(This is the fourth in a series of articles on local people who’ve attained a substantial weight loss).
Bob Wilson considers Friday the 13th, January 13 of 2017, as a lucky day in his life.
Not many people would say that after having a stroke. But that’s the way Wilson, now 62, views it, looking back on the day slightly more than two years ago that marked a permanent change in his lifestyle for the better.
“It got me going down a new path,” said the longtime Jones Marine employee. “We all sort of have in the back of our mind, we’ve got to do something.”
Wilson survived the stroke with no ill effects and is now the picture of health with a regular routine that ensures the best chance of being around a long time for his family.
“Over the last two years he has turned his life around,” marvelled daughter Joy Bothma, 36.
Wilson also has a son, Tom Wilson, 35.
“He is an inspiration to our family and friends,” added Bothma, a school teacher at Maple Bay Elementary. “I think many people can identify with his story, as he had a great love for food prior to his stroke, as well as led a busy and stress-filled life.”
Wilson weighed 240 pounds at his heaviest, got down to as low as 170 and still hovers around 170-175.
“I’ve lost 70 pounds and I maintained that,” he said proudly.
“For me, there isn’t an alternative. I’m never tempted. I don’t want to have another stroke.”
Fortunately, Wilson identified the symptoms at the time and took action.
“I knew I was having a stroke,” he recalled. “They’ve been doing a lot of advertising about strokes.”
Wilson was at work when “I went to turn the page and I couldn’t feel the paper on my hands,” he explained. “When I stood up, it went through my whole left side of my body.”
By then, Wilson noticed his speech was slurred. He thought he’d better call an ambulance and notified boss, Daryl Jones.
“He wheeled me out of the office and drove me to the clinic in Chemainus,” Wilson indicated.
He was later transported to Cowichan District Hospital, given treatment and released that same evening without any paralysis, but with numerous prescriptions to take.
After having the stroke, Wilson not only had to deal with his weight, but he was considered diabetic and experiencing high blood pressure.
“From that moment on, my life changed for the better,” he said.
Wilson started eating right, taking a page from a diabetic friend’s regimen, and walking.
“I took a lot of fat out of my diet,” he noted. “I just started losing the weight. It started melting off me.”
There was one further follow-up that March when Wilson underwent carotid artery surgery.
“My problem was my arteries were starting to plug up,” he pointed out. “That’s what caused the stroke.”
When Wilson got the go-ahead to walk again after the surgery, it was off to the races.
He now gets up around 4:30 a.m. weekday mornings, walks 12-17 kilometres utilizing different hilly routes, returns home for a shower and a cup of coffee and heads to work at 7:30. Wilson also walks five to six km on weekends.
“It averages out to about 10 kilometres a day, every day, rain or shine,” he indicated.
Wilson is usually in bed by 9 p.m. and possibly as late as 10 p.m. on weekends in order to get enough sleep to rise bright and early the next day to walk.
“I don’t go to the gym, I just walk every day,” he reiterated. “That works for me.”
The irony of his dad dying at age 61 was a thought that came to mind during this whole ordeal.
“The thing that upset me the most was the impact I had on my co-workers and my family,” Wilson noted.
He’ll never forget the looks on the faces of wife Taneese and other family members when they came into the emergency room in Chemainus that made him realize there was so much to lose.
“I made them a promise I will not let this happen again,” Wilson added. “I will do everything in my power to stay on track.
“Take care of yourself, you owe it to yourself,” he advised. “You owe it to your loved ones. That’s what motivates me.
“I feel like I’m 20 years younger. I had to reinvent myself in order to survive. My encouragement to people is to just take one step at a time.”