with that puddle on the floor”.
‘So I got up and cried and went home and thought, I’m never going to go outside again, because of that one moment.’
Bob’s home spiralled out of control when he and his ex-wife split up, and he has been unable to clean up his home due to his medical conditions. Pictured, clutter removed from Bob’s home
In the upstairs bathroom, walls and the ceiling were thick with dirt and mould, with a swab test measuring bacteria levels showing a result of 20,000
Bob’s legs used to weep through his dressings, leaving a black and brown stain on the carpet near his bed
But the kindness and positivity of the cleaning team inspired Bob to change his life for good: ‘In the last few days I’ve been surrounded by so many positive people with positive thoughts,’ he said.
‘It’s given me the motivation to change my whole life, to start a new life and start a new me.’
At the end of the three-day deep clean, Bob was keen to see what his new home looked like, and was overcome with emotion at the ‘life-changing’ transformation.
‘It looks amazing, this is a room I’ve been longing for for so long. I’m not embarrassed anymore,’ he said. ‘It’s everything and more than I could ever possibly have asked for.
‘I’m floating at the moment, so much weight has been lifted off my shoulders, it really is amazing. I feel so much safer here, my whole house was a health hazard.
‘I thought for a long time that was my life and I was going to die in a pile of boxes, this is life changing stuff.’
Filthy House SOS continues on Wednesdays at 9pm on 5Star.