Brian, with wife Amy, before surgeryYou’ll be dead in 5-10 years.” That’s the message Brian Wilson heard from the ER doctor the day he was rushed to the hospital with chest pains. Fortunately, Brian hadn’t suffered a heart attack, but the experience was the catalyst he needed to change his unhealthy lifestyle. At the time, he weighed 355 pounds.

Acid reflux, painful plantar fasciitis and high blood pressure were just a few of the chronic health problems Brian’s obesity caused. “I was in constant pain and embarrassed about how large I’d gotten and how physically unattractive I was to myself and my family,” Brian recalled.

The Last Straw

The ER scare was the last straw for his wife, Amy. “I told him I was done handling him with kid gloves, and that I wasn’t going to lose my husband before he turned 40.”

As a first step, Brian registered for the informational seminar on bariatric surgery at North Kansas City Hospital, led by the Bariatric Center’s Medical Director Keenan R. Berghoff, MD.

“I went to the seminar thinking weight-loss surgery wasn’t really for me,” Brian said. “But Dr. Berghoff shared statistics that showed me if I didn’t do something soon my quality of life would continue to diminish.”

In January 2015, Brian had laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, a minimally invasive procedure that reduces the size of the patient’s stomach.

“The main thing Brian did right was he pursued surgery to treat his obesity,” Dr. Berghoff said. “Afterward, he did everything we asked of him, and it resulted in a whole new life. Brian’s success is because of his lifelong commitment to his health. He truly understands the role of a healthier life.”

Always Active

Brian, bariatric patient, cooking healthy with his wifeA little over a year after his surgery, Brian achieved his goal weight of 210 pounds. It was a challenging year for him, both mentally and physically. He keeps his old driver’s license in his wallet as a reminder of how far he’s come on his weight-loss journey. “Bariatric surgery was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done,” he said. “My wife is my rock. I couldn’t have done this without her. From the beginning, she told me we were doing this as a team. I’m so thankful for her support and the support of my daughter.”

Running 5Ks, golfing, bicycling, riding their Harley Davidson motorcycle and volunteering with the Abdallah Shriners are just few of the activities Brian and Amy enjoy together.

“We try to stay active all the time,” Brian added. “I run 3-4 miles four times a week, lift weights and try to make good food choices. I keep my old driver’s license — the one with the picture of my larger face — in my wallet to remind me of where I’ve been. I’m no longer embarrassed about how I look, and I’m proud of who I am.”